Today in WTF: Alternet Systems’ (ALYI.OTC) ICO to raise $300 million to produce delivery trucks made of hemp in Africa.

Alternet Systems (ALYI.OTC) confirmed today that they were producing and selling delivery trucks in Africa made of hemp and powered by hemp batteries.

You heard that right: a vehicle made from hemp using a hemp powered battery. Evidently, storing energy is one of hemp’s many superpowers. We haven’t written about Alternet for awhile, but seriously a company so weird can’t skip past our radar for too long.

This company’s primary claim to fame is their ReVolt Electric Motorcycle line, and this expansion would take them into territory they had previously announced but never ventured into.

Dr Randell Tomo, the company’s CEO, announced the vehicles last September in an interview with Libasse Diop Dia, the CEO of Africa Development Organization. Interview topics included the industrialization of Africa focusing on the development of clean, sustainable energy. Their strategy involves building and pushing these vehicles into Sub-Saharan Africa, and begins with their ReVolt motorcycle, which was designed to support the African ride-share industry. There’s supposed to be a video somewhere on their website about this conversation, but like most of what this company promises, it just ain’t so.

That being said, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, but the company needs money.

Last week they announced the RevoltTOKEN cryptocurrency. It’s dedicated to funding ALYI’s $300 million electric vehicle initiative in Africa, and ALYI intends on publishing a video presentation today which will provide details on their partnership with RevolTOKEN and their present $25 million investment commitment to ALYI. The pitch is naturally in the form of an initial coin offering (ICO) as they’re trying to raise $100 million for investment into ALYI and their future African initiatives.

My thoughts on ICOs are generally negative, and my thoughts on participating in international ICOs in Africa are even more so. At least in Canada, if you buy into a company in exchange for their cryptocurrency, and the company’s principals bound off and spend it on Lamborghini, coke and Toronto real estate as in the case of Vanbex here in Vancouver, you can reasonably expect some regulatory body to come knocking on their door with their law enforcement buddies and their curious questions.

But if you try that with a company that, even though they’re based in Texas, will still be dealing in Africa, you’re probably just going to get laughed at, and rightfully so. The SEC might show up on their doorstep, but without actual on-the-ground representation in Africa, you’ll never know where your money’s being spent.

An ICO makes a certain sort of sense in a lot of different ways. It can provide a back-door to capital which would otherwise be unavailable for a number of different reasons. Alternet’s case is that they’re trading at a fraction of a fraction of a penny and there’s no lending house on the planet that would dare touch them.

Offering a cryptocurrency instead of stock wouldn’t further dilute their already close-to-worthless paper, while giving them the freedom and security to do whatever they want, because there’s no regulations to tie them down. On the investor side, ICO’s are a form of micro-investment, giving access to people who otherwise would miss the boat due to lack of credentials. Participation in private placements are generally for accredited investors, which means they satisfy one or more requirements regarding income, net worth, asset size, governance status or professional experience.

But again. The lack of regulations means there’s zero accountability or recourse, and there’s nothing stopping the company from their Lamborghini and cocaine holiday. There’s also something to be said about a company with such weak paper, and that’s that the only thing this company can afford to make is promises.

There’s loads of promise in cryptocurrency and blockchain, and maybe even under the right circumstances, even initial coin offerings, but it would need to be a company with all of its ducks in a row, I’s dotted and T’s crossed, and that isn’t Alternet.

—Joseph Morton

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