What is Blockchain?
The blockchain can be used as a building block for future innovation, explains Brooklyn blockchain developer Charles Hope. “It’s a platform and could help build countless new companies.”
The Blockchain is the underlying tech behind Bitcoin. In its simplest form, it is simply an encrypted database log of all transactions with their time-stamp. Anyone can access the metadata about any transaction, as they are all available through APIs. “The blockchain is a global financial ledger without any central authority,” Hope said.
Because blockchain transactions are both secure and public, it has evolved to become the basis for several other innovative startups. Here is a list of some of the most interesting, blockchain-based startups.
Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs on a custom built blockchain. Developers use Ethereum to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, or move funds in accordance with instructions (like a will or a futures contract) all without a middle man or counterparty risk. Bloomberg even goes so far as to call it “tamperproof”. While Ethereum was originally developed as a virtual currency and has come to rival Bitcoin, the NY Times reports that this is only the beginning with projects related to internet-of-things, farm-to-table produce, electricity sourcing and pricing, and sports betting also in the works.
Mycelium started out as a mesh network project that naturally evolved into a blockchain platform. Mycelium now supports several products, a bitcoin payment processor, an ad-hoc financial network, and printed bitcoin ‘paper wallets’.
Based in San Francisco, Chain is driving the world’s financial system towards a digital future. Forbes reports that many industry giants in the global financial system are excited to fund such an endeavor. Chain’s mission is to digitize the world’s assets. Their goal is to build, deploy, and operate blockchain networks that enable a currency processing platform that facilitates one-to-one, bilateral, and auction‑based transactions at an enterprise level.
Another San Francisco company, Coinbase wants to be your brokerage and your wallet. It is often said to be one of the easiest places to buy and sell Ethereum and Bitcoin. Coinbase is supported in 33 countries and has enabled digital currency processing in several big name corporations such as Overstock, Dell, Expedia, Time Inc., and Stripe.
CoinDesk is a news site specializing in bitcoin, the blockchain business community, and digital currencies. CoinDesk began publishing in May 2013 and publishes reports about trends, the economy, and the newsmakers of blockchain companies. They also provide guides to how to use bitcoin for people new to digital currencies.
Portland’s Chroma.fund bills itself as ‘Capitalism 2.0’ and offers a blockchain-based approach to crowdfunding built for the small business economy. As with traditional crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, fund managers create campaigns that explain the investment opportunity that they’re attempting to raise money for. The biggest difference is that in Chroma.fund, people contributing money to these businesses are hoping to make a profit by investing, rather than donating. But Chroma.fund goes further than just being a kickstarter for investors, it acts like a private market for early investing in startups and small businesses.
Ellitic was originally intended as a compliance tool for bitcoin. UK based Elliptic has since developed into the go-to blockchain forensics tool. It scours the Bitcoin blockchain for illicit activity and provides actionable intelligence to both law enforcement agencies and financial institutions.
Chronicled wants to link the physical world to blockchain. Chronicled provides a turnkey solution to securely link any physical product to its digital identity on a blockchain. Chronicled originally demoed its tech on collectible sneakers but has since moved into the IoT and even demoed a blockchain connected delivery drone.
Gem focuses on building an inclusive blockchain ecosystems for the healthcare industry and supply chain. Gem’s has partnered with Xpansiv in order to explore how blockchain technology can support carbon offset and sustainable natural gas production. Gem’s has partnered with Philips to use blockchain technology to support a patient-centric approach to healthcare. They’ve recently introduced GemOS an operating system based on blockchains.
Loyyal is a universal loyalty and rewards platform, built with blockchain that uses smart contracts to allow for cross-platform, interoperable conditional transactions. It introduces interoperability to the retail loyalty card industry which is mostly a closed source system. Dubai government is one of the first to embrace loyyal. Dubai wants to unite all of the country’s loyalty programs under one system in order to support tourism and in the future entice local residents into rewards schemes.