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Blockchain This Week: Icertis Turns Unicorn, Ella Zhang On Binance Labs’ Third Season And More

Blockchain This Week: Icertis Turns Unicorn, Ella Zhang On Binance Labs’ Third Season And More

The third season of Binance Labs’ incubation programme will be hosted in Asia

India’s IMC acknowledges increasing importance of blockchain in its report

CredAble granted NBFC license from RBI

This week, we saw the Indian government making the Subhash Chandra Garg-led committee’s report on cryptocurrency public. This is the first Indian government’s official report which has discussed blockchain in length and breadth.

The report has not only highlighted the technology, its importance but has also suggested a slew of use cases where blockchain could bring more transparency and efficiency into the system.

Meanwhile, Seattle and Pune-based software company Icertis which is also developing blockchain-based solutions has raised $115 Mn funding and has joined the unicorn club, much earlier than anyone expected.

In another news, Binance Labs, an incubation arm of crypto major Binance has announced plans to host its third season of incubation programme in Asia. This is the first time, Binance Labs will be conducting the incubation programme in Asia. In this weekly roundup, we will also bring the excerpts of our conversation with Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Labs to know more about this.

Icertis Joins SaaS Unicorn Club With $115 Mn In Funding

Seattle and Pune-based software company Icertis has raised $115 Mn in a funding round led by US-based venture capital firm Greycroft and PremjiInvest.

Existing institutional investors including B Capital Group, Cross Creek Advisors, Eight Roads, Ignition Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and PSP Growth also participated in the round. With this round, the company has achieved a valuation above $1 Bn and joins the ranks of SaaS unicorns such as Freshworks and Druva.

The company said it will utilise the capital to strengthen its product, invest in new technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning and expand its global footprint. With this round, Icertis has raised over $211 Mn funding.

Icertis has developed Icertis Blockchain Framework which is used by numerous companies including Mercedes-Benz.

Binance Labs’ Third Season Will Be Hosted In Asia

After having successfully conducted season 1 and 2 of the incubation programme at San Francisco, Binance Labs, an incubator arm of Malta-headquartered crypto major Binance has decided to host season 3 in Asia.

In the upcoming season, the company is looking to hone in on startups related to BEP 2, gaming, decentralised finance, layer 2 scaling, governance tools and decentralised apps (from Europe/Asia/North America), and stablecoins, payments, remittances and trading infrastructures (from Africa/Latin America/Southeast Asia).

Speaking to Inc42, Ella Zhang, Head of Binance Lab said,

“We have incubated eight and 13 startups in Season One and Season Two respectively and are now looking to incubate 20 startups this Season.”

The 10-week programme is expected to run from October to December, this year.

Excerpts from the interview…

Inc42: Why Asia?

Ella: It was based on the feedback we received. The first and second season of incubation programmes attracted a lot of European and North America engineers. They value the Asia community a lot. They wanted us to come to and build up a base in Asia, especially to cater to China, Korea, Southeast Asia and India.

Inc42: Where are you looking to host the programme in Asia?

Ella: This is still under discussion, as we are looking into a number of issues, mainly visa. Different countries have different visa policies. As we are accepting applications from Latin America, Africa, EU, North America as well as Asia, we are looking at the location which has the most entrepreneur-friendly visa policy.

The place could be China, Hong Kong or Singapore.

Inc42: What’s your programme structure? Do you fund to the startups as well?

Ella: We have created a programme which I can say similar to Y Combinator. We are looking to incubate projects where blockchain is being used as the underlying technology. The alumni are also helping in mentoring shortlisted entrepreneurs.

We do look into their funding. However, since most of these projects are in super-early stages, funding might take its own time. For the Season Three demo day, we are expecting around 150 investors to join in.

Inc42: Is blockchain overhyped?

Ella: I think, another wave of quality, quantity and technology will get blockchain highly recognized. I personally believe, trading is still the biggest application so far, to warm up the blockchain market and is bringing more believers in blocking good deals. But, in terms of other real applications, we see a lot of potentials.

A slew of projects is trying to solve the current issues through blockchain. I see the most clever and bright brains jumping through this space. Professors, regulators, scientists and hardcore engineers are together building the future of blockchain and crypto. But, there is a lot of challenges as well. I personally believe it will take another 5  to 10 years to make mass adoption happen. So right now, it is still early-stage as believers are trying hard to solve the technology issue and find the real use cases.

CredAble Granted NBFC License By The Reserve Bank Of India

Mumbai-based fintech startup CredAble’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Equentia Financial Service Pvt Ltd, has been granted a non-deposit taking Non-Banking Financial Company (NBFC) licence by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), announced the company in its recent blog post. The startup is currently also looking into blockchain to improve its value proposition for its platform participants.

The company partnered with MonetaGo, to participate on its blockchain platform which prevents double-financing of invoices and mitigates trade finance fraud. CredAble has developed a proprietary Credit Assessment Model, which analyses financial, transactional and company-specific parameters to generate credit scores for prospective borrowers and minimizes the risk of default.

Blockchain Will Significantly Improve International Remittances: Santanu Paul

Speaking at the recently concluded Confederation of Indian Industry’s blockchain summit in Hyderabad, NPCI independent director and chairman of Innovation Council, NPCI stated that now international remittances take five days, but with blockchain, the time will be trimmed to 30 seconds and the cost of the transaction will plummet from perhaps $20 currently to a few cents.

“Blockchain is the first technology which man is creating to protect machines from human beings. The database will be tamper-proof. Blockhain is automating trust,” he added.

D Raju, chairman of CII Telangana said, “In 2019, businesses are expected to spend $2.9 billion on the technology, up almost 90% from 2018, as per International Data Corporation. The global blockchain technology revenues are expected to top $23.3 billion in the next 4-5 years.”

In other news, Singapore-based real-time omnichannel marketing solutions provider Resulticks announced Kulmeet Bawa as company’s Chief Operating Officer and President, JAPAC. Bawa will be responsible for the company’s global strategy formulation and will drive Resulticks’ marketing and business development efforts in the JAPAC region.