Experts or charlatans? ICO analysts and white paper informativeness

David Florysiak*, Alexander Schandlbauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


White papers are likely the primary source of information provided to potential Initial Coin Offering (ICO) investors in platform-based ventures that may reduce information asymmetry between ICO issuers and investors. We use textual analysis to measure the information content of white paper documents. We examine how an informative white paper content signal and a concurrent potentially biased expert rating signal correlate with measures of ICO funding success, ICO underpricing, and post-ICO performance. Our empirical results suggest that high-quality ICO issuers signal their type by providing more informative white paper content, i.e., excess or new textual information not contained in recent and peer white papers. However, investors rely on the expert ratings signal in their decision to buy tokens that “jams” the white paper informative content signal. Once listed tokens receive a market valuation, white paper informative content is positively associated with our measures for underpricing, returns, and liquidity, while the expert ratings signal is rendered irrelevant.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106476
JournalJournal of Banking and Finance
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022


  • Expert ratings
  • Information content
  • Initial coin offerings
  • Platform economy
  • Signaling
  • Textual analysis
  • White paper


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