Anyone following the financial news over the past year could not avoid reading about bitcoin, cryptocurrencies and blockchains in general, and Finland has also had its share of interesting developments in these areas. On the blockchain scene, 2017 was definitely the year of startups and ICOs in Finland. We had several mid-size ICOs and there are more in the pipeline for 2018.
Things are also happening on the organisational front. Just before writing this blog, I was at a session to plan some meet-ups and a conference event for blockchains and cryptos. The blockchain scene is coming together as three associations – Fintech Finland Association, Blockchain Forum Finland Association and Konsensus Association – are cooperating with the aim of bringing companies and freelancers/hobbyists together to share information and ideas to further enable and develop innovations in the blockchain industry and the regulatory framework with the governmental institutions.
Blockchain projects in Finland
So far the most active sources of blockchain innovation in Finland have been the government (led by @D9, namely the Digi team of the public sector that facilitates blockchain adoption), the banks and startups. There are also interesting ongoing projects among the large organizations but contrary to the blockchain principle of transparency these are conducted in secrecy. An excellent example of cooperation is the platform for a residential real estate market, which is being jointly developed by the banks, startups and two governmental institutions.
Most of the blockchain projects I am aware of are linked to logistics/supply chains, the financial industry and the process industry. These projects are mainly related to managing particular processes and especially managing contractual and financial processes. All the big banks also have their dedicated blockchain teams tasked with developing, either internally or as part of the open banking initiative, new innovations for the banking industry.
Active cryptocurrency scene
There were several ICOs executed and planned with Finns as majority or founding members in 2017. Based on their valuation, the most successful ICOs were Streamr and Ethlend. Now there are some interesting ICOs in the planning phase, including Inbot, Cloudbounce’s dBounce and Enex Solar. With Finland being the first country to implement a Circular Economy roadmap on a national level, it comes as no surprise that Weconomy is developing a fully decentralized sharing economy app and business to speed up cryptocurrency adoption worldwide.
In 2017, the Finnish cryptocurrency community became extremely active. The current guestimation is that there are 50,000–100,000 crypto owners in Finland, which is huge number relative to the country’s small population.
Finland is known for its high IT competencies and Finnish crypto exchanges LocalBitcoins and Prasos have been operating for in the market for years with high (security) standards and integrity. The crypto community has an active Telegram and Facebook group, lots of meet-ups and content creation to educate and train people for cryptos and blockchains in general.
One major factor which is still hindering the adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain in Finland concerns the banks’ own internal compliance practices, which lack governmental or industry (self-) regulation. The Finnish regulator and government are waiting for EU/ESMA policies to be published and the Bank of Finland is getting prepared by organizing an academic conference on the future of digital money. Hence, we are well-aware of what will happen but the positive guidance and regulation – the platform needed to operate and succeed – is still missing. In my view, Finland should quickly take the required steps in this sphere in order to enable and speed up innovation in the financial industry.
Finland’s sweet spot for innovation
If you are interested in investing or participating in blockchain projects or companies, Finland is developing slowly but surely to become one of the future hotspots in Europe. Finland’s renowned academia is the third crucial enabling lever in this process. As a relatively small country with good interconnections across different sectors, Finland is a place where a great deal of innovation happens in the sweet spot where academia, startups and large corporations meet, often partly financed by Business Finland. For those of us in the industry, the next phase of blockchain and cryptocurrency development already looks to be super-interesting and personally I am excited to be riding this unstoppable wave towards decentralized processes, business and organizations.
About the Author
“Teemu Jäntti (@teejantti on Twitter) is a Consultant and Sales & Marketing Director of Luottamuksen Löyly Co-Operative. Teemu has long experience in financial and HR processes having lead both outsourcing businesses and shared service centers within that industry. Teemu’s interest in blockchain first arose from the intersection of circular economy and blockchain. Since then, Teemu has turned into positively charged skeptic on blockchains and he focuses on real-life use cases and broadening the understanding of blockchains. Luottamuksen löyly is an independent blockchain consultancy company helping customers with impact/scenario analysis, proof-of-concepts and technical implementations & integrations. Luottamuksen löyly operates both on open and permissioned blockchains.”