The billionaire and the technical personality The 2019 Extreme Tech Challenge competition by Richard Branson has been restricted to ten teams and three of them use the blockchain. The 2018 winner of the event was Power Ledger, a blockchain company focused on green energy solutions.
The ten teams will be reduced to three at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January and then the three teams will battle on Branson's private island Neckers in April. The winner gets more profitability and bragging rights.
You could be forgiven for wondering why the technology tycoon could not shell out a little more, but the event is still fun to keep an eye on.
The three blockchain projects include Australia's Liven, Thailand's Last of Our and Switzerland's BitLumens.
Liven is a blockchain-enabled reward program that offers customers Liven Cash tokens as an award / cash back incentive for patronized restaurants. Liven Cash tokens can then be donated to charity, given to a friend or spent at another restaurant on the network.
While the concept of blockchain rewards is not new, their construction is. By sharing the rewards between companies, they reward those companies with increased business by giving customers a more powerful reward than they would normally offer through traditional methods.
Liven is currently limited to Melbourne and Sydney, but already has an impressive list of partners in the area.
Last of ours
Last of Ours is an attempt to tokenize endangered species on the blockchain, increasing its vitality and possibly contributing to its conservation. Basically, they are the CryptoKitties but instead of the breed capable cats with unique properties on the blockchain, the tokens represent animals in danger of life.
Yes, I do not understand it either. Presumably the tokens will be compatible with mobile games, VR and AR, but there does not seem to be information on which games will be supported. The idea is to raise awareness of endangered animals and raise money for them on a "Kickstarter" platform.
Their website describes it as "Pokemon Go and CryptoKitties meets Ready Player One and Animal Planet." Which is probably the hottest hype descriptor I can think of. But Branson (or his team) must have seen something to make them one of the finalists. We will have to see what they bring to the table at CES.
BitLumens, just like last year's winner, tries to combine solar energy and blockchain technologies. Their plan is to bring solar energy to the rural areas of Latin America using microloans and blockchains. Specifically focused on women without bank accounts, the loan helps them build a credit score and a digital ID, while allowing them to sell carbon credits.
Investors are rewarded when business improves and the positive impact their investments have on the environment is also monitored.
The other seven finalists (non blockchain) are ActiveProtective, Civic Eagle, Einride, Elevian, Lynq, King: 3D and WeWalk. From them and the aforementioned blockchain companies, the jury will choose three to go to Necker Island. The Bitcoin BitFury mining company is a sponsor. You can read more on the official Extreme Tech Challenge website.