Blockchain Weekly Recap 11-21-2015
Ukrainian R&D Center to Open In Kiev.
Kiev recently became the site of the first Research and Development facility for blockchain and FinTech innovation, as the result of a partnership between KUNA Bitcoin Agency founder Michael Chobanyan and US-based tech company Innovecs. The R&D center will be focused at first on the Odessa-based plan to provide the world’s first blockchain-powered governance system. Additional work will include the development of new technological solutions and an effort to better educate the citizenry about the many benefits this technology can provide.
This is another step in Innovecs’s strategy of developing key relationships with blockchain companies and entities throughout the US and Europe. The company envisions increased reliance on the distributed ledger technology for a variety of public and private sector governance needs, so the Odessa project provides a perfect opportunity to continue development in those areas of innovation. Ukraine is seen as an ideal place to push these innovations, since it has a notable supply of information technology specialists on hand, and ranks as one of the most Bitcoin-friendly places in the world.
Align Commerce Series A Funding Exceeds $12 Million.
Thanks to sizable investment activity from firms like KPCB (Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers), Align Commerce was able to bring in $12.5 million in funding in its Series A efforts. Other investors contributing to that funding success include notable companies such as Pantera Capital, Digital Currency Group, and SVB Ventures. That funding will be used to continue the company’s international expansion, allowing it to expand its range beyond the 60 nations it currently serves.
Align Commerce is a blockchain-based payments company designed to provide improved cross-border payments that reduce costs and enhance customer service. Its system allows customers to simply enter bank account details and the sender’s email address to transfer funds to the intended recipient. The entire process is targeted toward reducing the forms and fees usually associated with standard wire transfers.
Wanxiang Blockchain Grant Program Launched.
Wanxiang Blockchain Labs has launched its $300k grant program designed to encourage innovative open-source programs focused on blockchain technology. The venture fund has announced that it will award grants to projects that have real-world practical application, as opposed the more speculative ventures that often seem to dominate media coverage. The grant program is taking applications until November 30th, and will then begin awarding $50k grants every other month. Ultimately, the plan is to provide grant money to six different projects that demonstrate the necessary "viability, significance, innovativeness and utility" that WBS is seeking.
Open Ocean May Consider Funding Blockchain Startups.
Open Ocean Capital is reportedly open to investing in blockchain companies located in Europe. The Finnish firm just closed a €100 million fund, and has been examining various investment opportunities involving technological innovations. At this point, most of its attention is on startups seeking capital in those early Series A and B rounds. The fund is currently expected to focus on big data, mobile technology solutions, and SaaS.
Microsoft Launches Cloud Blockchain Platform.
The biggest name in software this week announced the launch of its own blockchain platform for the cloud. In partnership with the startup company ConsensYs, Microsoft unveiled what it hails as a new way for financial institutions to experiment with the blockchain in an open and cost-effective manner. The company opted to use the Ethereum blockchain for its needs, and is making the platform available to those banks and insurers who are currently utilizing Microsoft Azure. The product comes complete with its own templates, allowing financial companies to more freely experiment with and learn about the technology without incurring the costs associated with building their own systems from scratch.
New Report Urges Finance Companies to Pay Attention to Blockchain.
Yet another voice has weighed in on the value of blockchain technology. This time, that voice belongs to tech service and consulting firm Capgemeni, which recently released a report that calls upon financial service providers to not make the mistake of ignoring the blockchain’s disruptive potential. Included within the report is advice for companies seeking to properly evaluate the blockchain landscape. This report follows on the heels of similar assessments from Greyspark and Tabb Group, and is part of a growing trend of increased interest in distributed ledger technology.
The report contents are available for download on the company’s website here.