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Blockchain Startups Named ‘Top Innovations’ at Citibank’s EMEA Mobile Competition

Op-ed - Blockchain Startups Named ‘Top Innovations’ at Citibank’s EMEA Mobile Competition

Blockchain-based social network GetGems was named ‘Most Visionary Social Media Solution,’ while bitcoin wallet Billon took home the title, ‘Most Innovative Blockchain Solution,’ during the Citibank Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) Mobile Competition.

The annual competition, started just last year, was put together by leading global bank Citi and sponsored by IBM Cloud Computing and Mastercard Start Path, the payment company’s fund to boost financial innovation.

Startups from 18 countries pitched 77 financial products and services to Citi executives and technology experts at showcases held in Nairobi, Jerusalem, Warsaw and London. Citi made the call for startups to apply in February and held the actual competition in April.

Other startups that took home titles in the EMEA competition included textbook subscription app Kytabu, omnichannel digital banking platform Avoka Transact, and mobile banking solution for the visually impaired Allianz.Citi also hosted similar competitions in Latin America and the United States, but EMEA was the only one to have digital currency startups take home titles.

"We invited technology developers to re-imagine digital banking, and they went far beyond," said Heather Cox, chief client experience, digital and marketing officer for Global Consumer Banking at Citi. "They presented solutions that could transform financial services and fuel progress in other industries like transportation and education. These developers are truly inspiring. Selecting the top innovations was a challenge, and we are excited to explore bringing their solutions to market."

Besides the free press and networking opportunities, GetGems and Billon might have the chance to work with partners from this event to help take their products and services to market. Israel-based GetGems already launched its social network in October of last year after raising $111,0000 in a crowdsale and receiving a $400,000 investment from Magma VC.Billon, which describes itself as a banking solution for the unbanked (and uses bitcoin as the payment rails), has yet to launch and is currently conducting a private beta in the startup’s home country of Poland. According to its website, Billion was founded late last year by a team including ex-Mastercard employees and bankers, and already has partnered with Plus Bank, Alior Bank and E-Card.