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Blockchain: not all about money Asian Scientist Magazine

AsianScientist (November 28, 2018) – By Sim Shuzhen – If it were possible to travel in time, many would use it to convince their young people to load on Bitcoin. At its launch in 2009, a Bitcoin could be had for a fraction of a penny; in 2017, however, its value rose from US $ 830 to a December high of US $ 19,300.

But while the fluctuating prices of Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple and their titles capture titles and trigger the gold rush, it is the technology that underlies these cryptocurrencies, known as blockchain, which deserves true recognition. A method that allows decentralized archiving of a permanent record of encrypted transactions across multiple computers, blockchain applications extend far beyond the realm of cryptocurrencies.

"After the Internet, the blockchain will be a huge democratic force that also builds trust and responsibility," says Swati Chaturvedi, co-founder and CEO of angelic investment platform Propel (x), based in San Francisco. "It is applicable wherever there is a transaction, be it financial services, retail or government, and it will have a huge impact."

Identification of a need for burning

Ms Chaturvedi and the former student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mr. Wang Lisheng co-founded Propel (x) in 2013, with the goal of using investment capital to have a real impact on the world.

"Our specialty is in technology startups, which we define as companies based on scientific discovery or significant engineering innovation", explains Chaturvedi.

Propel (x) helps accredited investors to discover and evaluate such startups, with further assistance in providing insights from industry experts. Since 2014, its platform has helped fund more than 50 deep technology companies in sectors such as blockchain, biotechnology, clean energy, space technology, and information and communications, he says.

Although the blockchain is still a nascent technology, many new and existing companies have already jumped on the bandwagon, generating everything from Long Island's Long Block Iced Tea Corp to Kodak's KodakCoin virtual currency. But a blockchain-based startup that wants to grow sustainably needs to identify areas that really need burning technology, says Ms Chaturvedi.

"There are already records management systems, so you need to find a company where this need to manage transactions reliably and reliably is really important, even if it can be useful, it's not as if the leaders of each company found it imperative, "he explains. "Where blockchain technology will be more successful and where I think there is a sustainable business, it is where this need exists, desperately".

Beyond the Bitcoin

Payments, of course, are a great example of a niche area where trust is highly valued, thus explaining the popularity of virtual currencies like Bitcoin. But trust, responsibility and privacy, all attributes of the blockchain, are also fundamental for a wide range of other applications, says Ms Chaturvedi. These include banks, supply chains, land titles, electronic health records and voters' identities, to name a few.

A startup that Propel (x) helped finance is Agralogics, which uses big data analytics and blockchain technology to improve the operational efficiency of complex food ecosystems. With more stakeholders – such as growers, processors, regulators, banks, shippers and retailers – involved, data in food ecosystems are increasingly fragmented and disorganized.

With the blockchain, Agralogics is able not only to track the movement and sales of food, but also to trace the origins of all the ingredients that have entered. The company can also keep an eye on many other types of information, based on which fertilizers have been used to grow the ingredients, how much water has been released into food production and whether the food contains allergens.

"The traceability of food is now a great task: knowing where your food comes from is important, but what Agralogics is doing goes way beyond," says Chaturvedi.

With the demand for blockchain technology growing in many industries, BlockApps, another startup funded through Propel (x), was created to offer blockchain as a service. The company provides a development environment for companies to build and scale decentralized applications and has worked with clients in areas such as financial and mining services, says Ms Chaturvedi. The largest mining company in the world, BHP Billiton, for example, has used BlockApps to create applications on the Ethereum blockchain that record the movements and production of minerals and minerals in real time, thus improving supply chain processes.

Less clamor, more substance

The challenges that the start-up blockchain have to face, the market's looming looms large, says Ms Chaturvedi. "If there are existing legacy systems and it is not necessary to really transform them, the market will be slow," he explains.

So, while some entrepreneurs may feel the need to launch grandiose visions, this is not necessarily what will serve them well, he adds. Investors, he says, are more likely to be interested in startups with credible teams that have already developed some traction with real (and preferably paying) customers.

"The best companies are those that start with a niche, receive customers and then grow from there."

At a broader level, blockchain companies also struggle with the public perception of technology, adds Ms Chaturvedi.

"People do not really know what the blockchain is and they often confuse it with cryptocurrencies."

Efforts to educate investors and public opinion, such as through media, courses and case studies, are therefore needed to improve understanding of blockchain solutions, he says.

In the future, Ms Chaturvedi would like to see other examples of the blockchain technology used to make a difference, as in the public sector to overcome bureaucracy and corruption, as well as during elections to authenticate voters' votes and identities.

"I'd like to see some of these [blockchain solutions] be successful on a large scale, "he says." This is when I feel happy that risk is mitigated and that these solutions are ripe for mainstreaming. "

Being one of the areas of interest of SGInnovate in the context of its Deep Tech Nexus strategy, SGInnovate believes that the blockchain has the potential to transform companies. As such, SGInnovate has made several investments in the blockchain space and regularly holds events related to the blockchain.

Asian Scientist Magazine is a satisfied partner of SGInnovate.

Copyright: SGInnovate. Read the original article here.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the opinions of AsianScientist or his staff.

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