The blockchain ecosystem made great leaps forward in 2016, with dozens of new companies, funding rounds and partnerships making headlines. Using Outlier Ventures‘ Blockchain Ecosystem Tracker with over 1200 listed blockchain startups, Frost & Sullivan and Outlier Ventures have evaluated the market and mapped 130 major blockchain startups into their key activity areas.
“We are still at the beginning of a long journey for blockchain startups. Investment in 2016 reached an all-time high of over $500 million, bringing total investment in blockchain technology startups to $1.5 billion,” said Vijay Michalik, Digital Transformation Research Analyst at Frost & Sullivan (pictured below). “While the technology’s ecosystem is still in its early phases, 2016 saw a clear progression away from cryptocurrency towards generalized financial services and enterprise infrastructure. The technology is also making new inroads into vertical industries like energy, healthcare and the automotive sector.”
Lawrence Lundy, Head of Research & Partnerships at Outlier Ventures noted: “Blockchains and distributed ledger technologies have seen high levels of interest and exploration from corporates in 2016. As the hype calms down, the next year should see real-world commercial deployments in specific value-add applications.”
But, what is the potential impact of blockchain technology on the future of work?
Michalik explained: “Blockchains are new data structures which create trusted, distributed digital ledgers for assets and other data. These digital ledgers offer a new infrastructure layer for digital products and services, and provide some powerful new capabilities to existing digital systems or can replace legacy ones.
“Blockchain technology may offer new solutions to challenges in the labour market like the cost of labour discovery, inefficiencies for freelance workers, and the more complex task of incentivising development contribution to advanced AI applications.”
According to Michalik, there is a number of startups worth watching in 2017 for their impact on new ways of working. Among them:
Ethlance: A decentralized job board application which charges no fees and connects the whole freelancing process from hiring, invoicing to payments (in Ether).
Chronobank: A software company who have built a platform for the tokenization of labour hours, allowing for a radically transparent charging process for hourly work.
21: This well-known Bitcoin company have refocused on mobile applications from their Bitcoin mining hardware and incentivised sensor and data computation and currently offer an app which allows people to charge in Bitcoin for completing tasks like responding to messages. This could be expanded to other, more complex tasks in the future.
Numerai: The AI-driven hedge fund issued cryptocurrency to incentivise the improvement of its algorithms by competing data scientists.