Also read our top five most significant trends in blockchain right now for even more understanding of the current blockchain landscape.
Back by popular demand is the bobsguide ‘fintechs to watch’ series. To kick things off, in this article we list the eight blockchain-based fintechs we think will stand-out from the growing pack of start-ups and ICOs in the next 12 months.
Blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are almost synonymous, but should we include Tulipmania within that list of synonyms? Skepticism aside and whatever happens with the cryptorush, we’ve chosen our eight blockchain fintechs to watch this year that all make use of this exciting new technology.
2017 was the year the bitcoin blockchain announced itself on the mainstream scene in opulent fashion - a $1000 dollar investment in January 2017 would have seen returns of $17,000 in December 2017. Part of the drive behind that hike was the steady realisation of the capabilities of blockchain. In its purest form, blockchain allows an immutable and decentralised ledger to record and store digital assets.
The processing power required to mine and archive each block has led to an exponential interest in the realisation of a blockchain-powered economy with a universal currency. It is a grand dream but one that fails to adequately explain the promise of total decentralisation or, for that matter, take into account the geopolitical monopoly on mining.
As with many emerging technologies, it is often the residual use cases that have the long-term impact.
Here are our blockchain companies to watch for 2018:
Founded: February 2017
Category: Private Investment Banking
Olga Feldmeier, CEO of SMART VALOR, has certainly been making a case for herself as the earliest adopter of bitcoin in Switzerland, earning herself the title ‘Bitcoin Queen’. Having witnessed hyperinflation first hand during her childhood in her native Ukraine, Olga left her job as Head of Sales of UBS’ private banking function, she quickly saw the value in a decentralised crypto asset public ledger.
Thus SMART VALOR was born. The SMART VALOR network is a decentralised marketplace for tokenized investments, connecting investors and asset issuers via smart-contract-based incentive mechanisms.
SMART VALOR is set to become the Amazon for tokenized assets, where you can build your own portfolio consisting of real and crypto assets with the same ease as purchasing a book online.
Founded: Initial release 2012. First production launch, May 2017.
Category: Global Payments & Correspondent Banking
A challenger to the current correspondent banking status quo. Ripple looks to use semi-private blockchain ledgers to perform specific operations within its payment network, hereby bypassing the scalability issue. With a suite of functions, Ripple hopes to innovate global payments. xCurrent, Ripple’s ‘internet of value’ style network means banks can transfer, settle and clear in real time. xRapid, commonly referred to as XRP, is an on-demand liquidity, which offers better fee transparency and liquidity across the Ripple network.
Marcus Treacher, Head of Global Accounts at Ripple had this to say about the company’s exciting future:
“Thank you for including Ripple – it’s great to have our hard work solving customers' cross-border payments challenges be recognised!
"Ripple has more than 100 real customers, nearly 90 of which are banks and close to 80 of which are at various stages of deploying Ripple’s leading enterprise blockchain solution for payments commercially. The number of customers using the digital asset XRP as a liquidity tool for instant, on-demand payments also continues to grow. 2017 was the year of cryptocurrencies - and XRP was the best performing digital asset of the year. We believe that’s because of its utility - it's the best digital asset for payments. We’re proud to see the market has recognised this.
"In 2018 we plan to build on our achievements by partnering with more of the world’s leading financial institutions to continue powering real cross-border payments quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively. Our goal is to create an Internet of Value, to solve the international payments problem that is measured in the trillions of dollars.”
Read our interview with Ripple over their partnership with Santander and American Express.
Category: Global Payments
“The data is encrypted using keys that are encrypted using other keys” is a line that sums up global payments provider, Circle's dedication to security, including use of the bitcoin blockchain. Further emphasis on social and free payments, including cheaper cross-border payments and currency exchange, makes for a highly useful app all backed up by the FCA and Barclays.
Category: Ticket fraud
Based: The Netherlands
Having sold 10,000 tickets across 30 events in 2017, GUTS is set for bright things in 2018 as it looks to put this innovative use of the Ethereum blockchain for a transparent primary and secondary ticket market. The GET protocol (Guaranteed Entrance Token), acts as a stable value holder on a users wallet/smart-ticket to prevent fraudulent re-sale of secondary tickets which is typically 30%-700% markup.
With a deal from Hekwerk Theaterproducties set to bring in 310,000 ticket sales in 2019, and key support from Martin Garrix, 2018 will be a roller coaster year for GUTS as it fends off copycats in the ticket industry.
AidCoin (powered by CharityStars)
The charity sector has been somewhat neglected by innovation but is now receiving a well deserved boost from the fintech revolution. It’s no wonder therefore, to see charities taking note of blockchain’s capabilities. On the 16th of January 2018, CharityStars launched their token crowdsale for AidCoin and were fully subscribed in 2 hours with 14,333 ETH raised. Similar to GUTS, CharityStars looks to make the charity space more transparent using the Ethereum blockchain to allow fundraising on their ecosystem of services, AIDChain.
Robert Robinson, Managing Director of CharityStars UK, told bobsguide:
"It's an honour to be recognised as a key player in helping charities raise more and bringing transparency and innovation to the industry. We believe that through AidChain and AidPay, charities will be able to improve trust from donors and increase fundraising for their specific projects and causes. Blockchain is the foundation of developing these intelligent solutions that will significantly propel technology forward and we're proud to be part of it."
Category: Settlements & Payments
SETL returns for a second year as a company to watch. The three year old company, headed by CEO Peter Randall, had a big year in 2017. That shows no signs of slowing down as SETL recently announced that OFI Asset Management and SETL had successfully processed blockchain transactions on the IZNES platform on the 11th of January 2018. SETL’s efficient and secure blockchain technology also increases transparency, optimises operational workflow and will, in time, enable the development of new value-added services.
As Peter Randall acknowledges: “This is an important step in bringing 21st Century technology to the asset management sector, including reduced costs, better transparency and workflow. When this project is fully operational it will be the largest single instance, by value, of a permissioned blockchain in the world.”
Chain specialises in building blockchain networks for financial institutions; the fintech builds the cryptographic ledgers upon which transactions can occur. Chain sits at the midpoint between fully decentralised cryptocurrency technology and centralised custodian banks; in effect, bank-friendly blockchain.
With high profile partnerships with Nasdaq, Visa, Citi, Capital One and Fiserv, Chain is one for the future and we can’t help feel that those looking quietly looking after the underlying infrastructure will quickly gain the recognition they deserve in the market.
Chronicled aims to build the framework to the digital economy. The company, headquartered in San Francisco, looks to combine IoT, AI and blockchain to power end-to-end supply chain solutions for high end goods, pharmaceuticals and, more recently, food and beverage. In a recent interview, Sam Radocchia, Co-Founder, told bobsguide: "We use the blockchain as a trusted and interoperable backend to power these automated supply chain processes that other systems can plug into".
With the rise of tokenisation coming to the fore, and the concept behind the digitised economy, Chronicled is looking to add more layers of information behind the digitised assets to ensure quality, authenticity and physical identifiers.
"We’re the layer of digitisation where we interconnect and test the existence of these uniquely identifiable assets along with the necessary additional information. Until we can connect these assets on a common backend with common protocols we can’t collect the valuable rich data."