Startups working with blockchain and bitcoin technology around the world raised close to $300 million (£231.2 million) in funding in the first 6 months of the year, according to Juniper Research.
Over 30 startups raised $290 million (£223.5 million) but over a third went to just three companies in big ticket fundraises: Circle, which raised $60 million (£46.2 million) in June; Blockstream, which bagged $55 million (£42.4 million) in February; and Digital Asset Holdings, which raised $50 million (£38.5 million) in January.
Blockchain is a type of database technology first developed to underpin digital currency bitcoin. Instead of one central database of who owns what, blockchain allows for a network of identical, linked databases that talk to each other and are updated simultaneously.
Every time someone wants to make a change or add something onto the blockchain (the shared database), the majority of members of the network must sign off on it. This cuts out the need for middlemen in transactions, because the fact that everyone signs off means trust is built into the system.
By cutting out middlemen, cost is reduced. The process of the group signing off on transactions should also theoretically reduce error.
Bitcoin’s original blockchain is used to record bitcoin transactions — but the tech could theoretically be used to record just about anything that involves transactions. Applications are being developed for everything from share records to art and diamonds.
Banks and financial institutions spending thousands on proof of concepts using the technology, issuing countless white papers, and joining industry-wide bodies to figure out how to use the protocol.
Juniper says banks are increasingly active in the bitcoin and blockchain investment space. But Juniper’s Dr Windsor Holden says in a statement:
“While blockchain technology offers the potential for increased speed, transparency, and security across an array of verticals, there has to be rigorous and robust roadtesting in each unique use case before any decision is taken.”
Juniper’s investment stats come a week after the World Economic Forum declared that blockchain technology “will fundamentally alter the way financial institutions do business around the world” and “become the beating heart” of finance, following a year-long study of the technology.