Vitalik published a post on the valuation of medium of exchange tokens, which have dominated the ICO landscape. This type of token implies that it can be exchanges for goods and services on a platform built by the development team. It’s similar to a Kickstarter-style funding, except that tokens must have ongoing value. It’s not sufficient to deliver a product once.
…the cycle is not complete, and in fact it never will be; there needs to be an ongoing stream of buyers and sellers for the token to continue having its value.
He goes on to the many factors that go into determining the value of a token, concluding:
One immediate conclusion from this particular insight is that appcoins are very much a multi-equilibrium game….Another, and perhaps even more important, conclusion is that the market cap of an appcoin depends crucially on the holding time H. If someone creates a very efficient exchange, which allows users to purchase an appcoin in real time and then immediately use it in the application, then allowing sellers to immediately cash out, then the market cap would drop precipitously….hyper-efficient exchanges are around the corner
Due to this, he says values cannot be sustained solely on their usage as a medium of exchange; there are too many outside factors. He cites Etherdelta as an example of an alternative model, where fees are collected in the interface. Another option it to set a side a specific amount to buy back tokens and burn them, thus reducing deflation/costs of holding over time.
The important thing is that for the token to have a stable value, it is highly beneficial for the token supply to have sinks – places where tokens actually disappear and so the total token quantity decreases over time.
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the value of tokens and the right way to do a token sale/ICO. The standards around tokens/ICOs need to be raised and hopefully this helps push more projects in the right directly. Of course, it won’t do much to help the dozens of poorly structured projects that have already raised millions.