Do you think that as the cryptocurrency market is going down in price the whole innovation will be wiped away like nothing ever happened? Blockchain technology is still here and being brought into the spotlight only pushed its evolution even further towards filling the missing link for a cashless future.
The fintech (financial technology) industry is the one that benefits the most from blockchain integration and it’s no surprise that new ideas were implemented and become functional projects. We’ve already seen NEXXO allowing small businesses to go cashless in Qatar, TenX making cryptocurrency spendable in Singapore, and OmiseGO being accepted as payment at McDonald’s.
We handcrafted a list of top projects powered by the blockchain that haven’t been affected by the cryptocurrency downfall in 2018, but they are set to grow rapidly in 2019. They are listed in no particular order, each being unique in its own way in solving distinct problems. Let’s dig right in!
With a solution that addresses a highly under-serviced and under-banked market, NEXXO developed a complete payment gateway system for e-commerce, offering everything a small business needs in order to go cashless. In this mix, blockchain technology is leveraged as a way to verify the customer’s activity in regard to lowering the risk when offering higher risk products, such as loans, and services that is rarely given to small-sized companies by commercial banks.
NEXXO has been in operation since 2014, currently counting more than 95 employees across Singapore, Cyprus, UAE, India, Pakistan, and Qatar where QPAY, the fastest growing fintech company in the Middle East, is located. NEXXO is the majority shareholder of QPAY, acting as their pilot market which proved itself a success with more than 300,000 bank cards (MasterCard branded) issued for more than 15,000 small businesses. Given the fact that the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held in Qatar, these numbers are expected to rise significantly over the coming years. But NEXXO already announced its plans to continue its expansion into Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Egypt, and China.
Even with a growing market, one issue regarding their system is already being discussed. The NEXXO bank-card platform is powered by IBM’s Hyperledger blockchain, so it’s based on private blockchains. This leads to privacy issues as well as centralization concerns. Anyway, the NEXXO team assured its customers that they won’t allow any government to access their internal data, nor allow a foreign entity to monitor internal transactions. There is also a reason for their choice: to fully comply with KYC (know your customer), AML (anti-money laundering), ATF (anti-terrorist funding), and OFAC (US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control) regulatory laws imposed by the local central bank, government, ministries, or law enforcement entities with whom they need to interact.
NEXXO’s platform is currently focused on servicing small local businesses, but the system can be leveraged and expanded way beyond that. In the future, it can be used to facilitate cross-border commerce, simplifying international financial services. Do you think that the price of Bitcoin can stop that? It doesn’t seem like it because development continues!
Developing a cryptocurrency-linked debit card and a mobile wallet, TenX wants to make all crypto assets spendable by allowing digital and physical transactions even if the merchant doesn’t directly accept cryptocurrencies.
Since their ICO in June 2017, the TenX team had numerous problems releasing their service: Visa forced their initial card provider to close all the accounts; due to regulations they had to stop paying dividends to the token holders and their president, Julian Hosp, recently stepped down from his position in the company.
However, they strengthened the partnership with DigixGlobal, who is developing a gold-backed cryptocurrency, and finally released the promised debit cards this year, but only in Singapore. With this news, PAY (their token) went up 170% in only one week. Prices going down? Innovation being killed? Not for TenX.
Offering cash loans in return for cryptocurrency collateral, SALT managed to serve those who are in need of cash but don’t want to sell their tokens. While banks refuse to see any value in cryptocurrencies, platforms like SALT seem to be the only option for anyone who has their funds locked in blockchain assets.
Their initial platform was released at the end of 2017 and since then they issued $54 million in loans to more than 50,000 people in only one year. In this time, they already had one third-party audit, they obtained a sandbox license for Mauritius, and they served customers in 45 of the 50 US states and in 9 other countries across the globe.
Due to regulations, however, that’s not the reality anymore. The majority of the US states are not able to apply for loans of any kind anymore, only UK and New Zealand are supported currently. Users can only become lenders if they went through a KYC/AML verification and brought proof that they are accredited investors.
Is SALT affected by cryptocurrency prices going down? Not really. It’s just going through a phase where it needs to regain its legal status. While that’s settled, the platform will continue to service more and more crypto holders.
Moving toward the goal of allowing people to move money internationally in a quicker and cheaper way than the banks do, Stellar built a blockchain-based platform that facilitates global cross-asset transfers.
The Stellar network was launched in 2014 and in over four years of work they developed an ecosystem to support their mission: it functions as a smart contract platform, allowing anyone to create tokens and launch ICOs, develop an exchange. The remarkable evolution brought them 37 new partnerships in 2017 alone: with Deloitte to build a cross-border payments application, with IBM to develop a blockchain-based cross-border payments solution, and with Grant Program, which awards organizations that provide products and services vital for the network.
However, when it comes to the native asset of the Stellar network, XLM, there are some concerns. Even if there was no ICO to launch it, Stripe (a fintech startup) provided funding in the form of a $3 million loan, which was repaid with 2 billion XLM from the 100 billion XLM that was initially created. While the Stellar team and Stripe have agreed not to sell any of their tokens received for at least five years, the agreement expires this year.
Despite the fact that Stellar does visible development advancements, the price of XLM that placed it as the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has declined by 57% already. It might be the fear of a sell-off from the team or, as its CEO, Jed McCaleb, admits, “The company hasn’t done the best job marketing its products.” As long as that’s the only problem, building a reliable product won’t be affected by the market’s movements in any way.
Replacing the archaic payment tools with a decentralized payment network based on an open, public financial system, OmiseGO is a decentralized bank, exchange, and asset-backed blockchain gateway with a mission to help the people with no access to financial services across the globe.
OmiseGO was founded in 2017 and it was the first Ethereum project to surpass $1 billion in value. But we can’t overlook its headstart given by its parent company, Omise. This platform is an online payment gateway created in 2013 and it’s on the market in Southeast Asia and Japan. Its solution is already accepted by more than 10,000 merchants across the Asia, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Alipay, Bose, and Allianz. There was no surprise when the same McDonald’s and Burger King already starting to accept OMG token as a form of payment. From there, the vendor list increased up to 35 companies and got endorsed by the Bank of Thailand and the Thai Ministry of Finance.
OmiseGO saw very strong attention during its ICO, accumulating $25 million throughout the crowdsale and $20 million in private investments. Anyway, the distribution of the tokens is discussed even today alongside complaints that it is too centralized: 100 accounts own about 65% of the total supply; the supply of which is capped and new tokens won’t be issued because OMG is not minable.
The OMG price fluctuates, having started the year with a 6% increase after a technical update regarding its Plasma development and a Korean card provider, ShinhanCard, already having made its first transaction using the network. This shows as that the platform is still under heavy development and it’s far from being affected by the cryptocurrency downfall.
The evolution of blockchain technology is remarkable and many more talented teams will leverage its unique use cases to push innovation in their industry even further. For now, the financial industry is the most obvious place where changes are already happening. Can 2019 be the year where one of these services explode and open the mainstream path for blockchain use despite the market decline?