How Taiwan Is Slowly Turning Into A Blockchain Powerhouse

Blockchain and Cryptocurrency

Although the cryptocurrency market is currently going through a tumultuous phase, the race towards blockchain adoption remains active globally, although the picture for blockchain adoption across the planet remains patchy. Some countries have actively banned all crypto and blockchain activities while others have become global advocates for the technology. The rest remain mixed and uncertain as to their stance towards blockchain and crypto.  

Countries such as Bangladesh and Bolivia have banned cryptocurrencies altogether. In Bangladesh, anyone caught using crypto can be jailed for up to 12 years. In Bolivia the government banned crypto-use in fear of it facilitating tax evasion and causing instability in the current financial system.

Countries such as Switzerland and Singapore have taken a proactive approach, being pioneers of current cryptocurrency regulatory frameworks in favor of digital currencies. Culminating such favorable environments has led them to become leading global ICO hubs.

On the other hand, nations such as South Korea and China have issued a complete blanket ban on all ICOs and ICO activities until a proper regulatory framework that can protect investor interests is fully set in place. However, the blockchain landscape in Taiwan remains uncertain.

Taiwanese authorities know that blockchain poses as a great economy booster and their positivity towards the innovation is a sign that the Taiwan economy is ripe for blockchain adoption.

Attitude towards Cryptocurrency Regulation

The cryptocurrency environment is undergoing a shaky phase, courtesy of the China and S. Korea cryptocurrency blanket bans. Just as this was happening, Wellington Koo, chairman of Taiwan’s Financial Supervisory Commission, gave a welcome announcement, in which he announced that Taiwan wishes not to follow the same path as China and S. Korea. 

Graphic_Taiwan

Taiwanese authorities passed the Financial Technology Experimentation Act to facilitate their pro crypto movement. They also intend to create a fintech sandbox that will establish guidelines for crypto and blockchain in the country. Although existing guidelines aren’t enforceable by law, they have established a “code of conduct” that helps protect the credibility and reputation of good actors. It also provides a foundation upon which more fruitful discussions with lawmakers can take place later on.

If blockchain and crypto startups can be admitted into the fintech sandbox, particularly those conducting ICOs, they can operate for three years without associated regulatory risks. Regulation isn’t exactly a thrilling topic, especially for start-ups. Furthermore, nothing kills the value of an investment quicker than legal uncertainty.

The few steps that Taiwan has taken send a clear message to blockchain startups – they are welcome within Taiwan’s borders.

Accelerators Reshaping the Taiwanese Startup Scene

The Taiwan startup industry is comparatively small and domestic. However, it is highly cut-throat. Therefore, its required that for startups be successful, they need to be speedy and highly resourceful. Fortunately, the country is not devoid of resources and connections, being that the country is a global leader in hardware manufacturing and design. To help Taiwan achieve its dream of becoming a blockchain epicenter, are blockchain-based startup accelerators.

Accelerators are companies that give startups the edge they need against competitors by connecting them to networks of mentors, investors, and helping them start and manage a firm. Currently, the state boasts several accelerators that include AppWorks, SparkLabs Taipei, SOSV-MOX, BE Accelerator, Center of Industry Accelerator, and Patent Strategy (IAPS), among others. Their primary goal is helping Taiwanese startups speed up product development and market expansion by helping them form strategic partnerships with industry leaders.

Taiwan_Accelerators

All these startup accelerators are focussed on different niches in the Taiwanese economy. For example, SOSV-MOX is primarily focussed on funding startups focussed on mobile apps, platforms, and services. BE Accelerator is focussed on helping startups in the field of medicine, medical care, and biotech. SparksLab, on the other hand, seeks to boost startups in the IoT (Internet of Things), machine learning, AI, blockchain, medical care, and agri-tech fields.

A Strong And Growing Community

There is a surprisingly pleasant, robust, and niche ecosystem forming around Taiwan’s blockchain industry. The Taiwanese blockchain community has grown from a few enthusiasts to an entire support system that includes exchanges, media, investors, and accelerators.

There are even reports that a Taiwanese hospital intends to launch a blockchain-driven platform that will mitigate the harshness of the traditional healthcare system. The blockchain platform, dubbed ‘Healthcare Blockchain Platform’, will offer a secure channel for the transfer of medical data between medical institutions and patients.

Of late, a few local champions have started to surface. A great example is MaiCoin. Boasting about 250,000 active users, MaiCoin is Taiwan’s leading digital asset exchange, supporting currency to crypto conversion trading. It also provides services such as instant exchange, a free digital wallet, and multiple Bitcoin payment instruments for all manner of merchants. This year, MaiCoin launched a full-service exchange known as Max.  

BitoEx is Taiwan’s leading digital currency wallet and exchange. In a recent ICO, it successfully raised $10 million in about five hours further selling about 175 BITO tokens to the public in under 24 hours. Another company, Cobinhood, is in the works to create a blockchain capable of ‘infinite scalability’ called DEXON.

Although cryptocurrencies have hogged up the spotlight, Taiwan startups are building applications that extend beyond digital currencies. Perfect examples include Mithril for decentralized social media, Bitmark for digital asset registration, and OwlTing for hotel management and food traceability.

Old-age institutions in Taiwan are also warming up to the idea of adopting blockchain. At the beginning of the year, Fubon Commercial Bank launched a blockchain-driven payment system specifically for retail use. Taipei City Government also announced its partnership with IOTA to develop ID cards built on the company’s Tangle technology.

Moreover, the country’s ever-increasing large-scale conferences have highlighted its budding blockchain expertise. The 2018 Asia Blockchain Summit, attended by notable leaders such as Changpeng Zhao and Charlie Lee, attracted over 2,500 attendees comprising of investors, blockchain start-ups, and opinion leaders.

What to Expect

Appworks is a venture capital firm that helps startups based on AI and Blockchain acquire funding. This Taipei-based firm launched its accelerator program in 2010 and has so far funded 300 startups, raising about $450 million. Combined, all these startups generate an annual revenue of $1.9 billion. Moreover, AppWorks manages a total of $61 million in venture capital funds. It’s the largest startup accelerator in the Southeast Asia region.  

Countries that traditionally got overlooked for their size and scale are now receiving global attention in the sector. Today, Taiwan is taking huge steps forward through embracing technology that other countries have shunned. This has left the country in a prime position to develop a massive pool of talent, funding, and firms geared towards growing the country’s blockchain industry to thrive in the future.

The article was written based on the following https://appworks.tw/why-im-bullish-on-taiwans-blockchain-future/


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