Interest and investment in Blockchain technology continues to remain strong as Elliptic, a firm specialising in the digital ledger analytics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round with investors including Paladin Capital Group, Santander InnoVentures, KRW Schindler, Digital Currency Group, and existing investor, Octopus Ventures.
Christopher Steed, Managing Director of Paladin Capital Group, will join Elliptic’s board of directors alongside Octopus Ventures, and Santander InnoVentures will join as a board observer.
The Elliptic low-down
London and New York-based Elliptic uses graph analysis and machine learning to identify illicit activity around blockchain transactions. The company is counting on more companies and governments around the world to adopt blockchain technology, which in turn would put data and analytics services such as Elliptic’s in high demand.
The company will use the investment to strengthen its position as being on the forefront of the Blockchain compliance arena. It says the top US and European Bitcoin exchanges and payment processors have adopted Elliptic’s compliance and fraud detection technology, using it to assess risk on more than $2 billion in Bitcoin transactions. The company also says it has provided law enforcement agencies in the US and Europe with actionable evidence on crimes involving international arms trafficking, drug sales, extortion, theft and money laundering.
“Distributed ledger technology, including blockchain, has huge potential to deliver cost savings and new ways of working across the global banking industry – but most blockchain applications today are still in the proof of concept stage,” said Mariano Belinky, Managing Partner of Santander InnoVentures.
“For distributed ledger technology to achieve widespread use, compliance departments and regulators will demand independent monitoring capabilities to combat insider trading, fraud, and money laundering.”
Never break the chain
Blockchain was recently in the news following PwC’s report that said the main appeal of Blockchain isn’t just the potential of huge savings, but also the accountability of the process: the tech could hugely improve transparency. Over half of FS companies surveyed (56%) say they understand the importance of Blockchain tech.
Around the same time, the Japanese conglomerate Hitachi set up a fintech innovation lab in California where the company said it will work in its Global Center for Social Innovation – North America (CSI-NA) in areas such as research & development of blockchain technology.
This week, IBM’s vice-president, Global Payments Industry and Blockchain, James Wallis, said that recent advances made to the technology have already made it safer than systems currently in use.
“Blockchain is already more secure now than most systems that are already out there. With the cryptographic development, blockchain is now inherently more secure than traditional systems,” he told The Australian.
Education is key to success
However, it’s not all cookies and rainbows. Blockchain’s path to popularity and global adoption is by no means an easy one. In the same PwC report, whilst 56% did say they understood the importance of the technology, 57% actually said that they either didn’t know how best to respond to it, or were unlikely to do so.
This is a combination of lack of knowledge and apathy means the road to Blockchain isn’t an easy on. As Nick Williamson, CEO of Credits, said, it’s all about the educational process. Companies, and more specifically the people making decisions in those companies, need to understand why the technology is important and how it can be implemented or used.
While the R3 consortium of major banks and tech companies is gaining momentum with bolder trials, at the moment it’s still a lot of talk with few use-cases.
The Merchant Risk Council is a global trade association that brings together industry professionals in fraud, risk and payments. The conference saw speakers from the likes of from PayU, JPMorgan Chase, Google and Santander who all took part in educational sessions and spoke about where the industry is heading.
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The failure to keep pace with expanding compliance procedures has seen a rise in the number of financial penalties issued by regulators over the past few years. As anti-money laundering (AML), know-your-customer (KYC), counter-terrorism financing and other compliance obligations expand across different territories, organisations large and small have struggled to maintain adequate and comprehensive safeguards – often resulting in sizable fines and significant reputational damage.
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