Editorial: How to raise $100 million

Photo taken from: writinglives.org

Someone needs to explain to us the fairly secretive attempt to launch a state-supported cryptocurrency online.  We know that blockchain technology is being evaluated for use in contracts and other areas, but it would appear that we have decided to plunge head first into cryptocurrency with the launch of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) called the Antigua and Barbuda Development Coin (ADC). The details of the coin can be found at antiguaicod.org, but we will give you some highlights and a few thoughts off the top of our heads.

The ADC token price is U.S. $1 and the total supply is U.S. $100 million!! You read that right, someone is raising one hundred million dollars on a state-sponsored cryptocurrency and not a single local press release. We note that the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party manifesto has a section on cryptocurrency but absolutely no mention of this massive initiative.  

We learnt of the offering simply because we follow news about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies with a keen eye. In the case of the ACD, a news item from ETHnews.com caught our eye. The opening paragraph stated, “The government of Antigua and Barbuda has signed off on a plan to let CNET Antigua, a private sector consortium of development and renewable energy players, conduct an ICO that aims to support development efforts in the Caribbean nation.”  

As we read the story and CNET’s white paper, we became more and more perplexed. First, it appears that the government has chosen Arthur Nibbs, the minister responsible for Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries, and Barbuda Affairs to spearhead our push into the highly technical world of cryptocurrency. It was surprising because we thought that we had a cryptocurrency czar in the person of Calvin Ayre, who had been appointed as a special economic envoy to deal specifically with this technology. Seems as though Mr. Ayre has been sidelined on this one.
The purpose of the ADC is apparently to fund a variety of public-private and charity-run projects and eventually “to be used by Antiguans and other interested people in their daily lives via the Antigua eWallet”, according to CNET’s press release. If our spidey senses were not tingling before, they went into overdrive on that last statement. After having dealt with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) regarding the potential sale of some shares in the OBSERVER companies, we wonder how they feel about a state-supported coin that seeks to raise tens of millions of dollars and replace the Eastern Caribbean Dollar for any transaction that employs the ACD.  

That said, let’s quickly look at the white paper and see what this is all about. Apparently, CNET will be receiving funds to develop among other things, an agricultural complex, a state-of-the-art hydroponics plant, a large solar power plant with battery storage backup, an orphanage, a halfway house for battered women, and a micro-finance institution. That is an impressive list but it does not end there. CNET will later fund development projects on Barbuda such as a solar farm and an open market. Wow!

So, how does the money work? Well, investors will get 50 percent of the profits from the grand projects forever. Year One investment is pegged at $60 million with an incredible return of almost $30 million (50 percent) yielded by their “profit centers”; with the bulk coming from solar, farming and farming related industries.  Judging from those hefty returns, CNET seems to be wasting their talent if they can produce those kind of returns in the first year of growing crops in a country with serious water issues. With that kind of productivity and yield, their “miracle grow” type products would be sought the world over. Setting up mega farms and facilities, growing the plants, harvesting and exporting them all in a year, for a profit? Amazing!

The token allocation is interesting as well – $5 million Pre-ICO, $55 million to investors, $7 million for the founding team, $9 million for the ecosystem fund, $9 million for CNET Ops, $10 million for partners and $5 million for a referral programme. (Definitions of those groups are sadly missing). That is a whole heap of money being raised based on a very aggressive prospectus by a private company, all under the banner of operating a state-sponsored cryptocurrency. We need someone in the Government to come and explain this entire thing to the people. As the government’s face to the world on this investment, maybe Minister Nibbs could come to the people and tell us all about the government’s push towards a cryptocurrency and give us details on the Antigua and Barbuda Development Coin.

We love technology and we are fans of the blockchain because of the great potential they hold for our bit of paradise, but we are more than a bit wary that the ADC is our first big leap into these murky waters.  This also seems to skirt every bit of ECCB regulations (which we have learnt a thing or two about recently) as it relates to soliciting public investment and advances the implementation of cryptocurrencies and e-wallets ahead of the ECCB’s evaluations and recommendations.  

We know that we cannot be the only ones with an uneasy feeling about this public offering, so we are extending an invitation to everyone involved to come on OBSERVER Radio and inform the people. So, CNET, ECCB, Mr. Ayre, Government? Please share your thoughts. Call our newsroom and we will accommodate a convenient time.
And if turns out to be all okay with everyone, then be on the lookout for the Observer Coin for Development (OCD)!

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