Category Archives: Berlin

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Binance Labs Incubator Hatches Eight New Blockchain Projects

Binance Labs Incubator Hatches Eight New Blockchain Projects

The Binance initiative to support early-stage blockchain projects has yielded results, with 8 projects emerging from the programme.

Binance Labs, the venture wing of the largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance supports new blockchain startups and cryptocurrency projects through technical assistance and direct investment. Binance describes the project as an initiative to incubate, invest, and empower blockchain and cryptocurrency entrepreneurs, projects, and communities.

From 500 applicants, Binance narrowed the projects down to eight, each of which received USD 500,000 in funding. The programme reports that seven projects have shipped working products and signed on users, while three of those teams have paying customers as well. The eight projects will participate in the San Francisco incubator this year.

The projects selected include SafePal, Torus, Nym and market prediction startup Deaux. Earlier this year, Binance Labs reportedly invested millions of dollars into the decentralized digital content ecosystem Contentos, a platform aiming to offer transparency and monetization of content without third-party censorship or removal of content.

The Lab’s programme is part of Binance’s commitment made earlier this year to launch a USD 1 billion “social impact fund” to aid blockchain and cryptocurrency startups. The initial concept was to contribute over USD 1 billion via 10 installments of USD 100 million each, creating both funds for further investment into blockchain related funds, and direct funding of individual projects.

The first project chosen for the funding scheme was a blockchain ride-hailing initiative co-founded by Chen Weixing, CEO of app developer Funcity. Ella Zhang, head of the exchange’s incubator programme at Binance Labs commented about the breadth of its initiative:

“We believe it’s a disruptive social experiment. Binance Labs hopes to work with more aspirational projects to explore blockchain applications and together move forward the growth of the industry,”

Zhang has also revealed that Binance Labs will launch new incubator programmes in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Lagos, Singapore, and Hong Kong from March 2019, offering the same 10-week programmes. Regarding the inclusion of Buenos Aires and Lagos into the programme Zhang commented:

“Those two emerging markets have native blockchain and crypto use cases. So we hope to find teams solving local problems like payments, the instability of local currencies, or remittance problems.”

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Ethereum Gives Germans More Energy Choices in 10 Cities

German consumers are getting cheaper energy through an Ethereum-based energy supplier which promises to “bypass the middleman”.

Launched this year, Lition offers its service to 41 million German households in ten cities across the country, promising consumers a 20% saving on their monthly energy bill and offering producers the opportunity to generate up to 30% more profit.

The company, built on the Ethereum blockchain, promises to connect its clients directly with energy suppliers, bypassing intermediaries, the usual energy retailer in conventional supply systems. Lition now boasts 700 users with Berlin, Munich and Hamburg on its supply list.

The company claims to “simplify the legal, operational and economic hurdles for green power producers and allow customers to buy truly green electricity at an affordable price”. What this actually means for customers is that they are given more options. Multinational suppliers can be cut out of the equation completely, maintains Lition CEO Richard Lohwasser:

“Our energy exchange connects customers and producers directly. Producers put their energy on the exchange and then customers can buy it… Usually buying directly from producers is limited to energy suppliers that are big corporations. We’re bringing the exchange to the consumer, so consumers can pay for the energy they want.”

The downside for Lohwasser is Ethereum itself, which he sees as far too slow. He argues that customers view its use with a degree of skepticism due to the uncomfortable juxtaposition of two polar factors within one company; one that promotes renewable energy while at the same time using a system which, many argue, drains it. Lohwasser said that Lition researchers studied a number of alternative blockchains when setting up the company but were unable to find one which had Ethereum’s permissionless and scalable attributes.

They finally partnered with German-based multinational software corporation SAP and built a tailor-made hybrid blockchain system in order to incorporate what the company saw as the best of all the available models. The company’s next step is to launch its own ICO later in the year.

In other news from Germany, AG Siemens has announced that it will invest USD 681 million into a center for the study and development of blockchain, artificial intelligence and other innovative technologies. The German giant has planned to use Berlin as the site for what it will call SiemensStadt (Siemens City) on a 70-hectare site in an industrial zone in the suburb of Spandau.

 

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Siemens Invests $681 Million in Blockchain and Fintech City

The largest industrial manufacturing company in Europe, AG Siemens, has announced that it will invest USD 681 million into a center for the study and development of blockchain, artificial intelligence, and other innovative technologies.

The German giant has planned to use Berlin as the site for what it will call SiemensStadt (Siemens City) on a 70 hectares site in an industrial zone in the suburb of Spandau. The concept will eventually metamorphose into a science park linking history to the area where the company found its roots back in the 19th century as the site of some of Siemens AG’s first factories.

The long-term project, set for completion in 2030, will see the initial buildings develop into a technology park and base for new startups, making an important link between business, innovation and science. A major focus on the development of both blockchain and AI technologies has been earmarked as essential moving forward. Other areas of development which will take place in SiemensStadt will include data analysis, the development of electric vehicles, distributed power systems, and energy management.

Despite Siemens announcing job losses last month to the tune of 2,900 staff due to restructuring, the company has stated that the new project will provide employment for hundreds. Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, suggested that “the city’s status as a scientific center would be boosted by the investment”.

It has been a productive year for Germany on the fintech front, with the country’s central bank, Deutsche Bundesbank, successfully completing two blockchain trials during its collaboration with Deutsche Börse, owner of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The two blockchain prototypes were designed to test the technology’s potential in securities settlements, transactions, and payments, as well as bond repayments.

Earlier in 2018, Germany’s second-largest stock exchange, Boerse Stuttgart took the step to host Crypto Trading and Coin Offerings, following the announcement that its new Bison app would be released later this year by fintech company Sowa Labs, a subsidiary of Boerse Stuggart Digital Ventures.

 

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Italy Consolidates Blockchain Position in EU Partnership

Italy has announced that it is about to enter the European Blockchain Partnership, an organization formed to promote blockchain technology between member states.

On doing so, Italy has become the 27th nation to sign the agreement since its conception earlier this year in April. The partnership has grown from 22 nations since its launch. Initially, the EU had launched an EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum, subsequently investing more than EUR 80 million in blockchain projects. A further EUR 300 million has been allocated over the next four years.

The partnership has expressed a positive view in the past towards blockchain development and  adoption among EU nations:

“In the future, all public services will use blockchain technology. The blockchain is a great opportunity for Europe and member states to rethink their information systems, to promote user trust and the protection of personal data, to help create new business opportunities and to establish new areas of leadership, benefiting citizens, public services and companies.”

The awaited addition of Italy marks the final step in all EU nations becoming contributors. Italian member of Parliament (MP) Mirella Liuzzi was delighted with the Brussels signing on 28 September:

“Joining the partnership will allow Italy… to define its own line in the development of [blockchain] technology — a practice which the previous government had never implemented.”

Italy is seeing an increasing interest in cryptocurrencies as well. Naples is considering launching a municipal coin with the support of the local mayor, and areas of southern Italy have recently expressed a desire to launch their own cryptocurrency to extend autonomy.

Italy’s neighbor Germany has been making its mark in the crypto-space for some time, with Berlin becoming a well-known blockchain hub among industry players across the EU. Currently, the vibrant city is home to 120 startups.

With recent news from the Boerse Stuttgart Group, which is currently building its own infrastructure to accommodate cryptocurrencies, Germany is certainly in the game, the exchange being the second largest in the country and ninth largest in Europe.

A recent report from Handelsblatt Global has revealed that 13% of German companies are now involved with blockchain in the energy market. The WSW project in Wuppertal, which allows customers to create their own green energy selections online, uses blockchain to ensure that no wind or solar power units can be sold more than once.

 

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Germany’s Biggest Ethereum Meetup Goes 100% Dapps

Germany’s biggest Ethereum meetup in Berlin has announced that is to cover the whole event using decentralized applications (Dapps).

The event ETHBerlin will use Dapps for all services including ticketing, live streaming, hotel booking and raffles.  The event will be held at Factory Berlin, which will be held in two venues from 7 September. One is in the central district of Berlin, Mitte. The other brand new Factory venue is in the middle of the city’s startup scene, Gorlitzer Park.

Currently, there are 1,565 Dapps built on the Ethereum blockchain alone, unsurprising given Ethereum’s historical place in the development of blockchain solutions. Carl Bennet of Status.im suggests that 2019 will become a new dawn for Dapps, suggesting:

“We will see more developers and designers focusing on creating simpler and more familiar user onboarding experiences for mainstream use we’ve come to expect from the applications we use and an overall lower barrier to entry into the crypto ecosystem.”

The suggestion is that Dapps will be the key to widespread crypto adoption, beyond the payments system created by Bitcoin, offering users the ability to interact with cryptocurrencies, while navigating user-friendly mobile and desktop applications, thus bringing digital currencies to the “forefront of social consciousness”.

For this event, ETHBerlin has elected to use an Ethereum-based video streaming app along with a decentralized hotel and apartment booking platform accepting Ether. Raffles, ticketing and event management will also be covered by Ethereum based Dapps. The ETHBerlin team suggests that it is “raising the bar” with Dapps, stating:

“ETHBerlin stands strong, we think that Dapps are the future, so we’ll do whatever it takes to push adoption, and inspire you to build more of them. There is room for all… As a responsible, global community, in constant evolution, as is our ecosystem, we need to understand that it is not enough to absorb these teachings and foundations and just replicate.”

Dapps are clearly on the march this year, mainly because of the influx of funding through ICO token sales enabling further development and testing of new ideas and applications. Within the Ethereum community, there is a general feeling the Dapps are the future replacing intermediary-based centralized systems.

Critics suggest that there are scalability issues, with some suggesting that the Ethereum protocol will need a massive scaling boost to support larger platforms demanding huge transactions.

 

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