ICO vs. STO: What’s the Difference?

ICO vs. STO: What’s the Difference?


ICO vs. STO: What’s the Difference?

ICO versus STO is now Google’s most popular comparison for cryptocurrency beginners. Google searches for “What’s an ICO” and “What is STO” is increasing yearly as well.

For many investors and even certain bond funds in 2017, initial coin offerings (ICOs) were a more alluring investment option than real estate. The first initial coin offerings (ICOs) were conducted by Omni Layer (formerly Mastercoin) in 2013 & Ethereum in 2014. Both of these successful ICOs served as a model for others to follow. The “golden years” for blockchain businesses that participated in ICOs were 2017 and 2018.

Contrarily, STOs were not frequently utilized until October 2018. In that year, St. Regis Aspen Resort launched its first ico security token through a project on Indiegogo. This novel type of stock was so well received that it garnered more than $18 million. It is the first instance of this new type of investment having achieved worldwide success. Since then, STOs have begun to take off.

Read Our Blog: 7 Most Successful ICOs of All Time

Token offers are quite common nowadays among blockchain entrepreneurs, despite the fact that many businesses still find it difficult to grasp how they might employ ICOs and STOs. It will be easier to comprehend both products, including their advantages and hazards, as well as which form offers investors and organizations greater chances if you first grasp how ICOs and STOs differ from one another.

What is an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)?

An initial coin offering, or ICO, is when a project issues vouchers, or tokens, that are meant to be used as payment for the site’s future services through the use of cryptocurrency. One of the most common means of financing for blockchain firms is this.

In contrast to an IPO, the cryptocurrency buyers during an ICO are not given shares of the business and have no control over internal management decisions. In actuality, the ICO is a further application of the crowdfunding paradigm, in which investors contribute to a company’s current development in exchange for future rewards.

The project can also provide itself with the cash it needs to begin or develop by issuing its own money and converting it into one of the popular cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin or Ethereum), or even actual currencies (such as dollars or euros). A project’s development can also be sped up and the issue of future monetization is instantly resolved by releasing the money. An ICO is usually utilized in conjunction with blockchain technology. Nobody is surprised now that blockchain is the future of technology. The implementation of blockchain might result in certain savings depending on the project’s direction. All ICO ventures involve blockchain in one form or another.

What is a Security Token Offering (STO)?

As time goes on, it becomes clear that ICOs aren’t necessarily safe. Many pump-and-dump scams existed; in essence, once investors paid for tokens, they couldn’t cash them in.

Companies started exploring new kinds of crowdfunding to preserve the rights of their investors. Security token offering provides more use cases than utility tokens since they may be redeemed for equity points, real estate trust funds, bonds, as well as stock. Utility tokens are less common than security tokens. It’s important to keep in mind, though, that STOs have a rather high entry hurdle and that only accredited investors may obtain these tokens, in contrast to other kinds of tokenization. A security token, as opposed to an initial coin offering (ICO), represents a contract for investment into an underlying financial asset, such as funds or real estate investment trusts.

Blockchain is very important during an STO since it frequently affects whether investors choose to invest or not. However, many investors as well as some bond funds place a high value on STO tokens. One of the preferred means of funding for contemporary blockchain firms is STOs. This explains why there are many similarities between ICOs and STOs.

What is the Difference Between ICO and STO?

Although the difference between ICO and STO appears to be very formal, there are a number of choices to take into account. Both novice and seasoned investors will find this analysis of ICO vs STO to be quite helpful.

  • STOs Offer Extra Security to Entrepreneurs: The SEC registers and examines each and every token. This lessens the danger of making a bad investment. A blockchain is used to store an STO, which is backed by actual assets like real estate investment trusts.
  • Only Accredited Investors Have Access to STOs: Before allowing an outsider to leap into the firm and share equity or trust among them, companies can check the investor’s credibility and evaluate their prior performance.
  • While ICOs are Unregulated, STOs are: There are no assurances for investors in ICOs, and there is a significant danger of becoming a victim of a pump-and-dump scheme. Every transaction involving STOs is regulated by the SEC and the parties involved. This rule may be both a gift and a burden since, although it gives investors and businesses security, it also slows down transactions.
  • Transparency in Investments as a Result of Strict Regulation: When comparing STOs with ICOs, it is obvious that the latter offers firms greater transparency. To provide investors with a clearer understanding of the firm they will be investing in, all business strategies and plans will be updated.
  • A Smaller Pool of Investors: That is one of the STO’s few drawbacks for businesses. Investor selection for STOs is more difficult than it is for ICOs. On the other side, the available funders are more trustworthy and knowledgeable, and every move they make will be closely scrutinized.
  • High Entry Threshold for Investors in STO: When it comes to tokens, the majority of investors benefit from high levels of liquidity and minimal levels of control. ICO Security tokens don’t provide the same level of market transparency as normal ICOs. While connecting with startups is undoubtedly simpler, STOs are not likely to completely do away with intermediaries and monitoring. The SEC has registered and oversees all of the exchanges. Additionally, STO exchanges will run on other platforms called Alternative Trading Systems.


Advantages of Both ICO and STO

For ICOs

  • Investors find this feature to be quite appealing. Investors’ funds in ICOs are not locked, unlike those invested in venture capital, crowdsourcing, or IPOs. Generally speaking, purchasing an ICO is considerably simpler and less expensive. People evaluate the asset’s worth right away after buying tokens and seeing them on cryptocurrency exchanges. The coin has had liquidity from the very first day the project has existed.
  • An investor can purchase tokens during an ICO for as little as $100. Such a sum is acceptable for crowdfunding but not for initial public offerings or venture capital funding. What effect will this have on the ICO project team? The pool of prospective investors grows. An investor nowadays might be a regular manufacturing worker as well as an investment fund or even a business angel.
  • Large investors may exert influence and force their opinions on the entrepreneur in the context of initial public offerings as well as venture capital investments. There are no such hazards in the case of an ICO. The founder’s team is in charge of all aspects of the project.
  • The more economic potential a coin has, the sooner an investor may access it. Additionally, in the case of ICOs, token purchases start during the pre-sale.

Read Our Blog Post: What are Some of the Benefits of an ICO?

For STOs

  • An opportunity to combine the adaptability of cryptocurrencies with the security of conventional finance. Companies and individuals alike preferred ICOs because they were easy to create and invest in. It will continue to be this manner with an STO, with the sole additional requirement being that issuer must register. All tokens used in STOs are registered with the SEC, making them legitimate and fraud-proof.
  • Compared to an IPO, tokenization is more affordable and flexible (initial public offering). An STO is preferable in terms of flexibility, but an IPO gives corporations greater assurance. The latter is less restrictive, has a lower entrance hurdle, and provides investors with more open access. STOs are also far less expensive to issue than stock market offerings since they are subject to fewer restrictions and regulatory standards.
  • Trading is possible around-the-clock on STOs, which is not feasible on regular markets. Traditional trade marketplaces are often only open during working hours since they require human care (EST time zone). Contrarily, marketplaces for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology are open around-the-clock, which improves liquidity and boosts total trade volume.
  • Giving fractional ownership more power. The majority of investment options, including real estate, are inflexible and difficult to swap or sell. An investor can build his portfolio with STOs by buying a portion of an investment without having to spend a significant sum of money.

Read Our Blog: STO Blockchain in Real Estate

Risks Around an ICO and STO


  • Legal Matters: Even while ICOs are wildly popular and are an efficient way to raise money, it is not always simple to take benefit of all the legal complexities. For instance, several ICO organizers still forbid Americans from taking part in their events. This is a result of the explanations that the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission provided in July 2017. (SEC). Therefore, a corporation could be in for some unwelcome shocks if it decides—at its own risk—to let Americans purchase tokens.
  • Security: ICO organizers confront a variety of difficulties in addition to legal ones. The activities of hackers are one of the major concerns. More than 10% of the money received in this method was stolen by hackers, according to a report by Ernst & Young. From 2015 to 2017, 372 ICOs were examined by analysts. The cost of hacking attacks on ICOs is $1.5 million per month. Hackers frequently access investors’ personal information, including their addresses, phone numbers, and payment details, in addition to money.
  • Defending Investors from Speculators’ Acts: Cases of fake price markups (pump & dump) are common in the bitcoin market and ICOs. In certain instances, traders may band together to purchase a specific cryptocurrency before launching a planned marketing effort (for example, via Telegram conversations) to advance their preferred coin. Some early ICO investors do the same, which enables them to increase a token’s price before “dumping” it on the secondary market.


  • Legal Observance: Before implementing STOs, businesses must ensure that all of their finances are in order because they will be subject to SEC inspection. It’s acknowledged to be quite difficult for company owners without certain sections.
  • Withholding Backup: Keep in mind that security token adoption involves backup withholding tax.
  • Security Dangers: STOs provide investors access to the company’s inner workings, in contrast to conventional tokens, which simply provide monetary value to investors. As a token issuer never understands if an investor would exploit the company’s data, this presents potential security problems.
  • Investors Face Profitability Concerns: Since STO is still a young technology, there are fewer examples of profitable investments. Investors might then have greater faith in the success of their investment through the established financial system.

Examples of ICO vs STO

Blockchain Platforms to Develop ICO

1. Ethereum

Ethereum is now the most often used platform for ICO support. Ethereum standardized the initial coin offering (ICO) using ERC20 tokens, in a manner similar to how the HTTP standard changed how we view the internet. Anyone who wishes to introduce their own coin can do so by following the ERC20 technical definition.

2. NEO

The “Eastern Ethereum” is another name for NEO. Anyone wishing to start a fundraiser should consider NEO since it has a number of benefits. The platform’s architecture firstly points to scalability. NEO can handle up to 10,000 transactions per second, unlike Ethereum. The platform also employs Java and C#, two other well-known programming languages. This implies that starting a project on this platform will be significantly simpler.

Read Also: Top 6 ICO Platforms You Can Trust

Blockchain Platforms to Develop STO

1. Polymath

The second Ethereum-based investor focusing on security token issuance is Polymath. The tool includes a system of smart contracts in addition to its own ST-20 token standard.

2. Securitize

Securitize, is a platform that offers businesses looking to tokenize their assets end-to-end assistance. Securitize examines investor profiles, including login information and the source of funds, to ensure that the business has reputable stockholders.



A novel technique of tokenization gave rise to the product known as STOs. The new type of tokens is very sought after because of the lower investment risk, ledger transparency, greater protection, and exchange flexibility. It’s important to remember that currently, just a small portion of the market issuing STOs. However, after the failure and failure of ICOs, an investor’s desire for protection and security will increase, and with it, the market for STOs. However, conducting an STO offering might be trickier than an ICO offering. Modern firms are drawn to ICO development because of its ease. Additionally, the ICO methodology requires less work to issue its own money than STO does.

In addition, there are major differences between security token offering vs initial coin offering that should be taken into account before adopting either offering. We really hope that our comparison of ICO vs STO has given you a better understanding of both products. Businesses may become market pioneers in very profitable areas by being among the first to begin issuing ICO security tokens or coins. You may get assistance from STO as well as ICO issuance platforms, and the launch costs for tokens are still rather affordable. Businesses might gain from joining the market early because it’s still in its infancy.

SoluLab, known for its expertise in ICO development, provides unparalleled services to help companies, especially startups, secure the capital required to establish a strong presence in the market. With their top-notch ICO development services, SoluLab maximizes fundraising potential, ensuring successful campaigns in the ever-evolving ICO landscape.

Moreover, SoluLab offers next-gen Security Token Offering development services, enabling businesses to tokenize their physical assets and emerge as global market leaders. Trust SoluLab to deliver cutting-edge STO development services, propelling ventures to the forefront of the global market. To unlock the potential of your physical assets and attract investors, contact SoluLab today.


1. How do ICO and STO work?

A cryptocurrency-specific ICO is like a hybrid of an initial public offering and online crowdsourcing. At a time determined by the token’s issuer, one can exchange the “X” amount of an existing token for the “Y” amount of a new token. The term “STO” refers to a technique for obtaining money in return for valuable assets like debt, equity, as well as asset-backed securities. Investors receive digital tokens as a symbol of their money along the process.

2. How are ICO and STO different?

An STO is much like an  ICO that is supported by real-world value rather than the token’s quantity or the price set by its founders. Offerings of security tokens are used to distribute fungible, tradable securities or tokens with a monetary value.

3. What are the benefits of ICO and STO?

STO offerings are entirely compliant with the law and backed by assets. A native platform & decentralized apps are accessible through ICO tool tokens, on the other hand. The main purpose of ICO tokens is to use, not invest. This translates into a substantially lower entrance barrier for ICO in practice.

4. What are the examples of ICO and STO?

Examples of initial coin offerings (ICO) are Ethereum and neo, and examples of security token offerings (STO) are polymath and securitize.

By |2023-07-26T17:11:38+05:30July 26th, 2023|ICO, STO|Comments Off on ICO vs. STO: What’s the Difference?

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Rachita Nayar is a talented technical writer who is well-versed in writing technical content related to AI, ML, blockchain, metaverse, and other cutting-edge technologies. With her passion for technology and knack for clear and concise writing, Rachita plays a crucial role in communicating complex blockchain concepts to a wide range of audiences. Her expertise lies in crafting user-friendly documentation, informative articles, and engaging content that simplifies intricate technical concepts into easily understandable language. Outside of her professional pursuits, Rachita indulges in her love for baking. When she's not writing, you can often find her experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen, creating delicious treats that delight her friends and family. With a strong background in technical writing and a deep interest in blockchain technology, Rachita Nayar combines her skills and enthusiasm to deliver informative and engaging content to readers worldwide. Her dedication to clarity, accuracy, and a touch of creativity sets her apart as a technical writer in the dynamic and ever-evolving world of blockchain technology.

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