Building unique innovation centres, Twenty Thirty aims to use Blockchain technology to decentralise the global banking and trade systems.
In a world that is moving towards a cashless economy, a Harvard and Stanford graduate, 57-year-old Blockchain expert David Siegel, aims to decentralise the global banking and trade systems. Unlike most startups and accelerators, Twenty Thirty looks at the world differently. A unique combination of a Blockchain tech startup and an accelerator, 2030 uses technology like Blockchain to build innovation centres around the world, including in London, Bengaluru and Zurich.
An AG Corporation, Twenty Thirty is a holding company that creates new ventures in the Blockchain innovation space. The innovation centres are designed to break even quickly. They make money through consulting, training, and renting desks, but they really just serve as a social platform to draw talent from.
There will also be training, consulting, and collaboration with larger firms. In India, Twenty Thirty aims to disrupt the legal, healthcare and financial spaces.
“We believe that decentralisation will be a powerful force reshaping organisations and society,” says 27-year-old Yogesh Gaikwad, Co-founder at 2030. He adds that the idea behind Twenty Thirty is to create a network of innovation centres that reimagine and reinvent the way people work using decentralised technology.
He says Twenty Thirty aims to build a diverse portfolio of experiments, projects, and business units that empower people, organisations of all stripes, and society at large. Yogesh explains,
“We want to build the infrastructure, tools, apps, and smart contracts that one billion people will use in the year 2030. We want to help millions of people understand and use these tools, to make them mainstream.”
The Blockchain innovation centres are meant to help each other learn and invent new technologies, solve existing business problems by removing middlemen, find new market opportunities, and build solutions. The Twenty Thirty team also aims to launch its own coin and use it to accelerate innovation.
The team of experts
Currently, the Twenty Thirty team is made up of global entrepreneurs, growth hackers who are keen on expanding and hiring bootstrappers, and domain experts in fintech. David started one of the first web design agencies, and sold it to KPMG. He has also started a Blockchain learning website.
Meeting people at events, David roped in 44-year-old Stephan Karpischek, a Blockchain educator and founder of Etherisc and B9 Labs, who was part of the UBS Crypto 2.0 Innovation Lab in London. Previously, he was a programme manager at Swisscom and did research on machine learning and the Internet of Things at ETH Zurich. David also brought in Tomer Sofinzon from Israel, again an entrepreneur, who founded ClearCi, a company focused on delivering Enterprise Intelligence solutions.
The team also has 41-year-old Anish Mohammed, a member of the Blockchain Advisory Group, and until recently chief architect of blockchain solutions at Lloyds. He has deep expertise in security architecture, security of big data, security analytics, cloud security, Blockchain and cryptography. Yogesh, on the other hand, started one of the first growth hacking startups in India, and is working with digital and tech startups with new unique ideas across Switzerland, the UK, Canada, India, Singapore and the US.
The products on the way
Currently, more than 60 percent of the world’s financial assets are managed by 10 banks. Yogesh believes that with their innovation, there will be no need for banks. Decentralisation of the global banking and trading systems will help people get easier access to markets, services and education.
With this focus in mind, the team has built four distinct products – Token Factory, a product that will hold over 50 cryptocurrencies and act as an exchange platform, which is launching in the UK and Switzerland. Etherisc, meanwhile, is a flight delay insurance on Blockchain. The fourth product is work in progress at the moment.
The team claims that they will first start with Germany, Austria and then India. They claim to have even built a stealth decentralised social networking for professionals. Another key product for Twenty Thirty is the 2030 Data Locker, a health wallet. This works as a platform that stores details and all the health-related documents and reports for family members and also enables interaction with doctors.
The team claims to have seen over 200 percent growth over the last year, with over three clients and three prime partners. Yogesh adds that Lykke, one of their clients, is one of the top three Swiss startups in the region.
A relatively greyish black area
The team has also received a seed investment, and is in talks with three foreign government programmes. However, Blockchain as a concept isn’t easy to digest and understand. An article in Wired says that Bitcoin has a market cap of $5 billion. There are also several merchants like Newegg, Dell, Expedia, Overstock and Microsoft who are accepting Bitcoin as a possible form of payment for their product.
In a white paper issued by the RBI’s research wing, the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology claims to have successfully concluded proof of concept (POC) studies using Blockchain Technology for trade finance applications.
The paper claimed that the POC was run in concert with the National Payments Corporation of India and banks like Citibank, Deutsche Bank and HDFC.
A couple of banks have already begun adopting Blockchain and moving in that direction. Yes Bank has announced the use of Blockchain for a vendor financing application, and in October last year, ICICI bank announced the use of Blockchain for international remittances and trade. In January, Axis Bank also announced the foray into Blockchain for cross border remittances.
In the white paper, it was said: Blockchain has matured enough and there is sufficient awareness among stakeholders, which makes it an appropriate time for initiating suitable efforts towards digitising the Indian Rupee through Blockchain technology.
However, globally, one of the biggest concerns that the technology gives rise to is that it follows a decentralised payment system, which operates independently of any government or central bank. The article in Wired said that since people can exchange on a peer-to-peer basis without passing any financial intermediary, the Bitcoin network doesn’t reside under any given regulation, and can also be constructed to be agnostic to any jurisdictional rules.
Simply put, the Blockchain works as a data structure that helps create a shared digital ledger of transactions. Now, with no central authority, there are fears that individuals can manipulate the ledger. The technology relies heavily on cryptographic components, making it difficult to change or manipulate. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are therefore possible because of its decentralised framework.
TwentyThirty, KrypC, and Brooklyn-based Microgrid are, however, using it across different sectors. Regulatory frameworks, meanwhile, are still in a grey area where Blockchain is concerned.
The US has the New York State’s BitLicense, which aims to regulate virtual currencies by regulating the wallet providers according to the rules of money transmitters and financial operators. However, the flipside is that these rules have made it difficult for startups to operate in the space. And if extended to other Blockchain applications, it could slow down innovation in the space.
Blockchain no doubt leads to greater transparency and efficiency, and it also has the potential to bring down costs of regulatory compliances. The Wired article clearly said that Blockchain technologies can also be regarded as a regulatory technology that helps enable laws to be enforced more efficiently.
While the RBI white paper indicates a keenness to use the technology for India’s financial services, and the banking and BFSI sectors, India, nevertheless, has a long way to go.
Riding against the current
The ride, therefore, hasn’t been easy for TwentyThirty. Yogesh says, “Before demonetisation, in July 2016, I had written to the government about creating a cashless economy but I was denied any help by banks, bureaucrats and VCs here.”
He adds that the actual policies of Startup and Standup India do not reach the grassroots level. Citing an example, Yogesh says that after waiting for five months and talking to three banks, nothing happened. However, after applying in the UK and Switzerland, he was able to get a business visa. He adds,
“There are several redundant rules, which makes no sense if we wish to make India a startup and entrepreneurship hub. I was sad that my own country does not consider knowledge and ideas on merit.”
In India, the Blockchain revolution is yet to pick up in the manner it has in the US and Europe. Among the few Indian companies in the space is the Bengaluru-based Tech30 Company KrypC, a Blockchain services company. The team at the startup has created a B2B platform to ease the adoption and usage of Blockchain in different sectors, even as the space is evolving.
KrypC recently released KrypCore, the MVP version of their middleware platform that addresses the threads of enterprise resistance to Blockchain. Yogesh also believes that there are several companies who are very close to them. He adds that they have several projects and a widely diverse portfolio. However, Twenty Thirty will be focussed on finding opportunities to monetise Blockchain and other technologies.
Speaking on their future plans, Yogesh adds,
“We wish to build Blockchain innovation centres across the globe, starting from 2016. We worked on a base in London and Zurich; in 2017, we plan to open up in Bengaluru and Amsterdam; in Sydney and Dubai in 2018, and in Austin and New York the year after that."