As huge volumes of data are getting generated owing to digitization of records, organizations have started looking towards Blockchain’s promise of decentralized ownership, immutability and cryptographic security of data to effectively manage the security threats and achieve significant cost efficiencies.
Multiple use cases are also getting explored across industries as everyone has started realising the disruptive potential of this technology.
As a result, this past year has witnessed a massive surge in investments in Blockchain based companies and startups and globally touched over USD 20 billion. Venture capital investment in Blockchain initiatives in 2018 ($ 3.17B) have exceeded the total value of investment in the past 5 years from 2012–2017 ($ 2.56B). Of the total $17.8 million raised by Blockchain startups in India over the last five years, over $10 million was generated in 2018 itself (Though it is a matter of concern that Indian start-ups have been able to corner only about 0.2% of global investments in Blockchain).
Blockchain, simply put, is a protocol for exchanging value over the internet without an intermediary.
It may be compared today to what the Internet was in the early 1990s. While we have witnessed how the ‘Internet of Information’ has changed our society over the past two decades, we are now entering a phase where Blockchain may do the same by ushering in the ‘Internet of Trust’ and ‘Internet of Value’.
There is immense scope for Blockchain adoption in India. Ever since demonetization in 2016, there has been a huge shift from transacting in cash to digital payments through platforms such as Paytm, GooglePay, PhonePe, etc. This large scale successful adoption of digital payments is leading to key innovations in Blockchain technology. As per World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) data, India ranks 6th in the total number of patent approvals (67 in total) in 2018.
Understanding that Blockchain can solve major problems plaguing Indian economy such as corruption, intervention of middlemen, breach of data, financial ledger tampering the Indian government too is playing an important role as a consumer of Blockchain solutions. Nearly half the Indian states are implementing projects to address different elements of citizen service delivery such as Land registry, Eliminating counterfeit drugs, Farm insurance, Power distribution, Vehicle lifecycle management, Organ tracking for transplant, Rationing, E-Governance, Microfinance for Self-Help Groups (SHG), Cybersecurity, Agriculture supply chain to name a few.
However, till the Indian tax and RBI authorities develop favorable opinion about crypto-currencies and ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), Blockchain adoption will be slow.
Some of the initial, sizeable investments in India were on crypto-exchanges such as Unocoin and Zebpay, which have now disabled trading through fiat currency due to an RBI directive.
Moreover, several of these entrepreneurs and startups have been pushed to establishing operations in jurisdictions such as Malta, Singapore, Switzerland, UK, etc. to limit their exposure to regulatory risk associated with the use of digital tokens or assets in India.
Lack of robust regulatory framework is also restricting creation of enough opportunity for the 19,627 strong Indian Blockchain developers, second only to the United States’ 44,979. 80% of them are likely to move abroad leading to a big crunch in Blockchain resource.
Because of these regulatory issues on Bitcoin, most of the 300 odd startups in India are Blockchain ventures and not pure bitcoin players.
Jaspreet Bindra, Blockchain expert said, “While the crypto currency squeeze by the Government has hit blockchain innovation hard, there are still some very interesting blockchain startups in India such as Param Networks in invoice management, 1Ramp on building next gen social networks. Blockchain, like AI, has the potential to change the game in many industries, and hopefully some of these game changing startups will come out of India.”
Listed here are some exciting startups.
Founded in 2016 by Pune based Rohas Nagpal and Shinam Arora, Primechain offers solutions to solve critical pain points of the banking and financial services industry, namely – high maintenance and support costs, outdated IT systems, and need for manual reconciliation and systems that don’t communicate with each other. It currently has banking and financial institutions as its clients including the country’s biggest lender State Bank of India.
Cofounded in 2016 by Raunaq Vaisoha, Anilkishen Dukkipatty and Sahil Kathpal, Elemential Labs, is a Mumbai-based blockchain startup. Its products Hadron and Elements are sector agnostic and are being used to create a KYC utility by NSE, enable instant allotment for asset registries, manage royalty payments for media licenses. Elemential Labs raised $1 million in seed funding in a round led by venture capital firm Matrix Partners India. Other participants in the round included Investopad, Digital Currency Group, Hinduja Group, Lightspeed India, and Eight Innovate. Its founders also made it to the 2019 Forbes Asia 30 under 30 list.
RentalCoins 1.0 is a private cryptocurrency of the Drivezy, a decentralized car rental platform. The tokens are used to create a fleet of collaboratively-owned vehicles accessible to customers. It also offers an app that provides updates on operational vehicles, vehicle blocks and maintenance schedule and information about activity, location, and revenue of the vehicle.
Mumbai-based AS JustRide Tours and Travels Pvt. Ltd, which operates peer-to-peer car and bike rental platform Drivezy, has raised $5 million in the first round of its initial coin offering (ICO) by offering tokens called RentalCoins. Incorporated in April 2015 by founders Abhishek Mahajan, Amit Sahu, Ashwarya Singh and Vasant Verma, the company had previously raised $15 million in all, out of which $3 million was raised in a bridge round of funding from Y Combinator partners and a number of global investors.
Headquartered in Bangalore and founded in 2015 by Vishal Kanvaty and Abhijeet Jaswal, EzyRemit works on easy remittances built on top of the blockchain. With the help of its three flagship products- EzyRemit, EzyHedge, EzyRemitB2B, Ezyremit, aims to make money transfer convenient, cost effective and near real time transfer leveraging cryptocurrency. It has received Series E funding.
dClinic is the World’s first Blockchain company to create a revolutionary Private Healthcare Blockchain (PHB) platform for the delivery of Healthcare, Wellness and Vitality Services.
Founded in 2014 by Sachin Gupta, Ashwani Modi and Dr. Richard Satur, dClinic grew rapidly by engaging various governments for mass adoption. Recently dClinic(in partnership with Deloitte SEA) won a contract of value USD$140M with Indonesian Government which is largest Healthcare Blockchain contract so far. dClinic is working with numerous biotech companies, pharmacies, pathology labs and insurance companies to create a healthcare ecosystem where consumer is center of care.
Sachin added, “dClinic is synonym with Security. Being completely decentralized and immutable, the patient data is only accessible to those who have the need to interact with it and that is also based on the consent provided by consumer at the centre. Additionally since there is no third party or mediator involved in fetching the patient data or in transferring the data from one party to another, dClinic is cost effective.”
Bangalore based WandX, founded in 2017 by Abhinav Ramesh, is the world’s first multi-blockchain decentralized token exchange ecosystem along with a hedging product powered by the Basket Protocol. As per their website, 14 thousand new members registered on WandX app.
Founded in 2017 by IITgraduates and serial entrepreneurs Ankit Ratan, Ankur Pandey, and Arpit Ratan, a corporate lawyer, Bangalore based Signzy has developed Blockchain and AI-based solutions to digitally identify, verify, and authenticate customers. Its onboarding solution, Real KYC, has now been deployed by more than 45 large clients, including leading banks, NBFCs, mutual funds, P2P lending platforms, payment wallets.
In June 2016, it won the RBI’s Payments Innovation Contest. In 2017, the three founders made it to the Forbes India 30 Under 30 list. The same year, Signzy was also listed among Top 30 Global Digital Financial Implementations by MAS Singapore. It has received $4m funding from Stellaris Venture Partners, Kalaari Capital, Rajan Anandan and 20 Other Investors.
Singapore based LaLa World provides a Blockchain based financial ecosystem targeting the underbanked and migrant population. Its 5 major products are LaLa Transfer for P2P remittance, LaLa Bill Pay for global bill payments, LaLa Lends for P2P lending, LaLa Card for payments at PoS, and LaLa Kit that contains a mobile phone with pre-loaded LALA Wallet, LALA Insurance, LALA Card, Partners’ products etc. In India, the application currently supports 25 different utility service providers and 29 different DTH and mobile service providers. Users are required to create a blockchain based ‘LALA ID’ to avail the said services. Founded in 2016 by Sankalp Shangari, lala World has raised Series A funding of $2 miliion.
CoinSwitch is an aggregator enabling users to find, buy and exchange cryptocurrencies at the best rates through integration with different exchanges. The platform supports 300 cryptocurrencies across over 45,000 currency pairs. CoinSwitch’s rates are extremely reasonable except for fiat purchases.
Founded by in 2017 by Bangalore based Ashish Singhal, Govind Soni and Vimal Sagar Tiwari Coinswitch grew rapidly despite a turbulent 2018 for cryptocurrencies reporting a daily trading volume of over $1 million in less than a year. This is coupled with industry praise for its efforts to create an ‘all in one’ crypto solution. It raised $2m from Sequoia Capita.
Founder Ashish Singhal shared, “The crypto ecosystem today can be compared to the early internet days. Multiple teams are building various components of the crypto ecosystem like e-commerce, investment tools, social media, to name a few. We at CoinSwitch are focussed on building a platform that will onboard the next billion users into crypto by offering them a way to acquire cryptocurrencies without any hassle.”
MinersINC is a Blockchain-powered P2P platform which brings together the creators and consumers of entertainment media.
Founded in October 2017 by Nitin Narkhede and Deepak Jayaram with angel funding from V C Bothra, a Singapore-based businessman, MinersINC is using Blockchain to enable a robust technology-driven system that can offer solutions to problems faced by the Indian entertainment industry such as piracy, revenue leakages, rights management, and opaque systems.
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