On September 24, 2017, a whitepaper was published that tackles the dilemma of fairness in token offering-based crowdsales, co-written by both Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin and TrueBit founder Jason Teutsch.
Entitled "Interactive Coin Offerings," the paper describes a protocol that operates under the premise that “if each token buyer specifies a desired purchase quantity at each valuation then everyone can successfully participate.” The interactive coin offering protocol proposes allowing buyers to withdraw their contributions to the contract within defined parameters while exploiting the bookkeeping capabilities of executable distributed code contracts; buyers can set a cap on the value of tokens for the issuance, and if it goes above that valuation prior to a certain preset block number, the contract will issue a refund.
Other parameters of the protocol are a withdrawal lock and an inflation ramp. In the provided example, a 30-day crowdsale might allow for voluntary withdrawals during an initial 20 days. After that, only automatic withdrawals would be allowed. An inflation ramp offers a sliding scale for bonuses that apply to early buyers, decreasing, for example, from 20 to 10 percent upon initiation of the withdrawal lock, dissipating to nothing by contract closure or the end of the crowdfunding event.
The protocol also takes into account whale action in crowdsales by treating both large and small purchases the same. As per the paper, "Whales with low personal caps get pushed out of the crowdsale in just the same way as buyers who purchase a fraction of a token."
If adopted, the interactive coin offering protocol offers crowdfunding startups an avenue that may be more inclusive for participants seeking to invest in innovations that are potentially game-changing for the ecosystem.