Ripe for the Picking! The Most Promising Industry Sectors for ICO Investors

Name any industry — from health and travel to automotive and media — and there’s almost certainly a blockchain project (or dozens) vying to disrupt it.

Source: ICO Watch List

The proliferation of ICOs across so many industries speaks volumes about the potential of blockchain technology and the excitement behind it. For investors, however, it also means that it can be very tricky to identify the industries where blockchain technology is poised to exert the greatest impact and has the greatest potential for continued growth.

Below, we take a look at the industries where blockchain startups have made the greatest inroads so far. We also consider those where blockchain technology currently has a lower profile but may be poised to grow quickly.

By way of disclaimer, this article is not a comprehensive analysis of the state of blockchain within every industry on the planet. You’d have to write a book. Instead, we’ll focus on identifying the top five industries for ICO investment.

If you want hard numbers on how ICOs have played out on an industry-by-industry basis so far, there are a couple of great resources out there.

One is this ICO statistics chart and list from ICO Watchlist. It breaks down ICOs within more than a dozen industries according to how much money has been raised, as well as for which percentage of projects each industry accounts.


Like most data, this data is imperfect. It’s unclear whether it reflects only active blockchain-based projects, or all projects ever created, including those that have gone dark. We’re also not sure which percentage of ICO funds raised might be associated with fraudulent ICOs.

The Internet of Blockchain Foundation, or iobf, provides a similar resource. This one doesn’t provide statistics, but it categorizes a number of blockchain projects according to industry. It lists only about a hundred projects, so it’s a safe bet that it is not a reflection of the blockchain ecosystem as a whole. Still, it’s a useful place to start for analyzing blockchain’s influence by industry.

Industries with the Greatest ICO Potential

So, which industries are actually the most promising for ICO investment? Here’s our take, based on the resources described above and informed analysis of the state of the blockchain ecosystem:

Finance. Unsurprisingly given that cryptocurrency was the first use case for blockchain technology, the finance industry accounts for the largest share of ICOs, according to ICO Watchlist. It would be impossible to list the top five industries for ICOs without mentioning finance. That said, the future ICO potential in finance may be limited due to two main factors. One is that there has already been so much ICO action in this space, so there is less untilled ground to cultivate. The second is regulatory questions that remain to be answered related to ICOs in the finance industry and especially in the U.S. Still, promising ICOs continue to pop up in the finance industry. Consider, for example (with our rating in parenthesis):

  • MoneyToken, a lending platform for crypto holders (3.8)
  • Traxia, a financing platform for SMBs (4.2)
  • DarcMatterCoin, an “alternative investments” platform  (4.6)
  • Tradelize, a “Bloomberg terminal” for pro crypto traders (4.3)
  • Lili, a Yelp-like platform for connecting investors to the right wealth manager (3.9)
  • B21, a Charles Schwab of cryptocurrency (3.9)

Media. Media is another of the most dynamic industries for blockchain technology now and for the foreseeable future The main reason is that the media industry has traditionally been both highly centralized and highly opaque. Niches like advertising and video streaming have been controlled by a handful of large companies that reveal little about their internal operations or cost structures. Startups like RHOVIT and VirtuTV aim to change this by building decentralized alternatives to existing media platforms. For investors, the main challenge related to the media industry is to identify which projects are best poised to stand out from the crowd because the sector is getting saturated with ICOs that often closely resemble one another. Others we’ve analyzed and rated:

  • Triggmine, a smart (as in AI) email marketing platform to challenge the likes of MailChimp (4.3)
  • Decentralized News Network, a transparent news producing ecosystem that claims itself as the antidote to “fake news” (3.3)
  • Qravity, a media management “ecosystem” for collaborating, buying, selling, protecting and monetizing digital movies, games, music, ebooks, and apps (3.8)

Healthcare. The healthcare industry has seen its fair share of ICOs, but it has made fewer ICO-related headlines to date. Still, we think there is great potential for future growth by blockchain platforms in this industry. Blockchain technology holds great promise for streamlining processes such as accessing health records (in the way Medichain envisions) and connecting patients to doctors (the goal of WELL and MedCredits). We’ve also rated:

  • MeFy,
  • NurseToken, a platform to help hospitals recruit and certify nurses amid a shortage for their skills (4.2)

Real estate. Blockchain has a huge potential in the real estate industry, but ICOs in this space have raised only about 14 million dollars to date, according to ICO Watchlist. By this measure, there has been much less ICO activity in the real estate industry than there has been in, for example, finance, where more than $400 million dollars have been raised. There is a lot of room for further growth and new ICOs in the real estate industry, especially by platforms that focus on addressing industry-wide challenges, like how property is bought and sold, such as Alt.Estate, which aims to build a protocol for tokenizing real estate transactions, may draw investors’ interest. We’ve also rated Global REIT (3.9), which applies blockchain technology to the fractional ownership model of conventional REITs, but with two other twists: To focus on the Middle East, it conforms to Islam’s Shariah law and fractional ownership comes with some of same perks that a time-share does.

Cannabis. The final industry on our list is cannabis. That may surprise some investors; to date, this has not been a major industry for ICOs, or even close to it. However, the cannabis industry is a promising one for ICO investors because it is poised to grow as marijuana becomes legal in more and more jurisdictions. For this reason, we think ICOs like Weedo and Nuvus are worth following closely.

Again, this list is not comprehensive. Plenty of other industries hold great potential for present and future ICO success, too. But for our money, the five listed above offer the greatest overall promise for the foreseeable future.

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