SendFriend, a New York-based blockchain startup specializing in international money transfer to the Philippines, has raised $1.7 million in pre-seed funding from a group led by MIT Media Lab, Mastercard Foundation, Ripple and Barclays. Other investors include Techstars, Mahindra Finance, 2020 Ventures and 8 Decimal Capital. The blockchain-based platform, set to launch service from New Jersey and expand to other U.S. states, will allow customers, mostly overseas Filipino workers, to transfer funds back home for about 65 percent less than what is currently on the market, according to David Lighton, co-founder and CEO………………
Santander Bank, the Spanish multinational commercial bank, and BBVA, the multinational Spanish banking group, are among the first banks to be invited to a blockchain forum organized by the European Commission in Brussels. The European Commission in Brussels is launching the International Association of Applications of Blockchain (IATBA), to promote blockchain.
The IATBA is expected to be established in the first quarter of 2019, and so far 5 banks will be a part of the association, although more are expected to be invited. Europe is making consistent moves towards supporting blockchain; in April 2018 the European Blockchain Alliance was formed, with 27 European countries joining. The aim of the alliance is “to develop a reliable, secure and resilient European blockchain infrastructure.”
This news highlights a positive trend towards blockchain in Europe. Because of EU legislation, European countries are best served by working together in forming blockchain initiatives. Different countries in the EU may have different experience levels with blockchain and have experienced different levels of participation from their citizens. By all coming together, they can share ideas about what is working in their countries, the attitude towards blockchain in their countries and form a plan for the future.
Countries around the world are scrambling to find ways to regulate cryptocurrency without suppressing it. The EU has historically had tight regulation laws, so it makes sense for countries in the block to collaborate, otherwise, they may find themselves outside of the law and playing catch up once regulations come in. You can drive more change from the inside than from the outside, which is why Santander and BBVA are probably excited to be a part of the early discussions.
It is also increasingly looking like blockchain is an area Europe may want to invest in, in terms of technological application and advancement. Getting these discussions going to Brussels, will likely lead to the pro blockchain sentiment filtering down through the individual governments. This will likely lead to universities funding research into blockchain applications, in order to get ahead in this exciting new area. The has been rumors that scientific and technological research has been declining in Europe in recent years, and with Brexit, the EU is set to lose some of its best Universities (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, UCL). With this in mind, it would be a good idea for Europe to showcase its world leaders in tech and invest in research in the blockchain.