IEOs: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research September 12, 2023

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  • In cryptocurrency, an "initial exchange offering" (IEO) is a crowdfunding method wherein projects raise funds through token sales on an exchange platform
  • IEOs offer enhanced trust and security compared to ICOs, as exchanges conduct due diligence on projects and provide a secure infrastructure
  • Participating in an IEO provides benefits such as early access to tokens and increased liquidity
  • Disadvantages to IEOs include centralization, limited exchange options and regulatory uncertainty


In cryptocurrency, an "initial exchange offering" (IEO) is a crowdfunding method wherein projects raise funds through token sales on an exchange platform. Unlike "initial coin offerings" (ICOs), in which project teams handle the token sale process, IEOs involve collaboration between the project and the exchange.

IEOs take place on cryptocurrency exchanges, which act as intermediaries between project teams and investors. The exchange conducts due diligence on the project, verifies credibility and facilitates the token sale. This arrangement provides trust and security for participants, relying on the exchange's reputation and infrastructure.

A Brief History

IEOs gained prominence in 2019 when Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, introduced it through "Binance Launchpad." Binance Launchpad aimed to provide a platform for high-quality blockchain projects to raise funds, and the success of the exchange led to the proliferation of IEOs in the cryptocurrency space.

IEOs: Everything to Know

  • Exchange Selection - To participate in an IEO, individuals should first choose a reputable cryptocurrency exchange, considering factors such as reputation, security measures, user base and the quality of projects listed. Thorough research and due diligence are crucial to ensure a safe and reliable investment experience.
  • Token Sale Process - The token sale process in an IEO involves several stages. Participants need to create an account on the hosting exchange, complete verification procedures and purchase tokens directly from the exchange using supported cryptocurrencies. The exchange handles the distribution of purchased tokens.
  • Trust and Security - IEOs offer enhanced trust and security compared to ICOs. The exchange conducts due diligence on projects, reducing the risk of scams. The exchange's infrastructure provides an added layer of security for participants' funds, as reputable exchanges employ advanced security measures.
  • Liquidity and Listing - IEOs can increase liquidity and listing opportunities. Successful IEOs often result in the project's tokens being listed on the hosting exchange. This listing provides immediate access to a large pool of traders and investors, enhancing liquidity and potentially increasing the token's value.
  • Regulatory Considerations - Regulatory frameworks for IEOs are still evolving worldwide. Different jurisdictions have varying requirements and restrictions, so participants should be aware of the legal and regulatory implications in specific countries to ensure compliance and mitigate risks.

Getting Started

To participate in an IEO, individuals should first choose a reputable cryptocurrency exchange that hosts IEOs. Research should be conducted to ensure that the exchange has a good track record, transparent operations and a strong user base. The participant can then create an account and complete any necessary verification procedures.

After setting up the account, the participant must deposit funds into an exchange wallet. Most exchanges support popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) for IEO investments. If the participant does not already own cryptocurrencies, they can be purchased from the exchange or other platforms that facilitate crypto purchases.

Once the account is funded, participants can watch for upcoming IEO announcements on the exchange's platform. Projects provide details about the token sale including the date, time and any specific requirements for participation. Participants should thoroughly research the project before investing, as due diligence is essential in the volatile cryptocurrency market.

Unique Aspects

One distinctive feature of an IEO is that it is conducted on a trusted exchange platform. This adds credibility and security compared to other fundraising methods like ICOs. The exchange acts as an intermediary, vetting projects before listing them and conducting the token sale on behalf of the project team.

Another unique aspect of IEOs is the token acquisition process. Unlike traditional investment methods, wherein investors send funds directly to the project team's wallet, in an IEO, investors purchase tokens directly from the exchange. This simplifies the process and reduces the risk of scams or fraudulent activities associated with sending funds to unknown wallets.

Participating in an IEO also provides investors with benefits. For example, investors may receive early access to the project's tokens, potentially at a discounted price. Additionally, IEO participants often enjoy a higher level of liquidity compared to those who invest in projects after they are listed on exchanges.


  • Enhanced Security - IEOs occur on established cryptocurrency exchanges that have strong security measures. This reduces the risk of scams and fraud, as exchanges typically conduct due diligence on projects before listing tokens.
  • Liquidity - By conducting an IEO on a well-known exchange, projects benefit from the existing user base and liquidity of the platform. This makes token trading easier and potentially increases trading volumes, resulting in higher market liquidity for the project's token.
  • Credibility - Partnering with reputable exchanges for an IEO can boost a project's credibility. Exchanges have strict listing criteria, and passing associated vetting processes adds legitimacy to the project. This instills confidence in potential investors and attracts attention from the crypto community.
  • Investor Protection - IEOs offer greater investor protection compared to traditional ICOs. The exchange acts as an intermediary, thoroughly assessing the project and team. This reduces the risk of scams and ensures that investors have information about the project's fundamentals before making investment decisions.
  • Accessibility - IEOs provide a more accessible investment opportunity for retail investors. Unlike traditional venture capital funding limited to institutional investors or high-net-worth individuals, IEOs allow anyone with an exchange account to participate, enabling broader involvement in early-stage token sales.


  • Centralization - Conducting IEOs on centralized exchanges introduces centralization to the fundraising process, contradicting the decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies. The exchange acts as a gatekeeper for token sales, potentially limiting the participation of individuals or communities favoring decentralized fundraising models.
  • Limited Exchange Options - Unlike ICOs, which can be conducted on various platforms, IEOs are limited to exchanges offering this fundraising method. This can restrict the project's ability to choose the most suitable exchange for specific needs, potentially affecting fundraising success.
  • Dependency on Exchange Reputation - The success of an IEO can heavily depend on the reputation and popularity of the hosting exchange. If the exchange is not well-regarded or lacks a substantial user base, it may result in limited investor interest and lower token sale proceeds for the project.
  • Regulatory Uncertainty - The regulatory landscape surrounding IEOs is still evolving in many jurisdictions. This introduces uncertainty for projects and investors, as regulatory actions or restrictions could impact the viability and legality of IEOs in certain regions.
  • Potential Market Manipulation - IEOs involve trading on exchanges, which carries the risk of market manipulation. Price manipulation and insider trading can disadvantage retail investors who may lack access to the same information and resources as larger market participants.