The Japanese conglomerate Hitachi has set up a fintech innovation lab in California and it will work together with CSI-NA in areas such as research & development of blockchain technology.
The lab will start operations next month in the company’s Silicon Valley office of Hitachi’s Global Center for Social Innovation – North America (CSI-NA).
Hitachi established CSI-NA in April 2015 to “pursue collaborative creation with strategic partners in the Americas”, and established a new dedicated research facility in Silicon Valley in January 2016, gathering researchers specializing in big data analytics, information and communication systems, and user experience design to accelerate collaborative creation with customers.
Hitachi has been increasing its fintech focus in recent months, releasing Hitachi Mobile Cash Card Service in December 2015 in Japan which enables smartphones to be used like cash cards for financial transactions. The company also joined the “Hyperledger Project,” an open source project established by the Linux Foundation as a board member in February 2016.
The objective of the new innovation lab is to “accelerate research & development of blockchain technology, collaborative creation with customers, and development of solutions to support business innovation in financial institutions”.
Building on Blockchain interest
Blockchain has been a hot trend in the fintech industry recently as many companies and institutions believe there is plenty of potential in terms of security, transparency and efficiency.
According to a recent study conducted by PwC, over half of FS companies surveyed (56%) say they understand the importance of Blockchain tech, but interestingly almost the same number (57%) are actually either unlikely or unsure how best to respond to the trend.
Figures like these suggest that innovation labs such as the one set up by Hitachi could go a long way to dispelling misconceptions and honing in on the benefits of Blockchain.
The founder and CEO of Credits, Nick Williamson, described the rise in Blockchain popularity as an “educational process” where its features become seen as being different to the technology that made it famous in the first place, Bitcoin.
Earlier this year, Blockstream secured $55m in fresh funding to help accelerate the deployment and exploration of blockchain and bitcoin technology across different industries. The company actually brought forward the Series A round because of the high level of interest surrounding the technology.
“The growing interest in blockchain technology created an opportunity for us to ensure we have the resources to sustain what is sure to be a marathon and not a race, building an open source infrastructure to re-architect the very dynamics underpinning trust globally,” saids Blockstream co-founder Austin Hill.
Funding Circle has perhaps started 2017 in a better way than most. The London-based lending platform that connects small businesses with investors has raised $100m (£82m) in equity investment.
IZettle, Square's European rival, has raised €60m ($63.4m) in new funding and has also appointed a new CFO, Maria Hedengren.
Monese, the mobile-only bank aimed at European customers who may struggle to open a bank account in the UK via traditional means, has raised $10m in Series A funding round.
A group of Chinese companies and state-owned businesses are partnering to create a new $1.5 billion fintech fund that will focus on mergers and acquisitions, and nurturing fintech enterprises in China.