Zebpay took home first prize for its easy mobile wallet, which is still in pre-launch mode.
Blockchain recordkeeping service Factom took home second prize.
Hardware security startup Rivetz took home third.
Each of these projects was selected from a group of 20 semifinalists, each of whom pitched their ideas at CoinAgenda, which ran from October 7–9. This coming Sunday night at Money20/20, both Factom and Rivetz will present at the invite-only Coin Debut showcase.
“We were blown away by the quality of the companies who presented,” Michael Terpin, founder of CoinAgenda and co-founder of BitAngels, said in a release. “The VC panel was also quite impressed calling it one of the best selections of early-stage Bitcoin companies they’ve seen anywhere.”
That VC panel included Matt Roszak from Tally Capital, William Quigley from Clearstone Ventures, and Stephen Waterhouse from Pantera Capital.
The judges’ criteria for selecting winners was not made available, so instead let’s take a look at the three winners and try to determine what about each startup impressed the VCs.
Zebpay is building a super simple mobile wallet that essentially turns your phone number into your Bitcoin wallet address. This would be to Bitcoin what WhatsApp was to mobile messaging.
Zebpay itself is leveraging that instant messaging analogy, and the company says that users’ money will be secure while transaction confirmations will be instantaneous.
“With Zebpay, you can enjoy the benefits of using bitcoins without worrying about the complexities,” Zebpay co-founder Sandeep Goenka told YourStory.com in early October. “You can send and receive bitcoins simply using mobile numbers just like WhatsApp. You don’t have to understand complex Bitcoin addresses or worry about losing bitcoins and taking backups.”
I reached out to Goenka by email to find out a bit more.
Cointelegraph: How will Zebpay confirm transactions instantaneously?
Sandeep Goenka: Zebpay wallet is an off-blockchain wallet. So, transactions are confirmed by our servers instantaneously.
CT: Do you think that tying Bitcoin transactions to a mobile phone number sacrifices too much of the pseudonymity Bitcoin provides?
SG: Zebpay wallet's mission is to be as easy to use as popular chat apps. Its target use is for regular people who want to transact in Bitcoins with their friends, family and local businesses. So, we agree, but this is a conscious decision.
CT: Would this even be a problem for your target users?
SG: The main problem for regular people is understanding Bitcoin addresses, transaction times, network confirmations, wallet backups and so on. Like the Bitcoin community, we passionately believe in the core Bitcoin principles. However, this is not a concern for the masses yet.
Factom is building a system that allows users to store a document on the blockchain with a single hash. Factom President Peter Kirby said on the Let’s Talk Bitcoin podcast:
“You can actually use [the blockchain] for almost any kind of process […] a document, a list of documents, a collection of things, basically anything that you can think of, and hash it, and store it on the blockchain. It’s a giant ledger that you can build almost any applications on.”
A system that would potentially process thousands of documents per second, however, requires a tweak to blockchain technology as we know it today. Kirby said Factom’s system would rely on federated, decentralized servers so that 10,000 nodes wouldn’t have to communicate to confirm a transaction.
Factom will have its own native token, as well, which will be used to reward anyone running a node or anyone conducting audits on Factom’s data.
Kirby said Factom would structure data that was stored on the blockchain, making the analogy that Factom is to HTTP what the blockchain itself is to TCP/IP.
“So, a pool of federated servers, they’re going to store blocks of hashes — the market will sort of dictate how many hashes translates to a piece of Factom — but they will store them in Factom blocks,” Kirby said.
“Factom blocks take a whole collection of hashes and compress it into a single hash. So, that sort of acts like a compression engine for all the data that you want to store, so you can take a ton of data and store it in a single hash.”
- Peter Kirby
Rivetz uses the idea of trusted execution — allowing tiny apps to run on a consumer device without detection or approval from the operating system — so that parts of a device can be insulated from malware or tampering.
Through that technology, you can create trusted devices. Rivetz connects those devices to the web.
For cryptocurrency users, this means that wallets, for example, could be opened in a “physically and cryptographically separate execution space” in which private keys are generated and securely stored on the device.
Here is a video of Rivetz securing a Bitcoin transaction on an Android device:
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