Blockchain is more than FinTech

Blockchain and FinTech often go hand in hand. And for good reason! But there is more to blockchain than financial innovation. Let’s look at the non-FinTech opportunities on chain.

First, what do I mean with FinTech? Every company generates revenue has expenses, and you could argue that any company doing finances on the blockchain is FinTech, but that’s too coarse. That’s why I’ll only look at projects that use blockchain for more than just cashflow. So no exchanges, trading platforms, merchant services, markets, settlement services, wallet providers, technology providers, consultancy, etc.

Opportunity 1: Identity management

Wallets are often more than money, they also have various means of identifying you. The same holds in the blockchain world. Identity management and authentication are increasingly important as apps and integrations proliferate. Do you know all your online accounts? Do you know all the apps connected to your GMail account?

Many wallet providers have jumped in this opportunity. Some of the highlights are: uPort, Evernym and Tradle are platforms for all sorts of identity related attributes. Hypr, Uniquid and Civic identify you biometrically. And Shocard does both, for banks and airlines. Bitnation and Borderless top it all by issuing virtual passports to their virtual countries.

Blockchain is good for integrity and audibility, like notaries. Otonomos allows you to incorporate through the blockchain. Mystake let’s you manage your employee stock option program on chain. Some of the services Neufund provides fall in this category too.

Opportunity 3: Democracy and governance

Much like the previous, the fraud-resistance and verifiability make the blockchain perfect for voting systems. Followmyvote uses it for government electoral voting. Projects like Dash, Digix and Tezos have their governance on-chain. Boardroom and Colony let you govern your own organization on the blockchain.

Opportunity 4: Real estate

Another in the notarial line of opportunities is real estate. BenBen, Midasium and Ubitquity are using blockchain to track ownership of real estate. Deloitte, Rotterdam and CIC are putting lease agreements on the blockchain to make the process faster and easier. Future posibilities include automatic rent tracking/payments and data analysis. Epigraph is building an on-chain civic register. Factom’s Harmony improves Mortgage document management, but now we are getting into FinTech. The real estate opportunity is apparently so big that it has it’s own conference organization, IBREA.

Opportunity 5: Authenticity of valuables

The art trade relies on expensive appraisers and paper certificates to verify authenticity. Much like real-estate, there is an opportunity to track these high-value assets on the blockchain. For the art world there is Verisart, Ascribe and Artchain. For diamonds there is Everledger. And for all of those and pharmaceuticals, luxury items and electronics there is Blockverify.

Opportunity 6: Internet of Things

Internet of things is about decentralized devices, a good match for the decentralized blockchain. Integration allows devices to operate as independent economic agents, charging users and ordering supplies or repairs on their own. It also adds a much needed security layer to IoT., Modum, Chronicled, Filament and Ubrich are working in this field. One recent project, Share&Charge allows you to set up your own electric car charging station.

The incumbents are also looking at this opportunity. Samsung and IBM teamed up to make your washing machine manage it’s own soap supply, power supply, and warranty through the blockchain. They further consider bidding markets for advertisement screens.

Opportunity 7: Smart grid

The energy market is becoming more decentralized by all the roof-top solar installations. Instead of getting electricity from a big coal plant, you can now get it from your neighbors roof. Lo3, Siemens, IBM, Samsung, Gridsingularity, SolarChange and Electron are all working on blockchain solutions to efficiently and securely match electricity production with demand.

Opportunity 8: Content publishing

Soundchain, Bittunes, Ujo, Peertracks and Muse use the blockchain to handle copyright and licensing for music, often in combination with a streaming services. Alexanderia goes beyond music and also offers video and books. The goal for all of these is to offer artists more control and lower overhead and give users a low-friction means of licensing. Though micropayments are an important part, it is the automated distribution and licensing that makes this more than FinTech. Also worth mentioning is Emovieventure, a movie production studio organized on the blockchain.

Opportunity 9: Social systems

Social networks are criticized for being too centralized, selling your data and censoring content. Steemit, Userfeeds, Akasha, Reveal and Dawn use blockchain’s inherent qualities to combat this. In addition, they create many opportunities around concepts as identity, attention and reputation.

Opportunity 10: Supply chain

Supply chains can grow very complex involving many parties. Modum and Chronicled creates auditable transport quality assurance. Skuchain uses blockchain to manage trade agreements. IBM, this time with Maersk, and Wave apply blockchain handle shipping documents. Provenance uses blockchain to create a transparent supply chain from producer to consumer. Tierion goes even further and generalizes document management to any kind of business process.

Opportunity 11: Cloud computing

There is a huge amount of underutilized IT equipment on this planet. Hard drives are not full and processors are mostly idle. So far, this market is untapped because it’s hard to trust someone with your data, Blockchain can solve this problem. Storj, Filecoin and Sia combine excess storage space into a giant secure cloud drive. Golem combines excess processing power into giant supercomputer.

Opportunity 12: Forecasting systems

Forecasting systems try to predict outcomes of future events such as presidential elections. Augur and Gnosis are using blockchain to make the process efficient, transparent and secure. These are essentially betting markets and pretty close to FinTech, so I’ll stop here.

That’s twelve opportunities in blockchain outside of FinTech! If I missed your favorite startup, please leave it in the comments!

The upshot: Blockchain doesn’t have to be too worried about financial regulation, there is plenty opportunity outside FinTech.

Remco Bloemen
Math & Engineering