Posted by Cognito on Mon, May 02 2016

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Stories from a Long Blockchain

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We can't go a single day without an announcement about a financial firm experimenting with blockchain technology.

JPMorgan is testing blockchain transfers with 2,000 clients. R3 just completed its biggest test yet of online distributed ledger systems. Blockchain companies have already raised $130 million this year.

This shouldn't be surprising. Blockchain underpins bitcoin, one of the hottest technologies of the past decade. It can also simplify a payments and trading system plagued by inefficient processes, allowing companies to make and verify transactions instantaneously.

As blockchain moves from the academy to implementation, staying on top of developments in the sector only becomes more critical, especially to those communicators trying to stay relevant amid the buzz. Take a look at these five companies who have been making some major noise:

Ripple – Ripple has been making a ton of buzz in the press, from its $32 million funding last year with investors including CME Group, Santander and Route 46, to its recently announced partnership with Royal Bank of Canada. RBC will use Ripple on a proof of concept for distributed ledger-based remittances. Ten major banks now work with Ripple to lower the cost of cross-border payments.

Digital Asset Holdings – DAH’s recent funding round included DTCC, Goldman Sachs, Broadridge, Citi, Deutsche Borse Group, JPMorgan and Santander. Run by ex-JP Morgan CFO Blythe Masters, DAH sells distributed ledger technology solutions to wholesale financial firms. Recent partnerships include Accenture, JPMorgan, Broadridge and PwC.

Blockstream – Blockstream is working with PwC to help companies launch a common bitcoin protocol. The company’s $55 million funding round was one of the largest in the history of virtual currency and they just launched Liquid, their first commercial product.

Overstock – Blockchain is not just for institutions. may have started with furniture and cast-offs, but the firm now has blockchain-based securities trading platform called tø. The company was also the first major retailer to accept bitcoin back in September 2014.

Chain – NASDAQ OMX Group is conducting a pilot program through Chain to test Bitcoin technology for trading private company shares. This follows $30 million in funding from Visa, Citi Ventures and Capital One into the infrastructure that works with banks and other institutions to develop ways to trade and transfer financial assets using the system. Chain can power any type of asset in any market, turning money and assets into digital currency.

As more blockchain companies form, their biggest challenge will be remaining relevant past their initial seed funding announcement and subsequent trial periods. Media quickly rush on to the next development.

Blockchain companies need to start telling better stories. What is front page news today is out of the paper tomorrow. The blockchain industry will have to figure out how to message themselves and communicate to keep their audience engaged. Blockchain, and the many communications professionals who work inside it, will have to carefully cultivate a story and how startups fit inside.

Cognito is a financial PR and marketing firm that provides strategic solutions for client challenges.  

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