Forbes: Singapore Startup Wants Change In Perspective On Blockchain
Blockchain has become a buzzword for many businesses, and more Singapore companies have ventured into blockchain amid an overall openness toward the digital technology in the island nation.
Singapore-based supply-chain platform Linfinity has become a proponent of the technology. It is trying to get people to look beyond the hype to recognize blockchain’s benefits through dialogue sessions in Singapore and elsewhere in Asia. “We want to move away from the traditional perspective of cryptocurrency-blockchain is not just about bitcoin,” said Chief Executive Anndy Lian, who started Linfinity last year.
The startup’s monthly Linfinity Talks, which cater to retail investors and the community, provide audiences with a basic education in blockchain technology. It also aims to reduce distrust towards blockchain that often stems from unpredictable cryptocurrencies and unreliable founders who disappear from investors’ view after an initial coin offering, said Lian.
In addition, the firm is holding discussions with C-Suite executives, as well as forums tailored to the interests of crypto enthusiasts. These address larger questions, such as how blockchain will affect current tech infrastructure.
Besides arranging these talks, Linfinity is a supply-chain platform that uses blockchain’s “distributed ledger”, or a network of nodes that work directly with one another to validate transactions, to combat counterfeit goods and create a secure tracking system. It aims to track goods, such as cosmetics and pharmaceutical products, as they travel from the start of supply chains, where raw materials are harnessed, to factories and eventually the consumer.
Linfinity equips these goods with cameras, scanners and GPS tracking devices to monitor the whole process. Details such as the names of the people handling the goods and the products’ expiry dates are documented on the blockchain and cannot be modified, helping to create a transparent system, said Lian.
While some companies are already using blockchain technology to track supply chains, they mostly manage only a part of, and not the entire, supply chain. This is where Linfinity could help fill the gap, he added.
The startup has signed memorandums of understanding with six companies, including Singapore-based healthcare company Scientific Tradition, RHTLaw TaylorWessing and asset manager Crossinvest. Linfinity aims to help Scientific Tradition and other companies track the movement of raw materials along their supply chains. Meanwhile, firms such as RHTLawTaylorWessing will take on advisory roles.
With 60 employees, Linfinity has offices in Singapore, China and South Korea. It is also looking to expand into Japan and Taiwan. The company is mainly self-funded, although it has a few early and institutional investors that Lian declines to disclose. It has a market cap of about $440,000 based on its digital currency, the Linfinity token, which it launched on Chinese crypto exchange CoinEx in July.
Linfinity is not the only company in Singapore that is focusing on blockchain-based supply chains. Shipping company Pacific International Lines, owned by billionaire Chang Yun Chung, is working with port operator PSA International and tech giant IBM Singapore to track cargo movement from Chongqing to Singapore on a blockchain-based supply-chain platform.
While neighbors such as China are cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges and events, Singapore has been cautiously receptive to the virtual currency. “Cryptocurrencies are an experiment. The number and different forms of cryptocurrencies are growing internationally. It is too early to say if they will succeed,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in a written answer to questions from members of parliament on banning the trading of bitcoin or cryptocurrency, according to the local press.
The country has been watching the crypto space carefully. Last November, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, its central bank and financial regulator, published a guide to digital token offerings that provides information on how the country’s securities laws apply to digital tokens.
It has also tested blockchain technology through Project Ubin, a partnership with New York-based financial consortium R3, which aims to work on inter-bank payments.
In the private sector, a growing number of players are starting to join Singapore’s blockchain industry. For example, vehicle data firm Mass Vehicle Ledger (MVL) Foundation is using blockchain technology to record and increase people’s access to car-related data in areas such as ride-hailing, vehicle maintenance and car dealership.
MVL’s private-hire service Tada, Korean for “let’s ride,” managed to get more than 10,000 customers on board before its launch on July 26. Passengers and drivers can rack up points that can be converted into MVL coins, the cryptocurrency of the Singapore-based firm. These can be exchanged for rewards from MVL’s partner companies. The firm raised some $16 million through an initial coin offering earlier this year.
Its South Korean founder and CEO Kay Woo founded MVL’s parent company, location-based services firm easi6, in 2012. Blockchain technology especially benefits data-driven industries such as transportation, insurance and supply-chain management, but it is not suitable for all businesses, he says. “Even though you know blockchain technology well, your business model might not be suitable for it. It’s not magic or a simple solution, but it could be a big revolution.”
Originally published at https://www.forbes.com.