And: Blockchain's Future
There’s a reason that blockchain startups are hot. Technologies come and go over the years and raise their share of hype, but few can match the enthusiasm that has been shown for blockchain technology.
Blockchain is the brainchild of Satoshi Nakamoto, who may or may not be real and may or may not be one person or a group of people. All that is known is that Nakamoto is also the brains behind Bitcoin. Blockchain is in fact the technology behind Bitcoin but the two are totally separate. Blockchain provides the means to record and store Bitcoin transactions, but the blockchain technology has many uses beyond Bitcoin.
Blockchains are distributed ledgers, and they accept input from many different parties. So think of them as something akin to a Wikipedia page, where anyone can edit it. Unlike Wikipedia, where one person can change a page, a blockchain ledger can only be changed by people within the group who have permissions.
With a permissioned blockchain, each participant has a unique identity, and their identity has permissions of what they can and cannot do. Blockchain uses policies to constrain network participation and access to transaction details.
So unlike Wikipedia, there is no need for central control. If someone makes a bad or negative entry to a Wikipedia page, the admins can undo it. That is not the case with blockchain, where the distribution database is done by consensus where every node in the blockchain network comes to the same conclusion about a record. You get the ability to make changes to a Blockchain by ownership of a private key for authentication.
There are many other potential uses, as the many blockchain startups in this list will show. This list, as long as it is, is by no means complete. Yet here are 35 blockchain startups worth watching – and many more are entering the field.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are means to launch a new cryptocurrency, like BitCoin, except they sell ownership or royalties to a project instead of money. ICOBox provides SaaS solutions for conducting ICOs. A standard ICOBox package consists of three modules: a technology solution for deploying and managing tokens; a legal solution for handling contractual documents and token legal concept review; and a marketing solution with s a preset marketing strategy, advertising traffic budget, critical public relations recommendations, and a bounty program setup.
Okay, not exactly a startup, rather an emerging platform. Ethereum is the leading blockchain platform for ICOs with more than 50% market share and many companies listed here are Ethereum-based. Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables development of blockchain-based SmartContracts and Distributed Applications (DApps). It’s a platform and programming language that helps developers build apps without any downtime, fraud, control or interference from a third party.
Filecoin is a distributed storage cloud that uses unused storage space on individual computers and server farms for cryptographic "tokens" managed by blockchain. People providing storage are called "miners" and receive Filecoin in exchange for allowing their storage to be used by customers, called "clients." The more storage miners provide, the more they are paid in tokens, based on BitCoin.
4. Consensys Systems
Consensys Systems builds decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain that could threaten major industries. It has a distributed accounting system, prediction markets for business, sports, and entertainment; an open energy market; a distributed music model to compete with Apple and Spotify; and a suite of business tools for mass collaboration, mass creation and mass management of a management-less company.
5. Chain Inc.
Chain creates a suite of blockchain-based tools for banks, stock exchanges, credit-card companies and other major banking industry firms to enable them to move, store, trade and manage financial assets quickly, securely all via blockchain. The Chain platform enables banks and financial institutions to create, issue, store and transfer digital assets on private, purpose-built networks for a given market.
Abra is building a global digital asset-management system for electronic payments that can clear instantly, instead of taking days like with legacy services such as Western Union. It allows people to convert physical money to Bitcoin for transfers as well.
Founded in 2011, Bitfury is an older firm that started as a mining company but has since evolved into a fully integrated, full-service blockchain security and technology firm. It has both proprietary hardware and software solutions for secure transfer of digital assets, along with analytics.
8. Power Ledger
Power Ledge is a major player in the peer-to-peer marketplace for prosumers and consumers to trade renewable energy. They provide the transactional environment for trading of surplus renewable energy from owners to consumers and at what price.
Herosphere serves the betting industry through its Ethereum-based online prediction platform. It allows for trustless betting, so two or more parties can interact and fulfill contracts without having to know or trust each other.
CrowdWiz is a decentralized and completely transparent crypto investment platform on Ethereum that relies on crowdsourcing rather than financial bankers or venture capitalists to choose what startups they invest in. Users use the company’s cryptocurrency to vote on specific assets they want funded and the platform distributes the funds based on the majority opinion of the crowd.
A Liquidity Asset Token is a blockchain-based way to access cash from the things you own, like taking a second mortgage on your house for money. LAToken lets you extend that concept to your house, your car, or anything else of value that you own.
12. Kalpa Digital Health
The Kalpa, as it is called, is an independent, authenticated and easy-to-access global health care database using BlockChain Technology to enable individuals to access their personal health and medical records, regardless of geographical or organizational boundaries. So you can be anywhere in the world and have full access to your medical records.
The videogame world has seen a huge growth in the sale of in-game items. Many online games such as World of Warcraft allow players to buy gear with real cash, and there has existed an aftermarket of sellers of in-game gear. DMarket is a cross-game marketplace that enables gamers to trade any virtual item from any game on any platform. Its API will allow for one-click in-game sales through BitCoin rather than PayPal, the payment method of choice now.
Qvolta is a P2P cryptocurrency-fiat exchange platform and mobile application that allows people to buy and sell Bitcoins and Ethereum using local popular payment methods. The platform will transform the way people deal with cryptocurrencies, promising a secure, user-friendly P2P-exchange solution poised for mass adoption.
Propy.com, is a peer-to-peer real estate exchange platform built on blockchain technology claiming to be the world’s first Global Property Store with Decentralized Title Registry. Propy is the world’s first international real-estate marketplace designed for purchasing property across borders. The team at Propy.com facilitates connections between international entities to enable the seamless purchase of international real-estate online for the first time.
16. Vault One
Its product Vault One Solution is a method for securing sensitive data on a private Ethereum blockchain. It addresses Privileged Account Management (PAM) by integrating Ethereum alongside traditional security methods, like passwords, private keys, and other traditional security methods. This means no more data breaches caused by compromised passwords and a fully traceable history of who accessed the server and what information they obtained.
DECENT is a blockchain-based content distribution platform going up against giants like Apple and Amazon by offering content creators full profits from their work, instead of losing 30% or more when sold through iTunes or Amazon. DECENT’s blockchain is designed to incorporate every content format imaginable.
Airfox is leveraging blockchain to make mobile data more affordable and accessible to millions of people around the world using a new cryptocurrency called AirTokens that will be redeemable for mobile data on pre-paid plans. Users earn these AirTokens by opting to view advertisements in AirFox’s free Android apps. Users are rewarded in AirTokens for every ad impression on their device, which they then use for mobile data credit.
19. Digital Asset Holdings
Headed up by a former JPMorgan executive, DAH develops and builds distributed ledger technology solutions for the financial services industry. Its software covers a variety of financial services, including loans, securities, derivatives, and foreign exchange. Its software maps business logic and legal processes to cryptographic signature flows and commits transactions to private or public distributed ledgers or traditional databases.
The Xapo mobile app is a Bitcoin and multi-currency wallet for smartphones that lets you pay for things with Bitcoin, which isn’t all that original. But you can send, receive, and convert funds between BitCoin and cash in all currencies worldwide, do bank transfers, and even use the Xapo Debit Card for in-store purchases, online, and at ATMs worldwide to use Bitcoins for every day purchases.
Provenance is a real-time supply chain data platform that enables greater transparency by tracing the origins and histories of products. For example, each item has a unique digital token, enabling Provenance to verify every step of its production and create a digital history of the entire lifecycle of the product.
Not the most original of names, Enigma is a peer-to-peer network, enabling different parties to jointly store and run computations on data while keeping the data private. This would allow companies to analyze consumer data without giving employees access to individual consumers’ personal information. Enigma's computational model is based on a highly optimized version of secure multi-party computation, guaranteed by a verifiable secret-sharing scheme. It uses blockchain to manage and secure the network so no third-party is needed.
Colony is a decentralized autonomous organization that replicates a company, except it uses AI and crowdsourcing to make sure the right decisions are made by the right people. People can collaborate by joining projects, called colonies, and have a way to manage and measure productivity, as well as provide the means for people to get paid in tokens.
Augur is very ambitious. It offers a prediction market platform on real world events. You make your predictions by betting virtual shares on worldwide events, whether that’s the Oscars or geopolitics. It is built on Ethereum’s decentralized infrastructure and allows users can place custom bets and trade real money worldwide. All the money in the system will be in Bitcoin or other types of peer-to-peer cryptocurrency.
26. Parity Technologies
An offshoot of the Ethereum Project and lead by Ethereum’s co-founder Gavin Wood, Parity (formerly known as EthCore) develops software solutions for enterprises and industries to unlock the full value of decentralized technology. It’s attempting to solve some of the current issues facing the Ethereum blockchain such as privacy and scalability.
27. Protocol Labs
Protocol Labs develops IPFS, short of Interplanetary File System, a blockchain-oriented peer-to-peer distributed content-addressed block storage model file system for connecting all computing devices with the same system of files. This way files are replicated and duplicates removed.
Slock.it connects Ethereum light nodes embedded in connected cars, homes, and other IoT devices enabling anyone to rent, sell or share their property without a middleman. Airbnb apartments can become fully automated, for instance. Slock.it brings renters and buyers together and makes smart contracts enforceable, handling payments, deposits and insurance.
Backfeed develops technology and new economic models to support free, scaleable collaboration using a distributed governance model. People can deploy and maintain decentralized applications that work on top of Blockchain technology. Its protocols make it possible for any disparate group of individuals to easily deploy decentralized applications based on spontaneous, large-scale, and free collaboration.
Plex.Ai is a automotive telematics platform built on Ethereum and uses machine learning and AI to give insurance companies real time, remote diagnostics on a car and the driver. Secure and reliable communication between cars and insurers means the car’s insurer will have continuously information on the car’s actual use, and the insurance rates can be adjusted accordingly, rather than once or twice per year
tØ, also known as “t-zero,” is a blockchain-based trading platform created by online retailer Overstock.com. tØ has no relation to its retail markets. Instead it aims to change who securities are bought and sold by making trade and settlement occur simultaneously using blockchain technology. The platform integrates cryptographically secure distributed ledgers with existing market processes to reduce settlement time and costs, increase transparency, efficiency and auditability.
OpenBazaar is a consumer marketplace that competes with eBay, except it offers reduced fees for all parties due to its decentralized nature. It has no transaction or monthly fees for sellers. Purchases are, of course, made in BitCoin.
Humaniq is a financial ecosystem designed to connect unbanked people, mostly in the Third World, to the global economy. It combines a Blockchain bank that provides financial services and replaces IDs, passports and signatures with biometrics and ICO and distributed ownership instead of shares.
34. Hello Block
Formerly known as BitPagos, Ripio aims to serve the South American market, where only 20% of the population has a credit card and many don’t have bank accounts. Its consumer credit product, available through a smartphone app, enables those with limited banking history to get credit through its consumer wallet service. Once a user builds up a spending history, the company uses that data as a credit history to offer loans or other financial services that would normally be unavailable to the person.