Featured: The Block’s list of innovative blockchain companies to look out for in 2021

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Characteristic 2021 goes to be an thrilling 12 months for blockchain applied sciences. The launch of Ethereum 2.0, the continued volatility of Bitcoin and the intriguing use instances arising from DeFi will proceed apace, whereas enterprise alternatives, from finance, to power and sustainability, to the broader provide chain, stay.

The Block has chosen seven firms to characteristic for 2021. Learn their tales beneath:

Butterfly Protocol

Butterfly Protocol’s aim is to offer a decentralised various to ICANN, the arbiter of Web domains and namespaces. The promised impact of this mission is way wider.

“The Butterfly Protocol is constructed for the world of a decentralised web, one that’s free from censorship and centralised management,” Dana Farbo, president of Butterfly Protocol, tells The Block. “It modifications how something digital and even bodily may be named in order that it may be registered ceaselessly utilizing the blockchain and different expertise such because the Interplanetary File System (IPFS).


“For domains, meaning you possibly can personal your individual subdomain like myname.HUMAN with out ever having to pay a yearly payment,” Farbo provides. “You received’t lose it resulting from a mistake along with your bank card.”

Final month, the corporate launched a new naming system which presents a ‘decentralised registry platform for top-level domains that may be bought with cryptocurrency.’

One other mission on the horizon is a social media app known as Butterfly Social. The app is predicated on the protocol, to level content material a person creates to distributed information storage which makes use of decentralised and peer-to-peer routing to get away from a centralised system.

That is significantly prescient following the suspension of Parler by Amazon Internet Companies (AWS) amongst different distributors. But Farbo stresses that this doesn’t imply customers ‘can do numerous unlawful issues and get away with it’.

“Butterfly Social can’t be taken down as a result of a cloud supplier decides they don’t like your politics,” argues Farbo. “The app may be distributed outdoors of shops like Apple and Google and true freedom of expression may be realised.”

The Butterfly Social DApp is pegged for launch in Q2, whereas the corporate can be seeking to construct a accomplice community for different builders to assist them combine Butterfly into their product.


CiveQ, based in September and based mostly within the UK, appears to make investing in clear power infrastructure accessible to all.

Neil Pennington, co-founder of CiveQ, argues that clear power belongings, and related infrastructure reminiscent of photo voltaic arrays and wind generators, are sometimes held by authorized entities reminiscent of particular goal automobiles (SPVs), with a number of possession troublesome to achieve and liquidity powerful. CiveQ goals to offer direct possession, that means homeowners can maintain it and commerce simply.

That is achieved by digitising the asset on a blockchain, utilizing a non-fungible token (NFT) framework, then fractionalising it into items to promote to retail traders. Mixed with that is IoT connectivity to offer trusted and verified information.

“We name this ‘seen fairness’ – a recognized asset, in a recognized location, delivering recognized outputs and returns,” Pennington tells The Block.

The corporate has a enterprise mannequin ‘constructed on partnerships’, although CiveQ is coming into a funding spherical early in 2021. One notable partnership with Regener8 Energy, a cleantech growth platform supplier based mostly in Italy and the UK. The collaboration will see Regener8 carry belongings to the platform – subsequently, extra liquidity to the market – in addition to entice builders.

Power is a notable space the place many stakeholders can see blockchain profit. As this publication has beforehand reported, EDF has initiatives, being a member of Hyperledger and aligning with the Tezos blockchain ecosystem. The corporate, via its Exaion platform, is seeking to grow to be the ‘eco-responsible benchmark’ for cloud computing, in addition to present a blockchain platform to hurry up the rollout of buyer tasks securely.

Pennington, whose expertise on the opposite facet of the desk consists of stints at npower and BG Group, feels a unique sort of power is required – in additional methods than one.

“We want to actually excite the market, creating big advocacy and engagement; a ready listing of individuals and organisations who’re excited to personal ‘seen fairness’ in our first mission, and from there a steady roadmap of latest and extremely partaking options,” he says. “2021 will probably be an thrilling 12 months for us.”

Stream Blockchain

Flow Blockchain is, in a single side, probably the most established firm on this listing. The mission, developed by CryptoKitties creator Dapper Labs as a user- and developer-friendly blockchain platform, has clients starting from the NBA to Dr. Seuss.

But Stream additional legitimised itself originally of this 12 months. A January blog from DApp tracker DappRadar, who will itself quickly start monitoring Stream blockchain dapps, notes the necessity to clear up the issue of scalability ever since CryptoKitties was born.

That is echoed by Mik Naayem, chief enterprise officer and co-founder of Dapper Labs. “After breaking Ethereum with CryptoKitties again in 2017, Stream was constructed as a mainstream scalable choice,” Naayem tells The Block.

The corporate continues to innovate, saying a partnership last month with T-Systems, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, to bolster Stream’s computational storage.

NBA Prime Shot, which is constructed on Stream, has damaged milestones of its personal over the previous few weeks. This consists of rating as the highest crypto collectible by gross sales quantity – at greater than $30 million – whereas two ‘moments’, that includes LeBron James and Zion Williamson, went for $100,000 apiece. Naayem argues NBA Prime Shot is ‘revolutionising the adoption of blockchain and demonstrating that there’s the potential of product market match to the plenty.’

By way of 2021 plans, Naayem notes a development in the direction of a ‘totally open, totally on-chain digital metaverse.’ “As an alternative of a single app or a single interface, we consider it as the complete state of the blockchain accessible for any developer to construct on, any particular person to entry, and the place the belongings can work together with one another and good contracts may be constructed on prime of one another,” he says.

“Within the upcoming 12 months we anticipate crypto experiences hitting the mainstream and larger adoption of our merchandise,” Naayem provides. “We additionally hope to carry extra beloved IPs and partnerships to Stream and Dapper Labs.”


GoodDollar, a mission which is led by Yoni Assia, the CEO of eToro, goals to ship digital common fundamental earnings (UBI) at scale. The providing is constructed on Fuse.io and the Ethereum mainnet and permits those that signal as much as obtain a small day by day earnings within the G$ digital forex.

When this publication first reported on GoodDollar in December, greater than 40,000 individuals from 180 nations have been signing up and utilizing G$. Inside this are case research that are variously fascinating in themselves. One entrepreneur is constructing a brand new reward enterprise which permits individuals to make use of GoodDollars in additional than 35 totally different nations for meals and various distributors, whereas one other member in Spain is planting timber for GoodDollars as a part of his environmental activism.

“Core to the mission of GoodDollar is creating new incentives that make it simple for all of us to make use of our cash to ‘do good’ for others,” Anna Stone, technique and go-to-market lead at GoodDollar, tells The Block. “We deal with this by decreasing the limitations to entry and designing tremendous easy merchandise that allow any particular person with a cellphone to start to gather digital cash and use that digital earnings in a digital economic system.

A latest report from Flipside Crypto, as picked up by SimpleMoneyLyfe, discovered that roughly 2% of crypto wallets management 95% of all Bitcoin. This disparity is on the coronary heart of GoodDollar’s imaginative and prescient.

“A lot of crypto has been enabling thsoe who have already got sources to get even richer,” Stone provides. “The aim of GoodDollar is to flip market incentives on its head, and allow a world the place crypto followers can maximise for themselves whereas additionally doing good for others.”

The remainder of 2021 will see new options round rising day by day digital earnings distribution, a brand new group governance framework, in addition to market training to assist create extra tasks from entrepreneurs and ambassadors alike.

“We will probably be enterprise initiatives that make it as easy, simple, and rewarding as doable for philanthropists to help the fundamental earnings community,” provides Stone.


GrainChain is an agritech agency at the moment working with provide chains in the USA, Mexico, and Honduras. The corporate operates a cloud-based blockchain platform that gives end-to-end traceability from producer to shopper, serving to to alleviate the complicated challenges dealing with agricultural provide chains.

The corporate’s operations, which at the moment course of thousands and thousands of {dollars} in commodities day by day, simplify the complicated logistics of the business by making the method of funds simpler, quicker, and safer for individuals while concurrently offering dependable information on meals’s origins for suppliers.

“We stand out within the business on a pair fronts. Our method is exclusive within the sense that we offer a centralised platform connecting the complete agricultural provide chain,” Tom DeRosa, director of promoting at GrainChain informs The Block. “We offer instruments for every section with portals for every person sort. Quite a few advantages are realised via connecting these traditionally disconnected teams.”

The necessity for blockchain ledgers within the agriculture business is changing into more and more realised by international monetary corporations, as demonstrated by Mastercard’s partnership with GrainChain in October 2020.

GrainChain’s platform does greater than carry traceability to produce chains nonetheless, it additionally permits producers to obtain higher costs.

“At the moment we’re wrapping up a pilot program with espresso farmers in Honduras and making ready to roll out our platform to roughly 12,000 individuals in Q2 2021. Our instruments aren’t solely creating effectivity for his or her workflows but additionally enabling the farmers to demand elevated margins for the reason that GrainChain platform authenticates and ensures the standard of the product to {the marketplace},” DeRosa provides.

Trying ahead, GrainChain is increasing its operations in current markets while additionally starting operations in Peru, Colombia, and Brazil.

“We will even be processing new commodities reminiscent of palm oil and providing our expertise to international conglomerates, with an announcement coming later this 12 months,” says DeRosa.


Minima, a blockchain startup based mostly in Switzerland and the UK, is at the moment constructing an ultra-lean blockchain community that may run solely on cellphones. In doing so, Minima is striving to grow to be probably the most decentralised and safe blockchain ever constructed.

The corporate’s ambition of working a node on shopper gadgets will carry this decentralization to life. Up to now, any scaling blockchain has required specialised teams of highly effective and professionally operated computer systems to perform.

“This has created vital limitations to entry: solely these with the sources, technical experience, and entry to low cost electrical energy essential to run a fancy mining or validator operation can take part in blockchain,” Hugo Feiler, CEO at Minima, tells The Block.

The focus of 65% of Bitcoin’s hashrate being produced in China is one instance of this, and it results in main problems for a system that depends on decentralisation for its safety.

“As demand for blockchains enhance, this focus will doubtless grow to be worse. Minima’s expertise solves this. Our blockchain runs solely on cellphones, eliminating the necessity for specialised computer systems that solely a handful of service suppliers can afford to function,” Feiler provides. “By working on cellphones, Minima can grow to be probably the most decentralised, and subsequently probably the most safe, blockchain by orders of magnitude.”

Having carried out a profitable proof of concept with Manx Telecom in 2020 and securing £1.8 million in funding from Blockchain Ventures in December that 12 months, Minima’s formidable objectives are steadily changing into a actuality.

In 2021, Minima is working with two main community operators to run pilots for rolling out loyalty and reward applications.

“Minima has been chosen as a result of it has the distinctive potential to leverage the compute sources of the cell phone. It’s versatile, scalable, and above all of the working prices for the providers are considerably lowered as a result of finish customers mine their very own transactions on the cell phone with out the necessity for a central database. It will all be finished with out damaging the person expertise,” Feiler concludes.


Wintermute, headquartered in London, is an algorithmic liquidity supplier for digital belongings. In different phrases, the corporate goals to create liquid and environment friendly markets on the main crypto exchanges and buying and selling platforms.

The corporate is sizzling proper now. Wintermute secured $20 million (£14.7m) in a sequence B funding spherical final month led by Lightspeed Enterprise Companions, and claimed to have grown nearly 25 occasions its earlier measurement in six months, since its sequence A spherical.

“We discover ourselves in a really privileged place being within the centre of the whole lot essential happening with crypto,” Marina Gurevich, COO of Wintermute, tells The Block. “We’re key companions for the exchanges offering a major a part of liquidity there; we work carefully with blockchain tasks serving to them develop each earlier than and after change listings; and we’re a part of the DeFi ecosystem serving to outline the decentralised monetary primitives.”

Evaluation from Binance, as this publication famous in November, discovered that what should go up, should go down. Binance’s DeFi index noticed what the corporate known as a ‘phenomenal run’ for many of 2020, however the starting of September noticed the overwhelming majority of prime DeFi tokens lose greater than 50% of their worth. But pundits argue that the approaching advantages anticipated on the horizon with Ethereum 2.0 could lead to greater DeFi innovation.

DeFi stays an space of main curiosity for Gurevich, who notes the work with protocols as probably the most fascinating case examine for Wintermute proper now. “For instance, [we are] working with DeFi exchanges and protocols to make it doable for individuals to commerce with one another securely with out the involvement of centralised exchanges, or lend cash to one another and acquire curiosity with out the involvement of centralised lenders,” she says.

The remainder of 2021 will contain larger collaboration and enlargement. “Wintermute will probably be working extra carefully with monetary establishments in conventional finance – asset managers and funds – to assist them get entry to crypto,” says Gurevich. “Wintermute will broaden its operation in Asia, one of many largest markets in crypto, and can proceed supporting liquidity for probably the most progressive and impactful tasks.”

With extra reporting by Fin Strathern.

Picture by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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Tags: blockchain, butterfly, civeq, enterprise blockchain, flow blockchain, gooddollar, grainchain, minima, wintermute

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