This is the final part of a three-part series of articles about the state of blockchain in Europe. The series covers the blockchain scene in some of the most important European nations. I would like to thank PR firm Wachsman for sharing with me the facts & figures and the commentaries present in this series. Part one may be read here and part two, here.
The Netherlands and Switzerland are the remaining two European countries whose blockchain spaces will be reviewed in this third & final part.
It will not be incorrect to say that the Netherlands is on the rise on the global blockchain scene. This European nation recently hosted the Odyssey Hackathon, the biggest blockchain and AI hackathon in the world. The event was supported by the Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations of the Netherlands, the European Union Regional Development Fund, De Nederlandsche Bank (the Dutch Central Bank), KLM and Deloitte. With 1,500 people in attendance, it saw 100 teams compete for €200,000. The Special Envoy of Startup Delta, Prince Constantijn van Oranje-Nassau, also supported the hackathon.
The Netherlands is home to 135 blockchain startups.
Night view of the Swiss canton of Zug and its lake. Crypto Valley Association, an autonomous, government-backed alliance founded to leverage Switzerland’s strengths to create the world’s foremost blockchain and cryptographic ecosystem, is based in Zug.
The presence of state-of-the-art centers and knowledge hubs like Crypto Valley, which hosts 20% of the worldwide blockchain market; flexible regulatory bodies and the government’s strong encouragement have all enabled Switzerland to thrive as a leading hub for blockchain revolution. Switzerland is also the ICO capital of Europe, where firms raised $456 million in 2018, and $1.46 billion in 2017. Startups in this European nation received nearly 1.24 billion francs (almost $1.25 billion) of venture capital in 2018, about 32% more than the year before.
As for the number of DLT startups operating in Switzerland, there are 712 of them (out of 750 companies in the Crypto Valley) as of Q1 2019. Demonstrating the breadth of firms in the Swiss blockchain cluster is the startup Utopia Music, which is a new entrant into the Crypto Valley top 50 and the only media and entertainment firm to do so.
Switzerland also hosts four Unicorn startups (firms already worth billions). These startups include Dfinity, Cardano, Bitmain and Ethereum.
Crypto Valley Association president Daniel Haudenschild said, “At the heart of the blockchain movement, the Crypto Valley Association has been central to creating Switzerland’s leading position as a pioneer in cryptocurrency and blockchain. The valley is home to some of the most innovative and influential blockchain companies in the world, only made possible by the friendly regulatory environment, secure and predictable legal framework, world-class infrastructure, talent pool, sound policies and economic strength here in Switzerland.”
Armin Schmid, CEO of Swiss Crypto Tokens, part of the Bitcoin Suisse Group, stated, “At Swiss Crypto Tokens, we consider ourselves very fortunate to call Switzerland home. The Government here has always shown great encouragement of the blockchain community and this has undoubtedly been a huge part of our success in positioning Switzerland as the ‘Crypto Nation’. In addition, given how developed and influential the Swiss financial sector is — managing around 27.5% of all global cross-border assets — Switzerland is an ideal environment with a stable economy and currency for liquidity-providing instruments such as the CryptoFranc, our Swiss-Franc pegged stablecoin.”
End of Series
Image credit – Mensi (CC BY-SA 3.0)
by Jimmy Zhong, Co-Founder & CEO of IOST
Ever since the introduction of Bitcoin, the very first Decentralized Application (DApp), we have seen multiple use cases arise in the last ten years, from crypto exchanges, data storage, to gaming and entertainment. While much has been said about the potential for blockchain technology to positively impact almost every aspect of our lives, the prospect of mainstream adoption still seems like a lofty target for the relatively nascent industry to achieve. Though we have seen encouraging signs of adoption in recent years, there is still a long way to go before we start to see the tangible benefits that blockchain technology can bring to our daily lives.
At its current state, significant barriers hinder the rate of adoption for everyday users by limiting their ability to interact with blockchain technology seamlessly. To engage with DApps, users would require a sufficient level of technical knowledge, and an understanding of how cryptocurrencies work, along with how to acquire, store, and use them. Coupled with slow transaction speeds and inefficient systems, it is not surprising that adoption rates have not lived up to the hype, thanks to the inaccessibility and difficulty of using DApps on blockchain platforms.
For blockchain technology to make its mainstream breakthrough, the industry will have to pivot its focus to the usability of DApps, and lower the barriers to entry for everyday users. Users should not have to undergo multiple steps of procuring and securing tokens, or feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of technical knowledge required to even begin using the DApps. Instead, development of DApps should focus on allowing users to earn and receive tokens through the platform natively. A current example of this is Bermi, a social network that allows users to earn cryptocurrencies by creating and interacting with viral videos. Another example is OnBlock, a platform that allows users to experience DApps on the IOST ecosystem with just a phone number, without the need for private keys, wallets, and accounts. Only when the barriers to entry are lowered and users are familiarized with the concepts of blockchain, will we start to see breakthroughs in adoption.
To encourage developers in creating meaningful and user-friendly DApps for users, a holistic support system of projects, incubators, accelerators, and venture capitalists is also needed to provide sufficient resources and capital. When developers are given adequate support and tools to create valuable DApps that can break down the current barriers for both consumers and enterprises, the blockchain industry will be able to thrive and grow closer towards the eventual goal of achieving mainstream adoption.
IOST co-founder & CEO Jimmy Zhong
Jimmy is the Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of IOST; the application-friendly, next generation public lockchain infrastructure helping decentralized app developers overcome some of the most challenging problems with mass adoption. An entrepreneur at heart, Jimmy started his first business while still at high school in Beijing. Moving to the United States shortly after, he co-founded several technology startups while at university, including Studypool, a 500 Startups backed-online platform connecting students to tutors.
Looking to drive the next wave of internet services, Jimmy believes in the promise that a more scalable blockchain infrastructure will bring in helping developers accelerate the adoption of decentralized applications. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science from Emory University, Atlanta.
Guest post and Mr. Zhong’s photo arranged by PR firm Wachsman