Startup accelerator Startupbootcamp FinTech, announced on Monday the top 10 finalists to join its Singapore program, among which are blockchain-based startups Otonomos, CryptoSigma and DeBuNe, demonstrating that Singapore’s government is serious about its ambitions to become Asia’s blockchain technology hub.
The results follow a six-week selection process where the accelerator had to review some 300 applications. The finalists, which include startups from the Asia-Pacific region and Europe, were chosen by a panel of industry experts, and are all looking to disrupt specific markets in the financial industry with technology.
According to Markus Gnirck, Global COO at Startupbootcamp FinTech:
"Since the beginning of the year, we have scoured the Asia Pacific and the globe for the most fascinating, innovative and promising FinTech startups. With 300 applications it shows that FinTech in Asia is on the rise to tackle local problems with the potential for global scale. We have met close to 200 startups, visited 12 financial hubs across APAC and beyond, so we feel confident that the 10 teams selected showcase the very best that financial services and technology has to offer."
Otonomos' ‘Blockchain Chartered Company’
Otonomos is a Bitcoin 2.0 startup that is looking to put to help entrepreneurs incorporate their businesses on the blockchain and create fully distributed companies. The startup is building a gateway to the blockchain to help entrepreneurs "form, fund and govern a new type of company":
"One that issues its shares on the decentralized blockchain, funds itself in Bitcoin from the crowd, governs itself through decentralized consensus, and does its accounting and banking in digital currency. [...] A new corporate vehicle hat codes the human freedom to contract onto 'smart shares' in an entity that IPOs from day one, crowdfunds itself with digital contributions from the largest possible number of investors, and governs itself through decentralized protocols."
Incorporated in Singapore, Otonomos was founded by serial entrepreneur and former investment advisor at Goldman Sachs, Han Verstraete.
P2P Mobile Payments with CryptoSigma
Singapore-based CryptoSigma is a bitcoin wallet and exchange that is looking to take over the remittance market by enabling instant money transfers with a transaction fee as little as 0.5%.
Focusing on flexibility, CryptoSigma offers a wallet app that allows payments via QR code and NFC, along with a Cryptosigma Visa Debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs and pay anywhere on the Visa payment network.
The company's website reads:
"We thought it was crazy that in 2015 money sent using a Bank isn't instant. So we wanted to do something. CryptoSigma uses an innovative technology protocol called the 'Blockchain' that allows 2 people to transfer money as easily as sending an email from one person to another without using a Bank."
DeBuNe, the Decentralized Professional Network
Powered by the Nxt blockchain and collaboration platform Any.Sh, DeBuNe is an online browse-able network of independent business units that allows small and medium-sized companies to collaborate, market, offer, and monetize their expertise or product.
The Nxt platform not only allows anonymous transactions and permanent recording on its blockchain, but also enables features such as smart contracts, and tradable assets.
The other selected startups include:
- Bankguard, a company that is looking to develop innovative ways to resolve illegal remittances;
- Bw8, a "Social Trading Network" that connect non-professional investors with expert traders;
- Creditseva, an online consumer platform to analyze and manage credit reports and scores;
- Dragon Wealth, a marketing and communication platform for wealth managers;
- Kashmi, a P2P mobile payment solution;
- KyePot, a mobile platform that enables users to save, lend and borrow in trusted social groups;
- SkolaFund, an education financing platform for the Asian market.
Singapore: ‘The place for Bitcoin in Asia’
Starting from May 2015, the 10 startups selected will receive Masterclasses and mentorship from more than a 100 entrepreneurs, investors and corporate partners, to help them with market strategies, product development and scaling across Southeast Asia. Additionally, each of them will get SG$24,500 (US$17,850) in seed funding and four months of free office space at the Startupbootcamp FinTech hub in Singapore.
The three-month program will end with a demo day, where the companies will present and pitch their products to an audience of 200+ investors, mentors and partners.
While Startupbootcamp FinTech accelerator program claims to be seeking the most disruptive startups from Asia and Europe, the predominance of startups from Singapore among its finalists, as well as the implication of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), DBS Bank and Infocomm Investments, suggest that local actors might be looking to turn the city-state into the center of Blockchain tech in Asia.
In August 2014, MAS' managing director Ravi Menon, expressed his views on digital currencies, stating that "virtual currencies have a role to play." Menon further reminded of the MAS's intentions to build a regulatory framework for digital currencies intermediaries.
Meanwhile, Singapore's bustling startup scene has caught the eye of investors from the West as well. Boost VC's CEO Adam Draper, picked up Singaporean bitcoin startup CoinHako in August 2014, demonstrating Silicon Valley's growing interest in Singapore's dynamic bitcoin ecosystem.
According to Draper:
"Worldwide adoption is necessary for Bitcoin to succeed. And I believe Singapore is the place for Bitcoin in Asia."
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