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PnP Fintech Startup Program May Signal Industry Shift From ‘Blockchain’ Back to Bitcoin

For at least the past year, many investors and entrepreneurs have been talking about the power of the blockchain for use in a variety of applications in different industries. Blockchain has turned into a catch-all phrase for anything involving a shared ledger or database but the technology was first created by Satoshi Nakamoto for the purpose of tracking and confirming Bitcoin transactions.

Blockchain technology has been hyped for use everywhere from traditional banking institutions to the healthcare industry and some have gone as far as to say that generalized, private blockchains will have a much greater impact on the world than Bitcoin. However, there have been hints that this trend is on the verge of a reversal. One of the latest signs of the reemergence of Bitcoin is the batch of startups accepted into the fourth round of the Plug and Play Fintech program.

Of the 24 startups accepted into the program, six are working with the Bitcoin blockchain in some capacity.

Focus on Bitcoin Startups

The six Bitcoin-related startups in this round of Plug and Play Fintech are Eximchain, Netki, Shocard, The Sun Exchange, Tierion and Tradle.

Interestingly enough, The Sun Exchange is the only one using bitcoin as a currency. The startup allows international users to invest in solar panel projects around the world and they’re currently focused on the Southern Africa region.

“We are rather special in that we offer bitcoin holders the opportunity to invest in a product that produces a financial return in BTC,” The Sun Exchange CFO Larry Temlock told Bitcoin Magazine. “For those people that want to buy and hold BTC for the long term, this attractively high investment yield can provide a sort of ‘buffer’ against unfavorable decrease in BTC value vs other currencies or assets and perhaps make the spot currency market volatility a little less painful for those that are holding bitcoin for the future.”

Eximchain and Tierion are hashing data into the Bitcoin blockchain for use as an immutable database. Netki is a startup that has been focused on replacing long, confusing Bitcoin addresses with human-readable wallet names and they were also involved in the development of BIP 75. Shocard and Tradle have a focus on allowing users to prove their identities to third parties through the use of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Blockchain Companies Still Present

Of course, there are also a few startups focused on the more general concept of blockchain technology in the fourth batch of Plug and Play Fintech startups. Nuco, a project started by Matthew Spoke, Jin Tu and Kesem Frank, three former members of Deloitte’s blockchain team, is focused on building customized, private blockchain solutions across various industries.

The Stellar Development Foundation, which supports a Ripple spin-off, was also part of this round of Plug and Play Fintech startups.

Some of the above-mentioned Bitcoin companies also have aspects of their business plans that go outside of the Bitcoin blockchain. Netki now offers Digital Identity Certificates, which can work across all private and public blockchains and The Sun Exchange also relies on the use of various “blockchain-based applications” on their crowd investing platform.

Shocard CEO Armin Ebrahimi told Bitcoin Magazine: “While we use the Bitcoin blockchain, our platform is blockchain agnostic and in fact, we do write to multiple blockchains and can relate the data cohesively. The blockchain however is fundamental in providing our identity solution.”

What Will These Startups Gain From Plug and Play?

Whether they’re involved with Bitcoin or some other form of blockchain technology, all of these startups understand the value of Plug and Play Fintech.

“We were thrilled that [Plug and Play] invited Tierion to join their program,” Tierion CEO Wayne Vaughan told Bitcoin Magazine. “Each week, we're meeting with enterprise customers that we've met through [Plug and Play]. It's a great way to accelerate our business development efforts and build our network in Silicon Valley."

Netki CEO Justin Newton also shared his excitement about the program with Bitcoin Magazine:

“Our Wallet Name product has been proven in the Bitcoin ecosystem and with the launch of our Identity Certificate product we are seeing strong interest from traditional financial enterprise customers. Being accepted into Plug and Play from their hundreds of applicants gives you amazing access to their corporate partners, who know you have already gone through a rigorous selection process. This will help us accelerate both traction with those companies, but as importantly, an opportunity to get detailed feedback on product market fit and any adjustments that will need to be made to make our products fit better.”

Kyle Torpey

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