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Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

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.

The Netherlands

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.


Blockchain State of Affairs in Europe: Part Three

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)


China’s Leading Blockchain Infrastructure Provider Adds Polkadot

China’s Leading Blockchain Infrastructure Provider Adds Polkadot

Blockchain Service Network (BSN), a China-based blockchain infrastructure provider, backed by the Chinese Government announced that it has integrated cross-chain communication blockchain protocol Polkadot, Oasis and a Chinese focused public chain initiative Bityuan into its network.

BSN expanded its blockchain network portfolio with recent additions. Earlier this year, the network onboarded Ethereum, Tezos, Neo, EOSIO, and IrisNet. BSN plans to provide a centralized blockchain framework to bring leading networks under a single roof.

Blockchain Service Network is China’s most ambitious blockchain project as the country plans to lead the digital transformation of the global economy. BSN was originally launched in 2019, but the international version of the network was launched in July this year to allow blockchain developers to build and operate decentralized applications.

The new integration will help Polkadot developers to connect to the public chain of BSN. The cross-chain protocol announced to join BSN’s Open Permissioned Blockchain Initiative as the Chinese regulators heavily scrutinize decentralized public chains.

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Oasis and Bityuan

BSN announced that in addition to Polkadot, two other companies (Oasis and Bityuan) are joining the network. Oasis network helps developers build private and scalable decentralized finance applications, while Bityuan is a blockchain solutions provider to Chinese companies. Talking about Oasis Network, Jernej Kos, Director at the Oasis Foundation, said: “The Oasis Network’s privacy features can also create a new type of digital asset called Tokenized Data that allows users to take control of their data and earn rewards for staking it.”

Commenting on the development, Yifan He, Executive Director of BSN Development Association, said: “I am seeing commercial use cases built on the Bityuan framework are surging in China recently. I believe with this integration BSN will get developers around the world to be excited about building dapps that are enterprise-based and commercial oriented.”

Finance Magnates earlier reported about the adoption of Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML) by BSN.


Australia Plans to Test Paperless Trade with Singapore Using Blockchain

Australia Plans to Test Paperless Trade with Singapore Using Blockchain

The Australian Border Force (ABF) announced today that the agency is working on cross-border trade solutions with Singapore to make the entire process simple and paperless through the integration of blockchain technology.

In an official press release, the ABF stated that the planned solutions are in line with the bilateral Australia-Singapore Digital Economy Agreement. A blockchain trial was launched earlier this week between the authorities of Australia and Singapore to make the trade documentation completely digital.

The agency also notified that the blockchain-based digital verification system has been developed by technology experts from Australia and Singapore at the United Nations Centre for Trade Facilitation and Electronic Business (UN/CEFACT) for inter-government document exchange. ABF expressed a willingness to collaborate with other international agencies to expand the paperless trade program.

Commenting on the launch, Michael Outram, Commissioner at ABF, said: “The ABF welcomes the opportunity to collaborate further with Singapore to improve cross-border trade between our countries. In addition to our efforts internationally, this initiative will incorporate paperless trading and secure the digital exchange of trade information as part of the future architecture and design of an Australian Trade Single Window.”

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Digital Trade

The Australian Government recently announced the ‘Simplified Trade Agenda’ to bring reforms in trade compliance structure. The recent trial supports the agenda as it will make compliance processes digital without the involvement of routine paperwork. The trial aims to test digital verification platforms developed by the authorities from Australia and Singapore. “Businesses and regulators will give feedback on their experience verifying Certificates of Origin with the two systems, with the aim of reducing administration costs and increasing trade efficiency.

“The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Industry Group, as well as financial institutions in Singapore, including ANZ, will take part in the trial,” ABF added.

Finance Magnates earlier reported about RBA’s plan to explore the development and use of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) based on blockchain technology.


The Queen Likes Blockchain – And I’m Convinced It’s No Empty Gesture

The Queen Likes Blockchain – And I’m Convinced It’s No Empty Gesture

  • Blockchain technology isn’t exactly the first thing you’d associate with the 94-year-old monarch, Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom.
  • However, a blockchain journal from the British Blockchain Association has caught the Queen’s eye.
  • Validation and support from such a prominent figure will certainly not harm the fledgling industry.

When I think of publications and projects that could potentially catch the eye of the Queen, blockchain isn’t something that comes to mind.

Yet, this is exactly what happened.

The British Blockchain Association decided to send Her Majesty an edition of the Journal of the British Blockchain Association. And it seems the gesture caught the Queen’s eye.

The Queen’s interest in blockchain is quite the shock for many, given her advancing years. | Source: Twitter

The Queen receives a lot of documents and publications – this one catching her eye is significant

We all know that the Queen is a busy person. Reports that her own children and grandchildren have to book an appointment to speak to her aren’t too far off the mark!

We also know that as Head of State and the reigning Queen of the United Kingdom, a lot of letters, publications, and documents are sent her way.

The chances that all of them make it onto her desk and into her hands are slim. To receive a response is something rather special.

The journal that the Queen received, titled “the world’s first peer-reviewed, scientific blockchain journal,” appears to have interested the monarch.

[embedded content]

Doctor Naqvi of the British Blockchain Association received a letter from Queen Elizabeth

Containing information on gender change and blockchain and GDPR, the journal also provided insight into government-led blockchain projects.

The open-access blockchain publication was made available to the Queen in both online and print format.

In response, Doctor Naseem Naqvi, chair of the organization, received a nice letter that read as follows:

Dear Doctor Naqvi, I have been asked to thank you for sending a copy of the sixth edition of the Journal of the British Blockchain Association. Her Majesty was interested to learn that the publication is the first open-access blockchain research journal available both in print and online. The Queen much appreciated your thoughtful gesture. In return, she has asked me to send her warm wishes to all concerned.

Cryptocurrency obviously provides more questions than answers in some regards! | Source: Twitter

Blockchain is very much the future, and validation from the Queen is a nice touch

While most know of blockchain as the technology that powers cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, it really is so much more.

We’ve seen governments implement the technology for more transparent elections and as a way to record data without it falling into the sole control of a central authority.

The industry is still in its early stages. But the future looks bright. And validation and words of encouragement from the Queen will undoubtedly do the cause no harm.


Chainalysis hits $1BN valuation after $100M funding boost

Chainalysis hits $1BN valuation after $100M funding boost

Blockchain analytics and forensics firm is now a $1 billion blockchain company after confirming a $100 million funding

In its third round of funding since its launch in 2014, Chainalysis raised $100 million in investments. Thanks to this funding, the forensics firm  has now added a $1 billion valuation. The latest series C round was spearheaded by Lee Fixel’s investment firm Addition.

Fixel has previously worked with Tiger Global Management, an investment firm he joined back in 2006.  During his 13-year stint with the New York firm, he rose through the ranks to become partner and head of the private equity business. He resigned from the firm in 2019 and started his venture capital firm, Addition early this year.

Other investors that were involved in the round include Accel, Benchmark and Ribbit. Chainalysis’ co-founder and chief executive Michael Gronager expressed enthusiasm following the completion of the round.

Gronager asserted that the funds will be redirected to help with the company’s scaling up plans. He added that the investment would benefit its investors, more so Addition, which contributed most. This round of funding could drive Chainalysis to unicorn status. The unicorn status has been a collector’s item in the crypto space with only a handful of crypto companies having realised valuation exceeding $1 billion. No crypto firm in the crypto tracing niche has achieved this status before.

Chainalsyis is well-positioned to set this record as it has contracts with many private and government agencies looking to see what happens in the blockchain.

“Government agencies and the private sector need the right data, tools, and insights to responsibly oversee and participate in the cryptocurrency economy. We have established a network of government agencies in over 30 countries and more than 250 of the most important businesses around the world. Our partners, at Addition, understand the power of our platform and are a natural partner for this next phase of growth,” Gronager said.

Chainalysis has grown to become a popular analytics firm in the crypto sector owing to its efficiency in monitoring blockchain transactions and delivering crucial insight in the crypto space. The firm recently won a $625,000 IRS contract to develop a tool that will help the IRS crack Monero transactions.