Growth fuels diversity, opportunity in blockchain sector
Investment in blockchain technology is growing rapidly. As innovators develop new ways to apply the technology to a range of industries, more companies are finding new applications for the technology and attracting increased funding from investors at the same time. SinglePoint, Inc. (OTC: SING) (SING Profile) has attracted investment for a broad range of blockchain services, including applications in payment processing, logistics and health care. Visa, Inc. (NYSE: V) is testing a new business-to-business blockchain payment service aimed at making international financial transactions easier. Mastercard, Inc. (NYSE: MA) has registered a patent for a blockchain database to reduce the need for intermediaries and resultant delays in payment processing. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) is collaborating with a shipping firm to develop blockchain-based international logistics designed to smooth out global supply chains while HIVE Blockchain Technologies Ltd. (TSX-V: HIVE) (OTC: HVBTF) operates its own cryptocurrency facilities that seek to bridge the gap between new and traditional finance.
Blockchain's Potential Unleashed
Investing in blockchain has never been easier. The distributed ledger technology that drives cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, is now being applied to a wide range of services and sectors. A recent CB Insights report has highlighted over 30 industries that blockchain could transform or is already transforming. The technology is offering businesses faster financial transactions and smoother supply chain management, with spin-off benefits for better healthcare provision and government oversight of elections.
As blockchain spreads to other sectors, it continues to have the greatest impact in finance. Financial service firms are looking for ways to improve banking and payment processing through blockchain, with redesigns of traditional processes that could revolutionize the sector. Startups that apply blockchain in all areas of finance are springing up and attracting plenty of investment interest in their offerings. Meanwhile, bigger players that initially rejected all things cryptocurrency-related are now seeking patents to make blockchain part of their businesses.
Diversifying in Blockchain
One company that is making the most of this potential is SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING). From its starting place as a mobile technology provider, the company has turned itself into a diverse holding company with a range of innovative blockchain-based products.
SinglePoint is involved in some of the best-known areas of blockchain businesses: digital currency and cannabis. The company recently welcomed to its board of directors former Amazon general manager and current F5 Networks Senior Vice President Venugopal Aravamudan. With more than 25 years of experience in the technology sector, Aravamudan has committed to making accretive introductions to the company leveraging cloud computing capabilities that will accelerate the capability for SinglePoint to deliver blockchain-enabled solutions.
SinglePoint is working on financial technology solutions through collaborations with other companies. SinglePoint is also working to raise the profile of blockchain technology through a collaboration with entrepreneur and SharkTank veteran Kevin Harrington, the brain behind 20 companies with combined revenues over the $100 million mark and whose public profile will help bring SinglePoint's services to a wider market.
Many of SinglePoint's financial solutions are geared toward the cannabis market, a growing sector that has been under-supported by the traditional finance industry. Cannabis sales are now legal in 29 U.S. states, but vendors struggle to access traditional banking systems. SinglePoint's SingleSeed Payments service provides cannabis suppliers with fast, secure payment systems, allowing these suppliers to accept payment methods other than cash. The company is also using blockchain to support additional parts of the supply chain, including inventory tracking and deliveries, as well as informing customers about products and ensuring that businesses meet tight regulatory requirements.
SinglePoint also has a joint-venture agreement with Smart Cannabis Corp. to license and market the SMART APP, an industry specific application that enables cultivators to control entire operations from a mobile device. Among other initiatives, the companies are collaborating to integrate SinglePoint's bitcoin payment solution into the app and finalize a "track and trace" solution utilizing blockchain.
"Consumers who walk into a dispensary, where a cultivator is using our system, will be able to see how, when, and where the product was grown. There is no other system on the market like it and we plan to be the first company to use transparent and traceable blockchain technology to bring this 'track and trace' product knowledge to consumers," SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated (http://nnw.fm/d7zWA).
Blockchain in Medicine
SinglePoint's involvement in the healthcare sector extends beyond medical marijuana. The company is bringing blockchain into hospitals for a very different purpose.
This move comes through a recently announced collaboration with ORHub (http://nnw.fm/k0Yib). ORHub, a provider of real-time surgical analytics, already offers a range of products that benefit hospitals, patients and the health-care industry by improving data capture and the understanding of what is happening in and around the operating room. SinglePoint is bringing its blockchain expertise to this work.
Gathering and analyzing data can be a huge challenge in the medical sector. With records being kept for numerous patients, departments and systems, forming a complete data profile can be a daunting task. Yet the failure to do so leads to inefficiencies, lost opportunities for learning and even inadequate patient care. The partnership between SinglePoint and ORHub seeks to improve this situation. Starting with an initial $750,000 development project, SinglePoint will be finding ways to integrate blockchain with ORHub's data systems so that records can be made and maintained more accurately and efficiently.
"Having ORHub select SinglePoint as their solutions architect is fantastic," SinglePoint President Wil Ralston stated. "We are beyond excited to dig into this project and develop a truly industry-changing solution. With the commitment from ORHub to fund the project, we are in a strong position to design, develop and execute on the solution. As part of this collaboration and broader corporate initiatives in the blockchain market, we are aggressively establishing working relationships with key blockchain engineers."
Working with ORHub is likely to be only the first in a series of medical endeavors from SinglePoint. With an entry into the sector via ORHub and so much work to be done, SinglePoint has the opportunity to utilize and expand on blockchain's place in improving patient care.
A Forward-Looking Strategy for Success
The ORHub venture ties in neatly with SinglePoint's broader strategy of growth through collaborations and acquisitions.
Another example of this strategy is the company's recent decision to acquire Bitcoin Beyond (http://nnw.fm/rP4s6), a payment platform for using cryptocurrencies. This user-friendly, web-based platform allows merchants to integrate cryptocurrency payments into their systems through existing web-enabled, point-of-sale devices. It also allows dollar payments to be carried out using a range of different currencies. By acquiring Bitcoin Beyond - a purchase valued at $1 million - SinglePoint has positioned itself to take a lead in putting blockchain-based payments into high street stores and everyday financial transactions.
This is part of a broader acquisitions strategy that powers SinglePoint's business. The company has raised over a million dollars in funding (http://nnw.fm/5OHfF) to drive an aggressive strategy of acquisitions across the blockchain and cannabis cultivation sectors.
The result has been a dramatic rise in the company's value. SinglePoint share price rose from $0.01 to nearly $0.08 in a year's time and remains well above its initial value. With an expansion strategy targeting a broad range of assets across cutting-edge, high-value sectors of the economy, SinglePoint is emerging as a diversified holding company within the blockchain field.
Big Players in Blockchain Other major players in the financial sector have also taken an interest in blockchain.
The biggest financial companies were initially wary of this new technology, but they are starting to come around. Visa (NYSE: V) is making its first steps into blockchain with its B2B Connect service, trials of which were announced in November. This business-to-business financial platform is intended to smooth out cross-border payments by supporting direct payments between institutions. Like much of blockchain finance, the objective is to make payments more direct, cut out the middleman, eliminate delays and decrease expenses. Developed in collaboration with blockchain startup Chain, this platform will help provide security and transparency for international payments. Banks in the United States, South Korea, the Philippines and Singapore are taking part in the trial.
Mastercard (NYSE: MA) places "putting technology first" among its interests as a business and is looking to blockchain to make that a reality. While avoiding bitcoin, the company has taken an interest in other uses for blockchain. It filed a patent on Nov. 9 on a blockchain database to be used in payment transfers. Like Visa, Mastercard is using its blockchain systems to eliminate delays in payment processing. The involvement of such significant companies bodes well for blockchain financial technology.
While finance companies are taking an interest in blockchain as a way to speed up their services, technology companies are looking to finance as a sector in which to apply their knowhow. Computing giant IBM (NYSE: IBM) has taken an interest in blockchain for supply chains and payment systems. Its boldest venture in this area is a new company set up in collaboration with Danish shipping provider Maersk. Following a successful 2016 trial, this new venture will look to apply blockchain to its global supply network. Working with ports, customs officers, banks and shippers, it will use blockchain's impressive record-sharing potential to smooth out the global flow of goods.
Companies specializing in blockchain are profiting from the growth of this sector. HIVE Blockchain (TSX-V: HIVE) (OTC: HVBTF) is working to connect traditional businesses with blockchain-driven financial sectors. The company has attracted over $100 million of investment and is further financed by its own cryptocurrency mining operations.
With so many initiatives by a growing number of companies such as SinglePoint, blockchain technology looks like a solid piece of the financial future.
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