Over the past few years, several major hubs of blockchain activity have cropped up around the world as interest around the tech has bloomed in diverse industries.
London’s pivotal position in European and international financial circles has naturally made the U.K. capital one of these fledgling hubs.
And while large crypto companies like Blockchain and Coinbase have offices in town, London’s rich startup scene is teeming with smaller plays gunning to advance the digital asset scene.
Here are four of those notable London startups that are worth putting on your radar.
London-based digital investment banking play Nivaura, which allows companies to issue assets like bonds and equity using blockchain, has a rising profile.
Just last month, the London Stock Exchange Group invested £15 million (GBP) into Nivaura, showing that the upstart tokenizers have a vision that some big financial players are starting to take seriously.
The company’s also notable for being the first in the world to issue a bond via Ethereum and demoninated in ether (ETH) in the fall of 2017.
Accordingly, Nivaura’s well positioned to keep delivering milestones at the juncture of mainstream finance and the cryptoeconomy for the foreseeable future.
BABB, whose name stands for Bank Account Based Blockchain, is a London startup that’s striving to become the decentralized “world bank for the microeconomy.”
The company envisions a future where users open up blockchain-based bank accounts on their smartphones in minutes to access peer-to-peer banking services.
While BABB hasn’t been granted a banking license in any jurisdictions yet, the startup is actively pursuing license talks on several fronts. Over the past two years, BABB has engaged in talks with the Bank of England, the Bank of Lithuania, and authorities from the Cayman Islands for a regulatory greenlight.
Per the company’s roadmap, the startup has eyed another license application in Lithuania in Q1 2019.
Mattereum is among London’s most noteworthy cryptoeconomy plays, not only because of the company’s ambitious goal — facilitating smart property transfers via blockchain — but also because of its stellar team, which includes major crypto thought leaders like Vinay Gupta and Ian Griggs.
Mattereum’s tech relies on triple-entry accounting, which was pioneered by Griggs. Such a system can be used to peg a digital asset to a legal contract, which in turn can open up all kinds of new digital commerce.
In the future, transferring property on-chain may become the norm. If so, Mattereum could be a key player in making that reality happen.
Want to use Ethereum’s fuel, ether, like a privacy coin? You’re in luck: London’s AZTEC team has already delivered a protocol that can ensure private ETH transactions.
Leveraging zero-knowledge proofs, the Aztec protocol encrypts ETH values during transactions while still allowing these transactions to be validated.
Ethereum itself is still fledgling, and the popular blockchain accordingly has no shortage of areas where it could use further optimization. Privacy is certainly one of these areas, and the AZTEC team is already producing results therein. Decentralized finance continues to mature from such work.
A Permissive Approach to Tokens Developing in the U.K.?
Earlier this year, the United Kingdom’s main market regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), published a consultation paper in which the body suggested most utility tokens wouldn’t fall under its purview as securities.
The paper and its assertions were tentative, but they suggested the FCA was starting out with a considerably more permissive approach to tokens than what’s been seen from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States.
Indeed, the SEC has previously and alternatively asserted that it views most tokens as securities. London may become a bigger blockchain hub yet if that U.S. regulatory approach pushes crypto companies abroad in the years ahead.