Has Berlin secretly developed into the cryptocurrency capital of the world?
Berlin-based European School of Management and Technology – a state-accredited business university – recently announced that it would accept bitcoin as a currency “for all payments” including tuition. The so-called ‘Bitcoinkiez’, a neighbourhood in Berlin’s lively district Kreuzberg, boots the highest density of bitcoin-accepting businesses worldwide. Paying for a burger and Coke with bitcoins? No problem in Berlin.
Finanzen.net, Germany’s most popular and largest financial news platform, even lists Bbitcoin amongst other major reserve currencies such as the dollar and the yen. Investment in Berlin’s fintech industry is already thriving, but what about startups dealing with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology?
Bitwala, SatoshiPay, All4btc and Bitbond are some of Berlin’s hottest startups to watch out for.
Bitwala – A Bank Account Alternative?
Founded in 2012, Bitcoin services provider Bitwala is based in Kreuzberg, Berlin’s famous bitcoin-friendly district. The startup provides global blockchain-based banking services that enable fiat-currency transfers towards settlements from users who pay in bitcoin.
Bitwala’s product range includes Bank Transfers, as well as a Bitcoin Debit Card and Wallet. According to CEO Jörg von Minckwitz, the company’s mission is to become ‘the first true alternative to a bank account’. Counting already more than 15,000 users from over 120 countries, Bitwala has attracted funding from prominent investors such as the German Venture Capital firm High-Tech-Gründerfonds.
SatoshiPay – Will Nanopayments Solve the Media Crisis?
SatoshiPay believes that nanopayments can solve the problem of monetising journalistic work in the age of “free” or ad-supported content. By providing a wallet for pocket change on the web, the company allows consumers to instantly purchase articles, images or videos for fractions of a penny.
Enabled by blockchain technology, a browser Bitcoin wallet is automatically created when a website is visited, without the requirement of timely software downloads or user sign-ups. Once topped up by the user, the wallet can be used to instantly unlock paid online content across the web.
SatoshiPay was founded in 2014 and recently raised €1m from London Stock Exchange-listed Blue Star Capital to bring its application to the mainstream.
All4btc – Pay for Everything with Bitcoins
All4btc is a global bitcoin shopping service run by Berlin’s Bitcoin Startup incubator. The service lets users pay for items from any online shop with bitcoins, without the need of a bank account, credit card, local currency or bitcoin exchange. The startup has even developed a ‘Buy with Bitcoin’ web browser extension to complete Amazon or eBay purchases with bitcoin. The startup claims to have a turnover of €1 million in Sales in its first year after launch.
Berlin’s bitcoin accelerator manages a portfolio of cryptocurrency ventures with a focus on consumer goods & services, e-commerce startups and payments solutions. The accelerator reported over €1.4m in first-year revenues and has been featured in Germany’s largest media outlets such as the Handelsblatt and the Spiegel Online.
Bitbond – Peer-to-peer Bitcoin Lending
Bitbond is a global peer-to-peer bitcoin lending platform that connects investors that look for profitable interest rates with business owners who need an affordable loan. Bitbond’s stated mission is to facilitate and simplify access to investing and financing by providing access to cryptocurrency loans without the need of a traditional bank account.
Having received its regulatory license by German financial services supervisor BaFin in 2016, Bitbond is one of the first regulated blockchain based financial services providers ever.
Since its launch in 2013, the lending platform has already attracted 70,000 users and provided over 1600 funded loans with a loan volume of more than one $1m. Bitbond recently closed an equity funding round of $1.2m in new capital to further grow its business in potential markets.