Finance | July 27, 2017 8:39 am

Bankers Are Quitting Their Jobs to Chase the Cryptocurrency Boom

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, offer financiers a chance to make millions in a matter of seconds.

Initial coin offering
Initial coin offerings are gaining attention as bankers are making millions from backing the right ones. (Getty images)

It’s a get-rich-quick scheme for the digital age.

Bankers are trading their office jobs at institutions for the prospect of raking in millions as a digital pioneer in the unregulated world of cryptocurrencies, created to avoid conventional banking.

Initial coin offerings, or ICOs, are a way for new cryptocurrencies to generate wealth and buzz by offering digital tokens instead of shares, like an IPO. Investors spend Etherum or Bitcoin to buy into the company or network’s new cryptocurrency, which will raise in value if the venture works and more people buy-in.

By backing the right cryptocurrency, according to Bloombergbankers like Richard Liu have made millions in a few short seconds.  Tezos, a smart contract platform that offered an ICO earlier this year, raised $200 million—$30 million more than the average Hong Kong IPO.

Bloomberg reports 90 ICOs in 2017 so far have generated nearly $1 billion. The boom has drawn comparisons to the Cambrian explosion when most of Earth’s life came into being half a billion years ago.

But like many life forms, not all of these ICOs will survive long. There’s often little more than an explanation given before new digital assets hit the market, which amounts to high-stakes gambling.