As the price of bitcoin collapsed last year from a high of $19,000 to less than $4,000, skepticism fell over many other applications of blockchain, the technology that powers most cryptocurrencies by recording transactions without a central authority.
Much of the hype surrounding promises that sounded too good to be true is dissipating as reality and regulations set in. What remains however, are proven teams, flush with cash from mainstream investors, and increasingly, actual revenue.
Going forward, the blockchain selections from this year’s Forbes Fintech 50 2019 picks will undoubtedly form some unusual alliances as they evolve past competing against other blockchain startups, to competing in mainstream finance against long-established players.
New York City
Using blockchain-based smart contracts to overhaul the back office of the world’s biggest derivative markets. Its distributed ledger will allow counterparties to see payments, calculations and other vital trade information in real time, improving efficiency and lowering risk. Already partnering with world’s biggest banks and financial intermediaries.
Funding: $59 million from Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and others
Bona fides: It is currently putting the $10 trillion credit derivative market onto smart contracts working with DTCC and a steering committee of 15 of world’s biggest banks. It’s already settling foreign exchange trades using the blockchain.
Cofounders: CEO Greg Schvey, 32 and CTO Jeff Schvey, 33. The brothers also cofounded TradeBlock, which provides institutional trading tools for cryptocurrency
This full-service blockchain firm expanded from its roots providing bitcoin mining hardware to launch its own blockchain, plus software designed to help U.S. law-enforcement and others investigate illicit activity using bitcoin.
Funding: More than $150 million from Korelya Capital, Macquarie Capital, Dentsu & others.
Latest valuation: $1 billion plus
Bona fides: $500 million in revenue in 2018
Cofounder & CEO: Valery Vavilov, 39, a Latvian-trained computer scientist.
Crypto finance giant Circle last year entered the exchange business with the purchase of Poloniex and now offers services for cryptocurrency trading, investing and payments. Last October partnered with Coinbase to launch USDC stablecoin— a crypto asset using the Ethereum blockchain and backed by U.S. dollars.
Funding: $246 million from IDG Capital, Bitmain, Breyer Capital, Goldman Sachs and others.
Latest valuation: $3 billion
Bona fides: 8 million customers from more than 100 countries; USDC has a $335 million in recent market value, making it recently among the 20 most valuable cryptos..
Cofounder & CEO: Jeremy Allaire, 47, previously founded publicly traded Brightcove online video platform
Expanding beyond its roots as a bitcoin wallet and retail exchange, Coinbase now offers cryptocurrency custody, professional and institutional trading platforms, and an institutional trading platform. Last year bought Earn.com, a service where users pay in bitcoin to contact experts via email, for a reported $100 million.
Funding: $525 million from Tiger Global Management, Andreessen Horowitz, YC Continuity & others. Latest valuation: $8 billion
Bona fides: The most heavily funded startup in crypto; has opened 25 million wallets for customers.
Cofounder & CEO: Brian Armstrong, 36, whose Coinbase holdings make him a billionaire.
New York City
Founded by twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, the Gemini cryptocurrency exchange is licensed as a New York trust company, making it a qualified custodian and a fiduciary under New York Law. Now licensed to do business in 49 states, Gemini is leading the fight for an SEC approved bitcoin ETF, and launched the Virtual Commodities Association to promote cryptocurrency industry self-regulation.
Funding: Winklevoss Capital Management, wholly owned by Tyler and Cameron
Bona fides: Employs 200 people and just moved to a new 50,000 square foot office
Cofounder & CEO: Tyler Winklevoss, 37, a former Olympic rower
Its blockchain based global settlements network aims to replace SWIFT, the interbank messaging platform that has long connected nearly every bank in the world. Ripple has also launched a service that lets companies make cross-border payments in XRP, the cryptocurrency created by its founders, which was recently second to Bitcoin in value.
Funding: $94 million from IDG Capital, SBI Investment, Santander InnoVentures & others.
Latest valuation: $5 billion
Bona fides: 200 RippleNet customers, including Bank of America and American Express
Cofounders: Jed McCaleb, Chris Larsen and Arthur Britto
CEO: Brad Garlinghouse, 48, former president of AOL
For full Forbes Fintech 50 2019 coverage, see: