The Biggest Investors Today: Payment Processors, Google, and Goldman Sachs
Several companies are now exploring blockchain solutions and products. Some major companies have even rolled out pilot programs. For example, Visa is testing its B2B Connect, a distributed ledger system that allows international companies to quickly facilitate international payments. So far, the early returns have been promising.
Cross border payments are notoriously slow, especially when large amounts of money are involved. B2B Connect aims to make the process quicker by distributing processing and creating a detailed, transparent ledger of every transaction. Via conventional channels, a cross border payment might take 3 to 5 days. This could leave suppliers without the resources needed to complete an order, or companies without the funds to pay staff. With B2B Connect, transactions have been reduced to less than 24 hours.
Other finance companies have been developing blockchain solutions as well. Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan worked with blockchain startup Axoni to track swap contracts. Equity swaps are a $2.8 trillion dollar market and generate vast amounts of data. With so much value at stake, tracking these complex derivatives is both necessary and complex. Through a six-month trial, Axoni’s blockchain-based system proved to be highly effective.
Investment banking has emerged as one of the most promising areas for blockchain. The number of transactions is high, as is the need to track and verify transactions. Blockchain technology could both speed up transaction time and reduce costs. Accenture estimates that investment banks could save a total of $8 to $12 billion dollars by using blockchain technology.
Blue chip tech companies have also been investing in blockchain and alt-currencies as well. Google has invested in a Bitcoin wallet, the alt-currency Ripple, and other blockchain related enterprises. Overstock.com was one of the first major retailers to accept Bitcoin, and currently holds a large portfolio of blockchain/Bitcoin investments. Overstock also held its own Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for tZERO, using digital coins as preferred equity for its own cyber trading platform.
In total, the number of unique Bitcoin investors jumped from less than 20 in 2012 to over 200 in 2016.