FinTech Daily: Stellar Debuts Global Blockchain Payment Network Lightyear; Blockchain Startup Teams
Stellar Debuts Global Blockchain Payment Network Lightyear
These days blockchain-based startups are a dime a dozen. But when one of those startups is run by Jed McCaleb—who is famous for founding famous crypto-currency enterprises like Mt. Gox and Ripple—it's worth paying attention. On Wednesday, McCaleb's most recent venture known as Stellar announced the launch of a new for-profit entity called Lightyear.io, which seeks to act as a global payments and currency exchange network with a focus on the developing world. The new company, which will rely on Stellar's open source blockchain software, could serve to transform the process of moving money around for business in developing countries, which lack access to secure and affordable transfer networks. Here's how Stellar explained it in a blog post: By using Stellar ’s open protocol to provide interoperability between financial institutions and different payment networks, Lightyear.io will revolutionize cross currency and cross asset payments, making them faster, more efficient, and less costly. With Stellar ’s open financial protocol, transactions are settled in almost real-time (3-5 seconds), for fractions of a cent, in a safe and secure network. Stellar—which operates as a non-profit—has already laid the groundwork for such a network through partnerships in the Philippines, India, and Africa. The creation of Lightyear will now serve as the commercial arm of the endeavor, leaving the Stellar team to focus on improving the code that makes the system run. Lightyear is hardly the first blockchain player trying to upend the money transfer business. Companies like Circle and Ripple have been working with financial institutions for years to try and create an "email of money" that reduces the time and settlement costs of transferring funds. The Stellar spinoff, though, has the pedigree to be considered a major contender in the fight to build an alternate payment network. In addition to McCaleb, Lightyear—which has been operating in stealth for the past few months—is also being led by ex-Palantir executive, Brit Yonge, and has the backing of the payment powerhouse, Stripe. In an interview with Fortune, McCaleb explained that Stripe is supporting Lightyear in part because the new network could provide an easier way to sign up merchant customers in developing markets. He also said the developing world is fertile ground for adoption of blockchain networks, predicting it will be a "leapfrog technology" that allows users to skip implementing Western-style money transfer systems, and move straight to blockchain.
Blockchain Startup Teams Up With London Designer To Transform Fashion Industry
A London fashion designer has collaborated with the Blockchain startup Provenance to give much-needed transparency to the consumer fashion industry. Martine Jarlgaard has created a digital token for every item of clothing she creates, allowing full details of its history from before creation to the point of sale to be visible to the customer. “Technology will be what helps to reconnect us to the people and the places involved, and that information will increase consumer expectations, which will put more pressure on the big companies,” she told Forbes in an interview this week. A trial of the scheme is currently ongoing at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit attached to a specific collection from Jarlgaard. Consumers are able to scan a QR code or NFC-enabled label in order to track the history of a certain item using Provenance. In so doing, the aim is to rekindle a wearer’s relationship with clothing beyond basic information such as country of origin and component materials. In a similar way to how Blockchain is improving transparency and awareness markets such as coffee, workers involved in the fashion chain also stand to benefit from the technology’s immutable characteristics. “What we’re looking to create is a new protocol and standard for giving consumers confidence in what they’re buying,” London College of Fashion Innovation Agency head Matthew Drinkwater added. “The fact that this is Blockchain verified, will mean it’s a product that they can believe in.” According to recent data, over a third of garments purchased find their way into landfill sites or are otherwise disposed of within just one year.
Dublin-Based FinTech Firm Corvil Sees Profits Surge
Irish real-time data analytics company Corvil reported record revenues last year as profits jumped nearly 60 per cent, newly filed accounts show. The company, whose platform is trusted by financial institutions to monitor 354 trillion transactions with a daily value in excess of $1 trillion, was founded by the late Prof John Lewis and three Trinity College Dublin post-graduate students in 2000. Its products are used by banks, exchanges, market makers and service providers to streamline operations for investors and operators. Among its major customers are Morgan Stanley, Nomura, Commerzbank, Thomson Reuters, the Nasdaq, the London, Moscow and New York stock exchanges, and Deutsche Börse. Accounts lodged with the Companies Registration Office in Dublin show Corvil Limited reported pre-tax profits of €2.5 million last year, as against €1.6 million a year earlier. Turnover rose 36 per cent to €39 million from €28 million on the back of growth from existing clients, and a 25 per cent year-over-year increase in net new customers across emerging markets such as Mexico, Brazil, and Indonesia. The company, which is headed by Donal Byrne, said it needed to expand beyond financial markets for further growth. It added that it was struggling to meet recruitment requirements currently. “There is considerable competition in Ireland for skilled developers and, while efforts have been made to mitigate this risk with developers based in Poland, Spain and India, recruitment remains a challenge for 2017,” the directors said. With its headquarters in Dublin, the company also has offices in New York, Tokyo, London, Hong Kong, Krakow, and Toronto. Corvil employed 138 people at the end of 2016, up from 112 in the prior year with staff-related costs climbing from €15.7 million to €20.6 million. Directors’ remuneration totalled €589,956, up from €345,496 in 2016. The company was last month awarded a “best financial transaction security platform” prize in the FinTech Breakthrough Awards.
Category: Financial Markets