For the first time since 2017, blockchain is experiencing a renaissance. Many governments are enacting cryptocurrency-positive regulations in an effort to build a strong domestic industry.
This in turn has attracted enterprising companies interested in building novel applications for blockchain technology.
Take, for example, the Defi boom. There are currently thousands of decentralized apps (called “dApps”) on the market, covering niches as diverse as gaming, yield optimization, and borrowing and lending. Some startups, like Synthetix, are inventing new sectors: synthetic derivatives to trade, which present a novel twist on commodities exchanges or retail-level assets and contracts.
India — The Supreme Court Ruling That Opened the Floodgates
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is skeptical of cryptocurrency because of its use in tax evasion and other crimes. But recently, the Supreme Court struck down the government’s ban. In the wake of the ruling, rupee-crypto trades exploded with the value of Bitcoin in India more than doubling overnight. Another important effect of the ruling was to stimulate Indian blockchain startups out of hibernation.
One premier example is the Mumbai-based Auxesis Group, established in 2015 by Kumar Gaurav. The company focuses on building blockchain solutions on an enterprise level and is ranked as one of the top 100 most influential blockchain startups in the world. Auxesis Group has created products for sectors like insurance, supply chain, capital markets, and cross-border remittances. They have also collaborated with Cashaa and Mumbai-based Blockchain Lab.
There are many other examples of promising Indian blockchain startups such as EzyRemit, MindDeft, and Primechain Technologies. But there is a problem. Announcements that the Indian government was planning a new crypto law sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency community. This could strangle the promising industry in its cradle. Thankfully, local observers believe that headlines about the ban are overstated according to CoinTelegraph and that it is still too early to tell what the future will bring.
Switzerland — Building Crypto Valley in the Alps
Switzerland went all-in on crypto early on and is reaping the rewards. Crypto Valley, a crypto-friendly region in the canton of Zug, has attracted over 840 companies employing more than 4,400 people. The region grew even during the winter of 2018 and continues to be one of the most popular destinations for crypto startups.
Swiss companies have come out with some of the most innovative products in recent years and many of them are top start-ups in their own right. Take the example of Ledgy, an online share register platform designed to make managing a company’s finance-round easier. The platform brings together all stakeholders of a cap table. It makes it easy for employees to see how many shares have already vested and for investors to track their portfolio performance without relying on third parties.
Unlike India, the Swiss government has proven to be very positive towards cryptocurrency. The nation has traditionally embraced financial innovations and has done its best to nurture a growing sector that could well be the future of finance.
Wyoming — Home of the Kraken Bank
The initially frosty attitude towards crypto in the United States has largely thawed following the announcement that banks can now offer cryptocurrency services. Prior to this announcement, the “cowboy state” of Wyoming made waves by adopting policies and laws that make it one of the most crypto-friendly destinations. One of the top cryptocurrency exchanges, Kraken, recently became the first crypto exchange to charter a US bank, via Wyoming’s Special Purpose Depository Institutions (SPDI) law.
This is a significant development. It marks the first foray of a cryptocurrency into institutional banking. It will enable Kraken to access federal payments infrastructure and make it easier for the exchange to operate as a legitimate entity. Banks like this seem likely to attract institutional investors.
It is also likely that this will help spur a crypto boom in the US, just like the Indian supreme court decision did for the Indian crypto sector.
A Blockchain Boom Is Coming
The crypto sector is based on more secure foundations than ever before. If governments take steps to create the right regulatory climate we could see an explosion of innovative startups leveraging blockchain to make a real positive impact.
The only question is whether India and other nations will embrace or fight the technology.