What’s New Around the ‘Block’?

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / viperagpDemand yields supply: while major FIs are increasingly investing in distributed ledgers, today we are not falling short on the supply of blockchain startups.

Five blockchain innovators held five-minute demos to compete for “bragging rights” and $10,000 in the inaugural Proof of Work competition at last week’s Consensus 2016 conference in New York. Here is what’s new:

The Sun Exchange: Bitcoins Go Solar

The Sun Exchange allows anyone to crowd-lend their money in a solar energy project, using bitcoin as the transactional mechanism. “Lending to a Sun Exchange solar project ensures a safe, totally transparent and ethical investment from which interest is paid in real-time. As long as the sun keeps shining, the money keeps flowing,” the company said.

The electricity generated by the solar installation can be repaid to the investor using bitcoin “wherever they are in the world,” said Chief Executive Abraham Cambridge. “In summary, we are building a mobile solar securities trading platform,” Cambridge added.

The startup is now seeking $600,000 in seed funding to complete Version 1 of the platform in the next 12 months. Check out their video demo below.


CoinPrism: Customize Your Own Blockchain

The blockchain technology company CoinPrism has been around for a while; its open source, distributed permissioned ledger Openchain was launched just last year.

Openchain allows users to develop and customize their own blockchains, which lowers auditing costs and settlement time, according to the founder Flavien Charlon.

“We are bringing the blockchain tech to the enterprise,” Charlon said. “In the public blockchain you have to share the infrastructure, you might even share the same chain with your competitor.” With Openchain, any company “can take the software to create their own blockchain,” he said.

CoinPrism currently partners with Microsoft, which offers the Openchain stack as part of the Microsoft Azure platform.

Lawnmower: Turning Change Into Coins

piggy_bankThink of Lawnmower as a piggy bank that automatically buys you bitcoins.

Lawnmower links to a user’s debit or credit card, and rounds up every purchase to the next dollar, setting aside the difference to purchase bitcoins. For example, if you got a $15.45 worth of groceries, the app would set aside the 55 cents and buy you bitcoins.

“The goal is to make bitcoins approachable for new investors,” said Pieter Gorsira, founder of Lawnmower. “I didn’t put money in bitcoin until 2014, why did it take me so long to invest in these bitcoin assets?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


UniquID: Smartwatches Getting Way Smarter

UniquID offers a decentralized way for identity and asset management.

“We are the Internet of Things software library,” said founder Stefano Pepe. “We are trying to make the machines to think and behave like people, and we think the trustless way though machines is the key to solving current market problems.”

The startup wants to apply blockchain model “to every device you own and use,” Pepe said. More specifically:

“With UniquID D-IAM personal and wearable devices can securely unlock a workstation, a cloud service account or a complex IoT device such as industrial robots. Proving these relationships using the blockchain is faster, secure and more scalable of any existing method based on passwords or central authentication services,” according to company website.

Colony: The Winner

The founder of Colony, Collin Vine, envisions a future of the ‘gig’ economy, where companies can create ‘colonies’ of freelancers, who can contribute and get reimbursed for the exact amount of their work.

“Work used to be about full time jobs with benefits, now it’s gigs, project to project, an Uber ride to an Uber ride,” Vine said. “The gig economy is everything that we, entitled millennials are looking for, except it sucks, because there is no security and no benefits.”

To solve that, the startup built a network of smart contracts, which have rules for things like performance management. Those keys will be entirely open source, Vine sad. “There are now 54 million freelancers in US alone. Colony would allow companies to tap into that pool,” he said. “We are going to own this future of decentralized workplace.”

Vine walked out with the $10,000 check. Which startup would you vote for?

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