A Handshake, Deloitte's Annual Blockchain Survey, and 10 EU Startups to Watch

Off The Blocks, Vol 117, June 23, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a lot of turbulence worldwide. These are challenging times for businesses and the key to survival is adaptability and agility. We are working with our partners, clients, and portfolio companies, creating strong ecosystems for their mutual growth. Simultaneously, we are trying to resolve some of the most complicated and challenging issues to create a trusted environment for people to go back to work and get the economy back on its feet. You can read about our efforts in a 4 part series here.

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Blockchain | A Solid Entrenchment in the Enterprise

Last week, Deloitte released its annual blockchain survey. Enterprise adoption of blockchain technology, once considered a fad, is steadily gaining in strategic importance. In the last few years, there has been a noticeable shift in the C-suite towards building more transparency, efficiency, and cost leadership with blockchain systems. More than 50% of the 1488 CXOs surveyed in 14 countries said that blockchain technology is critical to their competitiveness and had moved into a top 5 strategic priority for their company. While 83% of the respondents said that they will lose competitive advantage if they don’t adopt blockchain technology, the room for skepticism expanded - with 54% saying that the technology is overhyped.

This year’s survey suggests that blockchain is solidly entrenched in the strategic thinking of organizations across industries, sectors, and applications.

- Linda Pawczuk, Principal, Global Consulting Leader for Blockchain and Digital Assets

Globally 39% of the respondents said that they have moved blockchain technology from early pilots to production. However, there are regional disparities. In the US, the adoption rate is just over 30% whereas in China it is approximately double at 60%. The APAC region as a whole seems to be an emerging leader with solutions across a wide range of industries including technology, media, telecom, financial services, and retail/wholesale/logistics etc.

Digital assets for enterprises are also getting significant and growing attention from executives. Facebook’s Libra may very well have been the catalyst for companies to think about assets they can uniquely own and control through their distribution channels or create new engagement models for their customers.

Given these developments, it is not inconceivable today that a digital global identity will emerge as a major tool for financial transactions, data privacy, and ownership. businesses globally. Almost 90% of executives believe that such an identity will be a major part of their digital assets strategy. Such an identity however, needs ot be interoperable over a large number of enterprise deployments as well as comply with regulations both local and global. KYC/AML procedures and tracking/tracing illegal funds movements over digital, encrypted channels remain an inherent obstacle for companies to address. Organizations like the FATF are already addressing these at an international level and providing the leadership for digital assets to address these issues. On a local level, countries need to put in governance mechanisms that remove friction as companies adopt digital assets and identities. It is far easier for companies to comply with a standard set of rules and best practices and bake them into their solutions than to create solutions and hope for a favorable rule base.

There are many more interesting elements including a commentary on blockchain consortiums and regional comparisons. The full report that can be read here.

Takeaway 1: Enterprises are accepting the advantages of blockchain technology as a fact rather than as a future breakthrough.

Takeaway 2: Blockchain tech is increasingly seen as an agent of change with ripple effects across the entire organization

Takeaway 3: The emerging lessons emphasize that the adoption of blockchain technology is driven by incentives for stakeholders. This is exactly where Proteum has created a niche in working with scaleups and enterprises in building ecosystems where each participant is commercially incentivized.

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Now for some news from the world this week:

  1. Supply Chain | Shape A Post-COVID-19 Economic Recovery: The COVID-19 crisis has rattled supply chains around the globe and created serious questions about the future of commerce. Critical to recovery and restoring economic activity is regaining trust in these systems. This challenge presents an opportunity for the integration of blockchain, a technology with the potential to fundamentally alter the future of supply-chain. The best place to begin implementing blockchain is where the transaction, event, or milestone is created. For many companies, this means using supply chain data, specifically purchase order and stock-keeping units (SKU), and becoming a part of a supply chain blockchain network. …Read more on Forbes

  2. Regulations | Blockchain businesses are scrambling to comply with FATF’s “travel rule”: The tug of war between the novel blockchain industry and the regulators on how the former can operate in a legal way is going to face its first test when the intergovernmental organization of 39 member states meets later this month to review if the Virtual Asset Providers (VASPS) have enforced the controversial “travel rule.” According to the detailed recommendations outlined by FATF, all VASPs are to collect detailed user information for the senders and the receivers of a transaction, in an attempt to discourage the malicious actors from using the services for nefarious purposes. The privacy-centric digital coins like Monero(XMR), Dash (DASH) & Zcash(ZEC) became the immediate casualty as some of the VASPs took the easy way out and started delisting these coins. … Read more on Technology.org

  3. Sports | Online Chess Chooses Algorand Blockchain to Host Player Rankings: Algorand’s blockchain platform has been selected by the official online body of chess to record the ratings and titles of players. Algorand said it will record FIDE Online Arena World Chess players’ data and provide a transparent platform where participants can view game information that’s updated in real time. FIDE Online Arena is the federation’s internet server that is solely responsible for official digital tournaments and world championships in which players earn international ratings and titles. Algorand’s public ledger will be used to store game results as well as verify player ratings in a format that aims to provide activity free from fraud or manipulation. World Chess will also use Algorand’s blockchain platform to develop rewards and incentives for the chess community via internal currency and blockchain-based betting. …Read more on Coindesk

  4. Payments | Blockchain Makes Inroads Against Cross-Border Payments Friction: Distributed ledger technology (DLT) appears to be making progress in its effort to provide the financial services ecosystem with an alternative to traditional rails, with a focus on easing cross-border payments friction. This article looks at the payment rail innovation and finds growing adoption of blockchain tools by financial institutions (FIs) as innovators highlight the costs and inefficiencies of the traditional correspondent banking system. Those profiled include RippleNet, IXOPAY, Apifiny, and QR-bill. … Read more on Pymnts

  5. Browser | Handshake Goes Live With an Uncensorable Internet Browser: Today, as the Handshake Network records its  1 millionth transaction, HandyBrowser will go live. It’s a dedicated way to access the uncensorable internet ecosystem made possible through the distributed Handshake Network, as well as anything else you would normally search for.  Under development for over two years, Handshake minimizes the role of centralized authorities in the internet’s basic infrastructure. The much-anticipated protocol garnered significant buzz at launch in February, though remained more of a hobbyist pursuit. HandyBrowser is aimed at all-comers, who don’t necessarily want to know what’s driving the car, only that the car gets from A to B safely. … Read more on Coindesk

The Final Word | 10 of the most promising European blockchain startups to watch

EU-Startups, listed 10 of the most promising European startups that are supporting and stretching the use of blockchain through their main services and products. They compiled this list by analysing growth rate, funding rounds closed, global launches, team size, among others. 

  1. Settlemint – provides the infrastructure for BPaS or “Blockchain as a Service”

  2. Coinfirm – anti-money laundering (AML) for virtual currencies and apps

  3. Odem – lets students control and own their academic records in one place

  4. Limechain – SaaS platform to execute dApp transactions with fiat money

  5. elrond – providing easy on-ramps to the digital economy

  6. DappRadar – tracks 2900+ dApps and provides actionable market intelligence

  7. Colendi – providing greater access to micro-financing​ for SMBs

  8. Solve.Care - coordinate medical care, benefits, and payments 

  9. Bankera – crypto-friendly financial services to companies and individuals

  10. Neufund – bridging on-chain token and real-world equity in companies

… Read more on EU-Startups

About Proteum
Proteum is a global blockchain investment and advisory firm that works with public, private and start-up companies to help them transition into the world of blockchains and decentralized applications. We help companies strategically build their ecosystem and unique capabilities so that they can own and control their future. Velocity, our innovation hub, invests in and accelerates the time to market for startups and emerging ideas.

www.proteum.io | info@proteum.io  | Twitter: @proteumio | Velocity