Blockchain Ecosystem Developments in EU 

EU Blockchain Ecosystem Developments

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EU Blockchain Ecosystem Developments

EU Blockchain

Europe is making major steps forward in harmonising the legal, regulatory and policy frameworks of the EU Member States on crypto assets. On 24 September 2020, the European Commission published a proposal for a “Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on Markets in Crypto-Assets”, commonly referred to as the MiCA proposal. This proposal is part of the Digital Finance package, which is a holistic package of measures to further enable and support the potential of digital finance in terms of innovation and competition while mitigating the risks. The European Parliament voted a draft of the proposed MiCA framework on 14 March 2022 that has now moved into the next phase of discussions between European Parliament, European Council and European Commission. The proposal remains a major challenge for the EU as the debate on how crypto should be regulated is strong and ongoing.
In addition to the MiCA proposal, the Digital Finance package also includes a proposal for a pilot regime on
DLT market infrastructures, a proposal for digital operational resilience, and a proposal to clarify or amend
certain related EU financial services rules. Europe’s strategy prioritises ensuring that the EU financial
services regulatory framework is innovation friendly and does not pose obstacles to the application of new
technologies. The MiCA proposal, together with the proposal on a DLT pilot regime, represents the first
concrete action within this area.
Finally, as showcased in the “European Financial Stability and Integration Review” of 2022, the European
Commission is well aware of the potential of decentralised finance (DeFi) and its associated innovations for
streamlining the financial sector and offering efficient, robust and transparent services.
Given the rising interest in cryptocurrencies assets and their underlying technology (blockchain or DLT), in
2020 the European Blockchain Observatory and Forum (EUBOF) has undertaken a study on capturing the
current state of technological, market and regulatory developments in each of the 27 EU Member States,
plus Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK).
The study is topical as different countries present different states of development in blockchain and crypto
assets on several dimensions:

Regulation and policy: several countries have recently legislated or issued guidance, thus leading to
market fragmentation.
Business activity: as a result of different regulatory treatment, entrepreneurial and investment activity is
unevenly concentrated amongst countries, thus leading to emerging clusters.

The study was first published in 2020. To improve its quality and to make sure that everything in the study is
up to date, the EUBOF team has updated each country’s factsheet. This updated version of the report
features important developments in the European blockchain ecosystem over the last 2 years. In addition, it
presents two new countries: Norway and Liechtenstein.
To support Europe’s efforts to develop a harmonised framework across the EU Member States, it is therefore
important to study the current level of regulatory and market maturity in each of them. This report aims to do
that, by providing short country-level “factsheets” summarising the state of affairs in each country.

COUNTRY-LEVEL SUMMARY
Austria has adopted a mostly laissez-faire approach to regulating blockchain, limiting itself to monitoring
developments in the DeFi space and issuing warnings to investors when needed. There is no specific
legislation for crypto assets, while parts of more generic regulations (such as the Austrian Alternative
Financing Act, the Austrian Banking Act, the Austrian Electronic Money Act and the Austrian Capital Markets
Act) may apply. State-sponsored innovation and research activities, such as the Austrian Blockchain Center,

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pave the way for spearheading innovation though a public-private partnership model. As of December 2021,
Austria-based blockchain companies have raised approximately EUR 50 million and the number of
blockchain courses offered in the country has slightly increased.
Belgium can boast a vibrant crypto-assets community, with a distinct focus on Fintech startups. Due to its
proximity to European Union decision-making headquarters, the country is an attractive location for
international companies and several well-established companies and VC funds serve the continuous growth
of the cryptocurrency ecosystem in the country. The number of blockchain startups in Belgium, has
significantly increased. Belgium was the first country in the EU to spin up a second EBSI node. As of May
2022, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), requires the region’s crypto exchanges and
custodial wallet services to register.
Bulgaria is improving its position in the European blockchain scene, with an emerging base of blockchain
enthusiasts, as well as venture capital investors and start-up incubation programmes. Moreover, the country
is part of the European Blockchain Service Infrastructure (EBSI) with five technology companies developing
the node. The Ministry of Finance introduced the Anti-Money Laundering regulation in 2020 according to
which cryptocurrencies have to be declared and audited by the National Revenue Agency as a financial
asset. Bulgaria has also seen an increase in the number of blockchain-related educational courses.
Croatia has a small, but growing, ecosystem of blockchain start-ups and communities. There are a handful
of cases for adopting cryptocurrencies as a payment method in Croatia. In May 2020, the country’s financial
supervisor approved a bitcoin investment fund, even in the absence of any specific country-level legislation
specific to crypto assets. In a span of 2 years, Croatian universities have incorporated blockchain courses in
their curriculums while there are also organised research initiatives related to blockchain.
Cyprus remains one of Europe’s blockchain hotspots, and after announcing the draft bill to regulate
blockchain technology in 2019, the government published the bill for public consultation in September 2021.
Cyprus is also amongst the few Early Adopters of the EBSI, working on developing a fully operational
national EBSI Infrastructure. Guidelines for the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies are also being prepared by
the Tax Department. The country does not only boast the first-ever academic course and full degree on the
subject, offered by the University of Nicosia (UNIC) since 2014, but also the first course to NFTs and the
Metaverse, delivered on-chain and in the metaverse while additional blockchain courses are being prepared
by UNIC and other research institutions.
The Czech Republic boasts a vibrant crypto asset community, including some notable European blockchain
start-ups and one of the largest concentrations of public venues (doubled since 2020) accepting digital
currencies as forms of payment. It also has a relatively strict regulatory framework, with laws aiming at
limiting the anonymity of crypto asset transactions.
Denmark is one of the few countries globally where the government has engaged in comprehensive
research on the potential economic impact of blockchain on industry and the labour market. In September
2020, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark released a report analysing the use of blockchain in the fight
against corruption. Danske Bank, the largest bank in Denmark, laid out its official position on
cryptocurrencies in June 2021, not taking any practical stance against cryptocurrency. Although there is no
legislation specific to crypto assets, the country shows a rising ecosystem of start-ups and universities
working on blockchain-related applications and research.
Estonia initially adopted a receptive approach towards blockchain and cryptocurrencies by being the first
country to adapt relevant legislation. Regulatory certainty, coupled with the country’s digital first approach,
and e-residency programme allowing for the registering of companies remotely, resulted in a large number of
blockchain businesses in the country. While the country remains a proponent of public sector blockchain
initiatives on a national and European level, recent tightening of its positive policy and outlook on blockchain
and cryptocurrencies has slowed down the expansion of the private sector.

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Finland, although not having a comprehensive crypto asset regulatory framework in place, passed the Finnish
Act on Virtual Currency Providers in 2019, providing a clear landscape for the registration and supervision of
these companies. The government has shown interest in blockchain, with a number of pilot initiatives in egovernment and the private sector has produced one of the world’s first digital currency exchanges, operating
since 2012. Compared to 2020, the number of blockchain start-ups in the country has significantly decreased.
France is at the forefront of crypto asset recognition in Europe, having passed a legal framework for initial
coin offerings (ICOs) as early as 2016, followed by further legislative initiatives in 2017 and 2018. There is a
relatively large number of blockchain companies in the country, with one of the world’s most successful
hardware wallet providers (Ledger) headquartered in Paris.
Germany has a very active blockchain ecosystem of companies and enthusiasts, especially in the city of Berlin.
As of 2020, Germany included a new financial instrument in its banking laws, the crypto asset. In line with the
governmental 2019 blockchain strategy, the German parliament issued a law on introducing electronic securities,
including a blockchain register, in the summer of 2021. There is an abundance of entrepreneurial activity with an
increasing number of companies active nationwide, while universities offer specialized degrees and professional
training programs, as well as engaging in research and technology development activities.
Greece is a signatory to the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP), and has announced a draft bill on
emerging information and communication technologies in 2022.Firms give careful consideration as to
whether their activities constitute regulated activities, according to guidance from the European Securities
and Markets Authority (ESMA). The overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem remains small despite the efforts of some initiatives to raise awareness and promote blockchain
in the country. However, the number of blockchain courses offered by different institutions has increased.
Hungary has joined the EBP since 2019 and is developing an EBSI node. The Hungarian Central Bank
announced plans to launch its native Central Bank Digital Currency. An update on the regulatory part is the
revision of the tax rate on cryptocurrency profits. Essentially, Hungary revised the tax rate on cryptocurrency
profits and decided on a more friendly regulation on cryptocurrency taxation. The public’s interest in
blockchain is vivid as the community engaging with blockchain subjects grows.
Ireland has a relatively mature blockchain company ecosystem, with both local companies and subsidiaries
of international ones (such as Consensys). The country has opted for a flexible and permissive regulatory
approach to date, without passing regulation specific to crypto assets, but applying existing financial services
legislation on a case-by-case basis instead. In 2021, the Central Bank of Ireland updated the consumer
warning on virtual currencies. The public and private initiatives to promote blockchain adoption are
increasing as are blockchain education initiatives. Blockchain companies in Ireland have collectively raised
tens of millions in funding.
Italy has a number of state-sponsored pilot initiatives aiming at testing blockchain applications in
government, as well as a large number of private pilots, mostly by financial institutions, while football fan
tokens are on the rise and are significantly contributing to blockchain adoption in the country. The country
was one of the first in the world to recognise the legal validity and enforceability of smart contracts in 2019.
According to a ruling by the Revenue Agency, issued in July 2021, the tax authorities reiterate the
equivalence of cryptocurrencies to foreign currencies.
Latvia has a blockchain-friendly business and regulatory climate, characterised by an active community of
enthusiasts and a willingness to experiment (for example, airBaltic, the country’s national owned air carrier,
became the first airline to accept digital assets for payments). There is a sizeable community of blockchain
developers in the country, while authorities have published guidance on the legal treatment of digital assets
and investor protection. Blockchain academic qualifications in Latvia are not established as Latvian
universities do not offer a degree in blockchain-related technologies.

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Liechtenstein has managed to establish a growing blockchain community, despite being Europe’s fourth
smallest country. The blockchain ecosystem in the country is supported by a constellation of organisations,
such as the Office for Financial Market Innovation and Digitalisation, the Financial Market Authority and the
Entrepreneur Service. Since early 2020, Lichtenstein has put in force the Blockchain Act in an effort to
provide a comprehensive regulatory framework for the token economy. In addition, the University of
Liechtenstein acts as a major player for the country’s blockchain ecosystem offering two certificate
blockchain programmes and participating in several projects and programmes.
Lithuania became an epicentre of ICO activity in Europe during 2017-2018, combining a blockchain-friendly
regulatory approach with an abundance of local engineering talent. The country does not rest on its laurels
and continues to develop its blockchain ecosystem. Lithuania is one of the top 30 of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. The financial technology (FinTech) and ICT sectors have the highest growth and count with wellestablished start-ups. The Bank of Lithuania opened a pre-sale for the world’s first digital collector coins –
dubbed “LBCOINs”. The amount of funding raised by Lithuanian start-ups, which has increased from millions
to a billion in 2 years, places the country in the top tier of EU Member States, ranked by this criterion.
Luxembourg is one of Europe’s financial centres and, as such, has been at the forefront of developments in
the financial applications of blockchain. The country passed a bill on “dematerialised securities” as early as
2013 and has attracted a number of crypto asset-related start-ups and significant funding in the industry. The
country is the European leader in international securities listings. In late 2021, Luxembourg issued a
guidance paving the way for alternative investment funds to invest in virtual assets.
Malta has been called “the blockchain island” as it has been one of the first countries in the world to have a
comprehensive regulatory regime for crypto assets, since 2018. The country has made significant progress
in the past 2 years as it became the first country to install a blockchain-based IP Register and transfer
60 000 records using the blockchain network. In addition, the Malta Gaming Authority has recently
announced a digital asset focused sandbox, while the Malta Digital Innovation Authority launched a
Technology Assurance Sandbox. Malta has attracted a large number of prominent crypto asset-related
companies and is one of Europe’s most successful countries in attracting investment capital in the field.
Following the University of Malta that launched its Master of Science in Blockchain and DLT in 2019, the
Leadership and Management Institute has launched several additional blockchain courses.
The Netherlands boasts very strong blockchain communities, being amongst Europe’s top performers when
measured by the amount of funding secured by crypto asset and blockchain start-ups. The country has not passed a
crypto asset specific regulatory framework but has adopted a regulatory sandbox approach that empowers
regulators to use a principles-based rather than a rules-based approach when dealing with emerging technologies.
The number of blockchain start-ups launched and the millions raised by blockchain ICOs have increased compared
to 2020. The number of companies that accept digital assets as a form of payment is large and keeps increasing,
while the various meetups of digital assets enthusiasts in the country number thousands of members.
Norway has joined the EBP and has not implemented any laws or legal frameworks related to blockchain
technology. Although Norwegian regulators have not yet taken a definitive stance on blockchain technology, the
Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway has emphasised the risks associated with trading cryptocurrencies and
the need for a strong regulatory framework. After completing the third phase of a study on central bank digital
currencies (CBDCs), Norges Bank announced in May 2021 that it will begin testing technical solutions for a CBDC
over the next 2 years. Norway is the first European nation to embrace public Ethereum, as the government
announced a cap tables platform for unlisted companies built on public Ethereum.
Poland has adopted a strict approach against crypto assets, taxing profits from their trading as income and
warning investors about the dangers of investing in them (the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF)
has published guidance for crypto assets and ICOs). The Office of the KNF published a warning in July 2021
on the Binance platform, which had traction in popularity. The cases of blockchain adoption in private and
public sectors are increasing. The most notable case is the virtual sandbox and Innovation Hub by the
UKNF. The KNF launched a virtual sandbox in 2021. The virtual sandbox was intended to simulate a number
of banking operations and test solutions with the interaction with Open API for innovative payment services.
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Portugal is to establish a node to join the EBSI. The country has friendly legislation towards
cryptocurrencies holders, as the Portuguese Tax & Customs Authority announced that it is tax-free to
exchange cryptocurrencies. There is legislation to support innovation via the blockchain application. There is
a growing base of enthusiasts organised in communities and a small, but dynamic, start-up scene, which has
been successful in raising growth capital from the market.
Romania passed a law in 2019 specifying that income from digital assets trading is taxable on profits and
has established regulations around cryptocurrencies to protect investors. Elrond, a Romania-based
blockchain start-up, achieved unicorn status in early 2021. The country implemented blockchain to safeguard
the integrity for parliamentary elections in November 2020. The interest in blockchain is vivid as the
community in Romania grows each year.
Slovakia boasts Europe’s first ATM, installed in Bratislava in 2013. The country is home to a Bitcoin mining
facility which converts human and animal waste into Bitcoin hash rate, securing the network while mining
Bitcoin. There is no crypto asset specific regulatory framework in place in the country, while the startup
scene is at early stages of development.
Slovenia has a very active ecosystem around crypto assets, combining government support and active
business development. The country was the first EU member state to launch a national test blockchain
infrastructure (Sl-Chain) in 2019. In August 2021, the Slovenian Finance Authority announced a proposal to
tax cryptocurrency participants with 10% of their assets income while the Slovenian Finance ministry sought
a public opinion regarding crypto tax laws. Slovenia has also became the first country in the world to issue
NFT tokens which will serve to promote the Slovenian economy and tourist destinations.
Spain maintains its strong position in the blockchain education space in Europe, as the number of
universities offering blockchain related degrees has increased. The number of companies and startups in the
blockchain and cryptocurrency space is also steadily increasing, while in 2021 Spain introduced a law that
legislates the obligations of cryptoasset owners and service providers, regarding to virtual currencies. The
Spanish ecosystem is active with initiatives from prominent players in traditional fields such as banking,
energy, shipping, telecommunications, and even sports. One notable initiative is Alastria, which was formed
in 2017 by a consortium of Spanish banking, energy and telecom companies.
Sweden has a developed and diverse blockchain ecosystem with notable initiatives. Riksbank, the country’s
central bank, was amongst the world’s earliest examples of research on a CBDC, called the e-krona. Other
notable pilot projects of public interest include a blockchain-based land registry and a number of applications in
the financial services industry. The number of blockchain startups launched and the millions raised by blockchain
ICOs have slightly decreased compared to 2020. The Swedish government assigned a special committee to
investigate needs for legislative changes in eliminating barriers to digital development in the public sector in 2017,
however the investigation did not result in any legislative amendments related to crypto assets or blockchain.
Switzerland remains one of the most advanced nations when it comes to blockchain and crypto assets, not
only in Europe but also globally. It has been called the “crypto nation” and is home to the world-famous
“crypto valley” of the Zug canton. The country is home to a very large number of blockchain companies,
amongst them some of the most well-known industry names, such as the Ethereum Foundation, Polkadot,
Cardano, Solana, Cosmos and Tezos. Companies and organisations operating nationwide have collectively
raised more funds than in any other country while the total valuation of top 50 companies is extremely high –
higher than any other country. Switzerland is home to the first two blockchain banks SEBA and Sygnum, with
a banking license from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. The country moved early to clarify
the legal situation of crypto assets, with the earliest report by the federal government published in 2018,
analysing the applicability of the existing legal framework on blockchain. In 2020, the Swiss Parliament
passed the DLT blanket act, which selectively adapts 10 existing federal laws. In August 2021, one of the
key changes came into force, a license for DLT trading facilities. Several universities have launched
blockchain-focused academic degrees or specialised courses. The number of blockchain-focused academic
degrees offered in the country has also increased.

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The United Kingdom maintains its great interest in blockchain, with the first report commissioned by the
government published in 2016. The country remains an epicentre of business activity in the space today,
with many startups and significant capital raising success. More than 300 companies have raised north of
EUR 3.8 billion, while the energy and creative industries are two emerging sectors in terms of blockchain
application. Even in the absence of a crypto assets specific regulatory framework, there are many initiatives
underway in the UK, driven by the various hubs within the innovation blockchain ecosystem.

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STATE OF THE UNION
Following the Tallinn Declaration on eGovernment (2017), the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP)
was created by 21 EU Member States and Norway in 2018, marking the first EU-wide initiative specifically
devoted to blockchain. Since then, eight more countries have joined the Partnership, bringing the total
number of signatories to 30 (1).
Amongst other efforts, the EBP has worked to develop a trusted, secure and resilient European Blockchain
Services Infrastructure (EBSI), a network of distributed blockchain nodes across Europe, leveraging a
number of applications focused on specific use cases, such as notarisation, education credentials, European
self-sovereign identity, and trusted data sharing amongst customs and tax authorities in the EU. Today, the
EBSI features 27 active nodes in 20 Member States.
On a path toward harmonising their regulatory and policy frameworks, EU Member States are currently at different
maturity levels in terms of regulatory and ecosystem development. We can broadly group each country in one of
three stages of maturity in each dimension of each maturity curve (regulatory and business):

Regulatory maturity curve: this dimension measures the degree of top-down support provided by
national or regional government:
o Stage I regulatory maturity, where no specific crypto asset legislation exists, save perhaps
warnings issued by local authorities in the context of investor protection.
o Stage II regulatory maturity, where the state has shown signs of significant involvement with the
field, through a combination of adoption of wider regulatory schemes (for example, related to know
your client/anti-money laundering, but also explicitly touching upon crypto assets, such as regulation
of alternative forms of financing, ICOs and security token offerings) or through other specific
measures, which might include government-sponsored studies (for example, taxonomies of virtual
assets as far as applicable existing regulation is concerned) or government-sponsored pilot
applications of blockchain in the public sector. An established framework for the taxation of digital
currencies and digital assets is another characteristic of countries that fall under Stage II.
o Stage III regulatory maturity, where either specific legislation for blockchain or crypto assets has
been voted or published, and/or the government has announced a national strategy/vision specific to
blockchain (or for new technologies, explicitly addressing blockchain). Regulatory sandboxes,
innovation hubs and other initiatives that allow blockchain, FinTech and other firms to pilot novel
implementations, as well as the involvement of the banking sector, are also characteristics of
countries in Stage III.
Ecosystem maturity curve: this dimension measures the degree of bottom-up development of the local
ecosystem in each country, as evidenced through three main indicators: presence of a local
business/startup ecosystem; number of blockchain-related formal education and academic research
initiatives; number of user-driven communities around blockchain or virtual assets. Again, we have
grouped countries into three broad categories:
o Stage I ecosystem maturity, where there is evidence of sizeable and dynamic initiatives in none or
one of the three indicators (business, academia, communities).
o Stage II ecosystem maturity, where there is evidence of sizeable and dynamic initiatives in at least
two of the three indicators.
o Stage III ecosystem maturity, where there is evidence of sizeable and dynamic initiatives in all
three indicators.

(1) The EBP declaration was initially signed by Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland,
Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
Norway was also a signatory. Since then, the following countries have joined: Greece (23 May 2018), Romania (29 May 2018),
Denmark (1 June 2018), Cyprus (4 June 2018), Italy (27 September 2018), Liechtenstein (1 February 2019), Hungary (18 February
2019) and Croatia (16 October 2019).

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According to the above classification, we can position the 31 countries we have studied into a 3×3 matrix, as
shown in the following figure.

It must be noted that, naturally, the borders between categories are by definition porous and countries may
not always objectively belong strictly to one of the matrix categories. It must also be stressed that this is a
fast-evolving space, so that all countries are expected to gradually move from the bottom-left to the top-right
part of the matrix. Notwithstanding these, the matrix is a helpful instrument in assessing the current status of
the European blockchain ecosystem in the middle of 2022.
At the one extreme of this categorisation, we find countries in the early stages of development in both the
local ecosystem and the initiatives of the state in providing regulatory clarity for the treatment of crypto
assets. These countries should not be considered as falling behind in the blockchain and crypto assets
development path: it may simply be the case that there is not significant commercial activity yet in their local
markets to necessitate specific regulatory action by authorities. These countries are (in alphabetical order):
Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary and Romania. These countries will be mostly expected to follow
and adopt EU-level policymaking developments in the field of crypto assets.
At a mid-level tier, we find countries that show signs of development in their local business and market
ecosystem and/or some sophistication in regulatory approaches to crypto assets. These countries are: Austria,
Bulgaria, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland,
Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. Although with significant differences in individual development paths amongst
them, this group of countries is expected to inform the development of EU-wide policy by contributing their
unique experiences, success stories and lessons learnt from their involvement with the field.
Finally, at the other extreme of our grouping, we find the group of countries that exhibit the most
sophistication in both their market development and regulatory maturity. These countries are: Cyprus,
Estonia and Malta (in the EU), as well as Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Again, these countries have
their individual differences, of course. Yet, they all provide rich cases of experience that can inform how
Europe will pave its harmonised path towards assuming a globally leading role in crypto assets innovation
and development, while mitigating risks associated with new technologies.

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Country Profiles

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€50 million
THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Energy, Mobility,
FinTech
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

50

Austria
THE AUSTRIAN BLOCKCHAIN
ECOSYSTEM AT A GLANCE
Austria is one of the most prosperous countries in the world,
ranking 15th globally and 10th in Europe in gross domestic
product (GDP) per capita. It has a highly industrialised economy
and education levels, coupled with a generally receptive
regulatory approach towards digital currencies and blockchain,
thus rendering Austria a welcoming place for those
transformative technologies.
As a result, approximately 50 global reaching companies and
startups, counting the national champions Bitpanda, Coinfinity
and Blockpit, as well as more than 35 research initiatives, are
currently established in the country. Companies are active in a
wide range of verticals, while research mainly concentrates in
the energy, mobility and financial technology (FinTech) sectors.
The Austrian state has adopted a generally proactive approach
towards digital currencies and blockchain, with the capital city of
Vienna spearheading the country’s efforts through ‘Smart City
Vienna’, an initiative to foster social and technical innovations,
while improving quality of life for citizens and conserving
resources. State-sponsored initiatives can also be identified in
the areas of public administration, contact tracing to combat the
spread of COVID-19, heat waste management, and even a
rewards citizen programme in the form of a “culture token”
developed in partnership with the Vienna University of
Economics and Business.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Austrian policymakers and financial regulators are generally receptive towards
transformative technologies, especially those that apply to the FinTech sector. For example, the Financial
Market Authority (FMA) has established a registry for Virtual Asset Service Providers in Q4 2020.
Correspondingly, regulators have adopted an overall non-restrictive approach towards digital currencies and
blockchain to avoid hindering innovation. Indicatively, during the 2019 ANON Blockchain Summit discussion
panel, the Austrian Federal Minister for Digital and Economic Affairs, Margarete Schramböck, remarked that
“Europe has a strong tendency to overregulate. […] And then we are surprised that there are no European
companies in the top 10 worldwide. […] We do not need regulation for blockchain.”
In November 2019, the Austrian Blockchain Centre (ABC) was established to explore blockchain applications
in the fields of finance, energy, logistics, public administration, and the internet of things (IoT). ABC, currently
involving more than 21 institutions and 54 companies in its public-private partnership model, aspires to
become the world’s largest blockchain research centre. Blockchain is also a key facilitator of the ‘Smart City
Vienna’ and ‘Open Government Data’ initiatives. The capital city of Austria aims to utilise blockchain
technology to reinforce transparency, openness, trust and citizen participation in its operations, and has
conducted numerous successful pilot releases to date.
Digital currency legislation that applies to blockchain: The Austrian Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has
warned the general public and investors of the risks associated with digital currencies, with many unlicensed
business entities active in the space included in the Authority’s warning list. FMA closely monitors the
developments in the field of decentralised financing, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), initial exchange
offerings (IEOs) and security token offerings (STOs). Digital currencies are generally treated as commodities
in Austria. However, depending on their specifics, various business activities involving blockchain and digital
currencies may provoke licensing requirements under the Austrian Alternative Financing Act (AlfFG), the
Austrian Banking Act (BWG), the Austrian Electronic Money Act (E-Geldgesetz) and the Austrian Capital
Markets Act (KMG).
Digital currency exchange is VAT exempt, as is the case in most European countries. Their use as payment
for goods or services is treated no differently than fiat currencies. Capital gains from their sale are subject to
a progressive income tax that amounts to up to 55 % for individuals and 25 % for corporations. For the near
future, however, a harmonisation in the capital gains taxation of token-based assets with traditional assets is
proposed. In case digital currencies are used to generate interest income, they are characterised as
investment assets and different taxation policies may apply. Anti-money-laundering (AML) and know-yourclient (KYC) regulation applies for payment service providers that utilise digital currencies. Digital currency
mining remains largely unregulated in Austria and no specific restrictions apply.
Academic Courses & Professional Qualifications: The Vienna University of Economics and Business
(Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, or WU), a research partner in ABC, provides a professional certification course
on blockchain, titled ‘Certificate in Blockchain Transforming Business’. The same university has also
launched the Institute of Cryptoeconomics, dedicated to the research of transformative technologies and
offering two undergraduate courses on blockchain topics: “Introduction to Blockchain” and “Blockchain and
Token Economy”. Moreover, the university offers a master’s degree programme in “Digital Economy”, which
includes some blockchain courses.
Blockchain across key industries: While Austria-based startups are active in a wide range of business
verticals, the state has concentrated its efforts to exploit blockchain technology in specific sectors. Various
initiatives have been exploring blockchain technology to facilitate the country’s digitisation plan, with the
capital of Vienna leading the charge. Blockchain technology is expected to be implemented in data
management and e-governance sectors, with the energy sector following next.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Relative to its size and population, Austria counts a high number (50) of startups that are active in the
blockchain space. However, apart from a few global reaching national champions, most initiatives are in a
very early stage. This is evident by the relatively small number of employees per company (1-10 on
average), as well as the wide range of verticals in which companies are active. Specific geographical or
sector clusters could not be identified, although the capital of Vienna concentrates the highest number of
company headquarters, being home to 8 out of the 10 largest companies.

As of December 2021, Austria-based blockchain
companies have approximately EUR 50 million, with
business opportunities in the space were identified as
early as 2012. In total, 7 companies have secured
funding with an average number of 2.5 investors per
funded company. Notable startups and companies in
the country include: Bitpanda; Blockpit, a digital
assets investment platform responsible for more than
EUR 510 million traded in 2017; Coinfinity, a digital
currency broker; and Conda, a crowd-investing
platform for Austrian startups.

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Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
15
10
5
0
2015

2016

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2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The COVID-19 pandemic had an evident impact on Austria’s blockchain community. Annual events and gettogethers were postponed, others turned virtual, while others were cancelled. Concurrently, measuring the
growth of the Austrian blockchain community over the past years in a meaningful manner is hard. Yet,
11 000 individuals make up Austria’s blockchain community.

Overall, the Austrian blockchain and digital currency audience consist of 231 000 to 272 000 individuals, or
approximately 2.8 % of the total population.
(Source for audience: Facebook audience, ages: 16-65+, location: Austria, keywords: Block chain (database),
cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ethereum | Source for enthusiasts)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Alfred Taudes, Professor, Department of Information Systems and Operations Institute for Production
Management, Vienna University of Economics and Business
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Austria? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
The awareness of the blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies has risen in Austria especially in the past
few months. This was mainly driven by mainstream media coverage of the recent growth in cryptocurrencies
markets in general, specific phenomena, such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as well as highly visible VC
[venture capital] investments in selected Austrian blockchain startups. In Austria, the blockchain technology
and especially cryptocurrencies are still associated with tax evasion and money laundering. Due to the lack
of legal regulatory measures and reliable control measures, the people’s trust in this technology is relatively
low. However, despite this low trust, the Global Digital Report 2020 shows that nine per cent of the persons
living in Austria in 2020 owned cryptocurrencies in any kind, which is two percentage points above the
worldwide average.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Austria?
The overall size of blockchain and cryptocurrency business ecosystem in Austria is due to the abovementioned facts and circumstances relatively small and mostly startups are currently engaged in this sector.
However, these Austrian startups encompass numerous aspects and business areas that deal with
cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology in general, for instance such as crypto tax reporting, crypto
broker exchanges and even token-emitting startups. The startup part of the ecosystem can be characterised
by a high level of growth combined with a high level of attrition. Overall, once regulatory measures and
reliable control measures will be implemented, in our view, the size and maturity of the blockchain and
cryptocurrency business ecosystem in Austria will face a huge chance of growth since institutional investors
and other companies then SMEs could be likely to make use of this technology. With regards to larger
corporate players, an increase of experimentation in innovation departments can be seen. However, these
remain at early stages of product lifecycles. The focus is on understanding the technology, product discovery
and limited proofs-of-concepts. However, once such regulatory measures and reliable control measures will
be implemented, in our view, the size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business ecosystem
in Austria will face a huge chance of growth due to the fact that institutional investors and other companies
then SMEs could be likely to make use of this technology.
What measures has Austria taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and
legislation to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
The EU’s 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive (Directive [EU] 2018/843), which had to be implemented by all
Member States and therefore also in Austria by 31 January 2020, introduced a uniform definition for
cryptocurrencies (so-called “virtual currencies”) and, on the other hand, certain due diligence obligations,
which must be carried out by domestic service providers in relation to cryptocurrencies. These obligations
include, for instance, the regular verification of the identity of the customer, the beneficial owner and the
origin of the funds. Thus, for the first time, a regulatory framework was created both at the EU level and in
Austria, which has increased legal certainty and subsequently also the willingness of investors to invest in
cryptocurrencies.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?

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Due to the payment character of the “virtual currencies” defined in the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive
on the one hand and the increasingly diverse design possibilities of tokens as well as their growing popularity
on the other hand, which can be structured similar to shares, participation rights or vouchers, new regulatory
and supervisory measures will be necessary to achieve legal certainty and consequently the increased
willingness of investors to invest in such assets. On the part of the EU, there are already moves in two
different directions: with the DAC 8 directive proposal, the EU is planning a further step towards equalisation
with capital assets, as crypto assets are also to be covered by the automatic exchange of information
between the Member States. With the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) directive proposal, crypto assets not
qualifying as financial instruments are to be subject to the same regulatory provisions (i.e. in particular with
regard to market manipulation). Furthermore, the directive proposal aims at providing legal certainty for
crypto assets not covered by existing EU financial services legislation in general.
What does the future hold for the Austrian blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
In our view, the future for the Austrian blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem must be divided into the
cryptocurrency and blockchain sector. On the one hand, the cryptocurrency sector might diminish in the
upcoming years since the payment character of such assets is becoming increasingly less important.
However, because of the paradigm shift undertaken in the course of the eco-social tax reform 2022,
cryptocurrencies (but not tokens) have been integrated into the taxation system of capital assets and will be
treated as such retroactively as of 28 February 2021. This could have an impact on the popularity of
cryptocurrencies. On the other hand, assets that allow for utility and governance functions are becoming
increasingly popular. This leads to the second, i.e. blockchain sector, which provides for numerous ways of
usage, such as the tokenisation of assets, making it possible for precious goods (e.g. real estate and shares)
to be divided into parts which then allows people to acquire those parts and participate in the gains derived
by those assets, or simply to own (a part of) an asset they always wanted to possess. Furthermore, the
blockchain technology due to its inherent characteristics allows for the unadulterated and aggregated
storage of data that can be used to enhance especially processes involving big data, e.g. for customs and
other purposes.

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Key Findings
THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

FinTech
BLOCKCHAIN PROFESSIONALS

992
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

47

Belgium
THE BELGIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM AT
A GLANCE
Belgium has one of the largest GDP per capita, strong scientific
work, and FinTech sector. This combination has fostered the
creation of an active blockchain ecosystem nationwide. Being
one of the most important financial centres of the world, the
Belgian blockchain startup ecosystem is primarily centred
around applications for the banking and financial sector. More
recently, the growing understanding of tokenisation’s benefits
fostered several startups’ growth in that scene. The lack of
specific legislation didn’t hamper the issuance of utility and even
security token offerings. Last but not least, several wellestablished companies and VC funds serve the continuous
growth of the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Most blockchain startups focus on Business to Business (B2B)
and Business Consumer (B2C) projects that, apart from the
financial and banking sectors, cover diverse domains, such as
legal, logistics, supply chain, and corporate governance, among
others. Several blockchain companies also offer consultancy
services for big corporations, which helps to highlight why
existing companies investigate the applicability of blockchain
technologies in their business.
Belgium is also characterised by regional disparities when it
comes to blockchain companies. The region of Flanders has
approximately 60% of all blockchain-related startups, followed
by Brussels with 30%, while Wallonia is home to the remaining
10% of blockchain companies.
Belgian companies are also heavily involved in research and
innovation activities around blockchain technology, mainly in
Horizon 2020 projects funded by the European
Commission. To date, more than 65 projects have been funded.
This number is relatively high compared to other European
countries of larger size and population.

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Regulation and policymaking: Belgium, together with 20 other Member States from the European Union, is
a committed participant of the European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI). As a first step towards
this, Belgium commissioned its first node on 12 February 2020, as a result of a collaboration between Belnet,
the country’s public services provider of high-speed internet, and Smals, which develops applications and
services for the ICT sector. Belgium was also the first country to spin up a second node. In collaboration with
KU Leuven and BOSA (a government agency, Belnet and Smals founded BelBlock, an EU CEF project.
Their website and other activities aim to raise awareness for EBSI in the Belgian context.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Within the ‘Blockchain on the Move’ project, the City of Antwerp envisages the first attempt to provide
citizens, through blockchain technology, with a ‘Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI)’ that they can use in their
interactions with governments, other (public) organisations or companies. The project focuses on the use of
new technologies (including blockchain), providing citizens with more freedom of choice and room for
regulation in their contracts with the government, and granting citizens ownership of their data. This project,
alas died a silent death when the Flemish Government stopped supporting it.
Ubisoft in partnership with Belgium Pro Soccer league has launched a free to play crypto soccer game.The
company has partnered with the Jupiler Pro League, the professional soccer league of Belgium.
Seety, a digital parking startup based in Belgium, has introduced crypto payment support for parking tickets.
The startup has rolled out a crypto payment feature in Antwerp and Brussels. According to the press release
issued by the company, customers will not incur any additional fees if they use crypto.The Seety app
reportedly has over 355,000 users in Belgium and the Netherlands.
Brewers and farmers from Belgian Barrels Alliance (BBA) have partnered with Zeromint to offer nonfungible
tokens (NFTs) aimed at preserving the UNESCO recognized Belgian beer culture and heritage. The Belgian
Barrels Alliance, aims to launch NFTs initiatives to promote tree plantations and learn specialized artisan
skills and traditions in addition to building engagement and reward opportunities for beer fans and
enthusiasts.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: According to a recent report on the regulation of
cryptoassets from Burges Salmon, there are currently no specific laws or regulations in Belgium. In 2017, the
country’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) published a communication on Initial Coin
Offerings (ICOs) that provides an overview of the legislation and regulations that may apply to ICOs and
cryptoassets. At the same time, the Belgian National Bank and the Financial Services and Markets Authority
have issued public warnings, informing consumers and potential investors of the risk associated with virtual
currencies as early as 2014. The latter Authority actively maintains a red-list of fraudulent virtual currency
sites. Nevertheless, the FSMA approved during 2021 a real estate token project and an (art) security token
project. Utility token offerings are considered a regular option to raise capital.
According to the financial regulator of Belgium, the characteristics of cryptoassets may be similar to


investment instruments, given that they may provide rights to revenues or returns;
a means of storage, calculation, and exchange, given their convertibility into other cryptoassets, tokens
or fiat money; and/or
a utility token, if they provide access to certain products or services.

It should be mentioned, however, that the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations and Know Your Customer
(KYC) policies are still applicable to crypto exchanges operating in Belgium.
Belgium has cryptocurrency taxes, at 33% on any cryptocurrency income depending on how the tax subject is
investing. If it’s merely an increase of value over time, there is no taxation, but the tax subject has to proof the
HOLD’ing. This is considered an investment as a bonus pater familias. Contrary to other countries, there is no
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specification on the required holding time. The intention has to be proven. If the profit results from speculation
and market trading, the tax is 33% (taxed as other income). However, if the tax subject acts as a professional
trader (i.e. buy hardware, subscribe to paid info sources,…), then the income from the trading will be taxed as
regular income. Belgium has one of the highest taxes on income, as of 39.660 €, you pay up to 50% on taxes.
Blockchain Regulation for Crypto Exchanges and Custodial Wallets: The Financial Services and Markets
Authority (FSMA), requires the region’s crypto exchanges and custodial wallet services to register as of 1 May,
2022. Crypto businesses in Belgium that have been already operating before this official announcement are
required by law to notify the FSMA of the “exercise of their activity” within the next two months, before July 1
2022. In addition to disclosing operations, existing businesses have been given four months, i.e., before Sept.
1, to register as a regulated business with the financial regulator. Crypto service providers must fulfill seven
conditions that include being constituted in the form of a company with a minimum capital of 50,000 euros.
Blockchain in academia: Professional training courses on blockchain technology are available in Belgium,
mainly through independent training and certification providers. Academia has also adapted their curricula to
include specific blockchain-related topics to meet the public’s increased interest in blockchain and
cryptocurrencies. It is important to note that the topics are not offered as dedicated, organised programmes
that lead to a degree associated with blockchain or other decentralised technologies.
Blockchain across key industries: Analysing the startup ecosystem in Belgium, it is evident that most active
startup companies focus on applications and services around the banking and the financial sector. This can be
attributed to the fact that Brussels is the financial capital of Europe and the seventh most important financial
centre worldwide. Additionally, the legislative and regulatory frameworks do not pose any specific restrictions or
hurdles that would prevent the development of the FinTech and ecosystem in Belgium. The presence of financial
knowledge also fosters the growth of companies focusing on cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE

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Belgium is home to a fast-growing startup scene, thanks to its strong service economy, and the fact that
most people are proficient in English. Adding to this, the number of newly incorporated companies in the
country is constantly on the rise, and numerous Belgian cities host startup weekends, hackathons, meetups,
and open coffees. This startup ecosystem is supported by many diverse acceleration programmes and
incubators across the country.
Moreover, being the financial centre of the European Union, along with its diverse, innovative startup scene,
Belgium is an attractive location for international companies looking for a place to set up their excellence
centres. In March 2018, Fujitsu inaugurated its international Blockchain Innovation Centre in Brussels, which
focuses on the promotion of research and development in the field of blockchain technologies beyond
financial services, addressing the needs of sectors such as logistics and supply chain, real estate,
decentralised digital identities, and smart contracts.
The number of blockchain startups in Belgium, according to Crunchbase, is 47. According to data retrieved
by Linkedin, the number of blockchain professionals is 992.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Brussels, as well as other Belgium cities, host an active and diverse ecosystem of blockchain-related
startups that are developing applications and services for various sectors. This ecosystem is supported and
further promoted by various associations incorporated in Belgium with, in some cases, pan European or
global influence and presence.
Founded in 2019, the International Association of Blockchain Trusted Applications (INATBA) is driven by DG
Connect of the European Commission. INATBA serves as a joint platform for various industrial players,
startups, as well as regulatory and policymaking and standardisation bodies that support and promote
blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), by encouraging public and private sector collaboration.
Blockchain for Europe represents international blockchain industry players at the EU-level, with a primary
focus on proactively contributing to the regulatory debate by supporting European decision-makers in their
goal to make blockchain technology a success. HIVE Blockchain Society is a non-profit blockchain
association that aims to create a multidisciplinary community of blockchain enthusiasts and experts, to
promote the understanding of DLTs and its potential for decentralisation, its different applications, and
challenges, as well as to inform the Belgian and international community about its developments.
The Blockchain proponents in Belgium are at the moment still organised across several axes. Supported by
the Wallonian (French / German speaking part of Belgium) government, WalChain aims to unite blockchain
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startups to position their digital solutions as drivers for the development of new digital ecosystems, and the
further economical development of the region.
The enterprise blockchain focused BelTug Blockchain taskforce, established in 2018, unites the largest
stakeholders in Flanders (Dutch speaking part of Belgium). They aim to unite enterprises to create a
common voice towards the government.
The newly founded Belgian Blockchain & Cryptoassets Federation, at the moment with a strong
cryptoassets/cryptocurrencies focus, aims to unite all Belgian blockchain and cryptoassets proponents.
In addition to organised blockchain associations and hubs, the Belgian blockchain community consists of
45,000 observers based on the extended outreach data from Facebook Audiences, which corresponds to
approximately 0.4% of the population. Out of those, 10,105 members are engaged with communities of
practice related to blockchain technology and are involved in 28 frequent meetup groups. Based on LinkedIn
data, 3,200 professionals are directly or indirectly associated with the blockchain technology.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
AGEify: A simple, accurate, and privacy-preserving age verification solution. It is based on advanced IT
security methods and techniques used in Identity & Access Management and Privacy-Preserving solutions
and a blockchain backbone that guarantees non-repudiation of the already minimal information stored. It
may be used for controlling access to online age-restricted content, such as adult web sites, rated-videos,
gambling and games platforms, alcohol, tobacco, etc.
Keyrock: It is cryptocurrency market makers building scalable, self-adaptive algorithmic technologies to
support efficient digital asset markets. Through a combination of in-house algorithmic trading tools, highfrequency trading infrastructure, and industry expertise, Keyrock provides unparalleled liquidity services to
tokens, exchanges, and brokerages within the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Delta: Delta is a Bitcoin & cryptocurrency portfolio tracker app. Delta allows users to keep track of all
cryptocoins, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and over 2000 altcoins. The company has been acquired
by eToro.
Credix: Credix is a decentralised credit marketplace powered by Solana blockchain technology. Credix
protocol enables global access to efficient undercollateralized lending for loan originators (e.g. FinTech
companies) in emerging markets and fixed-income investment opportunities for investors. Credix bridges
traditional finance and DeFi with the regulatory compliant framework institutions need.
Playtreks: The PlayGrounds is the NFT marketplace for artists and digital content creators. PlayGrounds
NFT marketplace, one of the first digital marketplaces where artists and digital content creators can mint their
content into non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and expose their crypto collectibles. Creators and fans alike can
buy, sell, and discover exclusive digital items.
SettleMint: Founded in 2016, it has one goal: To make blockchain applications accessible for organisations
and companies. With their platform, they reduce the complexity of the blockchain technology, making it easy,
fast, and seamless for an organisation to turn a business concept into a working blockchain application in a
fraction of time.
Yuso: Integrates renewable and sustainable energy sources into the existing markets. By focusing on
decentralised energy production, companies can manage their energy consumption and injection flexibly.
Yuso is your intermediary to the new energy market.
Venly (formerly Arkane) : Venly provides a wallet and NFT products that seamlessly integrate with your
blockchain project.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Interview with Koen Vingerhoets, FUJITSU
EUBOF: How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and
cryptocurrency in Belgium? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated
familiarity?
KV: The public awareness about and familiarity with blockchain, cryptocurrencies and NFT’s are steadily
growing. Initiatives are easily picked up by the mainstream media, although frequently contextualized by
powerful critical voices. It could be summarized as “mainstream-with-a-frown”. Some examples that made it
to many households through the news: a well-known artist like Jeroom sells his drawings as NFT’s, a house
was put on the market together with its digital twin in the metaverse (https://www.zimmo.be/nl/metaversehuis/), a work of art was tokenized (https://www.rubey.be), newspapers write about novelties like real estate
tokenization (https://www.tijd.be/ondernemen/vastgoed/dankzij-blockchain-ben-je-kotbaas-vanaf-50euro/10332538.html), KBC had her own employees test the KBC Kate-coin (a bank backed stablecoin) on a
festival (https://www.demorgen.be/nieuws/kbc-test-eigen-cryptomunt-op-werchter-boutique-daarnabeschikbaar-voor-alle-klanten~b7435a6d/). Crypto even made it to the late night news
(https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2022/05/25/bijna-10-van-de-belgische-gezinnen-belegt-in-cryptomunten/), but a
smirk is never far away. Owning crypto as part of an investment portfolio is no longer an oddity and tips are
frequently shared by (so-called) crypto-experts. However, the loudest voices in the public debate (National
Bank, economists) warn about the risks of cryptocurrencies and NFT’s, and, but to a lesser extent, the risks
of blockchain technologies.

EUBOF: How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and
cryptocurrency business ecosystem in Belgium?
KV: The business ecosystem is in my opinion steadily growing in diversity and size, but still remains largely
under the radar. Companies like Keyrock are essential to the crypto market, but still fairly unknown. Venly
(formerly Arkane) raised millions to expand their NFT marketplace and services. NGrave receives rewards
for having the most secure crypto storage device. With Tioga Capital, there is an investment fund focused on
blockchain technology. Service providers like SettleMint, IntellectEU and Fujitsu bring projects from idea to
production all over the world. Recent events like Web32 in Antwerp and the Brussels Blockchain Week
showcased a myriad of startups and established companies moving to blockchain based solutions. The
Walloon region created WalChain to properly support blockchain technology based start- and scale-ups.
Three elements impact the lack of visibility: (i) customers are often located abroad, (ii) Belgian people are
modest and aim to have a solution in production prior to communicate about it, (iii) the different actors in the
blockchain & crypto market are not fully aware of each other. To counter the latter, #Blockchain4Belgium, an
initiative supported by FPS BOSA (https://bosa.belgium.be/en), aims to unite all professional actors and
stakeholders in the Belgian blockchain and crypto ecosystem.
EUBOF: Only respond if specific measures have been taken – What measures has Belgium taken
over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and legislation to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption?
KV: As far as I know, there is no legislation promoting blockchain and crypto adoption. The FSMA and NBB
have been very open to discuss blockchain projects. The kick-off of #Blockchain4Belgium
(https://blockchain4belgium.be/), supported by the SPF BOSA, is as far as I know the most visible action.
EUBOF: What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?

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KV: On national and EU level, a coordinated approach to properly regulate cryptocurrencies would contribute
to legal certainty, which is imho elementary for entrepreneurs. No more “crypto friendly” zones, clear
guidance on what is a utility/security token, publication of past decisions to show the way, regulatory
sandbox to provide proper understanding to all parties involved,… could be manifestations of such a
coordinated approach. I do believe the EU is taking steps in the right direction.
EUBOF: what does the future hold for the Belgium blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
KV: In the future, I expect more regulation and legislation to protect consumers. It’s a two-edged sword: an
almost religious belief in a decentralized approach, requires support and decisions from the most centralized
instances to make progress. It will foster public adoption, but contain and channel the almost unlimited
innovation of today into customer focused, secured solutions.
For enterprise blockchain, I expect a further steady growth into tech-stack oblivion, supporting ever more
mindblowing use cases (in other words: it will reach the platform of productivity in the Gartner hype cycle).

USEFUL RESOURCES
International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications – Website of INATBA
Blockchain for Europe – Website of Blockchain for Europe
HIVE Blockchain Society – Website of HIVE Blockchain Society
Cryptoassets: A UK and European perspective on the regulation of cryptoassets – Burges Salmon
Blockchain on the Move – City of Antwerp, Innovation and Technology Division.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€6.39 million
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

51

Bulgaria
THE BULGARIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Bulgaria locates in the Balkans and has been part of the
European Union since 2017. According to the European
Commission report, the economy experienced strong economic
growth in the past few years. General figures on the country are
available through various organisations such as the World Trade
Organisation and World Bank.
The country hosts a vibrant ecosystem around the blockchain.
Moreover, the ecosystem has grown from the previous report, as
indicated by the number of startups. Bulgaria participates in
European initiatives on the blockchain, such as hosting nodes for
the EBSI, as discussed in the adoption.
There are regulations mainly focused on the financial aspect and
cryptocurrencies. The regulations are relevant to taxation and
investors’ protection. Moreover, academia fosters the ecosystem
around blockchain by establishing courses and certifications.
Private entities are active in providing educational material.
The startup ecosystem in Bulgaria is composed of small and
medium entities, with the focal sector being financial services.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: There is interest in blockchain adoption in Bulgaria as various cases showcase the
interest. Rumours from international media reported that the country explores crypto payment options, as
Bulgaria uses its national currency and may have little benefits in a digital euro without a swift in currencies.
Moreover, the country is part of the EBSI and the coordinator for setting up a node in the network is Industria
Technology OOD as defined by the EC announcement. The action includes entities from the national
ecosystem active in blockchain that will have to cooperate to deliver the node and other functionalities.
Legislation of blockchain: The regulation mainly focuses on cryptocurrencies, and the subjects are
relevant to the uses of cryptocurrencies. In detail, cryptocurrencies have to be declared and audited by the
National Revenue Agency as a financial asset. Gains from cryptocurrencies trading and mining are
considered taxable events, so citizens will have to report that source of income to the tax authorities. Finally,
a public registry for entities, including both natural persons and companies, with cryptocurrency-related
activities have to be registered in a public register. The regulation for AML was introduced in 2020 issued by
the Ministry of Finance with Ordinance No. N-9.
Blockchain in academia: There was a scarcity of information relevant to educational initiatives on
blockchain in Bulgaria. Blockchain impacts numerous business sectors and it is included as a subject in
FinTech related masters. In detail, the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration (FEBA)
collaborates with Bulgarian Fintech Association (BFA) for a FinTech master, including blockchain. The
initiative has been covered by the media and university. The university accommodates individual courses
such as Blockchain changing Digital Strategies and others. The Technical University in Varna is another
institute with individual blockchain courses like Blockchain Technologies as part of artificial intelligence (AI)
systems.
Moreover, there are initiatives from the private sector for educating the public on blockchain. The last report
on the national ecosystems included a couple of training programmes that are still active. Another initiative in
education comes from the private company, LimeChain, with the introduction of LimeAcademy. For example,
there is educational material for Blockchain Developers with eight modules to guide them.
Blockchain across key industries: The blockchain activity is across a diverse range of industries and
sectors in Bulgaria. The prevalent industry for blockchain use is in finance, as the majority of entities are
concentrated. The finance sector has a higher degree of maturity, and the Bulgarian Fintech Association is
active in the national ecosystem. Another use for blockchain is to support applications and software, and this
is the second most prevalent use of the technology. The services make use of blockchain attributes to deliver
functionalities with their services.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
A robust startup scene closely relates to aspiring innovators and
entrepreneurs’ investment and funding opportunities. The last
version of the report included venture capitals, such as æternity
Ventures, Eleven Ventures and LANCHHub Ventures, active in
the Bulgarian ecosystem. Apart from venture capitals,
accelerator programmes are beneficial for preparing startups for
their next stage, and the Starfleet Accelerator Program was part
of the report’s last version. This report will aim to extend and dive
deeper into the startup opportunities in Bulgaria.
As the venture capital is interested in blockchain technology,
startups in the early stages can explore the option of the New
Vision 3 Fund. The portfolio fosters some entities with blockchain
applications like Phyre, Klear and others. Similarly, LAUNCHHub
Ventures is active in supporting the blockchain ecosystem. For
example, as one of the latest news – Ambire succeeded in
raising close to EUR 2.5 million. Other venture capital options
with blockchain projects in their portfolio include Vitosha Venture
Partners and NEVEQ Management.
Apart from venture capitals, there are accelerators programmes
to support the innovation in the Bulgarian blockchain ecosystem.
Accelerators can provide a wide range of benefits to participants:
from idea validation up to preparation for funding rounds. The
Bulgarian Innovation Hub hosts accelerator programmes for
startups, with last year’s cohort covered in a news article.
Innovation Capital provides another option for attending
accelerators with different options to select depending on the
startup’s needs.
The blockchain startup ecosystem is vibrant with small and medium companies. The vast majority of the
entities were established between 2017 and 2019, as Bitcoin hit the news and popularised blockchain
technology. There are entities that swift their operations and adopt blockchain, as indicated from entities
established prior in years, before the 2010s. Finally, the startups cover a wide range of business sectors,
with the most prevalent being the financial sector.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
There are organisations and incentives in Bulgaria to support and boost the participation of the public in
blockchain. The past version of the report included the Balkan Blockchain Association and Bulgarian Fintech
Association. The first association participates in INATBA as a member as announced in 2019. Bulgarian
Fintech Association is active with publishing reports on Bulgarian FinTech ecosystem with the 2021 report
being available online. Blockchain is a subject for FinTech, as the technology can disrupt the financial sector
and the traditional business model.

Conferences are another choice for people active in the blockchain to participate. Conferences are events
that permit participants to learn the state-of-the-art on the subject and expand their network. For example,
Bulgarian Digital Week has accommodated the International Conference on Crypto Finance & Blockchain
Technologies in June 2021. For upcoming events, the enthusiasts for blockchain have the opportunity to join
the FinTech Summit in March 2022, where the subject will be on the way for blockchain disruption in the
FinTech and benefits to harness. Finally, the academic community sets up events for promoting research. An
example is the Science Events Ltd with events on multiple subjects and publication such as last year’s
Blockchain in Marketing by Justyna A. Minkiewicz.
Apart from associations, private companies aim to support the community with organising events. Such
events share the passion and experience of experts active in the field. For instance, the private entity
hack.bg has organised meetups for blockchain developers. Similarly, another entity, DEV.BG, has a user
group on blockchain where events take place for learning and socialising between people with similar
interests. While the majority of events are concentrated in the capital, other cities accommodate events and
meetups for the community. An event in Blagoevgrad covered in a news article had as a topic FinTech and
Blockchain in the past year and was organised by Startup@Blagoevgrad.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Ambire: is a company established in 2017 relevant to digital advertising. The solution aims to boost
transparency for advertisements while respecting users’ privacy. Advertisers are recognised via
cryptographic identities as personal data are in off-chain storage. A dedicated wallet to handle tokens and
permissions is part of the suggested solution.
Coinpanda: is an application launched in 2018 for tracking cryptocurrency portfolios and the resulting taxes.
The idea emerged from the frustration of tracking transactions and calculating the taxes. Digital wallets can
be used for that purpose by using their public keys for querying the blockchain transactions via APIs.
Credefi: introduced its idea to connect crypto lenders with SME borrowers in 2020. The roadmap of the
project presents the adoption of Polygon and the future migration to Solana. The project includes three
distinct phases. The platform makes use of Ethereum blockchain and the matured language Solidity for
deploying smart contracts.
Deriveum: a startup founded in 2019 which was funded by Block.IS. The start-up’s idea is to utilise crypto
commodities as credit-default swap (CDS) collateral and manage risk-sharing. The idea involves locking
value in a smart contract to cover the case of inability to pay. The startup seems to implement Corda
blockchain for its application.
Qaisec: is a company that states to offer custom solutions in the banking sector. One of the solutions is the
introduction of the quantum encrypted blockchain (QEB). The application of QEB offers a greater level of
security to safeguard blockchain from vulnerabilities stemming from the proliferation of quantum computing.
Ricoto: is a company established in 2018 with an expertise on content writing for blockchain projects. The
proliferation of ICOs necessitates the presentation of coherent plan around the suggested solution of a
project.
TokenGet: is a platform to launch ICOs in a secure and manageable way established in 2017. It permits the
companies to focus their efforts on marketing and promotion of the ICO, since the platform delivers
functionality across the different actions involve in an ICO. The company is part of the Balkan Blockchain
Association.
Tresaro: is a blockchain marketplace that focuses on three sectors: e-commerce, crowdfunding, and charity.
The decentralised marketplace is a trustless environment for peer-to-peer trading without the arbitration of a
centralised authority. The marketplace utilises a SWARM network deployed on Ethereum.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Hristian Daskalov, Doctor in Industrial Management, Technical University of Sofia
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Bulgaria?
When my colleagues and I launched the “Open Source University” project in 2015, it was among the few, if
not the only blockchain-development initiative in the country beyond the world of finance. The Center for
Shared Science and Business, which we set up at the Technical University of Sofia to academically govern
the project, was the only such laboratory. Today there is a plethora of blockchain R&D projects in the country
from all the industry sectors – software development and consulting, accounting and legal, exchanges and
brokerages, infrastructure providers, mining services, NFTs, and educational programs. We have Web3focused venture funds active on the ground, a couple of crypto associations, and a very active “Sofia Crypto
Meetup” community. Major international entities in the blockchain sector have invested in the country by
employing outsourced teams and establishing development offices in Sofia. I would say that Bulgaria, as of
today, has a fully-fledged blockchain/crypto ecosystem, which is among top 6 in Eastern Europe. The only
thing the country needs is its Web3 unicorn to make the headlines globally and attract more awareness and
talent, similar to countries such as Estonia.
What measures has Bulgaria taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives to promote
blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
Bulgaria has recognized blockchain as the new infrastructure and enabler for more transparent, efficient, and
accountable public administration. It is among the founding countries behind the European Blockchain Service
Infrastructure (EBSI), which explores how decentralized technologies can empower the creation of humancentric solutions that foster civic participation and digital sovereignty. Over the past year, a country-level
consortium was formed, which is now in charge of implementing the Bulgarian part of EBSI with pilots in the
field of document validity checks and elf-sovereign identity.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
I believe that the new eIDAS 2.0 regulatory framework and the European Digital Identity Wallet are significant
initiatives under the umbrella of the European Commission, which have the potential to advance the adoption
of blockchain by the public. Blockchain’s adoption as a means for transparency and accountability in the private
sector is also important, but policy-makers on national and international levels should avoid too much
intervention in the area if they are to be seen as enablers. Cryptocurrencies and DeFi, in general, are a whole
other story and the more they correlate with the traditional financial world assets, the closer regulations they
should expect. Hence, it is important to go towards smarter, digital-savvy regulations for all – such that provide
trust and predictability and encourage innovation on the side of all key stakeholders.
What does the future hold for the Bulgaria blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
The Bulgarian startup ecosystem is a regional leader in innovation, ranked number 36 globally by
StartupBlink. According to recent research, Bulgaria is an ideal place to locate for energy & environment,
software and data, as well as marketing & sales startups. All of this speaks well about the development of
the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem in the country. While there is a global recession ahead of us,
Bulgaria was actually on a net profit as a result of the previous one in 2018 due to the relocation of many IT
businesses in the country, known as a preferred nearshore destination among international corporations. I
believe we can expect similar developments this time around, but with Web3 companies making a move
towards Bulgaria.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€104 922.4

Croatia
THE CROATIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Croatia is a country located in central and south-east Europe
and part of the EU since 2013. Croatia’s economy has been
affected negatively by the pandemic, but the economy is to
recover and grow as forecasted by the European Commission.
The recovery after the pandemic is an indicator of the reforms in
the economy in the prior years. The Startup Europe Network
accommodates an overview of the startup ecosystem in the
country. A notable point from the startup ecosystem is the range
of sectors they operate within.
There is interest in Croatia to adopt blockchain as there are
public activities like Croatian Post’s cryptoexchange introduction
and crypto stamp. Moreover, the Croatian Energy Strategy
mentions blockchain as an example of a technology to act as a
mechanism to foster smaller market segments in the energy
sector. Blockchain adoption is continuous in the public sector as
Croatia has joined the Blockchain Partnership since 2019.
The legislation around blockchain and cryptocurrencies
incorporates the European actions around the subjects.
Activities related to cryptocurrencies like trading and mining are
considered taxable events in Croatia. Moreover, entities
supporting cryptocurrency activities should be registered to the
Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency to adhere to
the regulations.

The private sector seems to grow with a variety of blockchain
applications introduced. Private companies try to facilitate
transactions with cryptocurrencies as their popularity grows.
Moreover, Croatia attracts tourists who wish to use their cryptocurrencies in their exchanges with the local
community. There are a handful of cases for adopting cryptocurrencies as a payment method in Croatia.
The blockchain community seems to grow and has the support of academia and associations. There are
training and courses for the community to learn about blockchain. The research on blockchain matters is
facilitated as there is an established laboratory dedicated to the technology. The community can attend large
scale events and network during these events.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: Cryptocurrencies are not equivalent to traditional money, but their popularity is
undeniable, with more citizens owning a crypto token. After launching a crypto stamp, the Croatian Post has
introduced a service to exchange your cryptocurrencies with the introduction of Crypto Centers. This action
was covered by articles, as the service is available in over 50 spots. It should be noted that a handful of the
popular cryptos are selected to be available through the service.
As previously mentioned, cryptocurrencies are not equivalent to money. In contrast, people are eager to hold
digital tokens, and companies are adjusting to this trend. For example, Tesla shook the world in 2021 by
announcing crypto payments availability. In a similar fashion, Konzum, a Croatian supermarket chain, is in
place to accept payments in cryptocurrencies as covered in CoinTelegraph. It should be noted that the
company does not receive or hold in their ledger cryptocurrencies but fiat money. The exchange of
cryptocurrencies to tokens is the responsibility of the Croatian brokerage, Electrocoin. Similarly, there is
another service that is structured to accept cryptocurrencies. This service is the petrol payments per
CoinTelegraph, as it is a service to assist tourists in their experience in the country.
Blockchain adoption should not be limited to cryptocurrency payments, as blockchain structures facilitate
different functionalities. For example, NFTs were one of the trends in 2021 for blockchain. These trends
reshape business models and interactions between stakeholders in an ecosystem. An example from Croatia
is the music event Circus Maximus, which envisions establishing a DAO and mint NFTs for ticketing. The
Distributed Autonomous Organisation (DAO) can democratise the participation in events, as the
organisations could be run on logic with the application of code.
Legislation of blockchain: There are no major updates in the regulations from the previous report.
Cryptocurrencies and related activities are regulated as part of the Personal Income Tax Act that handles the
general tax policy. It should be noted that mining is an activity producing tax events as described in a blog
post.Entities that are active in providing exchange services for digital currencies are obliged to apply measure and
procedure for AML. The Croatian Financial Services Supervisory Agency (HANFA) is the supervisor for the
implementation of the regulation. HANFA provides a list with the registered entities on their site, as a means for
the public to avoid fraudulent entities.
Blockchain in academia: Universities have incorporated courses in their curriculums for blockchain and its
applications. An example is the University of Pula, with a course titled Blockchain applications. The course is
part of a master’s degree programme and includes suggested literature on the blockchain. Another course is
the postgraduate one at the University of Zagreb, titled Distributed Ledgers and Digital Assets.
An upcoming summer school in June 2022 will be held in Šibenik with the subject of crypto in real-world
applications and privacy. The summer school is organised collectively by Radboud University, ETH Zurich
Information Security and Privacy Center, and the University of Zagreb.
The academia scene in Croatia takes actions into organised research initiatives to research and innovate on
the blockchain. For that reason, the Laboratory for Applications of Blockchain Technology aims to test
innovative methods and applications with the implementation of blockchain and DLT technology led by Prof.
Kristijan Lenac. Additionally, research projects set the groundwork for blockchain applications and
innovations. There is IoT4us funded by the Croatian Science Foundation with ongoing work and publications
Blockchain across key industries: The adoption of cryptocurrencies as a payment method seems to be
popular in Croatia. The incentive for this adoption is to facilitate a method for tourists to use their
cryptocurrencies during their stay in the country. The gathered data about the startup ecosystem in Croatia
indicate that the majority of services are adopting blockchain as a part of the software application. Blockchain
is general technology with use in different sections and developers make use of it to incorporate as a
component for their service.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Croatia’s ecosystem has significantly grown the past few years as
recorded by Startup Europe Networks. There are initiatives that
exceeded the borders and have been funded by different sources.
An example is Revuto that introduced a digital token, REVU, to
facilitate its financial service.
Startups can select from venture capital to incubators to assist their
growth depending on their strategy. Fil Rouge Capital is a venture
capital established in Zagreb with different options for entities to
choose from depending on their situation. There are incubation,
acceleration, and growth programmes for entities to participate in.
Additionally, there is ZICER, Zagreb Innovation Centre, a place with
a list of options as incubation and acceleration programmes are
available. Another option is the tech company incubator SPOCK,
which helps students, researchers, and scientists shape their ideas
into startups.
Most entities in our startup data set for Croatia were established in
2017. Lately, there have been new additions in the startup
ecosystem with the inclusion of newly formed entities. Blockchain
is used predominantly in software applications and IT services, but
other sectors like leisure and sports have adopted blockchain. The
size of the entities is small and medium, as it is normal for
technologies companies that develop software.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The community can participate in associations for blockchain that promote the technology and its
applications. One example is the Croatian Association for Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies, UBIK, with a
range of activities. The activities include workshop organisation, updates on the blockchain and even an NFT
collection.
Large-scale events have been hindered by the pandemic, but conferences and events gradually return.
There are two events scheduled for May 2022 that will be available for the community to interact with each
other. BlockSplit will be organised for the third time with workshops, a 2-day conference and a hackathon.
The event will occur in Split with numerous subjects in the respective workshops and talks. Another event is
BlockDown Croatia held in Sibenik, with the focal point being NFTs and Web3.

There are smaller-scale events held in Croatia that are interesting to the community from time to time. For
example, a virtual panel accommodated by the University of Dubrovnik discussed the contemporary issues in
money, digital euro, and more subjects in a panel. The panel consisted of blockchain practitioners in
business and universities professors as moderators. More details and a video recording are available in the
university’s blog post. There are events organised by universities accommodating blockchain and its
subjects. For example, the University of Rijeka and the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts held a
conference on the COVID-19 messages where Prof. Kristijan Lenac presented blockchain solutions for the
post-pandemic period.

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An indicative but non-exhaustive list of blockchain companies in Croatia
Ampnet: is a platform for fundraising and tokenisation established in 2018. The platform aims to speed up
the global fundraising procedures, as it provides KYC methods and reporting for automating procedures. The
tokenisation can be applied in a wide range of businesses.
Beyondi: is a development company that is active in different technologies established in 2014. Their
expertise in blockchain lies on Hyperledger and its frameworks that allow the creation of decentralised
systems.
Break Stuff App: this is a one-stop shop for sports cards collectors established in 2021. The shop merges AI
with blockchain to mitigate issues that collectors have to deal with. The shop is currently under development,
as there is an available waiting list for access to the prototype.
Spiritus: introduced itself in 2021 as a platform based on blockchain for creating digital memorials. The
platform is currently in its initial stages, as a fundraising is live. The platform goal is to ameliorate oblivion,
where past relatives are forgotten with the passage of time. Users of the platform can upload images and
stories of their beloved people.
TheGepek: is a platform introduced as a carpooling for packages delivery based on blockchain. The platform
established in 2021 and was featured in an article. The platform is intended to support package delivery in a
paradigm of sharing economy.
Unifty.io: is a multi-chain infrastructure platform that enables creators to decentralised no-code solutions. It
provides services around the NFT space. And through the platform, creators can buy, sell, swap and create
NFTs and NFT farms. It is founded in 2020 and is based in Zadar, Croatia.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Ivan Piton, Member of the organizing committee of UBIK- Union for Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies Croatia
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Croatia? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
The public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrencies have been increasing in the past
years; however, relative to the more developed countries with a more proactive approach when it comes to
blockchain technology, Croatia is behind the curve. The recent growth of the crypto market has facilitated
familiarity with blockchain technology in general, and there is a growing number of companies that utilize
blockchain in some way, shape or form. There is still plenty of room for growth and adoption of this
technology, but the regulations are not set up in such a way that they favour growth, and the regulators are
too reactive instead of proactive. This creates a significant barrier to entry for all beginners and slows down
growth.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Croatia?
The overall size and maturity of Croatia’s blockchain and cryptocurrency business ecosystem exceed the
expectations. The companies that engage in blockchain development, as well as the companies that conduct
their business on-chain, are mature, experienced and forward-thinking. These companies’ networks have a
worldwide market reach and meet the expectations of the growing worldwide market. Unfortunately, their
growth is stunted within Croatia due to inadequate regulation.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
A step toward making blockchain and cryptocurrencies more appealing for entrepreneurship can guide
Croatia in setting up a proper framework for regulating these companies and delivering a tax framework that
is not vague and does not hinder the growth of these businesses. A clear and coherent framework can pave
the path for a significant inflow of foreign investments, which we are currently missing out on simply due to
poorly set up infrastructure.
What does the future hold for the Croatia blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
Regardless of the difficulties, the future is very bright, and the companies that are currently engaging in
business based on blockchain are paving the way for all other companies that will come in the future. Current
obstacles will be surmounted because the market is simply demanding change, and it is becoming too large
to ignore. Many regulators are slowly becoming digital as well as blockchain-friendly, and it is only a matter
of time and proper education before a well-established framework for blockchain-based businesses is set up.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€150 million
POPULATION INTERESTED IN
BLOCKCHAIN AND
CRYPTOCURRENCIES

2.5 %
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

48

Cyprus
THE CYPRIOT BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The island state of Cyprus has emerged as one of Europe’s
blockchain hotspots, further confirming the trend of small
European nation states, such as Malta and Estonia, embracing
transformative technologies early.
In terms of public sector initiatives, the positive outlook towards
blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) is
reaffirmed by state-backed initiatives, such as the Innovation
Hub, a unified national strategy to regulate and exploit
blockchain for the public and private sector. The existence of
strong private initiatives in the space, as well as the country’s
attractive framework and set of policies on foreign direct
investment (FDI) for technology companies, have further
propelled blockchain growth in the country. As a result, Cyprus,
a signatory to the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP),
counts more than 20 startups and companies active in the
blockchain and digital currency space, while the country’s
largest private educational institution, the University of Nicosia
has spearheaded blockchain education and research on a global
level since 2014.
As was the case in neighbouring Greece, the debt crisis
following the events of 2008 was a major facilitator for the rising
interest in digital currencies as self-custodian stores of value.
Digital currencies and blockchain first surged in popularity as
discussions over the 2013 Cypriot bank deposit haircut
unfolded. In fact, the events in Cyprus are largely assumed to
have caused one of the biggest rises in Bitcoin price at the time.
Cyprus today is primarily concerned with the transformative
effects of blockchain technology in its public and private sector,
and continues to work towards a common national framework to
utilise blockchain at a national level.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: While no specific references to digital currencies and blockchain
technologies exist in the country’s legal or regulatory framework, the state’s increasing interest in blockchain
and relevant technologies is evident in the collection of warnings and advice to potential investors and firms,
issued by the Central Bank of Cyprus (CBC) and the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC)
from 2014 to date. The CBC and CySEC have warned the public of the risks that digital currencies pose,
including volatility, their potential use for money laundering and terrorist financing, and the possibility of
unrecoverable loss of funds, amongst others.
In pursuit of remaining in sync with international developments in the space, CySEC launched an Innovation
Hub in 2018. The Hub aims to serve as a two-way communication channel between regulators and
companies to foster innovation and an informed regulatory landscape on the topic of transformative
technologies. The Hub has since partnered with the University of London to research blockchain applications
in automating compliance and regulation. The Chair of the Innovation Hub, Demetra Kalogerou, noted:
“… Financial technology (FinTech) firms will have access to specialised regulatory expertise, industry and
academic roundtables – and will also have a voice to improve CySEC’s understanding of the risks and
benefits of new innovative investment products and platforms, using DLT (e.g. blockchain), enabling a more
informed regulatory landscape.” The CySEC regulatory sandbox project was included in Cyprus’ Resilience
and Recovery Plan with an aim to “enable FinTech, startups, and other innovative companies to expand their
offering in new products or services, by regulators establishing a ‘testing ground’ that would allow them to
conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under their supervision.” The initiative is expected to
launch by mid-2023.
In 2019, the Finance Minister of Cyprus, Harris Georgiades, announced a draft bill to regulate blockchain
technology, as part of the country’s national strategy to exploit blockchain technologies across its public and
private sector noting that: “[Blockchain technology] is a form of simplification and modernisation of cutting
down red tape, but in a swift and completely transparent and secure manner. [It will allow for] transactions to
be executed speedily, with transparency, security and immediacy, [and its use] will bring about savings both
in the public and the private sector.” The bill was recently published for public consultation.
Cyprus is also amongst the few Early Adopters of the EBSI, working on developing a fully operational
national EBSI Infrastructure under the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digital Policy. This
project has gained funding by CEF and is being implemented in collaboration with academia (University of
Nicosia) and enterprises (TALOS, Goldman Solutions). As part of the Project, a Diploma Blockchain Use
Case will be developed in collaboration with the Cyprus Scientific and Technical Chamber.
Legislation of blockchain: Besides the CySEC AML directives for crypto assets service providers, there
are currently no specific references to digital currencies or other digital assets in Cypriot legislation.
However, a bill is currently under development within the Cyprus Parliament (House of Representatives) and
is expected to be approved in 2022. Guidelines for the tax treatment of cryptocurrencies are also being
prepared by the Tax Department.
Blockchain in academia: Since 2014, the University of Nicosia (UNIC) has emerged as a major facilitator of
blockchain and digital currency education, not only in Cyprus, but also globally. By leveraging the country’s
favourable outlook towards transformative technologies, the university has achieved global impact through
online courses, a full academic degree (MSc in Blockchain and Digital Currency), and professional
certificates. UNIC’s Massive Online Open Course (“Introduction to Digital Currencies”) has been attended by
close to 40 000 students from 100+ countries since 2014. The university has also established the Institute
for the Future, a research centre focused on transformative technologies, and actively supports one global
blockchain conference, Decentralized. In 2022, UNIC announced an open introductory course to NFTs and
the Metaverse, delivered on-chain and in the metaverse while in 2021 the first MOOC on decentralised
finance (DeFi) in the world as well as the UNIC Open Metaverse Initiative were launched.

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Other executive and professional certificates are also offered, while some consulting firms have integrated
blockchain courses in their curriculums. Following the same path, Frederick University’s Mobile Device
Laboratory is working on an online learning platform for the use of Blockchain Technologies in SMEs. An
online, self-study course, named “Introduction to Blockchain & Cryptocurrency”, is also provided by the SCP
(School of Certified Professionals) Academy.
Blockchain across key industries: The Cypriot economy is primarily driven by services that support its
ever-growing tourism. Private education, especially at higher levels enjoys great growth, mainly benefiting
from the lack of private higher education institutions in neighbouring Greece. Cyprus is the world’s 11 th
maritime power and a major exporter of agricultural products and pharmaceuticals. In June 2020, VeChain
announced that the Mediterranean Hospital of Cyprus will be employing their blockchain-based solution to
store COVID-19 results. The country’s national strategy on blockchain technologies suggests 11 primary
areas in which blockchain applications will yield significant benefits: land registry, customs and taxation,
National Betting Authority, educational certification/digital certification, KYC, energy, e-invoicing, AML,
medical records, supply chain and company registry. The most promising domains for which Cyprus stands
to attain the greatest benefits were identified with a request for interest (RFI) conducted in early 2020. Based
on the outcome, a Blockchain Call for Proposals is expected to be announced by the Research & Innovation
Foundation.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Cyprus is home to several small and medium-sized blockchain and digital currency companies and startups.
The country counts 48 companies, 12 of which have raised approximately EUR 150 million. Cyprus-based
companies and startups are active in a wide range of verticals. Payment and banking services are by far the
most popular category, with compliance and legal, digital currency exchanges, and entertainment/gaming
following. Due to the country’s favourable tax treatment, many startups from Greece, central Europe and
even the United States of America (US) choose to establish their business and operations on the island.

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0

2015

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2017

2018

2019

2020

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2021

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
One of the most prominent and far-reaching community initiatives from Cyprus is the Decentralised Chapters
community. Decentralised Chapters are independent communities of practice and enthusiast groups
organised under the sponsorship of the Decentralized conference. To date, there are more than 35 such
chapters, 7 of which are based in EU Member States, while the rest hail from the United Kingdom (UK), the
US, Latin America, United Arab Emirates and even Venezuela. The Chapters are responsible for
independently organised events and workshops, spanning a wide range of interest areas that relate to
blockchain and cryptocurrencies.
Besides the Decentralised Chapters, 102 500 individuals interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies could
be identified. This amounts to 11.5 % of the total population.

(Source for audience: Facebook audience, ages: 16-65+, location: Austria, keywords: Block chain (database),
cryptocurrency, bitcoin, Ethereum)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Kyriacos Kokkinos, Deputy Minister to the President for Research, Innovation and Digital Policy, Republic of
Cyprus
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Cyprus? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Firstly, I would like to stress that the Cyprus Strategy refers to crypto assets in general and not
cryptocurrencies as such. We are still at an experimental space, with an ongoing growth in terms of
awareness and adoption. Cyprus is home to a number of small and medium-sized blockchain and digital
currency companies and startups. Cyprus-based companies and startups are active in a wide range of
verticals. Payment and banking services are by far the most popular category, with compliance and legal,
digital currency exchanges, and entertainment/gaming following.
A number of companies have already utilised the blockchain technology whilst some startups and even
public sector organisations, experiment with the technology as Proof of Concepts. We believe that with the
adoption of the Cyprus DLT Bill, as well as the adoption of the European Regulations, namely Markets in
CryptoAssets and Pilot Regime for market infrastructures based on DLT, many more companies will shift
their focus towards DLT and crypto assets markets.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Cyprus?
Cyprus has embraced transformative technologies and the level of involvement and maturity of the
ecosystem in Cyprus is at an evolving, but still fragmented stage. Maturity in the space of blockchains and
crypto assets is characterised by various factors ranging from regulation, technology adoption, and
community/user awareness. We believe that Cyprus has the potential to obtain a leading position in EU in
terms of digital transformation and become a “technology friendly” island. As government, we aim to facilitate
the various ad hoc efforts from regional teams, technology startups, and academic institutions, under the
same umbrella.
To this end, the Council of Ministers approved Cyprus’ National Strategy on Blockchain and Distributed
Ledger Technologies in June 2019. We believe that with the implementation of the National Strategy, Cyprus
will transform the economy and adopt to new business models and therefore increase the level of
engagement with disruptive and emerging technologies. In addition, the upcoming DLT Bill, will contribute
towards improving the maturity levels of this technology for Cyprus and thus creating an “enabling
environment” for companies to flourish.
The National Strategy focuses on three priorities:


Priority 1 – Preparing an enabling legislative framework,
Priority 2 – Enhancing the application of the technology by the government and the private sector, and
Priority 3 – Promoting DLT in the financial sector

What measures has Cyprus taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and
legislation to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
The National Strategy on Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies sets out Cyprus’ vision for DLT,
and is part of the wider vision of Cyprus for digital transformation. The Strategy provides a framework and a
high-level road map for examining the applications of DLT, across different sectors, in the context of process
optimisation and cost efficiency, and addresses the risks arising from the emergence of new products utilizing
DLT.

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On the basis of the National Strategy, the preparation of a new legislation framework on DLT and Blockchain
has been prepared and has already been published for public consultation. Additionally, the Tax Department
is also preparing a Circular on Cryptoassets tax treatment.
CySEC has also published AML directives for crypto assets service providers, while CySEC’s envisaged
regulatory sandbox has been included as a project in the Cyprus Resilience and Recovery Plan. The
sandbox is expected to be launched by mid-2023 and aims in enabling FinTech, startups and other
innovative companies to expand their offering in new products or services, by regulators establishing a
“testing ground” that would allow them to conduct live experiments in a controlled environment under their
supervision. It shall consist of facilitating the development of a suitable and attractive regulatory regime on
FinTech and innovative technologies and strike a balance between the seamless deployment of innovative
products or services and ensuring investors’ protection.
The Republic of Cyprus also participates in the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP) and the EBSI
(European Blockchain Services Infrastructure) with the aim of materialising an EU-wide cross-border
distributed ledger infrastructure. Cyprus is amongst the few Early Adopters of the EBSI, working on
developing a fully operational national EBSI Infrastructure under the Deputy Ministry of Research, Innovation
and Digital Policy. The project is implemented in collaboration with academia (UNIC), enterprises (TALOS,
Goldman Solutions) and the Scientific Technical Chamber of Cyprus (ETEK).
What does the future hold for the Cypriot blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
With the upcoming legislative proposal, Cyprus is prepared to take the next concrete steps ahead towards
the digital era.
We believe that with the release of the DLT Bill, which aims to provide legal certainty for smart contracts and
crypto assets as property, the ecosystem in Cyprus will progress to the next evolution stage. Furthermore,
with the implementation of the various use cases that the government is exploring under the National
DLT/Blockchain Strategy, the space will get more mature with more stakeholders involved.
Cyprus as a small economy wants to innovate and be the role model and test bed for others worldwide, as
our strategy is not only intended for the local market. Cyprus has still a long way to go but through the
implementation of a holistic DLT national strategy, we are trying to promote, create the right framework,
attract foreign direct investment and establish our country as a key player in the international arena.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

40+
FUNDRAISING REVENUE

€1.45 million
INITIAL COIN OFFERINGS

42
VENUES THAT ACCEPT
CRYPTOCURRENCY PAYMENTS IN
PRAGUE ALONE

300+
INDIVIDUALS ORGANISED IN
BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITIES

4 200+

Czech Republic
THE CZECH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The Czech Republic can be the ideal market to enter the
blockchain and cryptocurrency industry, considering that this
country is one of the pioneers in this type of activity. It is a
signatory of the EBP, and in 2019 the Czech Republic held a
1-year presidency of the EBP.
Dozens of blockchain companies operate in the Czech
Republic. It is an incubator for blockchain innovations and
FinTech startups.
In 2018, Prague gained publicity following high ratings in cryptofriendliness from reports by FortuneJack and Cointelegraph.
The capital and largest city in the Czech Republic has around
300 venues, including bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and
attractions that now accept Bitcoin as a method of payment. In
addition, special ATMs in the city dispense real cash from virtual
money accounts (2).
The Czech Republic took steps to regulate cryptocurrencies, as
did many EU countries. In January 2017, a law adopted in the
country limited the anonymity of transactions (3). Currently,
cryptocurrency exchanges and other exchange services are
required to verify their customers. This is done as a means to
fight money laundering and financing of prohibited activities.
The Czech Republic is also an important hub for conferences
and meetups involving leading blockchain specialists from the
country and technology enthusiasts abroad. For example, the
Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference was held in Prague for a
couple of years.
Approximately 4 200 people make up the core of the blockchain
community in the country, according to official Meetup.com
groups. Communities of practice constitute the primary facilitator
of education and discussion in the field.

(2) Source: https://coinatmradar.com/city/129/bitcoin-atm-prague/
(3) Source: https://prague.bc.events/en/news/kriptovalyuta-v-chehii-zakoni-i-nalogooblogenie-95367

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: The Government of the Czech Republic does not prevent the introduction of
cryptocurrencies in business circulation as a means of payment. Despite the fact that in many countries
cryptocurrencies are considered a threat to the traditional financial systems and restrictive laws are enacted,
the government implements only EU AML policy that is favourable to business interests and does not create
obstacles to the cryptocurrency community. On 1 January 2017, a new law defined the concept of “virtual
currency” and imposed obligations on Czech banks, Virtual Asset Service Providers and other financial
service providers. This was done to establish the identity of their customers when exchanging virtual
currencies in the Czech Republic for amounts exceeding EUR 1 000. Nevertheless, the legal status of
Bitcoin, as well as other virtual currencies in the Czech Republic today, is not defined at all by the legislation.
The income tax on the sale of goods and services for virtual money is governed by the same rules as when
paying with conventional money in the Czech Republic.
Raising funds through ICOs, as well as the issue and sale of digital tokens, are also not regulated by Czech
national legislation. However, both EU and Czech legislation on combating money laundering and the
financing of terrorism is applied to such operations.
The Czech Republic has been extensively involved in preparing for the implementation of Model law on
electronic transferable records with the United Nations’ Committee (4). This positions the nation well in terms
of expediating the usage of blockchain technologies at government level, as the law entails blockchain usage
and offers a strong basis for expanding the initiative to other areas of governance.
Blockchain across key industries: Due to the government’s favourable attitude towards the community, the
Czech Republic attracts enthusiasts to the field of cryptography and IT. The country’s capital is the location
for the crypto anarchy centre ‘Paralelni Polis’ – founded by the Ztohoven artist group. The hub is focused on
crypto technology development. It has a co-working space for IT experts and a 3D printing studio. Paralelni
Polis is a hub for multiple hackathons and international crypto events. In addition to cryptocurrency
exchanges, dozens of blockchain companies operate in the Czech Republic. It is an incubator for blockchain
innovations, such as Adelphoi.io, FinTech startups SDK.finance, Cashila and finGOOD, as well as the
Βitcoin Banking Sservice wBTCb. In addition, Expobank CZ claims to be the first bank in Europe to offer
account holders the opportunity to perform crypto-related transactions alongside traditional banking activities.
Blockchain in academia: Blockchain’s academic landscape in the Czech Republic is sparse. The University
of Economics in Prague offers a course called “Blockchain and business innovations for digital economy”.
However, there are lots of non-academic courses. For example, the European Summer School offers the oncampus course “Blockchain Fundamentals” that examines important concepts and the history of blockchain,
potential applications and their impact on the business world. Interested parties can also receive
qualifications in blockchain through online professional courses and certifications.

(4) The Model law on electronic transferable records (MLETR) sets out the basic rules for recognition of electronic securities, such as the
bill of lading.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The Czech Republic is an important player in the cryptocurrency sectors, considering that it is one of the
pioneers in this type of activity. Prague has a very well-developed infrastructure for cryptocurrency users.
Businesspersons interested in starting the company registration procedure for a cryptocurrency business
should know that the Finance Ministry requires such companies to determine the identity of its users, an
aspect that had not been requested prior to the law prepared to bind EU AML policy.
Furthermore, in 2019, the Czech authorities announced that cryptocurrency companies will need to comply
with a set of additional regulations. For example, cryptocurrency companies are required to register with the
Trade Licensing Authority.
According to tracxn.com, the Czech Republic has 1 424 startups, while 38 of them are related to blockchain.
Startups operate in several different industries, such as cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets, mining pools,
blockchain funding and communication platforms.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Czech Republic has a noteworthy blockchain community. Official and unofficial enthusiast groups
amount to more than 4 200 active members concerned with a variety of blockchain and cryptocurrency
aspects.
A major European and international hub for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Prague counts 232 venues
(bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other attractions) where cryptocurrencies are accepted as a method
of payment. Furthermore, over 1 000 e-stores5 in the Czech Republic accept Bitcoins, including the largest
online retailer Alza.cz.
Prague’s cryptoculture has been booming in recent years. In
2014, the first Bitcoin ATM appeared in the streets of the Czech
capital, while local users also launched their own home-grown
cryptocurrency, the Czech Crown Coin (CZC) (doesn’t exist
anymore), meant to offer a local alternative to Bitcoin and other
digital currencies. More famously, Prague is home to the Bitcoin
Coffee, allegedly the first of its kind in the world where
cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin, Litecoin, Monero) are the only
accepted (6) form of payment. The Bitcoin Coffee is part of the
Paralelni Polis building, an experimental alternative centre
launched by the art group Ztohoven in the Holešovice district,
which also hosts a co-working space and the Institute of Cryptology. In short, Prague is the epicentre for
enthusiastic members of the global cryptocurrency community.
According to ekonom.cz, at the beginning of 2017, there were some tens of thousands of Bitcoin owners in
the Czech Republic. Today, this number is surely many times bigger. Facebook Audience shows that 2 %
(about 170 000 people) of Czech Facebook users (5.9 million) are interested in blockchain and
cryptocurrency. This figure is considered substantial. The Czech blockchain community is slightly below the
median, with 1 500 LinkedIn professionals registered as working with or in the industry

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
A major European and international hub for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Prague counts 232 venues
(bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other attractions) where cryptocurrencies are accepted as a method
of payment. Furthermore, over 1 000 e-stores[1] in the Czech Republic accept Bitcoins, including the largest
online retailer Alza.cz.
Slushpool: Bitcoin mining pool operating since December 2010. A unique reward system provides stable and
transparent rewards for loyal miners. The entire infrastructure runs on highly secure servers and users’ wallet
address can be secured with two-factor authentication.
TREZOR: Hardware device designed as a Bitcoin wallet. Because all transactions are signed in by the device
itself, the keys never leave the device and thus cannot be stolen by a virus, malicious code or an attacker.

(5) Source: https://kafkadesk.org/2018/10/06/czech-republic-prague-crowned-most-crypto-friendly-city-in-the-world/
(6) Source: https://www.bitcoincoffee.cz

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SatoshiLabs: Provides a cryptocurrency hardware wallet called Trezor to receive, store and send
cryptocurrencies. It also provides two more projects called Password Manager and Blockbook for the
hardware wallet.
BrikkApp: Decentralised crowdfunding real estate marketplace built on top of the Hyperledger fabric
blockchain.
Kira Core: Software development company building a full stack DeFi ecosystem and truly distributed
applications.
Saifu: App-based cryptocurrency wallet. Supports multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin,
Ethereum and euro. Services offered include cryptocurrency exchange, SWIFT wire transfers, money
transfer, load currencies onto VISA and MasterCard accounts, and cryptocurrency payments.
Simple Coin: Digital asset exchange platform. Offers to buy and sell cryptocurrency with euro and Czech
koruna. It also provides a crypto-to-crypto exchange service. It supports bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, bitcoin cash
and Ripple.
True Gym: Decentralised platform for the fitness industry. Users are rewarded with True Gym Coin for
sharing workout data with the network.

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Blockchain is one of the most prominent yet confusing technologies. Most people know about it through the
recent popularity of the cryptocurrency market. However, since its emergence, the technology is used in
different spheres. An example is the adoption of blockchain technology for the government’s database
registration across several sectors, such as security, law, health and the judiciary. In turn, it should
potentially reduce the level of corruption and bureaucracy. Indeed, the Czech Republic is one of the most
advanced countries in Europe in the cryptocurrency field.
Therefore, blockchain solutions are emerging in the financial sector in the form of simple platforms that
replace complex business transactions and automate administrative activities with self-enforcing contracts.
This reduces the error rate and the risk of fraud, as all retailers, including banks and insurance companies,
have access to the same, secure, real-time database.
Reducing administrative burdens and increasing the credibility of electronic documents is one of the basic
features of blockchain. It can also be applied to other areas, including the public sector.
Miroslav Lukeš, Senior Vice President at Mastercard
“With a blockchain we have avoided a number of manual steps that are relatively slow for human workers to
make, and they can make mistakes.”
Read more: “https://archiv.hn.cz/c1-66331660-blockchain-setri-firmam-papirovani-rakouska-skupina-erstepomoci-neho-napriklad-zprostredkovala-vydani-dluhopisu”
Alex Ivančo, Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic
“Blockchains can radically change, how payments are tracked, securities and derivatives trades are
processed, global agricultural supply chain become more transparent and health records are stored.”

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Read more:
“https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335083459_The_Czech_Republic’s_push_for_innovative_agenda
_in_the_UNIDROIT_and_the_UNCITRAL”
Maria Staszkiewicz, Guarantor for the area of blockchain and finance Chairperson of the Czech FinTech
Association
“An important driver is also the EU regulator, though it is a double-edged sword. It is responsible for financial
services is pushing for a more competitive, modern regulatory framework, be it opening of banking
infrastructure to third party providers or recently by proposing a regime for crypto-assets.”
Read more: “https://thepaypers.com/interviews/interview-with-maria-staszkiewicz-edfa-president-on-theeuropean-fintech-ecosystem-in-2021–1249801”

USEFUL RESOURCES
Coinmap.org – Website containing information on physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)
Tracxn.com – Information about innovative companies in different industries and countries
Cointobuy.io – Cryptocurrency analysis tool
Kafkadesk – Local news from central Europe
Meetup – Events in any field
Sb-sb.cz – Fintech lawyers
Ekonom.cz – Independent weekly
Digital Czech Republic – Institute for politics and society

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
Miroslav Lukeš – Senior Vice President at Mastercard
Alex Ivančo – Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic
Maria Staszkiewicz – Guarantor for the area of blockchain and finance, Chairperson of the Czech FinTech
Association

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€32.3 million
THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Maritime, Trade,
Transportation
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

24

Denmark
THE DANISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Denmark has been progressive by establishing strong
foundations towards the mainstream adoption of blockchain
technology. Such initiatives are not only limited to attracting new
startups, but also focus on the use of the technology in
governmental operations, too. As described by the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs of Denmark, “a buzzing ecosystem of startups is
bringing blockchain to practical application in e.g. finance, where
FinTech is delivering savings and improved transactional
experience. Danish universities complement the early-stage
application, by bringing world-class research in the domain of
the blockchain technology.”
The country is constantly achieving high ratings in the Digital
Economy and Society Index (DESI Index) and is amongst the
global leaders in digitalisation. The DESI index is a composite
metric that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital
performance and tracks the evolution of EU Member States in
digital competitiveness.

Denmark is one of the few countries for which there is comprehensive research done on the economic
impact of blockchain on the Danish industry and labour market. The report is a joint achievement of the
European Blockchain Centre at the IT University of Copenhagen, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial
Engineering, Confederation of Danish Industry, Statistics Denmark and the Danish Industry Foundation. It
focuses on the application of blockchain technologies in different industry sectors in Denmark.
The survey conducted by Statistics Denmark had a 44 % response rate from a total of over 3 000
interviewed corporations and organisations. The outputs of the survey showcase a dynamic potential for the
adoption of blockchain activities within the Danish industry and market. The most prominent blockchain
related sectors include FinTech, the professional services industry, IT, and the maritime shipping and
transportation industries. According to the report, and despite the fact that there are only very few blockchain
initiatives in the Danish banking and insurance industry, the FinTech and blockchain startup scene in
Denmark is nevertheless quite active. Furthermore, the report noted that around 15 % of large companies
and 12 % of medium-sized companies use blockchain technology. The greater Copenhagen region appears
to be hosting quite a large number of startups and established companies involved in blockchain activities.
The Danish blockchain ecosystem is currently grouped into four general business groups: FinTech, the
professional service industry and IT, and the maritime shipping and transportation industry.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: In October 2018 during the International Anti-Corruption Conference
(IACC), the Danish government, through the Ministry of Development Cooperation, published a report that
highlighted the importance of blockchain technology in combating government corruption.
The government trusts that the digitalisation of public services and procurement through blockchain
technology can facilitate transparency in the administration of financial transactions and land ownership,
while averting corrupt practices in governmental institutions.
According to Ulla Tørnæs, the Minister for Development Cooperation:
“With digital technologies, we now have new tools to fight corruption. With this report, we wish to start a
discussion about potentials and dilemmas. On the one hand, there are enormous possibilities and on the
other hand, we should not forget the risk that comes along with them.”
The Danish state-owned energy company Energinet has examined how to use Iota Tangle to develop IoTbased products and services. The two entities have worked together on a data marketplace initiative since
late 2017.
In line with the digitisation efforts of the maritime industry, the DMA created a project in 2017 that uses
blockchain to register ships by owners. Until now the owners must fill in and handle all related forms
manually.
Legislation of blockchain: Denmark has no laws specifically addressing cryptocurrencies, and no
regulatory proposals on cryptocurrencies are pending in the Danish Parliament. However, government
agencies have issued a few statements on cryptocurrencies.
Overall, Denmark is considered friendly to cryptocurrencies and blockchain, with the Danish Central Bank
reportedly contemplating a blockchain backed E-Krone. As reported by CoinTelegraph, one of the key
concerns arises when failing to anonymise a currency, introducing concerns if the central bank should
monitor and track the transactions of its people.
Digital currency legislation that applies to blockchain: According to the industry’s media references, the
Denmark Tax Authority has been authorised by the country’s Tax Council to obtain information from three
domestic crypto exchanges. On another note, Denmark-based cryptocurrency users have received letters
from the Danish Tax Agency requesting traders to submit a full list of their cryptocurrency transactions for the
fiscal years 2016-2018 with respect to the First in First Out principles.
Blockchain in academia: Universities in Denmark have identified a need for education at all levels,
especially at the executive level, as evident by their academic offerings.
University of Copenhagen: The University of Copenhagen offers an Introduction to Blockchain Technology
with a subsequent focus on the hands-on implementation of a blockchain prototype. Students engage in a
“blockchain summer of code”, 4 weeks of software development where they have a solid introduction to
state-of-the-art blockchain technology, followed by the implementation of a prototype in a team to solve a
real-world problem using blockchain technology. Examples of potential projects are contract management
languages, identity (Know-Your-Customer, data mining), reporting, and applications such as backup, bill of
lading and resource tracking. Each team can choose a blockchain platform (e.g. Ethereum network, R3
Corda) that is suitable for the particular use case.
Blockchain Summer School: Organised by the European Blockchain Centre, the summer school is a
collaboration between the IT University of Copenhagen, the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen
Business School. The summer school premiered in 2016 as the first of its kind in the entire world. Since then,

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blockchain technology has become significantly more mature, providing new challenges for the participants
to work on, says Roman Beck, professor at ITU and head of the European Blockchain Centre.
ITU research – tools to investigate crypto crime: A new research project at the ITU aims to develop new
methods that will allow authorities to investigate suspicious transactions, while at the same time
guaranteeing anonymity for law-abiding users. Bernardo Machado David, Associate Professor in the
Department of Computer Science at the IT University of Copenhagen, has received DKK 2.9 million from
Independent Research Fund Denmark for a research project that may pave the way for a wider
implementation of cryptocurrencies.
The project enables authorities to investigate suspicious crypto transactions while solving another
fundamental problem: securing the anonymity of law-abiding users.
Aarhus University – Concordium Blockchain Research Centre: The Swiss non-profit behind the Concordium
Blockchain Network announced the establishment of the Concordium Blockchain Research Centre, in
partnership with Aarhus University’s Department of Computer Science. The Centre’s mission is to provide
the foundational research to support the development of energy-efficient, scalable blockchains that are
provably secure. The Concordium Blockchain Research Centre’s goal is to build on decades’ worth of
research to create new blockchain technologies. The Centre will focus on areas such as consensus protocol
efficiency, sharing and state-flattening, as well as new cryptographic techniques supporting privacypreserving identification, KYC and AML, better zero-knowledge techniques and formal verification of smart
contracts.
Blockchain Academy Network: A new research project at the Department of Engineering has received a total
of EUR 0.9 million in funding from the Danish Industry Foundation to help Danish companies. Called the
Blockchain Academy Network, the project aims to bring together Denmark’s brightest minds in blockchain
technology to teach and advance the Danish business community, organisations and the political system so
that they can better understand the technology’s opportunities and challenges.
Blockchain across key industries: An empirical analysis based on a comprehensive survey amongst
Danish companies was performed in January and February 2019. The goal was to gain insight into the
current assimilation state of blockchain technologies in Denmark, as well as of drivers and hurdles to future
developments.
The selection of the specific sample and the implementation of the survey was carried out by Denmarks
Statistik, the Danish national statistics office. From the national industry register, 28 sectors were selected for
the survey and clustered into six groups, namely trade, information and communication, transportation,
knowledge-based services, manufacturing, and financial and insurance. These six sector groups comprise
the most important private industries in Denmark. The data sample with a response rate of over 44 % of the
3,000+ companies surveyed allows for a very robust empirical analysis of the innovation dynamics and
blockchain activities within the Danish industry.
Some of the key insights as outlined here are the following:
The financial services industry had the most knowledge about blockchain, with around 77 % reporting to
have experience with it. However, a similarly high percentage was found for the information and
communication technology sector in Denmark. At the same time, the logistics and shipping industry has
taken a great interest in implementing use cases to showcase how the shipping industry could benefit from
blockchain by registering and issuing certificates on blockchain.
There are two major blockchain initiatives in the supply chain industry: Tradelens with the bill of lading on
blockchain and improving the turnaround and management of containers to reduce costs by Blockshipping.
Considering Denmark’s advanced maritime industry and long history, it is fair to assume that more initiatives
in this domain will increase.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
An overview of the Danish blockchain cluster illustrated that most identified blockchain-related entities can be
classified into three main sectors: FinTech; professional service industry and IT; and the maritime shipping
and transportation industry.
According to the Crunchbase database, 22 blockchains startups operate in Denmark. This list is not
exhaustive, since major endeavours and blockchain startups such as Chainalysis, Blockshipping and
MakerDAO were established in Denmark, but are registered in countries outside the Danish territory.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Danish blockchain ecosystem is prominent,
featuring high-growth opportunities due to the
active engagement opportunities of the scene and
the large number of organisations advocating to
support the blockchain technology.
The community consists of 84 000 observers,
according to Facebook’s audience metrics system.
Out of those, 2 604 are actively engaged in
communities of practice, engaging in 14 frequent
meetup groups. According to LinkedIn data, 1 500
professionals are directly or indirectly associated
with blockchain technology.
(Source for Observers: Facebook Audience. Ages:
16-65+, Locations: Denmark, Keywords:
Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, Digital Currency,
Bitcoin | Source for Enthusiasts)

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Sepior: Enables trust in online financial transactions and enterprise data protection applications, such as
cryptocurrency custodial wallets, public or private blockchains and cloud-based SaaS offerings, using
threshold-based multiparty computation (MPC).
NewBanking: Company founded in 2015 to provide a user identity platform that allows end users to verify
their identity easily and securely across businesses, while having control and ownership of their data and
identity online. Platform also solves the regulatory challenges that financial institutions face, especially in
regards to the 4th European Anti-Money Laundering (AML) directive and the General Data Protection
Regulation (GDPR), amongst other relevant regulatory legislation.
Clearhaus Holdings: As the parent company of the Clearhaus Group, Clearhaus A/S performs its operational
activities. Payment institution regulated by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority, as well as a Visa and
Mastercard Principal Member that offers payment solutions to e-commerce across Europe. The company
has managed to reduce friction in online payments by offering a fast sign-up online, using modern
technology in the form of developed APIs and assisting merchants through a dedicated support team.
Aryze: Issues fully redeemable stable coins backed by and pegged to traditional assets. By creating the
bridge between conventional fiat money and digital cryptocurrencies, it aims to be the primary payment
infrastructure enabling individuals, businesses and IoT devices to make instant payments globally in a

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modular ecosystem with no transaction fees. MAMA is the name of its multi-asset wallet application that will
allow users to send, receive and store currencies with near-zero transaction fees.
Nets: Provider of payments, credit and debit cards, and information services. Helps financial institutions,
businesses and merchants make tomorrow a little easier for customers while providing unrivalled security
and stability. Turns a complex reality into easy, intuitive and customer-oriented solutions, and guarantees it
remains a reliable hub of the payments industry by building on unmatched connectivity. Founded in 2003
and based in Ballerup.
InPAY: Delivers real-time cross-border transactions in 60+ countries. This enables customers across the
banking, travel, B2B and financial services sector to improve efficiency, reduce costs and create new
revenue streams.
Digishares: Provides a software solution that is used through the issuance process. It is a white-label
software solution for the issuance and management of securities (e.g. shares, bonds, etc.) on blockchain,
and is one of the first functional and compliant STO platforms in Europe.
AMAZIX: Operates as a turnkey crypto-consultancy firm with a large and rapidly growing client base.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€285 million
THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Finance,
Commerce, IT
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

200+

Estonia
THE ESTONIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Between in 2017 and 2018 Estonia facilitated the advancement
of the European blockchain ecosystem by being the first country
to embrace clear legislation for blockchain and digital assets.
Moreover, the country’s existing digital infrastructure, receptive
culture to new technologies, e-Residency programme allowing
for business registering remotely, and low corporate tax served
as a bedrock for the establishment and developed of a
blockchain ecosystem in the country. Specifically, almost 2 000
digital assets licenses were granted to Virtual Asset Service
Providers by 2019.
The country has since backtracked on its receptive attitude
towards blockchain and cryptocurrency initiatives from the
private sector. New legislation expanding the definition of Virtual
Asset Service Providers, coupled with AML requirements,
revocation of over 1 000 licenses from crypto companies, and
regulators calling for the revocation of all licenses have
discouraged private blockchain and cryptocurrency activity in
the country.

Yet, Estonia remains a proponent of public sector initiatives. The country utilises a highly scalable, privacyfocused keyless signature infrastructure (KSI) Blockchain, developed in the country, which is also used by
NATO and the US Department of Defence. Today, healthcare, property, business, and succession registries,
along with the state gazette and the country’s digital court system, are largely powered by this KSI
Blockchain. e-Estonia’s backbone is a state-backed solution known as ‘X-Road’, also implemented by
Finland, Azerbaijan, Namibia and the Faroe Islands. X-Road facilitates data transfers between public and
private databases and, while officially not a blockchain, shares many of the same principles, including a
decentralised architecture, immutability, high security, standardisation and availability. Additionally, besides
examining the launch of its own CBDC in the past, the Bank of Estonia finds “Unlimited” potential in the
Digital Euro.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Verified digital identities in the form of digital signatures, X-Road and the eResidency programme, largely paved the way for “blockchain” use in the country. Estonians and e-Residents
can use their electronic identifications (e-IDs) as an all-in-one solution to interact in a cryptographically
verifiable way with authorities online, with only marriage, divorce and real-estate transactions requiring
physical presence. X-Road, a technology that draws from blockchain, enables secure internet-based data
exchange between information systems, whether private or public.
The blockchain-enabled e-Residency programme, has proven a significant facilitator of blockchain business
activity in the country. It allows anyone to start and manage an EU-based company completely online.
Estonia’s e-Residency site is also home to a marketplace of services in the areas of virtual offices, finance,
tax, legal and payment/banking. The combination of the country’s digital ambitions, the ease with which one
can start a business remotely, coupled with clear digital currency legislation, constitute a compelling case for
aspiring entrepreneurs, digital nomads, and businesspeople active in the blockchain space.

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Digital currency legislation that applies to blockchain: Estonia was the first European country to provide
clear regulation and guidelines for digital currencies. Estonian law recognises digital currencies as “value
represented in digital form that is digitally transferable, preservable, or tradable, and that natural persons or
legal persons accept as a payment instrument”. However, digital currencies are not considered legal tender
and do not otherwise possess the legal status of money. The country was the first European state to adopt
the 5th Anti-Money Laundering European Directive to subject digital currency exchanges and custodian
wallet providers to anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing regulation. Additionally, the
Estonian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act defines cryptocurrencies and introduces
safeguards to prevent illicit activity.
In terms of digital currency taxation, as is the case in most countries, their use is VAT exempt. Tax liability
arises only when cryptocurrency is converted to fiat, exchanged for another cryptocurrency, or used to pay
for goods and services. Digital currencies are treated as property when it comes to personal income tax
purposes and thus, their exchange is subject to a capital gains tax of 20 %.
Blockchain in academia: Despite the prominent blockchain ecosystem in the country, only a few relevant
academic courses or professional qualifications could be identified. More specifically, the University of Tartu
(UT) recently conducted a Research Seminar in Cryptography and Cybersecurity. Also, it has launched the
“BLISS – Blockchain Skills for ICT Professionals” project and the “BlockNet – Blockchain Network Online
Education for Interdisciplinary European Competence Transfer” project, both focused on the subject of
Blockchain Technology Applications. Moreover, the Tallinn University of Technology (TALTECH) offers a
MSc in Cybersecurity, which includes the subject of cryptography.
Blockchain across key industries: The Estonian Investment Agency (EIA) invites investors and
entrepreneurs to utilise the country’s established digital infrastructure in order to invest or start a business in
the country focusing on any of those areas. The Agency’s website explicitly lists blockchain as a facilitator
under the categories FinTech, Cyber-Security, Industrial Digitalisation/Industry 4.0, Blockchain and
Blockchain-as-a-Service, and e-Health.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
As noted, the country’s e-Residency programme, coupled with a marketplace of service providers to facilitate
establishing a company online, is largely responsible for attracting thousands of blockchain entrepreneurs
from all over the world. Until 2019 approximately 1,500 digital assets licenses were issued by the Estonian
Financial Intelligence Unit (EFIU), with hundreds of other companies active in the blockchain industry without
requiring one. Due to the until recently trivial nature of setting up a company and obtaining a digital assets
license, it is impossible to pin down the exact number of active businesses and startups in the space, as
many of them were registered, issued a license, and never operated in the first place. The task of quantifying
active blockchain businesses is complicated further by recent license revocations.

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The sharp increase of blockchain companies established between 2017 and 2018 followed an equally sharp
decline, a result of the aforementioned adjustment in policy. Estonia-based blockchain businesses have
collectively raised a total of EUR 285 million through a combination of traditional financing and ICOs. Most
companies (37 %) have received north of EUR 16 million in total funding. They are closely followed by
companies that have received EUR 1-15 million (33 %) and under EUR 1 million (30 %).

Activities are concentrated in the financial services sector, that accounts for 60 % of blockchain businesses.
A total of 17 % of businesses are active in commerce and shopping (7 %), IT (5 %), and apps (5 %). Other
sectors include AI, advertising and gaming.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Estonia’s remote and digital-first approach was catalytic in shaping the local blockchain community, or lack
thereof. While the general public is interested in transformative technologies, and the number of registered
companies is high, no prominent official or unofficial enthusiast groups and communities of practice could be
identified, as Estonia constitutes primarily a “virtual” home for most of the businesses. Some community
initiatives exist in the form of local discussion groups, but they do not qualify as a quantifiable sample.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

18
FUNDRAISING REVENUE

€4.6 million
NOTABLE INSIGHTS

STRONG LOCAL AND
INTERNATIONAL
BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
HIGH POTENTIAL FOR
BLOCKCHAIN INTEGRATION
IN VARIOUS SECTORS

Finland
THE FINNISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Finland is largely considered to be a model country for
technology and development. Its advanced information networks
are recognised globally. On top of the technological
developments, the country is acclaimed internationally for its
high level of scientific and technological education. As a result,
the population has generally had a positive attitude towards
innovations. Blockchain is no exception.
The blockchain ecosystem in Finland consists of public sector
projects, research organisations and companies exploring the
new technology’s potential. Some of the projects and
developments are well-known and internationally competitive
(i.e. LocalBitcoins).

Currently, cryptocurrencies or crypto assets are not specifically
addressed in Finnish legislation, but the Finnish government
and policymakers are starting to respond to this emerging
technology. The Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority (FinFSA) approved the Act on Virtual Currency Providers in 2019. In
accordance with the Act, Fin-FSA will serve as the registration
and supervisory authority for virtual currency providers. Cryptocurrencies are generally taxed as capital
assets. In accordance with EU law, trade in cryptocurrencies is not subject to value-added tax.
Finland is a highly digitised country. Key areas where digitalisation has been adopted are in healthcare,
social services, integration services, elections and citizen participation services. Blockchain as an alternative
e-governance solution has also been tested. For instance, blockchain as a digital identity solution for
undocumented refugees was experimented back in 2015.
In general, the blockchain ecosystem in Finland is relatively small yet robust, with several influential startups
and law firms offering blockchain legal services. Finland has the potential to become the blockchain capital of
Scandinavia.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: In contrast to many other European countries, the public sector in Finland
has been trying to experiment with the emerging technology. Despite the fact that projects never went
beyond the experimental stage in order to show the blockchain potential, there is proven interest and
awareness on behalf of the public sector towards the new technologies. The Finnish Immigration Service
proposed a pilot project offering refugees a prepaid card linked with their digital identity on blockchain to
ultimately speed up their process of becoming established in Finland. The Finnish government has
announced yet another collaborative effort with decentralised interoperability protocol Essentia to build
blockchain-based solutions for smart logistics.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: As a relatively defined regulatory framework is
already in place, there are several legal firms that analyse blockchain technologies. Nordic Law, one of
Finland’s most prominent law firms, already offers advisory services and assistance in the mapping of legal
risks regarding blockchain-based business practices.
Blockchain in academia: There are no universities in Finland offering a degree in blockchain-related fields.
However, Finnish universities play a significant role in exploring the technology by researching various
relevant use cases (Aalto University – SOFIE project).
Blockchain across key industries: As some practices in blockchain use already exist in the shipping
industry, Finland is also set to transform logistics through blockchain technology. With the support of the
Finnish government, local blockchain companies are working on the SmartLog project. With the use of smart
containers and blockchain, a route, schedule and cargo conveyance will be independently determined by the
container. The project received EUR 2.4 million in funding from the EU.
There are a limited number of technological startups that utilise blockchain as their underlying technological
infrastructure, most of which are in the acceleration or early stage. However, Nokia, one of the most
successful Finnish companies in history, seems to be interested in the technology and is developing a
blockchain platform to store and protect personal medical data.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Finland is one of the European countries that is receptive to blockchain projects. According to Swiss financial
experts, Finland was listed amongst the top 10 blockchain-friendly countries. The country is conducting
studies and experiments with distributing ledger technologies. Pilot blockchain projects are being launched
by partnering with local innovators in the space. This creates incentives for entrepreneurs to innovate and
prove their expertise in practice.
Finland also offers government funding to entrepreneurs. Business Finland, the most important public
funding agency for research and innovation, has injected significant funds into the industry. SOMA, a
decentralised platform that facilitates trade and social interaction powered by blockchain technology, is one
of the most recent startups funded by the agency. The company has raised more than a million euro in
funding in total.
Business opportunities in the space were identified as early as 2014, with the majority of companies founded
between 2017 and 2018. Revenue numbers are generally hard to come by, both due to their small volume
and the variety of income generation mechanisms employed by those companies and startups. The issue
with identifying exact figures are amplified due to the use of virtual currencies as a means of payment.
Academic and international experience as facilitators of entrepreneurship: As previously mentioned,
the Finnish government has shown interest in the technology and launched several initiatives at the early
stage. In addition to e-government projects, the country’s central bank and the Ministry of Finance held a
blockchain seminar back in 2017 involving experts from Nets, Microsoft, Fortum, VTT Technical and other
technology companies. To further facilitate entrepreneurship, the Finnish government often partners with
local startups to explore new blockchain projects.
Finland also has a strong academic sector with capable researchers exploring the potential use cases for the
new technology. Aalto University of Finland is working on the SOFIE project, an open business platform
aiming to use several different blockchain systems to store same transactions in several registers
simultaneously. Their focus is on renewable energy, food chain monitoring and mixed reality games.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Finland has an active community of blockchain developers and enthusiasts who often meet at conferences in
Helsinki that bring together blockchain devotees and business representatives. Community members are
concerned with a variety of blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects. E-government, decentralised services
and exchange platforms are some of the most popular topics amongst community members.

The Finnish blockchain community operates internationally, but many local communities have also evolved
around the technology. Enthusiasts often organise meetings, discussions and events with good local internet
representation. Bittiaraha.fi, one of the most popular forums, is a place where community members share
their ideas, exchange cryptocurrencies and ask for technical assistance.
The Finnish blockchain ecosystem is geographically diverse, with Helsinki being the largest hub in the
country. There are more than 60 companies that accept cryptocurrencies (including 16 ATMs) as a payment
method, 36 of which are based in Helsinki. The capital also has a Bitcoin Embassy, a non-commercial
organisation aimed at promoting cryptocurrency amongst citizens. Another big hub is the city of Tampere –
the former research and engineering centre of Nokia. The city offers a large pool of highly qualified engineers
and software developers. With its Smart City initiative, Tampere also provides incentives for tech startups.

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NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
SOMA (SOcial MArketplace): Decentralised P2P trading and exchange of physical goods. Founded in
2016, the platform is built on Ethereum and uses a native Social Community Token (SCT) to incentivise
users to contribute to the network by serving as an escrow agent. Their Heimdall Protocol stops forgeries
and counterfeiting by validating ownership and provenance history on blockchain. (soma.co)
LocalBitcoins: Founded as early as 2012, it is an exchange where people from different countries can swap
their local currency for bitcoins. Users post exchange rates and payment methods for buying or selling
bitcoins. The counterparty replies to these posts and agrees to meet the person to buy bitcoins with cash, or
trade directly with online banking. (localbitcoins.com)
Espeo blockchain: Full-service partner for transforming the blockchain concept into a complete
decentralised product. Offers approachable and concise blockchain training. Also helped to launch an STO:
advise, analyse and supply the technology. (espeo.eu)
Haja Networks: Startup founded in 2018 develops distributed and decentralised database solutions based
on blockchain solutions. Aims to develop a decentralised database protocol that enables users to control and
manage data, and integrates into existing databases to provide interoperability between structured data
sources. (haja.io)
2Miners: Offers cryptocurrency pool mining services. Connects users to multiple mining pools for
cryptocurrency mining. Also provides a coin listing platform allowing users to add coins on Ethash or
Equihash algorithm to the mining pool. (2miners.com)
P2PChange: Automatic exchange of bitcoin to PerfectMoney. Users can exchange BTC to supported
cryptocurrencies after the network’s zero confirmation. Certified exchange partner for Perfect Money.
(p2pchange.is)
Empirica Finland Oy: Blockchain technology startup that specialises in FinTech, cryptocurrency and ICO
advisory services. Also specialises in software development, advanced analytics, Internet of things (IoT)
solutions and machine vision. (empirica.fi)
Fortum: Finish power company that offers a blockchain-based solution allowing consumers to control their
homes via the internet. Offering blockchain-based energy services since 2016. (fortum.com)
SmartLog: EU-funded proof-of-concept platform. Creating smart containers in the shipping industry based on
blockchain technology that will determine the route, schedule and cargo transportation procedures on their
own. Blockchain technology is used to store transactions concerning shipments. (smartlog.kinno.fi)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
While the hype of blockchain and its potential applications are driving the transformation to the internet of
value, there is limited insight into what companies are doing to reap its benefits. Representatives of the
largest blockchain startups in Finland describe the great opportunities for Finland in the blockchain scene.
The generally positive attitude towards new technologies has made it relatively easy for Finnish startups,
although blockchain has yet to attract more public or private interest.
Mr Hannes Helenius, Chairman of the Board at FA Solutions, thinks Finland has a fairly advanced position
in blockchain domain. As Finland is considered a tech-oriented country, blockchain is one of the hot topics,
but mainly for business. Authorities have been trying to utilise the technology, as well as define legal
perspectives.
Mr Toni Mattila, Senior Director at Investment Consulting “Invest in Finland”, thinks the country has immense
potential in developing blockchain applications: “The cumulated know-how from the ongoing blockchain
research, combined with Finland’s strong ICT expertise and availability of highly qualified engineers, can
offer interesting opportunities for international companies.”
Mr Keir Finlow-Bates, CEO of Chainfrog Oy, Finland’s first blockchain startup, believes that the country has
potential but still lags behind compared to other European countries. Despite being the technology and
startup hotspot, Finnish startups seem to be more focused on gaming and IoT. However, if blockchain
initiatives turn out to be fruitful, it is expected to spread quickly.
Mr Sebastian Sonntag, CEO of LocalBitcoins, expressed his views on Finland as a country open to
blockchain technologies:
“Only registered virtual currency providers can market virtual currencies and related services in Finland. The
controls in the financial sector are of particularly high quality, and the position of the clients is well protected.”
Read more: “https://cointelegraph.com/news/finnish-regulators-tighten-the-screw-on-virtual-currencymarketing”
Mr Mika Lammi, Head of IoT Business Development for Kouvola Innovation, highlighted the key challenges
when looking for financial support for the SmartLog project:
“It was easy to get people’s attention as there was a big interest in the technology, but what made it hard
was to get all involved parties to understand exactly what I was proposing to accomplish, in the middle of all
that hype and distortion.”
Read more: “https://www.ibm.com/blogs/internet-of-things/logistics-blockchain/”
Mr Hannes Helenius, Chairman of the Board at FA Solutions, on blockchain regulations and the legal
framework in Finland:
“Current legislations are in some part there and some parts coming up. In my opinion, there should not be
country-specific legislation for cryptocurrencies or blockchain technology. Instead, this should be as globally
harmonised as it can be. As far as I see it, the most difficult part is to harmonise tax rules with
cryptocurrencies. However, as the EU recently announced, it shall apply the anti-money laundering rules to
the cryptos, too. This is an indication that cryptocurrencies are becoming more accepted and a more
regulated asset class.”
Read more: “https://fasolutions.com/blog/cryptocurrencies-and-blockchain-should-be-as-globallyharmonized-as-they-can-be-interview-with-hannes-helenius/”

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USEFUL RESOURCES
Blockchain Partners – Articles, interviews, and guides on bitcoin and the blockchain space
EU Startups – Startup-related content, including blockchain
Cryptocurrency Tax Information – Interactive map of cryptocurrency taxation per country
Coinmap.org – Website includes information on Coinmap.org: physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)

OTHER SOURCES
Bittiaraha.fi: Blockchain forum in Finland
Crunchbase.com: Blockchain startups and fundraising revenue
SOMA: soma.co
LocalBitcoins: localbitcoins.com
Espeo blockchain: espeo.eu
Haja Networks: haja.io
2Miners: 2miners.com
P2PChange: P2PChange.is
Empirica Finland Qy: empirica.fi
Fortum: fortum.com
SmartLog: smartlog.kinno.fi

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
Hannes Helenius – Chairman of the Board at FA Solutions
Sebastian Sonntag – CEO of LocalBitcoins
Toni Mattila – Senior Director at Investment Consulting Invest in Finland
Keir Finlow-Bate – CEO of Chainfrog Oy
Mika Lammi – Head of IoT Business Development for Kouvola Innovation

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

160+
FUNDRAISING REVENUE

€180+ million
NOTABLE INSIGHTS


Favourable legal framework and
guidelines
Lack of adoption by public sector
Numerous government incentives

France
THE FRENCH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
France has been at the forefront of blockchain technology
adoption in the European Union. In 2016, France became the
first country to recognise blockchain technology by establishing
a favourable legal framework for ICOs, allowing issuers to
register cash vouchers directly into the blockchain. In 2017, the
French Financial Market Authority (AMF) launched a unique
digital-asset fundraising support and research programme
(UNICORN) to support and analyse ICOs. France also adopted
a specific ordinance to become the first country to authorise the
registration and transfer of unlisted securities using blockchain
technology.
The French blockchain startup ecosystem is average sized, less
dynamic, compared to countries like the US and China, but
significant on the European stage. Historically, there have been
significant hurdles to starting a business in France. However,
with increased government incentives to transform the country
into a tech hub, the situation is starting to change. Lawmakers
have been introducing a comprehensive regulatory framework
specifically for blockchain. A new type of visa (Tech-Visa) is
offered to tech entrepreneurs enabling them to get work visas
for their entire families in only three weeks, The PACTE Bill,
passed in April 2019, eliminates many obstacles to the creation
of new companies.
The French government has introduced initiatives to provide
investment opportunities for blockchain startups. The
government-owned Deposits and Consignments Fund invests
directly in companies and startup infrastructure projects. The
fund has invested EUR 300 million in blockchain and AI in the
European Commission’s Investment Programme for the Future
(Programme d’investissements d’avenir).

The French blockchain ecosystem is burgeoning, becoming a critical player within the EU. It is unsurprising
that the strong computer literacy amongst French citizens, combined with a dedicated effort by the
government to support startups, has led to the mainstreaming of both cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: French President Emmanuel Macron has openly stated his ambitions to
make France a startup nation. Increased support for innovation and entrepreneurship had a positive effect
across industries, including emerging technologies such as blockchain. In 2016 while serving as Minister of
Economy and Finance, Macron expressed his positive attitude towards cryptocurrencies and blockchain in
general. In 2018, the French Minister of the Economy (Bruno Le Maire) declared a desire for Paris to
become the capital of ICOs. Later that year, the French Strategy and Prospective General Commission
(France Stratégie) published a report proposing reforms and enabling the development of blockchain and
cryptocurrencies in France. Following the ‘Blockchain, Open Education & Digital Citizenship’ conference, the
state operator of the ‘Passeport Orientation, Formation & Compétences’ initiative (La Caisse des Dépôts)
has chosen the BCdiploma platform with its open badges to transfer their education ID information onto the
new blockchain-based system. The University of Lille has been offered to be a VIP tester of the new solution.
In terms of taxation, France’s highest administrative court (Conseil d’état) reduced the tax burden on profits
coming from cryptocurrencies and set a flat rate tax of 30 %.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: As a relatively defined regulatory framework is already
in place, there are many legal firms that analyse blockchain technologies. An increasing number of
blockchain and smart contract references in legal and other relevant forums can be observed, too. Some of
the large auditing and consulting firms for example the Big Four (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, PwC) have
already created internal divisions to better understand and use blockchain technologies.
Blockchain in academia: The French engineering school ESILV became one of the first academic
institutions in the world to show interest in blockchain technology by certifying student diplomas in Bitcoin.
Even as far back as 2015, students were able to choose courses in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. Since late
2018, Montpellier Business School has been offering an MSc in Finance with a specialisation in innovative
finance (FinTech, blockchains and cryptocurrencies). The University of Lille, in collaboration with BCdiploma
and ARK, has launched a blockchain application for certificating diplomas, academic and language
competence certificates thanks to Open Badges known as ARKeducation. As the EBSI takes shape, hashes
produced by ARKeducation will easily be transferred to the EBSI platform.
Boosting entrepreneurship was one of the main pillars of Macron’s presidential campaign in 2017. As previously
mentioned, the French government has shown an interest in the technology and launched several initiatives since
then to appeal to entrepreneurs. At parliamentary level, a forum dedicated to blockchain technology was
organised in March 2016 at the National Assembly. Participants included French blockchain startups, large
companies, universities, researchers, public authorities, international speakers and experts in the field.
A new type of visa is also offered to entrepreneurs willing to move to France and kick-start their operations
from there. The government also owns several funds that inject funding into tech startups (DCF, ECIPF).
However, the main investors in French blockchain firms have been private investment funds. Despite the
above-mentioned initiatives by the French government aiming to foster entrepreneurship and kick-start
blockchain startups, French authorities have not yet felt confident enough to set up real experiments and to
deploy some aspects of the blockchain technology in the public sector.
Blockchain across key industries: There is a limited number of technological startups that utilise
blockchain as their underlying technological infrastructure, most of which are in the acceleration or early
stage. At the same time, anticipating the possible market disruption from new tech startups, some large
French companies have started experimenting with the technology to avoid being left behind. For instance,
BNP Paribas has launched several proofs-of-concept (PoCs) such as an inter-company immediate payment
service and a crowdfunding project. Other banks, such as Société Générale, RCI Bank & Services and
Natixis, have joined the R3 banking blockchain consortium. Companies from other sectors such as SNCF
(transport), Carrefour (retail) and Total (energy) are slowly building awareness around blockchain technology
and starting to explore it.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
There are various influential blockchain companies in France that are recognised globally. Business activities
range from platforms, infrastructure, hardware, enterprise applications and research, to consumer-facing
rewards programmes. One of the most influential representatives of the French blockchain industry is
Ledger. Their hardware wallets are one of the most popular solutions on the market. Another one is iExec –
leaders in decentralised cloud computing.
Business opportunities in the space were identified as early as 2014, with most companies founded between
2017 and 2018. Revenue numbers are generally hard to come by, both due to their small volume and the
variety of income generation mechanisms employed by those companies and startups. The issues with
identifying exact figures are amplified due to the use of virtual currencies as a medium of payment.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
France does not lack software developers, engineers, or talent in tech. Actual numbers for blockchain
enthusiasts are hard to come by, but there are thousands of interested professionals that attend the Paris
Blockchain Summit and other blockchain gatherings. Community members are concerned with a variety of
blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects, from purely technological and social to speculative.

There have been many prominent steps to strengthen the blockchain community in France, including the
creation of the French Digital Asset Association (FD2A), the announcement of the Financial Markets
Authority’s regulatory framework and the creation of a G7 cryptocurrency task force. The French blockchain
community attracts foreign investors, and or entrepreneurs now that a special visa for entrepreneurs has
been introduced.
The blockchain ecosystem in France is geographically heterogeneous. Paris is distinguished by its
dynamism, with around half of the country’s startups concentrated here. Another important region is
Marseille, with numerous startups emerging. There are around 200 companies that accept cryptocurrencies
as a payment method.

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NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS
Ledger: Offers cryptocurrency hardware wallets and supports multiple cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin,
Ripple, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and EOS. Ledger Vault is a multi-authorisation cryptocurrency wallet
management solution. Founded in 2014, has more than 20 investors with the total of EUR 72 million in
funding. (Ledger.com)
Coinhouse: Founded in 2014, offers crypto asset management and transaction services, including staking,
saving and custody. The first digital asset service provider (DASP) recognised and registered by the French
Financial Market Authority (AMF). (coinhouse.com)
iExec: Blockchain-based decentralised cloud computing powering applications in the fields of AI, FinTech or
3D rendering. Founded in 2016, it aims to provide blockchain-based distributed applications with a scalable,
secure and easy access to the computing resources required for their execution.
Pikcio: Decentralised data exchange platform that lets users and companies exchange data, including an
automated digital onboarding solution that collects, verifies and certifies customers’ personal information,
and enables companies to comply with KYC norms. Founded in 2015, the company managed to raise
EUR 18.7 million in investment. (Pikcio.com)
ACINQ: Founded in 2014, startup builds products for and offers services to the bitcoin ecosystem. Working
on bitcoin scalability, it is building an open standard for Lightning, a scalable instant payment network for the
bitcoin blockchain. (acinq.co)
TEZOS: Decentralised blockchain project that allows companies to deploy their blockchain infrastructure
(smart contracts + nodes) without worrying about having to redeploy everything on a new chain in case of a
hard fork. (tezos.com)
Tilkal: Offers decentralised traceability solution for supply chain management. The solution collects supply
chain data via APIs and encrypts and notarises the collected data. It builds digital IDs of products and assets
specific to each stakeholder. The solution provides a statistical and analytical view of product flow. Founded
in 2017 and raised EUR 3.4 million in funding. (tilkal.com)
Kaiko: Market data provider in the blockchain-based digital assets space providing institutional investors and
market participants with enterprise-grade data infrastructure. Claims to provide the most extensive digital
asset data sets in the industry for the market data needs of professional investors, academic researchers,
regulators, security issuers, third-party platforms and exchanges. (kaiko.com)
Stratumn: Leading provider of network solutions that secures processes between enterprises and their
stakeholders through blockchain technology and advanced cryptography. Helps companies secure and
streamline regulatory and compliance procedures. (stratum.com)
BCDiploma: Issuance of diplomas, certificates and badges on the blockchain. Relatively new Ethereum
project founded in 2017 enables educational institutions to issue digital diplomas using DLT. Issues a
turnkey DApp for schools to issue certificates. Graduates can then authenticate their diplomas using an URL.
(bcdiploma.com)
Woleet: Founded in 2015, multi-usage platform leverages blockchain technology for securing the
ownership/authentication of intellectual property, documents and certificates. Provides a Blockchain-as-asService platform to enable the secure authentication and maintenance of rights. Platform works with several
public and private blockchains. (Woleet.io)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
The hype of blockchain and its potential applications is driving the transformation to the internet of value. Yet
there is limited insight into what companies are doing to reap its benefits.
Representatives from the largest blockchain startups in France describe the great opportunities and several
challenges that lie ahead for the French blockchain scene. Development of the industry in France will largely
depend on sufficient funding for successful new projects, as well as the continuous regulatory progress
expected from the French government.
Pierre Noizat, a seasoned entrepreneur in the blockchain space and CEO of Blockchain.io, mentioned that
French regulators are actively speaking crypto-entrepreneurs in France in order to get a better understanding
of the market, its problems and attempt to regulate it accordingly. However, he wishes more incentives were
put in place, such as lowering taxation, recognising the liberating nature of a payment in euros via a Bitcoin
transaction, helping crypto entrepreneurs have easier access to banking services, and so on.
Pierre Noizat also believes in France’s tremendous potential in becoming a blockchain hub in the near future.
He states that France does not lack first-rate blockchain professionals in the space, but it’s equally important
for the government to do everything in its capacity to not let talents leave the country and to encourage the
industry to grow.
Amandine Doat and Etienne Laborde from Ledger corporate development have openly stated in the
interview that French regulators have done a good job of working with the industry by proposing a blockchain
definition. They further added that today, regulators continue to be creative in adapting existing rules to the
new ecosystem.
Amandine Doat and Etienne Laborde from Ledger on the blockchain ecosystem in France:
“France is a great place to launch a career in crypto, thanks to the quality of its STEM graduates and the
increasing number of job opportunities for them. This will be a growing industry for many years to come and
a great time for talent to start their career in the space.”
Read more: “https://blokt.com/news/exclusive-interview-french-crypto-experts-believe-france-could-becomeeuropes-next-blockchain-hub”
Pierre Noizat highlighted the following key obstacles that blockchain entrepreneurs are facing:
“I think that the influence of banks on the evolution of crypto companies in France is strong. These banks
sometimes influence political power, which itself is there to create rules for future technologies such as
cryptocurrency, and unfortunately a vicious circle of influence can set in.”
Read more “https://www.sia-partners.com/fr/actualites-et-publications/de-nos-experts/entretien-avec-pierrenoizat-bitcoin-et-cryptomonnaies”
Jonathan Chester Founder of Bitwage on the importance of funding for France’s blockchain
industry:
Obviously, the EU is one of the largest economic areas in the world with ties to developing countries in
Africa, Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. We are specifically interested in France because of the
connection between France & Francophone Africa. We have decided to make our European headquarters
out of Paris to achieve these goals because of the French Tech Ticket.
Read More “https://medium.com/frenchtech/from-new-york-to-paris-bitwage-founder-shares-what-its-like-toset-up-your-startup-in-france-f87c029cea01”
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USEFUL RESOURCES
Blockchain Partners – Articles, interviews and guides on bitcoin and the blockchain space
EU Startups – Startup-related content, including blockchain
Cryptocurrency Tax Information – Interactive map of cryptocurrency taxation per country
Blockchain France – Blockchain hub in France
Global Legal Insight – Blockchain and crypto currency regulation in France
Coinmap.org – Website containing information on Coinmap.org: physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)

OTHER SOURCES
lehub.bpifrance.fr: Blockchain hub in France
gouvernement.fr: French government news
Ledger: Ledger.com
Coinhouse: Coinhouse.com
iExec: iExec.ec
Pikcio: Pikcio.com
ACINQ: acinq.co
Tilkal: Tilkal.com
Kaiko: Kaiko.com
Stratumn: Stratumn.com
BCDiploma: BCDiploma.com
Woleet: woolet.com

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
Pierre Noizat – CEO of Blockchain.io
Jonathan Chester – Founder of Bitwage
Amandine Doat and Etienne Laborde – representatives from Ledger

WITH SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Pierre Marro: European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and
Technology, Digital Innovation and Blockchain Unit

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Key Figures
AVERAGE SIZE OF ICO

€10 million
MOST ACTIVE BLOCKCHAIN
SECTORS

FinTech,
IoT,
Energy
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

343
BLOCKCHAIN PROFESSIONALS

4600

Germany
THE GERMAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM AT
A GLANCE
Germany has a broad ecosystem of active companies in the
blockchain space, with Berlin being the blockchain capital of the
country- and likely the blockchain capital of Europe. The
German government has identified the impact of blockchain
technologies on Germany’s technology and economic life. It is
their view that the vibrant blockchain ecosystem should be
preserved and fostered to continue its growth and render
Germany an attractive opportunity for investments in this sector.
To support this goal, in 2019, the German government adopted
a national blockchain strategy, showing its commitment to
supporting the use of the technology. This strategy provides,
among other things, guidelines for funding blockchain-related
projects and considers various application areas, including
financial services and digital identity.
It is expected that the vast German ecosystem of startups will
benefit from this strategy as it aims to ensure stability, stimulate
and support innovation, disseminate blockchain knowledge, and
contribute toward the country’s goal of becoming a world leader
in this field. Striving towards this strategic goal, several statebacked projects have already been planned, such as a
blockchain-based energy database for tracking power usage, a
system for verifying educational qualifications, and a smart
contract registry with the Deutsche Energie-Agentur. Perhaps
the most important initiative in the country is a state-wide digital
identity system, which focuses on keeping personal data safe
and ensuring data integrity.
The German car manufacturer Mercedes has partnered with
artists to issue an exclusive Mercedes-Benz NFT collection
based on its G-Class vehicle line.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: The German government has recognised blockchain technology’s
importance and potential impact on digital transformation. Virtual currencies were classified as financial
instruments (in the form of so-called units of account) early as 2013. In September 2019, the German
government published its blockchain strategy. It emphasises the importance of blockchain-based solutions
and their application for both the public and private sectors. It sets a target by the end of 2021 to leverage
the opportunities provided by blockchain technology. As of 2020, Germany included a new financial
instrument in its banking laws, the crypto asset. Germany further introduced a new financial service, crypto
custody, which requires a license by the German supervisory body BaFin.
In September 2020, the Deutsche Energie-Agentur announced the launch of the Future Energy Lab. It
involves, among other things, the pilot projects related to the application of blockchain technology in the
energy sector, such as the Blockchain Machine Identity Ledger (BMIL) and the Smart Contract Registry
(SCR). The BMIL, is a digital and decentralised directory for device identities. In addition to intelligent
metering, it enables the integration of millions of decentralised generation systems into the energy system.
The SCR will be developed with expert participants from all application levels. The project’s purpose is to
create a registry using blockchain technology to record and organise contractual issues in the energy
industry, e.g. areas of law, types of contracts, parts of contracts, etc.
In line with the governmental 2019 blockchain strategy, the German parliament issued a law on introducing
electronic securities, including a blockchain register, in the summer of 2021. Following the 2021 election, the
new coalition highlights in its current coalition agreement crypto assets as digital key technology and new
financial innovation announces that the use of blockchain for land register shall be investigated and that the
European supervisory body should not only take care of the traditional financial services industry but also
monitor crypto assets.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: Virtual currencies are not considered legal tender
in the country and are generally treated as investment assets or so-called “substitute currencies Ersatzwährungen”, partly due to consumer-protection concerns. On several occasions, financial authorities
in Germany have issued statements warning the public and investors of the risks associated with virtual
currencies and ICOs. The Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) also discerns between digital
assets that share characteristics with securities or utility tokens.
In May 2022, Germany’s Finance Ministry has released new cryptocurrency tax guidelines with no tax
payable on gains from BTC and ETH sold 12 months after acquisition.
Blockchain in academia: Following the wide adoption of blockchain technologies in Germany, a large
number of organisations offer professional training on blockchain technologies. One of the most notable
academic training is offered by the Frankfurt School Blockchain Centre, a think tank and research centre that
investigates the implications of blockchain technology, digital assets, and distributed ledger technology (DLT)
for companies and their business models. In addition to developing prototypes, it serves as a platform for
managers, startups, technology, and industry experts to share knowledge and best practices. The EIT Digital
Professional School also offers a professional training course on blockchains, developed in collaboration with
Fraunhofer FIT. The European Blockchain Association also offers courses that help to deepen participants’
knowledge on blockchain and DLT technology.
Blockchain across key industries: Blockchain startups in Germany span a spectrum of diverse use cases
and sectors. More than 25 % of startups focus on the finance and crypto domain, followed by entertainment,
digital identity, and the Internet of Things (IoT) sectors. As previously mentioned, the energy sector is also
highly interested within the German blockchain ecosystem. In September 2020, Elia Group, through its
subsidiary 50Hertz , one of the four transmission system operators for electricity in Germany, announced a
multi-year strategic partnership with Energy Web that will focus on testing and validating the technological
promises of enterprise-grade, blockchain-based solutions that support the energy markets Elia Group

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serves. The scope of collaboration will include understanding the potential of decentralised identifiers for a
more-decentralised electricity system, tracking green energy and services, and providing technical expertise
and support for Elia Group’s new DLT Lab.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE

Following the rapid price rise of bitcoin in 2017, a large number of startup companies were incorporated in
Germany, with the majority being located in Berlin – the blockchain hub of Germany. While the majority of
startup companies were founded after 2017, a significant number of early adopters can be traced back to as
early as 2013. It should be highlighted that companies founded in 2016 conducted the highest percentage of
ICOs. For the majority, ICOs were the preferred way of funding compared to traditional funding mechanisms,
such as private or corporate funding, and grants. The average size of ICO was about EUR 10,000,000.
Startups are spread almost equally in many business verticals, including applications, infrastructure, and the
provision of services, while a smaller portion of the companies focus on middleware.
In the current phase, blockchain-related companies are almost equally split between revenue-making,
product-ready, post-seed, and pre-seed. Most revenue-making companies that disclosed their revenues
declared revenues of up to EUR 500,000, while the startups that generated the highest revenue were those
providing business-to-business solutions. According to data from Crunchbase, 343 blockchain startups and
enterprises are operating in Germany.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The blockchain community in Germany consists of both professionals and enthusiasts, as well as
associations targeting the promotion of blockchain-based solutions in a more organised and systematic
manner.

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Established in 2017, the Blockchain Bundesverband is a non-profit association with more than 60 members.
Members include leading startups in the blockchain sector based in Germany. According to its mission,
Blockchain Bundesverband believes blockchain and similar decentralised technologies based on
cryptography are fundamental to digital infrastructure innovation. The association’s initiatives focus on
education for decision-makers in politics, industry-leading corporations, and the wider public. It maintains
blockchain adoption is necessary to keep Germany competitive in an increasingly digital world and that the
technology can only flourish if it is recognised by politics, society, and institutions and used by the latter two.
Based in Munich, the European Blockchain Association provides an independent, neutral platform for
blockchain-related communities and organisations to discuss, develop, and elaborate on shared work.
The German blockchain community consists of
150,000 observers based on the extended outreach
data from Facebook Audiences, which corresponds
to approximately 0.2 % of the population. Out of
those, 4600 are practising blockchain professionals,
according to estimated data retrieved from
Linkedin.There are more than 343 blockchain
startups incorporated or operating an office in
Germany, with their majority located in Berlin.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
BitsCrunch: A Blockchain Analytics company
which is headquarted in Munich, Germany – uses AI
& ML to secure the NFT Ecosystem.
peaq: peaq is a Berlin based deep-tech company
developing decentralized infrastructure for the
Economy of Things.
BigchainDB: It is like a database with blockchain
characteristics. It has high throughput, low latency,
powerful query functionality, decentralised control,
immutable data storage, and built-in asset support.
Nuri: Offers the world’s first banking experience
combining fully protected German bank accounts with access to virtual currencies, digital assets, and
blockchain-based finance. Through secure technology, Nuri helps customers reap the benefits of new financial
technology by being the bridge between the old and new financial systems.
Energy Web Foundation: Known as Energy Web (EW), it is a non-profit organisation focused on accelerating
blockchain technology across the energy sector. EW focuses on building core infrastructure and shared
technology, speeding the adoption of commercial solutions, and fostering a community of practice. In 2019,
EW launched the Energy Web Chain, the world’s first open-source, enterprise blockchain platform tailored to
the energy sector. EW’s technology roadmap has since grown to include the Energy Web Decentralised
Operating System (EW-DOS), a “blockchain-plus” suite of decentralised solutions.
IOTA Foundation: Develops an open-source protocol that supports data and value transfer between devices
and humans. IOTA also has an open-source distributed ledger and virtual currency designed for the IoT. It
uses a directed acyclic graph to store transactions on its ledger, motivated by potentially higher scalability over
blockchain-based distributed ledgers.
Finoa: Finoa is a regulated custodian for digital assets offering custody and staking services to institutional
investors and corporations.
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Chainflip: Chainflip is a decentralised, trustless protocol that enables cross-chain swaps between different
blockchains.
Aragon: Aragon is a project that aims to disintermediate the creation and maintenance of organizational
structures by using blockchain technology.
Unstoppable Finance: Unstoppable Finance is building a next-gen crypto wallet to bring DeFi to retail
investors globally.

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Quote from Irene Adamski – Member, Blockchain Expert Policy Advisory Board, OECD
Germany has a decentralised blockchain ecosystem of hubs: The largest and most prolific one is Berlin, with
smaller, more focused ones in Frankfurt, Munich, Hamburg and Mittweida. Berlin has been lauded as The
Global DLT Hotspot, where technical talent, fundamental code and architecture development, as well as use
case applications are concerned. For aspects of digital currencies, investment and business models,
Germany is still a global hub, but secondary to those in East Asia. Aside from the concentration of business,
knowledge, technology and talent, the German blockchain ecosystem also enjoys stable, collaborative and
direct ties to the national and international political sphere.
Quote from Raimund Gross – Head of Digitisation and Innovation, Camelot ITLab GmbH
The German startup eco-system is characterised by a few apparent dynamics. We see a stronger
collaboration with traditional industries, government, regulators, and enterprises happening; the startup
model being actively adopted by big corporations to gain speed and flexibility driving digitalisation and
innovation; more orientation along full industry value chains (B2B, B2B2C) compared to B2C focus
previously; and UN SDGs becoming a strong driver for scenario selection and curation. Access to funding
and monetary resources has improved however still is behind opportunities in other world regions. Overall: A
healthy heterogeneity in cases and ecosystem participants help the startup ecosystem mature and diversify.

USEFUL RESOURCES
Blockchain Bundesverband – Website of the German Blockchain Association
European Blockchain Association – Website of the European Blockchain Association
Frankfurt School Blockchain Center – Website of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center
EIT Digital Professional School – Website of the EIT Digital Professional School
The Legal 500 & The In-House Lawyer – Legal and regulatory aspect of blockchain and crypto in Germany
BlockState – German blockchain index

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

10+
POPULATION INTERESTED IN
BLOCKCHAIN AND
CRYPTOCURRENCIES

3,6 %
INDIVIDUALS ORGANISED IN
BLOCKCHAIN AND DIGITAL
CURRENCY COMMUNITIES

6 000+

Greece
THE GREEK BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM AT
A GLANCE
Greece, located in south-eastern Europe and a signatory to the
European Blockchain Partnership, is home to an emerging
blockchain ecosystem, populated by companies and startups as
well as official and unofficial communities of practice. More than
15 companies offer services in those fields exclusively, with
many more expanding their offerings to accommodate the
growing need for blockchain applications in the country, in
Europe and the rest of the world. Greek companies are active
across a wide range of business activities in the blockchain
space; however, geographical clusters or a specific industry
focus were not identified.
Local authorities have adopted an overall passive approach as
there are no specific references to blockchain or digital
currencies in Greek legislation apart from the transposition of
the 5th AMLD which introduces AML compliance requirements
to all VASPs providing services in Greece, under the
supervision of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

Approximately 5 000 people make up the core of the blockchain
community in the country. Communities of practice constitute
the primary facilitator of education and discussion in the field, due to the lack of relevant state-backed or
industry initiatives.
Relevant bibliography and extended media coverage suggest that the Greek debt crisis has been a critical
factor in the limited adoption of digital currencies as a self-custodian store of value, out of fear of a bank run,
especially after 2013 (the year that a haircut was imposed to depositors in Cypriot banks). Bitcoin emerged
as an alternative, with publications reporting an increase in the number of Greek citizens seeking to invest in
digital assets. The capital controls imposed in 2015 proved to be a major hurdle in accessing digital
currencies; a factor that prevented further adoption. Greece today constitutes an emerging player in the
European blockchain scene.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Blockchain and DLTs, along with their derivative cryptocurrencies as well as
alternative forms of blockchain financing, remain largely unregulated in Greece. Yet, with respect of the latter
and according to guidance from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), firms give careful
consideration as to whether their activities constitute regulated activities. If their activities constitute a
regulated activity, firms must comply with the relevant legislation and any failure to comply with the
applicable rules would constitute a breach. Namely, where the coins or tokens qualify as financial
instruments it is likely that the firms involved in ICOs (or similar) conduct regulated investment activities, such
as placing, dealing in, or advising on financial instruments or managing and marketing collective investment
schemes. Moreover, they may be involved in offering transferable securities to the public. In such case, they
need to contact the national competent authorities.
Both the Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC) and the Bank of Greece (BoG) have committed efforts
to understand and eventually provide a regulatory framework for these assets. Both competent authorities
have implemented their own Innovation Hub, while BoG implemented mid-2021 a Regulatory Sandbox in
collaboration with EBRD, funded by the European Union. On two occasions, in 2014 and in 2018, the BoG
issued announcements warning the public of the potential risks associated with digital currencies. On the
same note, on three occasions, in 2017, 2018 and 2021, the Hellenic Capital Market Commission
communicated to the general public the warnings of ESMA on ICOs, ESMA/EBA/EIOPA on virtual currencies
and ESMA on non-regulated crypto assets, highlighting the potential risks associated with them. Greek
Member of the European Parliament Eva Kaili is an active supporter of the development and use of
blockchain technology in the digitalisation of the European economy. Over the past years, Ms Kaili has
become one of the most prominent figures in the blockchain space and is regarded as a key policymaker in
the field.
Digital currency legislation that applies to blockchain: Greece implements the 5th AML Directive; in July
2022, Greece announced a draft bill on ’emerging information and communication technologies,
strengthening digital governance and other provisions’, introducing requirements for the deployment of
artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain and other distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Blockchain in academia: Regarding academic qualifications, courses or degrees, Greek universities are an
emerging power in the educational scene of the blockchain. More specifically, the National and Kapodistrian
University of Athens is currently offering two e-learning courses: “Blockchain and Energy” and “Blockchain
Developer”. Correspondingly, the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki offers a Master’s in Science in
“Technologies of Interactive Systems”, which includes a course about “Blockchain Technology and
Applications”. The Aegean University offers a blockchain course, as well, named “Blockchain Technology”,
while the University of Thessaly currently includes in its curriculum a course named “Blockchain Technologies
and Decentralized Applications”. Likewise, the Panteion University provides the “Blockchain Economics:
Introduction to Cryptocurrencies” course and the Athens University of Economics and Business provides the
“Cryptocurrencies: Economic and Financial aspects” course. The University of West Attica provides a course,
named “Blockchain Technologies”, and the Hellenic American College offers a 1-month “Certified Blockchain
Professional” qualification. Lastly, the Institute of Digital Finance was launched in 2022 offering a program in
crypto-economics.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Founders of Greek blockchain companies are typically entrepreneurs or researchers with strong academic
backgrounds and international experience. Due to the relatively small size of the domestic market for
blockchain, companies at large develop solutions that correspond to the needs of international customers
and markets. Generally, Greece is home to small companies with employee numbers ranging between 1 and
20. Business opportunities in the space were identified as early as 2015, with many companies founded

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between 2017 and 2018. Most firms are headquartered in the capital city of Athens and have not received
any form of funding.

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
5
4
3
2
1
0
2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

The business activities of Greek blockchain startups vary greatly, from enterprise applications and research
to consumer-facing rewards programmes, with a focus on digital currency wallets and portfolios as well as
legal compliance services. As a result, no specific business verticals could be identified.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Relative to its size and business scene, Greece fosters a small but vivid blockchain community. Official and
unofficial mid-size enthusiast groups, some of them active since 2011, amount to more than 6 750 active
members and are concerned with a variety of blockchain and digital assets aspects, from purely
technological and social to speculative.

Approximately 391 500 individuals interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies could be identified, a
number that amounts to 3.6 % of the total population.
While community members are geographically dispersed, the capital city of Athens, along with Thessaloniki,
the second-largest city by population, have the highest concentration of communities of practice and are the
epicentre of most major community meetups.
(Source for general audience: Facebook audience, ages: 16-65+, location: Greece, keywords: Blockchain (database),
cryptocurrency, bitcoin, Ethereum | Source for Community Members)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Eva Kaili, Vice President of the European Parliament.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency
Greece? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Concerning the adoption of blockchain in Greece, based on the Registered Startup Database
(https://elevategreece.gov.gr/startup-database/) of the “Elevate Greece” platform which is the official platform
and leading resource for in-depth information on the Greek startup ecosystem, we can identify 29 startups
working on blockchain, AI, Data analytics/Big Data, Cloud computing, etc., 19 of which are based in Attica,
and 24 of which have not received funding. Said that, I would say that the Greek blockchain ecosystem
seems to be, still, in its infancy. Turning to the cryptocurrency adoption in Greece, there is no official source
of information. Based on media reporting on the Greek crypto ecosystem
(https://greekreporter.com/2021/10/06/cryptocurrency-greece/) it is estimated that a double-digit percentage
of the population are into cryptocurrency trading in various platforms, while only a few into mining due to the
rising electricity cost.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Greece?
I would say rather small in size and in a nascent stage for both the blockchain and the cryptocurrency
business ecosystem. Additionally, we have no cryptocurrency businesses (crypto exchange or any other kind
of VASP/CASP) licensed in Greece, as no national legal framework has been implemented.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for entrepreneurs?
At European level, I would say that the Commission’s recent legislative initiatives are key to creating a safe
and attractive environment that will allow all who wish to participate in the blockchain and crypto ecosystem,
to do so under legal certainty. Ecosystems are usually being created by few pioneers; however, they need
the mass adoption to scale and flourish. And the mass adoption can be realised only if the rules of the game
are fair and transparent. This is where we stand now: we are creating a balanced and transparent “rule-book”
to the service of all interested parties.
What does the future hold for the Greek blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
In the absence of a national legal framework, I would say that the Greek blockchain and cryptocurrency
ecosystems will benefit at large from the DLT Pilot Regime Regulation (DLT PRR) and the Regulation for
Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) respectively. The former, being the first Pan-European Regulatory Sandbox
will test the deployment of DLT in financial services infrastructures that will provide services on the recording,
trading, settlement and custody of tokenised financial instruments, while the latter will provide the necessary
legal certainty to the participants of the crypto-ecosystem (CASPs, investors, issuers, etc.)

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Key Figures
FUNDS RAISED BY
BLOCKCHAIN PROVIDERS

€5 594 029.76
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN
SOLUTION PROVIDERS

16

Hungary
THE HUNGARIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM AT
A GLANCE
Hungary locates in Central Europe and fosters robust economic
growth, as the European Commission report indicates. The Hungarian
economy’s general economic indicators and economic forecast for the
Hungarian economy indicate the economy’s recovery from the
pandemic. The work by Endrődi-Kovács and Stukovszky gives an
overview of the adoption of industry 4.0 of the Hungarian SMEs as a
process to focus and foster for the future.
There are cases from the public sector indicating the adoption of
blockchain. For example, the inclusion of a cryptoexchange service in
the Hungarian post offices. The country has joined the European
Blockchain Partnership since 2019 with the ongoing development of
EBSI node. Furthermore, the taxation on cryptocurrency gains has
been relaxed compared to the previous report.

The Hungarian Central Bank researches the subjects around blockchain and cryptocurrencies, as indicated
by works such as Eurasia Forum’s report and work on European digital finance packages. News reported
plans for the development of its native Central Bank Digital Currency in 2021. On the other hand, news in
2022 reported the advocacy for crypto trading and mining ban.
The public’s interest in the blockchain is vivid as the community engaging with blockchain subjects grows.
There are events and workshops to strengthen the relations of the blockchain community. Intriguing news
was the introduction of a statue of Bitcoin founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, in Budapest.
Finally, the startup scene moves forward as the number of companies increases. Entrepreneurs have
several options to support their ventures in the blockchain ecosystem.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: Cryptocurrencies are not equivalent to traditional money, but their popularity is
undeniable, with more citizens owning a crypto token. After launching a crypto stamp, the Hungarian Post
has introduced a service to exchange your cryptocurrencies with the introduction of Crypto Centers. This
action was covered by articles, as the service is available in over 50 spots. It should be noted that a handful
of the popular cryptos are selected to be available through the service.
As previously mentioned, cryptocurrencies are not equivalent to money. In contrast, people are eager to hold
digital tokens, and companies are adjusting to this trend. For example, Tesla shook the world in 2021 by
announcing crypto payments availability. In a similar fashion, Konzum, a Hungarian supermarket chain, is in
place to accept payments in cryptocurrencies as covered in CoinTelegraph. It should be noted that the
company does not receive or hold in their ledger cryptocurrencies but fiat money. The exchange of
cryptocurrencies to tokens is the responsibility of the Hungarian brokerage, Electrocoin. Similarly, there is
another service that is structured to accept cryptocurrencies. This service is the petrol payments per
CoinTelegraph, as it is a service to assist tourists in their experience in the country.
Blockchain adoption should not be limited to cryptocurrency payments, as blockchain structures facilitate
different functionalities. For example, non-fungible tokens were one of the trends in 2021 for blockchain.
These trends reshape business models and interactions between stakeholders in an ecosystem. An example

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from Hungary is the music event, Circus Maximus, which envisions establishing a DAO and mint NFTs for
ticketing. The Distributed Autonomous Organisation (DAO) can democratise the participation in events, as
the organisations could be run on logic with the application of code.
Legislation of blockchain: An update on the regulatory part is the revision of the tax rate on cryptocurrency
profits. Essentially, Hungary decided on a more friendly regulation on cryptocurrency taxation. The tax rate
was previously set to be 30,5 % for mining and trading cryptocurrencies, while the updated tax rate is
decreased to 15 %. The updated tax rate will be applicable from 2022. The tax relaxation was part of the
regulations and strategies to recover from the pandemic. It should be noted that the regulation
accommodates an amnesty for the untaxed profits from cryptocurrencies for the past five years.
As there are updates on the European level on regulations, preparations are made on national levels to
accommodate regulations like MiCA and Pilot Regime. On this fashion, the Central Bank of Hungary
accommodates an article by Dr Csongrádi Erika for Europe’s digital finance package and the future
challenges. Other regulations mentioned in the article are the European digital strategy, the draft Digital
Operational Resilience for The Financial Sector (DORA).
Blockchain in academia: Blockchain is a subject included in courses in academic courses. As the impact of
blockchain grows, students have the opportunity to study the fundamentals of the technology. For example, the
Budapest University of technology and Economics has a “Blockchain technologies and applications” course.
People interested in learning about blockchain have the opportunity to participate in mentorship programmes.
In 2021, the Budapest University of Technology and Economics (BME) held a summer internship programme
for Hyperledger. Projects are available on Hyperledger Foundation for participants to sharpen their skills.
There are multiple education sources available around blockchain and its subjects for professionals. EIT
Digital, an organisation for entrepreneurial education, holds a course for decision-makers in Budapest. As
blockchain transcends the narrow definition of cryptocurrencies, more sectors are impacted by the
technology. The course is relevant to CTO managers, product owners, and business solution architects.
Another action by EIT Digital is the organisation of the digital master on FinTech, where Budapest’s Eotvos
Lorand University participates in the master.
Similarly, the Budapest School for Central Bank Studies organises courses around subjects of interest for
Central Banks. In 2021, a digital currencies course was held with subjects on private and public money,
monetary policy, and more. The interest in blockchain is expected to remain vivid, as CBDC and testing on
the blockchain from Central Banks.
Blockchain across key industries: The technical literacy of the Hungarian community seems to drive the adoption
towards adopting blockchain as a service. In detail, the majority of the companies are either deliver a service or offer
computer software, and this indicates the adoption of blockchain as a component in the architecture of the solutions.
The financial sector has a keen interest in technologies, as FinTech is a subject of focus. Specifically, the
Central Bank of Hungary has published reports on FinTech and Digitalisation for the past 2 years.
Blockchain, DLT and cryptocurrencies are referred to in the reports. The interest takeaways for these
subjects are the growing interest and application of blockchain in FinTech.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The startup ecosystem in Hungary is robust and has success stories in
technologies. For example, SEON aims to fight fraudulent events and is to
be used in Sorare, established a collaboration with Sorare, the sports
blockchain platform, for that reason. There is anticipation for the startups’
success to translate to the blockchain ecosystem. News like INLOCK’s
introduction to Crypto Valley Association and TE Food’s upgrade in the
TONE token economics are success stories in the blockchain ecosystem.
As blockchain has a wide range of applications in business sectors. The
Hungarian Chamber of Agriculture has established an incubator to promote
the adoption of technologies in the agricultural sector. NAK TechLab’s goal is
to aid the enterprise maturity with a 3-month programme. Another choice for
entrepreneurs is the MKB Fintechlab, which works on digital products in the
financial sector. BnL Start Partners works with startups offering accelerator
and incubator services, but the entity has a general focus on technologies.
There are venture capitals active in funding and supporting the growth of entities in Hungary. The overview
of venture capital investment has not significantly changed from the previous report. In detail, FastVentures,
Hiventures Investment Fund, OXO Angels, and PortfoLion Ventures are active entities for startups in the
technological sector.
The blockchain startup ecosystem accommodates entities mainly established in 2017 and 2018. Blockchain
is used as a component in services, as the technology is general and can be used in different ways. Finally,
the startups are small and medium companies per the number of people employed in them. Technology
entities can compose of small and agile teams delivering applications bringing great impact.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The community around blockchain in Hungary is vivid, and there is enthusiasm around the technology
subjects. A testament to the enthusiasm in the community is the introduction of a statue to Satoshi Nakamoto
in Budapest. There are events and associations to assemble the community.
Hungary fosters events and workshops of a wide variety of magnitude. Essentially, the community
participates in events for education and networking reasons. In November 2021, an e-conference by Eurasia
Forum Budapest took place by including blockchain for sustainable recovery. A conference hosted by Magyar
Nemzeti Bank, Lamfalussy Lectures Conference, relates to financial subjects. As blockchain is a technology
that disrupts the financial sector, it is one of the subjects that can be referenced during the conference.
Another event for the community that was held in January 2022 was the Superweek with various topics, and
blockchain was a subject in a speech. Finally, the Slovenian-Hungarian Blockchain Business Forum was part
of the European Blockchain Week in 2021.

Hungary’s community can disseminate their research through conferences, educate through associations,
and hone their skills with hackathons. There are events coordinated by academia oriented towards research.
In 2021, Debrecen University held the conference on Cryptology in Debrecen. The Blockchain Hungary
Association is an organisation related to blockchain active in the country. Such associations can foster the
growth of the ecosystem around the technology. Moreover, there are teams coordinating frequent meetups
on various blockchain subjects like Hyperledger Budapest. Finally, there are opportunities in hackathons like
NFT DEB for the community to test their skills.

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AN INDICATIVE BUT NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
IN HUNGARY
BitPadre: is a crypto exchange with its own wallet that facilitates users to transact fiat and digital currencies.
The exchange business model differentiates from other exchanges, as it is EU-licensed. The exchange has
an AML/KYC policy that sets a user verification process.
CoinCash: is a cryptocurrency brokerage that operates in Hungary and central eastern Europe. The company
was established in 2016 and reported to run 13 Bitcoin ATMs in 2019.
ILGON: is a blockchain ecosystem for institutions and end users built upon the ILGON Network. The ILGON
mainnet launched in January 2021. Despite being an Ethereum based project, the solution is efficient and
handles off-chain storage and smart contracts. The roadmap for 2022 includes launching a bridge, NFT and
DEX.
Kripteus: is a firm specialised in crypto taxation in Hungary. The expertise is on tax regulations on crypto
trading and mining. The site accommodates material in blog posts and videos for the one interest on crypto
subjects.
MularPay: is a platform facilitating cryptocurrencies payments and transactions established in 2019. The
platform accommodates an ERC-20 token.
Natrix Blockchain Platform: is a platform that extends the financial world to the new crypto world by the
deployment of a bridge. The platform describes in the lightpaper the design principles used as a basis to
build on a consortium blockchain. The platform is powered by BlockBen.

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Key Figures
FUNDS RAISED BY BLOCKCHAIN
PROVIDERS

€69 097 546.32
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS

68

Ireland
THE IRISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Ireland is an island country in Northwest Europe, and the
country’s economy is robust, as described in European
Commission’s report. The economy is forecasted to grow during
the following years. Generally, international and tech companies
are present in Ireland. Especially in blockchain, Deloitte’s
blockchain lab is a notable example of international companies
present in the blockchain.
The interest in blockchain is vivid in Ireland, as the business
ecosystem and community grows in number each year. There
have been public initiatives for blockchain adoption, such as the
Irish Government’s hackathon in the past. Private entities adopt
blockchain for solutions in different sectors. Tracking craft beer,
digital identity and urban mobility are only a couple of use
cases for applications adopting blockchain.

Finally, the community is supported by several associations and organisations. There are public initiatives
like ICT Skillnet to support the community. Moreover, private networks are formed to aid in raising public
awareness of blockchain. The community can participate in large events on blockchain to learn about the
latest blockchain subjects and network with other participants of the ecosystem.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: Blockchain is a topic that gathers interest, as applications and experiments are
ongoing. In a speech by Gabriel Makhlouf, blockchain was referenced as a technology driving change and
innovation along with cloud for financial services. The national interest on blockchain is vivid, as initiatives
like Blockchain Ireland were active during 2021 presented in an overview.
Apart from national initiatives on blockchain, there is a worldwide interest placed in Ireland. An example is
the selection of Binance blockchain to enrol four entities in Ireland.
In May 2022, Ireland’s strategy on blockchain, crypto and Web 3.0 was published by Blockchain Ireland as a
proposal to the government. The published document has the overview and recommendations in categories
like education, startups, developers and more as the groups formulated in Blockchain Ireland.
Legislation of blockchain: The Central Bank of Ireland has updated the consumer warning on virtual
currencies (VC). It was clearly stated that cryptocurrencies are unregulated with no legal tender status. The
warning stated the involved risks of VC, namely extreme volatility and absence of protection. Moreover, the
warning highlighted the unregulated nature of the VCs despite the implementation of the Anti-Money
Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) on virtual asset providers.
The Central Bank of Ireland has mentioned crypto assets in monthly Q&As for Undertakings for Collective
Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS) and Retail Investor Alternative Investment Fund (RIAIF). The
questions clarify the direct or indirect investment in crypto assets. The answer divides the crypto assets
between tokenised traditional assets and crypto assets based on intangible underlying. Consequently, the
two categories vary in characteristics and the underlying risks. The appropriate risk management and
meeting the eligible asset criteria are to be reviewed for the direct or indirect investment. The Central Bank is

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open to discussing the crypto assets investment but accepting such an investment is highly unlikely. The
chances of acceptance are slim due to specific risks and risk assessment by retail investors. The Bank’s
approach will be kept under review, follow discussions around the subject, and may change in the future.
Regulations defining the taxations on cryptocurrency gains are in place. The tax rates have not significantly
updated, as activities relevant to cryptos like exchange tokens and mining. An overview on the tax rates is in
the Revenue’s report.
Blockchain in academia: People interested in learning about blockchain can seek ongoing training
programmes from Technology Ireland ICT. The organisation supports webinars, short-duration programmes
with certificates, and long-duration programmes like Master Programmes. A website with upcoming and
previous training programmes can help people pinpoint their desired training to participate.
A joint project between Blockchain Ireland and Digital Futures commenced in 2021. In a call for participation,
the initiative describes its purpose to be the research on the skills development around blockchain in UK and
Ireland and sets two objectives.
In 2021, learning pathways were available for blockchain trainings published in Blockchain Ireland. The
pathways aimed to provide knowledge on the blockchain to two audiences, business practitioners and
developers. The learning pathways were involved with the IBM technology, as the business pathway
awarded an IBM SkillsBuild badge and the developers’ one was focused on Hyperledger.
Universities are active in educating the public on blockchain subjects, as individual courses and dedicated
programmes are available. Dublin City University facilitates a part-time master on blockchain lasting two
years with on blockchain scalability and cryptography courses. Another choice is the diploma in Blockchain
introduced by Dublin Business School, which aims to support learning and include CBDC and technical
considerations. Similarly, Dundalk Institute of Technology provides training on Fundamentals of Blockchain
and Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology. It is evident that programmes for blockchain education
increase and are communicated to the public in Ireland.
Blockchain across key industries: The technology sector is strong in Ireland, with the presence of
international companies to be obvious. Blockchain has been applied in a handful of applications, while the
most mature sector is the financial sector, gathering most of the startups.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Ireland fosters an environment that has attracted well-known and
established international technology companies, such as Twitter and
Airbnb. The startup ecosystem is supported by research labs and
academia to produce experts, and there are investment opportunities
for technology companies to grow in Ireland.
There are venture capitals for funding startups in Ireland that are
keen to include blockchain startups in their portfolios. An initial
example is Norio Ventures, established in Dublin and focused on
financial services. There are different activities established as options
described, such as funding, product, customers, enterprise level. An
interesting approach in Ireland is Cosimo X, a tokenised venture
capital fund that aims to be active in the decentralised trust economy.
Techstars collaborates with Alphabit and Launchpool to establish an
accelerator programme focused on blockchain in Dublin, per The Irish Times. As the applications concluded
in December 2021, the timeline sets the start in April 2022 and the demonstration for June. Another
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accelerator is NadiFin, which is present in Dublin and Luxembourg and aims to aid entities with financial
services grow. As blockchain startups operate in the FinTech sector, they can address this accelerator. In
the past, the CorkBIC has organised an accelerator programme on blockchain and applications in different
sectors.
Ireland fosters a growing ecosystem of startups on the blockchain, with the wide majority established from
2015 and the following years. The number of startups is an indicator of an ecosystem that is past its infant
and early stage, as a moderate number of companies employ more than 50 professionals. Moreover, the
wide range of industry sectors is an indicator of talent finding ways to adopt blockchain into sector-specific
applications. The financial services accumulate the most applications of blockchain.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The blockchain community in Ireland is vibrant, with initiatives
and associations to foster its growth. The initiatives are an
indication that there is a community of experts on blockchain
established in Ireland. This is to be expected as big
technology companies, and technological hubs are
established in the country and research the adoption of new
technologies. The experts around blockchain establish
networks to support the community and raise public
awareness of the technology.
The Central Bank of Ireland has established an Innovation
Hub with a wide range of activities, as indicated in the 2020
update. The Bank is committed to active engagement with
innovation firms and aims to continue its activities with the
Innovation Hub. Apart from the Hub, the blockchain
community can address to Blockchain Association of Ireland,
established in 2016. The association defines that it facilitates
business leaders, educators, policymakers, and citizens to
actively learn about blockchain and its applications. Another
association with actions around blockchain is Blockchain
Ireland, founded in 2015. The association is formed by private
and public entities with the scope of promoting blockchain as
a technology. Moreover, the association expands its network outside of Ireland with links to INATBA,
Slovenian Blockchain Innovation Ecosystem, and other similar entities.

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Blockchain Ireland organised its annual event in May 2021, titled Blockchain Ireland Week. More details on
the event are offered in a blog post and a video from the event. The event will hopefully repeat in 2022 to
foster the community’s interest in the blockchain. Moreover, there are events with different blockchain
subjects held by organisations. For example, BlockW organises events to promote awareness of the
technology. Moreover, organisations like ICT’s Skillnet have meetings and discussions on blockchain for the
community to participate in. Finally, events on technology could accommodate discussions on blockchain,
like Dublin Tech Summit in June 2022 and Tech Connect Live in September 2022.
Organisations in Ireland hold events about blockchain and its impact and applications in different sectors. For
example, the Central Bank of Ireland organised a virtual event in collaboration with the Innovation Hub, and
the subject was on the VASP regime in November 2021.
An indicative but non-exhaustive list of Blockchain companies in Ireland
bloXmove: is a company founded in 2021 with the vision of revolutionising urban mobility. The decentralised
platform is the tool to revolutionise urban mobility. The blockchain brings the immutability of data and
payments reliance to support a trustless environment between third parties. The vision for the future of
mobility is described in the collaborative whitepaper with Orange Business Services and Ciklum. The
company was selected to participate in SAP.iO’s Accelerator Program in January 2022.
The Crypto Climate Exchange: criteria in place for funding projects; which are the project’s utility, service
delivered by an established company, and providing long-term value. The marketplace has deployed nodes
on Binance and Tron blockchains.
Cryptoprocessing: is a company providing API for secure and fast access to blockchains. The provided
solution can aid merchants to accept payments in cryptocurrencies. The API handles incidents like double
spending or duplication of transactions.
NadiFin: is an accelerator programme for FinTech ideas established in 2019. The programme is supported by
MiddleGame Ventures, LHoFT, and Brown Brothers Harriman and Standard Chartered Ventures. Blockchain
is one of the technologies included in the programme.

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INSIGHTS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Professor Joyce O’ Connor is the Founding President of the National College of Ireland
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Ireland? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
While diving into Ireland’s ecosystem, one key area to focus on is awareness. The subject of awareness
applies to the whole European level, as presented in the CHAISE report. Essentially, awareness is a big
issue for blockchain and its applications. The impact discussed in the report is that the citizens and workers
are not aware of blockchain and DLT technologies. As a result, the adoption is harder for the industry. That is
the reason for creating awareness to enable the adoption.
There are several initiatives by different groups aiming to create awareness. There is a concern that the
crypto and digital assets industry has much backing; hence, the focus is on crypto. The result of the
continuous discussion on digital assets is for the public and civil services to link the technology with the
assets. While recognising that crypto is part of the blockchain (e.g., Bitcoin), the impact of the technology will
be different from the application of cryptocurrencies. In particular, the impact will be on business and societal
benefit.
The differentiation between digital assets and technology needs to be addressed to foster technology
adoption. Citizens and industries should recognise the impact to be willing to adopt the technology. Ironically,
the adoption is a matter of trust in the technology. The irony lies in that technology is all about trust,
accountability, and traceability.
Among the numerous initiatives, BlockW is one based in Ireland, where the focus from the very beginning
was to create awareness for the public. Through the initial organised meetups, a finding was that the issue of
inclusion and diversity did not lay solely on the gender, but other characteristics are involved, such as
different ages, industries, backgrounds, and socioeconomic. So, fostering a broader audience and
addressing more general issues than gender became the focal point for the meetups. The key subjects of
these events were diving into blockchain applications in business and societal impact, and other subjects
were financial services, future implications of blockchain, and regulatory subjects.
Due to the pandemic, BlockW focused on two partnerships to spread blockchain awareness. The first
partnership was with the Institute of Banking, where a micro-learning library for their members was
developed. The second group was with ICS (Irish Computing Society), with most professionals coming
predominantly from ICT areas. Another action of BlockW is the creation of a national certification at level
seven in cooperation with the Nation College of Ireland on emerging technologies, including blockchain. The
resources from the ICS were available for students of that program. That was a good development as
blockchain does not operate on its own but operates within other innovative technologies in a stack of like AI,
robotics, cybersecurity, and more. Another action was to mesh with a Committee of Science, a politicians’
interparty, to introduce them to the concepts and applications of blockchain. That was the beginning as we
realised that once-off intervention is not enough. The constant interaction is necessary, and there is a need
to present to your audience things that they can relate to.
Another thing is the interaction with different groups and the ways blockchain can aid and benefit their use
cases. An example is the collaboration with police groups around domestic violence to present the ways to
use blockchain to address this issue. The application used was developed by a cofounder of HeHop, Sandy
Beky.
Educational material via courses and certifications is paramount in fostering the public awareness for
blockchain and its applications. The impact of these courses can be greater by targeting use cases rather
than being general. An interesting project from the technical university works with academics, researchers,
and industry to introduce the university to the blockchain. It is a way of upskilling academics but linking with
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industry as well. Another example comes from GMIT, which developed an accounting course using digital
technology. This is a four-year program starting in September. Another interesting initiative for awareness
undertaken by the industry is Block DAEMON, a multinational company. As developers are the most wellversed group with blockchain, they attend a short introductory course on the technology that is linked with
their customers. As a result, their customers should understand the technology.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Ireland?
The Ireland ecosystem is a developing one with interesting Irish and multinationals companies based in the
country. In essence, big companies like IBM and Deloitte have operation and run laboratories in Ireland.
Moreover, they link the country with their international network. Apart from these companies, there are
interesting indigenous companies in Ireland.
An example is AID:Tech where their work is international with a recent award from the UN global women’s
bank for a project in Philippines. Ireland Craft Beer is another intriguing project using blockchain for tracking
craft beer and whiskey in the supply chain. They were the first company to deploy the solution on blockchain.
Another group called Equideq is a startup to reach the public for owning parts of horses. Moreover, they
have added collectibles around the horse and looked into racing in terms of horses, jokeys, and races
activities. The other area is the stud farming where genetics are involved. They try to develop a total industry
solution within using blockchain.
On the funding side for startups, it is true that one of the problems in all startups is funding and is not specific
on blockchain startup ecosystem. Enteprise Ireland focuses on exporting businesses, primarily startups, and
give innovation vouchers to startups to hire expertise and more. Recently, vouchers are used to bring in
consultants in the area to see the way blockchain along with other emerging technologies can be used.
There is a national research and digital research centre working through different innovation labs throughout
the country particularly in Dublin and Galway with an established innovation process workshop system. This
system is focused on working with their idea and pitch the project to VCs and founders at the end of the
process. So, there are mechanisms in place for funding, but I think it would be true to say that like all
European countries that funding is always an issue for startups.
What measures has Ireland taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and
legislation to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
There are initiatives proving that the public sector is interested in blockchain. Last year, the Department of
Public Expenditure and Reform established a fellowship with the Science Foundation Ireland to explore use
cases within the blockchain. The research was on the application for the public sector and produced a
booklet for blockchain in the public sector.
An interesting area is the Institute of Banking, the Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and Ulster Bank, along
with Deloitte, which have produced an application of blockchain for all the employees in this network in terms
of their educational qualifications, compliance, and regulation. So, they are using blockchain to keep their
qualifications up to date and abide by the plethora of banking regulations. The initiative is called EDQ , and it
is the first in Europe to do something like that between a network of enterprises.
Skillsnet Ireland is the infrastructure to link the higher education with SMEs and increasingly develop
apprenticeships in this area. The Irish Minister Simon Harris sees the importance of different levels of
training and education intervention through the system.
On the legislation side, Ireland’s department of finance released a discussion paper called virtual currencies
and blockchain technology to explain the whole area in 2018. The paper did not feature any actionable
relations and the path to move forward.

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In terms of legislation, the work has been mainly focused on the MiCA regulation but the other side of
cryptocurrencies. The Irish government classifies cryptocurrencies as crypto assets, while the European
Union’s 5AML extends money laundering and counters financing of terrorism, and covers obligations to
entities providing service in relation to virtual assets. On the 21st of April, Ireland transposed this European
law with the Criminal Justice, Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act, amendment act 2021. The
provision of the 2021 act establishes the virtual assets service providers (VASPs). But the legislation is
welcomed by the Irish community for blockchain, crypto, and digital assets. The larger enterprises typically
have access to in-house legal experts and call upon their legal counsel to interrupt that. But there has been
no legislation per se, except those European ones. In 2020, the revenue commissioner released a tax
manual titled taxation of cryptocurrencies transactions.
I think that Ireland and the Central Bank have been cautious around the development of legislation in that
area. The Central Bank has an innovation hub to allow people to experiment and explore options.
The focal subject for industry and all the development agents is the ability to establish a framework of
regulation enabling companies to set up in Ireland. Small and medium-sized companies look into other
applications of blockchain more and more, such as farming, supply chain, education, and healthcare. It is in
the early stage of development, and experimentation with new ideas is possible
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
I think the development agency, whether it is the IDA or Enterprise Ireland, is present in the ecosystem as an
infrastructure to help promote and attract industry. They are aware of the opportunities, so one of the key
issues in this is the talent and skills area. The recent National Digital Strategy emphasises four areas
(infrastructure, skills, enterprise, and government services). In other words, the government is looking at
strategies within those areas to develop the skills for emerging technologies like blockchain.
The EU Chaise project is a really helpful initiative that documents the European situation. Recently, it
showcased a major skill shortage for blockchain. Essentially, the skill shortage is a result of the mismatch
between the present skills and the great demand. Governments have started noticing that subject while this
work only happened recently. Such research showcases the room for blockchain to grow. Moreover, the fact
that Europe regards blockchain as a core technology among the emerging ones and aspires to make Europe
a central part of technology. The recommendations from that project can be proved integral in building the
sector.
The mismatch provides details for education and training institutions on the nature of the necessary
interventions. For example, the industry needs graduates that can be workers who can be upskilled. It is not
just the need for technical skills, but there is the need for business and transversal skills. It is often for
programs within universities and training centres to really focus on the technical side. While the technical
skills are integral and at the core of the programs, there is a need to leave room for growing business and
transversal skills like communication, leadership, and collaboration. Such skills can allow blockchain
practitioners to grasp the business context and the scales for the applications and solutions. Overall,
collaboration is critical for blockchain and emerging technologies.
A future publication by CHAISE is on the blockchain skills strategy that can aid Europe in building that
strategy. I think that a European strategy will co-exist with national strategies in each member state,
including Ireland. The other output will be a five-year semester program as a career guidance program with a
clear definition of a blockchain profile. In Ireland, the group for forecasting needs and defining the different
types of jobs are the ESRI, the Economic and Social Research Institute. Their first publication should be out
in the next couple of months.

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Europe has been very proactive, starting with the overall vision of the digital and green agenda and finally
following the blockchain strategy. Within all that, all the structures support the development within the
Member States, the detailed study of blockchain skills and the requirements for the creation of infrastructure
in Europe for collaboration and cooperation.
Why do we need the communication skills so much? Is the composition of teams of multiple
backgrounds one of the reasons?
It is critical to take a step back to the programs and introduce at an early stage the importance of
communication and collaboration across a network of different specialities within the workforce.
Understanding the need for communication on different occasions is important. While working with the
developers tends to be focused on technical aspects, bringing people into the sector requires a different
approach and communication plan so that people can engage and adapt.
What does the future hold for the Ireland blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
Ι am an optimist by nature, so I think that we are now waiting for a public sector digital strategy in Ireland
following the national digital strategy and AI strategy. The role of blockchain will be positive, as it is an
emerging technology addressing issues in the public sector, academia, and industry and has a general
social impact.
Once that movement begins, the understanding will be built based on a skills development path and public
awareness. I believe that we are taking this direction, and we are at the beginning of this process to set out
the roadmap for the development of this area. As blockchain is a novel, a parallel with mixed jigsaw pieces
can be drawn. There are pieces available, but the effort should be made to connect them. In that path, the
regulation will play a critical in the development, but Europe will guide the legal part to create a unified
approach for the region. The European Digital and Green Agenda is a context that I see to be part of, as the
government looks at blockchain in terms of digital transformation. The attention is not on the technology per
se but on the benefits of these emerging technologies in addressing problems. Web3 approaches with other
opportunities arising and the development of all the emerging technologies. Greater understanding will set
the floor for developing applications in the future.
I believe that there is a chance for Ireland to become a national and international hub for blockchain and
emerging technologies. This development can be underpinned by skills development and the ability to adapt.
Flexible interaction with other sectors is needed during this initial development stage. So, I strongly believe
that parents and children need to be introduced to blockchain and emerging technologies at a very high
level. Showcasing the impactful way how these technologies can transform their lives is critical. This
engagement is quite different to programs like master or doctorate. That is why it is important to be flexible in
creating programs.
All in all, Europe looks to formalise the process around blockchain and emerging technologies; member
states can prepare themselves for that by fostering awareness and talent development.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€47.3 million
Funds raised by blockchain projects
by VCs or other sources of funding,
such as crowdfunding, ICOs and
STOs.

THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Finance,
Supply Chain,
Agriculture
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

97

Italy
THE ITALIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The diffusion of blockchain-based technology solutions is
advancing rapidly, and Italy has the potential to be an important
player in this nascent market, according to a 2020 report by the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
(OECD) titled Blockchain for Small-Medium Sized Enterprise
(SME) and Entrepreneurs in Italy. The OECD research team
concludes that the country features a plurality of use cases for
which blockchain technology is being accelerated, namely
supply chain management, copyright protection, HR,
procurement, and payments reconciliation.
According to researchers from the Centre for Entrepreneurship,
SMEs, Regions, and Cities (CFE), it is still too early to identify
with certainty in which direction a possible Italian blockchain
cluster could evolve. Despite the overall small size of venture
capital investments (as a proportion of GDP/ according to the
OECD), there are a few emerging VC funds that have decided
to focus specifically on blockchain companies. According to the
same OECD report, “most Italian companies lack a detailed
understanding of DLTs and blockchain applications.” Conducted
in 2019, the survey indicates that 14 % of large companies have
a deep understanding of the technology, while another 23 %
know about it on a more superficial level. The percentages
decrease when considering SMEs, as 4 % and 16 % have a
deep and superficial understanding, respectively. This is
reflected in low levels of application, with only 2 % of large
companies and 1 % of SMEs having ongoing experimentation
and projects in the area (Osservatorio Blockchain and
Distributed Ledger POLIMI, 2020).

While blockchain adoption has been expected mainly from governmental or financial use cases, in Italy, it is
proved that football might bring Italians closer to adopting the blockchain technology. A use case that has
evolved are the fan tokens, focusing mainly on football fans which grant to supporters of football clubs with
actual decision-making rights. For the most part, these decisions are on the periphery of a club’s operations.
At least six mainstream Italian football clubs(Lazio, Inter, Juventus, Milan, Roma, Napoli) maintain their own
fan tokens, while also smaller tams are stepping into this direction. This trend has led many blockchain firms
to sponsor major athletic events such as the final of Italy’s soccer cup competition, Coppa Italia.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Public Sector, Regional Governance & Policymakers:
The Italian government has showcased an innovative policy action at the international level. The Italian
Parliament approved in the Decreto Semplificazioni (DDL n. 989, 2019) a definition of DLTs and the legal
validity of smart contracts. The legislator has introduced in Italy an innovative legal principle that recognises
smart contracts as legal contracts in the Italian legal system.
There are no large-scale public sector initiatives in Italy attempting to establish a blockchain ecosystem for
blockchain approaches or blockchain clusters.
Since 2015, the Ministry of Economy and Finance launched two pilot projects to test the technology within
the systems of the public administration – the first experimentation was SUNFISH (Secure Information
Sharing in federated heterogeneous private clouds). The Italian prototype used smart contracts on a
blockchain infrastructure to ensure integrity and secrecy in the exchange of information between the MEF
and the State Police, in particular concerning the residence and status of Italian public security agents.
The second implementation initiative of a DLT technology, again by the MEF is called PoSeID-on, a platform
for Personal Data Management and Data Protection. The initiative aims to create an ecosystem platform
using permissioned blockchain and smart contracts, for management and protection of personal data in
compliance with the GDPR framework. The platform will be accessible within different phases. The first
phase will onboard up to 2 million Italian public servants registered on NoiPA (legal-economic management
service of the payroll within the Italian public administration), that will have the possibility to use an improved
dashboard for the management of their data.
Both projects have been financed by the European Commission, and in particular from the Horizon 2020
programme.
In 2018, Italy has been amongst the seven southern EU members which have signed a declaration to
promote “Distributive Ledger Technology”. The Mediterranean Seven believes blockchain technology can be
a “game changer” in boosting the efficiency of their economies.
Italy signed the declaration creating the European Blockchain Partnership on 27 September 2018.
In 2019, the MiSE instituted a high-level expert group to discuss a National Blockchain Strategy.
The expert group started work in January 2019, organised in Sub-working Groups, namely:




SG1 – Use cases: infrastructure, mapping, and replicability conditions
SG2 – Regulatory framework: sandboxes and vulnerability
SG3 – Digital coins, payment system, and Fintech
SG4 – Education, skills, and awareness
SG5 – Strengthening of public administration services

The draft document has been finalised by the experts and it will provide the basis for the Italian National
Strategy on Blockchain.
Documents leaked on the dark web, revealed that Chainalysis cooperated with the Italian Law Enforcement
with meaningful leads related to IP data associated with a relevant cryptocurrency address. The original leak
involved a cache of documents allegedly obtained from the Italian Guardia Di Finanza’s Nucleo Speciale
Frodi Tecnologiche’s dark web team. The leaked materials identify the presentation as a component of an
investigation into Berlusconi Market. Berlusconi Market was a darknet market that Italian authorities took
down in 2019.
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Other Public-Private Initiatives:
The Ministry of Economic Development (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico) partnered with IBM in 2019 to
develop a first case study focusing on the traceability of the “Made in Italy”, in the textile sector in Italy. The
objective of the feasibility study was to test a platform, based on the private permissioned infrastructure of
IBM Hyperledger Fabric, to provide a solution for the various stakeholders in the textile supply chain, one of
the most important for the “Made in Italy”.
A pilot project was launched by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (MiPAAF) in 2017 for
the traceability of the wine supply chain. The project, called “Wine Supply Chain 4.0”, included also Agea
(Agricultural Dispensing Agency), SIAN (National Agriculture Information System), and Almaviva as a private
partner. The system, based on Ethereum, was aimed at protecting the origin of Italian products in the wine
supply chain, guaranteeing quality and safety in the production process.
The Ministry of Education, University and Research (MIUR) prepared in 2018 a white paper for “Diplome”, a
system for recognition of educational qualification based on DLTs.
Legislation focused on blockchain and cryptocurrencies
Regulators as Bank of Italy, CONSOB, and Tax Authority (Agenzia Delle Entrate) have issued various official
documents to clarify issues related to cryptographic assets. The scope of those clarifications has been solely
limited to the cryptocurrencies, rather the applications of the blockchain in real-world applications.
A Ministerial Resolution of 2016 issued by the Agenzia Delle Entrate (Revenue Agency) addressed certain
aspects of the tax treatment of Bitcoin and other cyber currencies. It implemented a European Court of
Justice (ECJ) decision which held that no Value-added Tax (VAT) can be imposed on the exchanges of
crypto to fiat and vice versa. But “for purposes of the corporate income tax (Imposta sul Reddito sulle
Società, IRES) and the Italian regional production tax (Imposta Regionale sulle Attività Produttive, IRAP),
profits and losses on such transactions constitute corporate income or losses subject to taxation.” In short, all
profits from crypto are taxable, except crypto transactions.
Looking into the Italian Legislative Decree no. 90 Series of 2017, regulations imposed on traditional money
exchanges also apply to cryptocurrency exchanges, giving cryptocurrencies the same treatment with foreign
currency.
On 7 February 2017, the Parlamento Italiano swiftly approved a bill submitted by the Senate last January 23
defining blockchain technology and distributed ledger technologies, or DLT. The crypto regulation bill to be
known as “Decreto Semplificazioni” is now under the Agenzia per l’Italia Digitale tasked to create specific
technical standards for the legal compliance of smart contracts.
“Legislative Decree No. 90 of 2017 subjected virtual currency providers to the regulations established for
traditional money exchange operators. To that effect, Legislative Decree No. 90 charged the Ministry of the
Economy and Finance to issue a ministerial decree setting forth the modalities and timelines for the legal
performance of such activities throughout the country.”
On 7 February 2019, the Italian Parliament approved a law which provides a legal definition of both DLTs
and smart contracts and recognises their full legal validity and enforceability.
As a result, Italy is one of the first countries to introduce legislation that rules that smart contracts are
deemed by law to be equivalent for certain purposes (i.e. consensus formation and evidentiary value) to
traditional written contracts to the extent that the digital authentication of the parties.
On 14 June 2021, Commissione Nazionale per le Società e la Borsa Italy’s securities market regulator has
said the increasing use of cryptocurrencies outside of a regulated marketplace may have negative

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consequences. “If it takes too long at a European level to come up with a solution, (Italy) will have to take its
own measures,” he said.
On 15 July 2021, Italy’s securities regulator Consob declared that the cryptocurrency exchange Binance is
unauthorised to offer services in the country. On 30 July 2021, Binance has announced that it will no longer
offer crypto futures and options in Italy.
According to interpello n. 788/2021, issued in November 2021 by the Revenue Agency, the tax authorities
reiterate the equivalence of cryptocurrencies to foreign currencies.
Academic Courses & Professional Qualifications and Research Initiatives:
According to the website Edurank, researching publications in the categories: Blockchain and Cryptography,
a graph of 253 000 citations received by 11.7 thousand academic papers made by 42 universities in Italy.
Among the top three ranked universities are the Polytechnica University of Milan, the University of Bologna,
and the Sapienza University of Rome.
Politecnico di Milano – Osservatorio Blockchain & Distributed Ledger: Established in 2018, the mission of the
Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Observatory is to generate and share knowledge on Blockchain and
Distributed Ledger related topics and contribute to the development of the Italian market, creating debate
and meeting and comparison opportunities for the main players that are active in this field. Due to the
collaboration between the Management, Economics, and Industrial Engineering Department and the
Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering, the Observatory analyses these topics from
both a business and technical perspective.
University of Florence: The University of Florence has started a professional course on blockchain and
blockchain technologies. The intent is to go beyond Bitcoin, understand the technology underlying the first
cryptocurrency. Students will have the chance to update their competences, tracking the innovations that
blockchain will bring for economy and society. This is the goal of the course in economy and law of digital
assets, which has been activated by the Department of the signs of economy and business of the University
of Florence
Lewis Business School: has launched advanced University course named blockchain business revolution. It is
aimed at executive directors’ managers entrepreneurs as well as officials of public administrations. In
addition there are a number of other courses , master courses on blockchain technology blockchain
innovation and blockchain technology management from different private and public universities in Italy
amongst them the link campus University , the University of Roma 3, Associations, The University of the
Italian Chambers of Commerce, several universities from the North of Italy: Verona and Padua.
SDA Bocconi/ School of Management: The Blockchain Education Network Italia is Founded at the end of
2014 and became a non-profit in 2016, promotes the study and use of Blockchain technology through
conferences, courses, and project development. Oriented to the university environment, it collects
memberships from students, teachers, and researchers, and collaborates with companies and public
administrations. Scientific dissemination and education on the technology underlying Bitcoin and other
cryptocurrencies constitute the mission of the BEN.

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Blockchain across key industries: A key characteristic of the Italian economy is a large number of SMEs,
and the advancement of the export-oriented industrial sectors.
Blockchain Experimentation by large firms in Italy: Key players in Italy include technology providers such
as IBM Italy and Microsoft Italy. In fact, solution providers are in most cases small startups. These players
have gathered in several associations; Italia for blockchain is one of them, with over 350 members.

Ten Italian enterprises are already using blockchain successfully: Ania which is working with IBM and reply
has developed the sandbox project. Anya is the Association of insurance companies and sandbox is a
protected virtual space where a dispute resolution procedure is experimented, basing it on blockchain
technologies. In short parties have interest in taking part in the project, since this guarantees faster resolution
of disputes.
Mediolanum bank is using the Ethereum blockchain to certify the originality of the non-financial declaration [a
document which collects for example information on environmental and social policies], publishing the hash
off the document on the institutional website of the bank. Mediolanum is also studying other possible
applications for document authentication.
Carrefour Italy was the first Italian enterprise of the large organises distribution to use blockchain for the
traceability of products on their shelves. Information is available also through an app for the smartphone. The
project was initiated with chicken in 2018 and was extended to Citrus fruits in 2019.
The municipality of Bari the municipality is collaborating with SIA and has started a project based on
blockchain technology which aims to Digitalise the process to manage guarantee policies in public
procurement. This project allowed to dematerialise the issue of guarantees on the part of banks, financial
intermediaries, insurance companies, which are certified in an unambiguous and Irrevocable way.
CREA is a body supervised by the ministry of the agricultural policies which has the task to undertake
research in the agribusiness field. It has adopted blockchain solutions by Microsoft to develop an application
for the trace ability of wood, from the tree to the consumer. The entire supply chain has been simulated
starting from the planted trees until the final product including the cutting and processing processes of
the wood/

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The Italian post office has already invested in Conio, The Italian wallet for the purchase and exchange of
Bitcoin. Furthermore, it has started the development of other projects with IBM and Hyperledger.
UniCredit is participating in the platform we trade together with other eight Italian European banks, to allow
the use of crypto values within the traditional banking activities. In March 2019, the ASA group (producer of
metal packaging) purchased a batch of tin plate using Bitcoin from its supplier steel force, supported by KBC
bank in Belgium.
Italy’s ANSA newswire is trialling an Ethereum-based system to track every article it publishes in an effort to
prevent impersonators from publishing fake news under its banner. ANSAcheck registers vital details
including an article’s title, timestamp, content hash, ID and publication event on the Ethereum blockchain. It
makes this information available through a little green graphic emblazoned at the bottom of nearly every
newly published piece on the site.
Italian Bank Banca Generali led the $14 Million Series B for Bitcoin Wallet provider Conio. As part of the
investment, Banca Generali has also signed a commercial agreement with Conio, which will offer its Bitcoin
trading and custody services to the bank’s customers.
While not directly immediately related to the blockchain technology, the football club Inter Milan has signed a
EUR 85 million sponsorship deal with a blockchain FinTech firm. As Inter’s “official global digital-banking
partner,” Zytara will develop the club’s mobile app to integrate directly with Zytara’s banking technology and
enable access to crypto-based products. A similar deal has been conducted with the AS Roma football club.
As disclosed in October 2021, European cryptocurrency exchange Bitpanda is collaborating with Italian open
finance provider Fabrick to offer digital asset trading services to Italian banks and FinTechs. Fabrick is a part
of Sella, Italy’s largest group of banks, and has 510 application programming interfaces (API) available on its
platform that allow banking applications to communicate with each other. The APIs connect over
500 Italian banks.
The Spunta Banca DLT solution, built on Corda Enterprise by SIA, NTT Data and governed by ABI – the
Italian Banking Association – is live with over 100 Italian banks, representing 91 % of the nation’s banks. In
the first 6 months, Spunta Banca DLT has processed 204 million transactions with an automatic match rate
of 97.6 %, transforming the interbank reconciliation process.
Supply Chain Management
Due to the characteristics of the Italian economy, the supply chain management industry is a highly relevant
case study for the adoption of the blockchain technologies.
The consortium of red Sicilian oranges has used blockchain to implement a tool to fight food frauds and
enable consumers to recognise the originality of the citrus fruits through a simple scan off the IGP mark
attached to each box or net of oranges with the smartphone. It is possible to cheque the field where the fruits
have been produced, the date of collection, the modes of conservation and distribution.
Barilla is working together with IBM to develop a pilot project, which exploits blockchain technologies to
guarantee the origin, the quality of products and of raw materials, from the field to the table. The first
application was developed for Italian fresh basil.

THE BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
There is a dynamic community of startups based in Italy that have deployed innovative blockchain-based
projects. According to data collected by the Osservatorio Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology of
the Politecnico di Milano, and the innovative SMEs and startups registered on the database created by the
MiSE, in cooperation with Infocamere and Camere di Commercio d’Italia (the Italian Chambers of Commerce
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Association), 67 SMEs and startups active in the blockchain space could be identified. CoinATMradar counts
72 Cryptocurrency ATMs spread throughout Italy.
According to Crunchbase, which is EUBOF’s data tool for our cross-country benchmark, there are 97
blockchain-focused companies.

Companies founder per year (since 2015)
18

16
14
12
10
8
6
4
2
0
2015

2016

2017

2018
2019
Number of Companies

2020

2021

THE BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Italian blockchain ecosystem is prominent, featuring a large number of professionals actively engaged in
the blockchain technological community. The community consists of approximately 3.5 million to 4.1 million
observers according to Facebook’s audience metrics system.
(Source for Observers: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+, Locations: Italy, Keywords: Block Chain,
Cryptocurrency, Virtual Currency, Bitcoin | Source for Enthusiasts)

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NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Cynny: Cynny is developing MorphCast, a premium adaptive video format that delivers face recognition in a
smartphone without the need for an app or plugin, and is underpinned by deep neural network technology
that enables real-time content-engagement triggers, whilst fully maintaining the viewer’s data privacy. It was
built upon a powerful technological insight, that the processing capabilities of mobile devices would increase
rapidly, enabling us to create new types of personalised video-based experiences, within the device’s
browser
Young Platform: Young Platform is a new cryptocurrency exchange that allows you to buy and sell digital
assets (e.g. Bitcoin, Ethereum) with FIAT money (euro and pounds) safely, quickly, and easily!
Volvero: Volvero is an app that provides access to a USD 200 billion market, enabling vehicles owners to
earn by sharing them from one day on leveraging a secure DLT system and Big Data technologies for
vehicles monitoring and users’ awareness.
EvenFi: EvenFi is the regulated peer-to-peer crowdlending platform that connects valuable SMEs interested
in financing their growth projects with lenders looking for excellent investment opportunities.
EcoSteer: EcoSteer is an IoT and Blockchain software company that enables the deployment of IoT projects
securely. IoT Edge Security and project scalability are ensured by the key product, the EcoFeeder, a
patented push-only Edge Gateway software that converts any kind and number of devices into shareable
data streams, immediately accessible to all enterprise applications. IoT Data Privacy is guaranteed by the
blockchain-enabled Data Ownership Platform, where the same data streams can be tokenised and securely
shared with selected stakeholders outside the enterprise perimeter.
Poleecy: With Poleecy you are always just a few clicks away from insuring your life events. Poleecy sells
policies using the digital channel, that cover well-known risks, for a short time, with no paperwork and
recorded with blockchain, tailored to the customer location, habits, needs, and paid by e-money.
Prosume Energy: Prosume is a platform that aims to revolutionise the exchange of electricity from both
renewable and fossil fuel sources. Prosume connects independent power producers, consumers, utility
companies and energy communities in a locally shared market where each peer is free to interact in a multitenant ecosystem. The main goal of the project is to promote the decentralisation of power models and
empower energy communities. In order for this to happen, the project focuses on the implementation of P2P
energy exchange policies, targeting possible solutions for existing energy framework barriers (both from a
physical and legal standpoint) and investing in continuous R&D in order to offer state-of-the-art hardware and
IoT devices related to smart metering/billing, smart grids, energy routers and devices.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

+15
EMPLOYED IN IT

30 000
NOTABLE INSIGHTS:

Lack of regulations in the country

Presence of experienced
blockchain-based development
companies

Strong local blockchain
community

Latvia
THE LATVIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The Baltic states are at the forefront of blockchain technologies.
Although Estonia and Lithuania outperform the rest of the world
in adopting new technologies, Latvia does not fall far behind its
neighbours and invests significant resources to develop
blockchain technologies. The regulation for blockchain and
cryptocurrencies is not fully developed in Latvia as there are no
clear rules in place, but lawmakers have a liberal approach
towards the industry and do not currently require special
licences and permits to operate.
The business climate in the country is relatively favourable,
especially for startups. Latvia incentivises the local blockchain
startup scene by having a flexible tax system, tax benefits for
early companies in need of funding, and by issuing special visas
for founders to become residents in the country. StartUp Latvia
is a government-supported initiative that further fosters the
ecosystem.
Latvia encourages e-government in all domains of government,
and has also explored the use of blockchain systems in the
public sector and government-provided services. airBaltic, the
nationally owed carrier became the first airline to accept
cryptocurrency. Latvia has pioneered a blockchain-based
project moving the national Enterprise Register (UR) (similar to
a corporate registration system) to the blockchain.

Latvia has a highly qualified and skilled pool of thousands of IT professionals and software developers. The
country has been a popular destination for outsourcing IT-related projects. Blockchain-based development
has not been any different, with the Latvian blockchain scene dominated by startups offering development
services.
In general, Latvia is moving in the right direction. It is at the initial stage of building an innovation hub, but
largely outperforming Western Europe in terms of readiness for new technologies and a robust ecosystem
for entrepreneurs.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: The public sector in Latvia is open towards the emerging technology and
has already attempted to experiment with it. In 2019, the Economic Ministry of Latvia introduced two
blockchain-based pilot projects to boost the efficiency of services offered by the state. To strengthen the
supervisory capacity of the State Revenue Service (VID) and thus reduce the shadow economy, the
implementation of a blockchain-based cash register was introduced. The second pilot project will ease the
process of acquiring limited liability company status by using blockchain systems in Enterprise Registry.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: As relatively defined regulatory framework is already in
place, there are several legal firms analysing blockchain technologies. Financial and Capital Market
Commission (FKTK), public agency, consults entrepreneurs to have legal compliance in the country.

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Blockchain in academia: Academic qualifications in Latvia are not well established. Latvian universities do
not offer a degree in blockchain-related technologies. However, there are a number of independently
organised courses and seminars. Additionally, the University of Latvia Business often offers accelerator
programmes to blockchain startups and assists them with research in the sphere.
Considering the strong regional ties between the Baltic countries, it is important to note that as a whole they
have made a significant mark on the global blockchain front. Experience sharing is common, and the
enthusiast communities are closely tied, and there is even government support for experience sharing.
Notably, Estonia and Lithuania have both advanced significantly in the blockchain sphere. To support
blockchain initiatives and share the experience, Latvia has signed a memorandum of understanding with
Estonia and Lithuania. The finance ministries of the three Baltic states announced their cooperation to
promote DLTs aimed at fostering innovation in their countries.
The Baltic Honeybadger conference is a major blockchain event in Latvia and worldwide dedicated to
blockchain and the technologies built around it. The conference has attracted the most talented, driven and
passionate members of the industry from around the world and established itself as one of the leading
conferences globally. The conference has been attended by people like Andreas Antonopoulos, Elizabeth
Stark, Adam Back, Peter Todd, Tuur Demeester, Tone Vays, Giacomo Zucco and Eric Lombrozo, amongst
others.
Blockchain across key industries: There are a limited number of technological startups that utilise
blockchain as their underlying technological infrastructure. However, the public sector has been surprisingly
curious about the technology and experimented with it by launching several interesting initiatives as
mentioned above. Moreover, there are a significant number of companies (early-stage, big business, publicly
owned) that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method. airBaltic started selling tickets for
cryptocurrencies in 2014, ss.lv sells cars, while the city.lv real estate website sells housing for
cryptocurrency.
Latvia has a strong community of developers. About 30 000 of its 1.9 million people work in IT. Foreign
companies have been outsourcing their IT projects to Latvia for the past few years ever since the Baltic
countries became a popular destination for software development outsourcing. Foreign companies have
been outsourcing their IT projects in Latvia for the past few years. Many European countries choose to hire
developers from Latvia. As a result, software development outsourcing plays a crucial role in the country’s
exports. Latvia has around 6 500 ICT companies and over 500 startups, many of which have already started
specialising in blockchain-based development and offering full outsourcing services. AXIOMA Group,
Blockvis, Netcore and Soft-FX are some of most widely known blockchain development companies who
have served Binance, Bitfinex, Bitstamp, Kraken and many more big names in the industry. If this trend
continues, Latvia could become a powerful force in Europe if this trend continues, eventually dominating the
blockchain-based development scene.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Latvia ranks second in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) for the
attractiveness of its tax system, with the lowest financial requirements for startup founders. Startups can also
receive additional tax benefits (EUR 200 000) if they manage to raise no more than EUR 30 000 from
venture funds and accelerators. Latvia’s parliament has introduced a special flat tax regime for startups.
Another government initiative is a startup visa that provides temporary residence permits for up to five
founders, encouraging the creation of blockchain startups as international talents are often needed in this
domain. A special license for crypto-related activities is required, but if there is uncertainty, the Financial and
Capital Market Commission (FKTK) consults new investors and businesspersons on legal compliance in the
blockchain industry.
Business opportunities in the space were identified as early as 2014, with the majority of companies founded
between 2017 and 2018. Revenue numbers are generally hard to come by, both due to their small volume
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and the variety of income generation mechanisms employed by those companies and startups. The issues
with identifying exact figures are amplified due to the use of virtual currencies as a medium of payment.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Latvia has a population of 1.9 million, and the IT sector generates 30 000 jobs. IT services rank third in the
overall export of Latvian services. It is no surprise that the country has an active community of blockchain
developers. Community members are concerned with a variety of blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects. Egovernment, decentralised services and exchange platforms are some of the most popular topics amongst
community members.
The Latvian blockchain community operates
internationally, but many local communities have also
evolved around the technology. Due to a forgiving tax
system, easy-to-obtain visas and the cheap cost of
living in Riga, the country also attracts numerous
startups and blockchain enthusiasts from across
Europe. In 2017, Riga hosted the Baltic HoneyBadger
conference, the largest blockchain industry event in
the region. It hosted speakers from the most
successful blockchain initiatives, was well received
and grew in popularity within the industry. In 2019,
more than 700 blockchain enthusiasts attended.
The Latvian Blockchain ecosystem is geographically
diverse, with Riga serving as the dominant hub.
There are several blockchain associations that bring
together local and foreign talents in Latvia. For
instance, the Latvian Blockchain Association supports
entrepreneurs with broad array of information,
trainings and staff expertise. There are around 35
companies that accept cryptocurrencies as a payment method, 25 of which are based in Riga.
There is a significant level of e-governance practices set in place in Latvia. The country managed to
transform a post-soviet state into a technologically advanced nation. As a result, this new technology has a
good reputation amongst a vast majority of the population, with an understanding of the opportunities it
brings.
The blockchain community in numbers: The Latvian blockchain community is small relative to Europe, but
moderate compared to the region, with 482 LinkedIn professionals registered as working with or in the
industry. With just 2 regular Meetup groups and 500 Meetup attendees, the enthusiast community is rather
small. A Facebook marketing campaign indicates the audience for blockchain-related terms is 35 000.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
AXIOMA Group: Active player in the development of blockchain solutions, creating complex web projects,
startup launches and promotion.
Blockvis: Blockchain development and consulting group helps clients to enhance and facilitate existing
business processes by leveraging blockchain technology or its parts.
Velvet: Blockchain-powered solution for online identification, payments and controlling of the process in any
online deal.
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FINTELUM: Comprehensive ICO/STO token launch, smart contract, AML/KYC, compliance, crypto currency
escrow/custodian platform with transfer agency, secondary token OTC desk functions and ongoing corporate
action services.
Netcore: Digital agency based in Latvia providing a wide variety of development services for clients and other
B2B partners. Blockchain development team provides a wide variety of solutions, such as smart contract
integration, securely distributed ledgers and decentralised application development.
Bitfury: Founded in 2011, the world’s leading emerging technologies company has been at the forefront of
the blockchain scene for almost a decade. It is registered in the US and technically cannot be considered a
Latvian startup achievement. Founder and Latvian native Valerijs Vavilovs is an active member of the
Latvian blockchain community, sharing his knowledge at different community events.
Soft-FX: Company specialises in software development for financial companies. Creates high-tech software
solutions for largest cryptocurrency brokers and cryptocurrency exchange that includes Binance, Bitfinex,
Bitstamp, Poloniex, Kraken and Currenex, amongst others.
HodlHodl: Global P2P cryptocurrency exchange that allows users to trade directly with each other. Does not
withhold user funds, locking them in multisig escrow instead. This minimises the possibility of crypto asset
theft and reduces trading time.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
While the hype of blockchain and its potential applications are driving the transformation to the internet of
value, there is limited insight into what companies are doing to reap its benefits. Representatives from the
largest blockchain startups in Latvia describe the great opportunities and challenges the Latvian blockchain
ecosystem faces. A generally positive attitude towards new technologies and ease of doing business makes
it relatively simpler for Latvian startups to launch. However, it is hard to expand without sufficient funding.
Inokentijs Isers, founder and CEO of CryptoCash, thinks that it is important for the Latvian government to
play more active role in experimenting with the new technology. It is also important to educate the public on
what blockchain is and what role it can play in their lives.
Aleksejs Petrovs, former CTO of Bitfury, believes that blockchain solutions can significantly improve Latvian
state governance: “Blockchain suits more instances in state institutions than just document circulation. It is a
very handy solution, but more importantly a more effective and affordable system for a wide variety of
registers and election platforms. Latvia can certainly be competitive and successful in implementing
blockchain in the public administration.”
Ģirts Ozolins, CEO and founder of Eventech, expressed his views on the startup environment in Latvia:
“Riga, as the largest city in the Baltics and a major hub in northern Europe, serves as home base for many
software and hardware startups. In recent years, the ecosystem here has been booming and the government
recognises the role it must play supporting the environment.”
Read more: “https://www.letera.lv/en/biedruzina/exploring-a-world-of-sound-with-erica-synths-girts-ozolins/”
Deniels Pavluts, Latvia’s former Minister of Economics, believes that Latvia is heading towards the right
direction, but there are many things to be learned from neighbours:
“It would be great to see if our capital city Riga could learn from Stockholm in regards with the investments
they make and the level of coordination present in the startup ecosystem. It would be lovely if we could help
each other to become as single minded, communicative and IT-orientated as the Estonians. There are many
good things that we would like to copy. But most importantly, we must communicate those things that make
the Latvian startup ecosystem unique and attractive.”
Read more: “https://www.eu-startups.com/2016/05/riga-a-great-place-for-startups-to-start-going-global/”

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Key Figures
FUNDING

€61 million
FINANCIAL SERVICE PROVIDERS

14
Liechtenstein uses
blockchain to
reshape the finance
industry
Its legislation
unlocks the
technology’s
innovative potential
Trust and control
problems in the
system can be
solved

Liechtenstein
THE LIECHTENSTEIN BLOCKCHAIN
ECOSYSTEM AT A GLANCE
The Liechtenstein is Europe’s fourth smallest country but has
managed to establish a growing blockchain community, mainly
due to its legal basis within the Tokens and Trusted
Technologies Service Provider Act (Geset über Token known as
“Blockchain Act”) (7).
Both existing companies and startups appear to be enjoying
favourable conditions and support for blockchain-related
projects and activities. More specifically, the Blockchain
ecosystem in the country is supported by a constellation of
organisations, such as the Office for Financial Market Innovation
and Digitalisation (8),, aiming to support market participants, the
government, and regulatory authorities, the Financial Market
Authority, working on financial market laws and the
Entrepreneur Service, providing information about how to set up
and how to operate a business in Liechtenstein.
Furthermore, as part of the overall innovation ecosystem of the
country, innovation clubs have been set up, supporting
companies in sharing their ideas and help develop a supportive
and clear legal and regulatory environment.
Since early 2020, Lichtenstein has put in force the Blockchain
Act in an effort to provide a comprehensive regulatory
framework for the token economy. This is a clear reflection of
how open and supportive the government of the Principality of
Liechtenstein is towards FinTech projects.
“With the Blockchain Act, Liechtenstein is a pioneer and is one
of the first countries to create legal security in this important
future field” (9).
Since the Blockchain Act was introduced, the number of TT
Service Providers that have registered with the Liechtenstein
Financial Market Authority has increased tremendously, while

(7) https://www.legal500.com/guides/chapter/liechtenstein-blockchain/
(2) Established by the Ministry of General Government Affairs and Finance.
(3) The Liechtenstein Bankers Association.
(4) Source: https://www.legal500.com/guides/chapter/liechtenstein-blockchain/

(9) https://www.legal500.com/guides/chapter/liechtenstein-blockchain/

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there are several businesses that have relocated their headquarters to Liechtenstein to improve legal
certainty (10).
The Innovation Club initiative has been introduced to help further improve the framework conditions in the
country; this is an initiative promoted by the government, aiming to involve key innovation actors, including
companies and individuals, in pitching their ideas for improving legislation, ordinances, procedures or official
practice.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain is considered as a key enabler for innovation and is being adopted within both the business and
the public sector. The Blockchain Act should be seen in the larger context of the “innovation framework”,
which aims to improve the innovation capacity of the private and public sectors. The application of
Blockchain is spreading in various sectors, especially the financial sector, for example with “Blockchain
Banking”. There is a wide range of products and services offered.
Regulation and policymaking: The Law on Tokens and TT Service Providers (known as TVTG or the
Blockchain-Act) provides a comprehensive and technology-neutral approach to regulating the entire token
economy. The aim of the TVTG is to protect users and to ensure confidence in digital legal transactions. The
Act details both rights and obligations of service providers who perform activities on TT systems. These
providers are subject to registration and supervision by the FMA. The TVTG creates a new civil law for tokens
and the legal basis for the ownership, possession and disposition rights over tokens on VT systems. It does
not only cover digital assets (such as Bitcoin), but creates the legal basis for the tokenisation of analogue
assets (https://impuls-liechtenstein.li/en/blockchain/#tvtg).
The Blockchain Act also offers the possibility of tokenizing property itself, i.e. valuables, works of art, classic
cars or other fungible items. making them accessible to a new group of investors. This is currently receiving
a lot of attention and popularity.
Business Environment: Liechtenstein has established an innovation framework aiming to ensure a dynamic
and continuous development of the framework conditions and at the same time provide a high degree of
legal certainty for individuals and enterprises (https://impuls-liechtenstein.li/en/innovations-framework/).
To this end, several support agencies have been put in place, such as the Office for Financial Market
Innovation and Digitalization and the Regulatory Laboratory at the Financial Market Authority, while a
number of different initiatives such as innovation clubs and LVC have been set up.
Blockchain in academia: the University of Liechtenstein acts is a major player for the country’s blockchain
ecosystem. It acts as an innovation centre and is actively involved in several projects and programmes,
providing support for business, policy as well as society.
Currently, there exist two certificate programmes related to blockchain:
• Blockchain and FinTech certificate course
• Certificate course Digital Legal Officer

(10) https://www.fma-li.li/en/client-protection/safeguarding-client-protection-in-different-sectors/tt-service-providers.html

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The economy of Liechtenstein is quite diverse, with several small and medium-sized enterprises. The key
sectors that move the economy are industry and the financial services (11). Liechtenstein over the years has
created a favourable and competitive environment for establishing and operating a business offering, as well
as an attractive taxation system and a well-regulated environment. This has attracted several international
FinTech, blockchain and crypto communities in the country. In January 2020, the principality was the first in
the world to enact a law specifically addressing blockchain technology governance and the token economy.
FinTech is one of the most supported sectors, and a specialised department was created to support financial
technologies, including blockchain. Given the stability offered both at financial and regulatory level,
Liechtenstein has become a pole of attraction for FinTech, blockchain and crypto companies.
Despite the fact that there are not financial incentives for crypto investors, the framework conditions and the
support provided by regulatory and taxation frameworks, suffice for setting up an environment that makes
them feel welcome.
Companies founder per year (since 2015)
20
15
10
5
Number of Companies

0
2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Companies Founded per year
(since 2015)
200

8

180

7

160

6

140

5

120

4

100

3

80

2

60

1

40

0

20
2018

2017

2016

0

(11) See: https://www.llv.li/files/as/liechtenstein_in_figures_2020.pdf

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2021

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)

9

2019

2020

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
One of the most prominent blockchain communities in Liechtenstein is the Blockchain Meet-up Liechtenstein
with more than 900 members, who have held 27 events so far. The community is well recognised and is
being sponsored by seven blockchain enterprises and organisations, i.e. Blockchainbuero, Business Angels
Club Liechtenstein, BWB Attorneys at Law Ltd., Ganten Group, NÄGELE Attorneys at Law LLC, Sirius
Trusted Technologies and SwissBorg.

Source for audience: Facebook audience, ages: 16-65+, location: Liechtenstein, keywords: Block chain (database),
cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ethereum)

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Below is a list of the market participants from the FinTech and Blockchain ecosystem in Liechtenstein as
presented in the Innovation Club (https://impuls-liechtenstein.li/en/).
Crypto Country Association: The Crypto Country Association is an association dedicated to supporting the
field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in Liechtenstein. The aim is to coordinate the application and
dissemination of these fields in Liechtenstein and beyond, while ensuring quality. To this end, the
Association’s Board and members are available to provide information and support to its members and third
parties. The Association maintains close contact with authorities, fellow associations and industry
representatives.
NÄGELE Rechtsanwälte GmbH: The firm specialises in business law issues in private and public law, in
particular blockchain/DLT, IT, internet, telecommunication, corporate, company, capital markets, labour,
contract and property law. NÄGELE`s clients include international companies, SMEs and family-owned
businesses from the region, as well as private individuals and public institutions.

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House of Blockchain: In the heart of Liechtenstein’s financial and legal centre, House of Blockchain offers a
space for ideas to flourish. House of Blockchain’s mission is to become the hub and enabler of innovation,
helping extend the reach of blockchain technology – both in Liechtenstein and the world.
Bank Frick: Bank Frick is a European pioneer in the field of regulated blockchain banking. It applies the same
strict regulatory standards as in traditional banking. The offering includes a wide range of innovative crypto
services and products. In addition, the bank develops customised crypto structuring solutions for
intermediaries. For its customers, the entrepreneurial Bank Frick is the interface between the traditional
financial world and the decentralised world of blockchain and token economy.
Seed X Liechtenstein AG: Seed X funds early-stage startups (pre-seed – Series A) in the “FinTech, insurtech
& prop-tech space.
Fifth Force (Liechtenstein) GmbH; platform operator of “Neufund”: The Neufund platform operated by Fifth
Force (Liechtenstein) GmbH supports the primary market for the issuance of equity tokens. Potential
investors of the Neufund platform go through a KYC – and AML – process before they can contact issuers
via the Ethereum Blockchain. Neufund facilitates this process by keeping a register of verified users and an
ownership registry as a service to fundraising companies on the Neufund platform. Fifth Force
(Liechtenstein) GmbH is therefore providing the service of a TT Identity Service Provider according to the
TVTG.
BDO: BDO is a leading Liechtenstein auditing, consulting and accounting firm with an international network,
which provides individual, comprehensive and straightforward support and in-depth Fintech/Blockchain
know-how.
OriginStamp AG: OriginStamp specialises in data integrity proofs and daily secure data archiving using
Blockchain technology. OriginStamp certification service can be included in third-party service offerings,
including when deploying private blockchain solutions, smart contracts, and DApps (decentralised
applications).
Red Leafs Tax AG: Red Leafs offers broad expertise in tax law in all cross-border matters. Due to its profound
experience in international consulting firms and the financial industry, for the company specialises in all tax
issues in the blockchain and FinTech sector.

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INSIGHTS FROM INDUSTRY EXPERTS
Our questions were sent to Dr Clara Billek, Deputy Director of the Office for Financial Market Innovation of
Liechtenstein.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Liechtenstein? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Clara Billek: Liechtenstein has early on recognised the potential of blockchain technologies. As such we
have been amongst the first countries to proactively deal with them and have introduced the world’s first
comprehensive legal framework (“The Law on Tokens and Trusted Technologies Service Providers”,
“TVTG”). This has contributed to a generally high public awareness of the technology in Liechtenstein and
further fostered the development of an ecosystem of innovation. However, the practical adoption and
engagement in the everyday life takes time and it is still very early in the whole development.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Liechtenstein?
Clara Billek: The governmental and regulation set-up and framework is the most mature in the world in this
sector, creating the elemental foundation for innovation. There also is a broad-based ecosystem for innovative
companies that has developed in the recent years – flanked by research, education, events and adjunct service
providers. It is still a niche but a rapidly growing industry, enriching and expanding the services, value creation
and possibilities of mainly the traditional financial market and the commerce and industry sector.
Only respond if specific measures have been taken – What measures has Liechtenstein taken over
the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and legislation to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption?
Clara Billek: Apart from the introduction of the blockchain act “TVTG” (entry into force on 1.1.2020), the
Office for Financial Market Innovation and Digitization continuously works on a further development of legal
and regulatory framework with its unique state innovation framework. Formats, i.e. like the “Innovation Club”,
bring forth changes in laws, ordinances, procedures or official practices. The monthly SFID Blockchain &
Innovation Circle (BIC) is an event series to provide information on concrete FinTech, blockchain and
innovation applications and issues. A revision of the TVTG in preparation of the EU MiCA Regulation is
currently in the works. It has been clarified and facilitated that the foundation of a company can be done with
cryptocurrencies. Research programmes of the University of Liechtenstein (in the fields of finance, civil law
and corporate law and financial market law).
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for entrepreneurs?
Clara Billek: Trust and use follows understanding. Hence, to provide even more educational, awareness
and information work as well as better user experience would go a long way in public adoption. For
entrepreneurs, legal clarity and certainty is key, followed by a harmonised legal and regulatory landscape for
an inherently borderless baseline technology.
What does the future hold for the Liechtenstein blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
Clara Billek: We are looking forward to seeing the innovation ecosystem further evolve and to flourish and to
foster and strengthen the Liechtenstein financial centre. We also thrive to contribute to the shaping of the
legal and regulatory framework and creating the best possible framework conditions for these technological
developments for innovation.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

31
RAISED BY THE LITHUANIAN
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

€1.1 bn
NOTABLE INSIGHTS:

Favourable legal framework &
guidelines

Strong support amongst
politicians

Model for cooperation between the
government, the industry and
NGOs

Lithuania
THE LITHUANIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Lithuania became an epicentre of European blockchain adoption
during the crypto boom of 2017-2018. Within this timeframe, the
country was ranked in the top 3 according to the amount of
funding raised by its blockchain startups through ICOs – a
remarkable feat for such a small country.
Lithuania combines some of the most blockchain-friendly
regulatory regimes in the EU with high availability of tech talent,
low taxes and low cost of living. These advantages continue to
support the blockchain startup ecosystem in the country even
after the end of the ICO boom.
Lithuanian blockchain startups are leaders in several important
fields including FinTech, educational technology and medical
technology. Interest in blockchain is high in public sector, too.
The Lithuanian central bank was the first one globally to create
LBChain – a sandbox environment or digital currency
experimentation.
The country does not rest on its laurels and continues to
develop its blockchain ecosystem. Blockchain continues to be
supported by Lithuanian politicians on the highest-level ranging
from members of the parliament to the finance minister to senior
central bank officials. One of the members of parliament
founded a leading NGO which acts as an incubator for
blockchain startups and offers qualifying blockchain startups
coworking space and mentorship support. Lithuanian
entrepreneurs can also take advantage of multiple country-level
and EU-level government grants and incentives.
Overall, the country has a strong and vibrant community of
enthusiasts which is well positioned to power the next wave of
blockchain adoption.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Lithuania is one of the most pro-blockchain countries in Europe. One of the
country’s leading politicians, a former member of the parliament and serial entrepreneur, Antanas Guoga, is
a founder of Blockchain Centre Vilnius – a leading NGO supporting blockchain startups. Several other
leading politicians, including the finance minister, have voiced their support for blockchain.
The Lithuanian approach to building a blockchain ecosystem has been characterised by open dialogue
between politicians, startups and NGOs. The biggest amongst NGOs is Blockchain Centre Vilnius which
operates like an incubator for blockchain companies. It provides a co-working space for blockchain startups,
connects them with international investors, assists them with business development activities in the EU and
Asia and carries out due diligence of blockchain projects, amongst other things. Another key player in the
blockchain space has been the Bank of Lithuania, which has launched a digital currency sandbox called LB
Chain, which is envisioned to become a prototype for central bank-issued blockchain-backed coins. The
Bank of Lithuania has gained international acclaim for creating a FinTech-friendly regulatory and supervisory
environment while enforcing international money-laundering and “know your customer” regulations.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: Lithuania is renowned for its balanced approach
to blockchain regulation which combines a commitment to create a safe environment for blockchain
experimentation with strict enforcement of international banking regulations. Lithuania became one of the
first countries to regulate ICOs in June of 2018 when the complete set of regulations for ICOs and
cryptocurrency was published by the country’s finance ministry. This package of measures not only
eliminated the regulatory uncertainty that had been impeding blockchain development in the country, but it
also created more favourable conditions for blockchain development than in other EU countries.
In April 2019, Lithuania adopted some of the strictest KYC and registration requirements for digital asset
service providers in Lithuania. According to the rules, service providers need to be registered with the
country’s Centre for Registers. They are required to perform KYC and anti-money laundering checks and to
inform the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS) about larger transfers. While this has been seen by
some as a negative step that might stymie adoption of digital assets and blockchain, it improved public
perception of blockchain and crypto, thus paving the way for further adoption.
Blockchain in academia: The Blockchain Technology Group at Vilnius University, Lithuania is focused on
blockchain R&D. The group connects academic researchers and PhD students with specialisation in
blockchain technology, data mining, high-performance computing, operational research, networking, and
distributed systems. In addition to R&D, the group offers “Blockchain Technologies” courses for
undergraduate and doctoral students.
In addition to the blockchain technology group, there are multiple online courses available through global and
local providers.
Attracting world-class researchers to Lithuania is not only a national, but also an EU-wide priority. The
activity is managed by the country’s Research Council and the ministry of education and science.
Blockchain across key industries: Lithuania is one of the top 30 of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. The
FinTech and ICT sectors have the highest growth and count with well-established startups. The Bank of
Lithuania (BoL) opened a pre-sale for the world’s first digital collector coins – dubbed “LBCOINs”.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
As a European blockchain startup hub, Lithuania has attracted multiple blockchain startups, especially in the
FinTech area. The majority of the startups were established prior or during crypto-boom of 2017-2018 and
were funded through ICOs. Due to the well-developed legal framework, Lithuanian startups continued to

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raise money through ICOs in 2018 even after the stream of ICOs thinned elsewhere. However, eventually
ICO funding dried up which led to a slowdown in startup activity.

Start-ups in the
Lithuania
Blockchainrelated startups, 2%

According to data compiled by crunchbase.com, 1 465
startups have been founded in Lithuania, 20 of which are
related to blockchain.
The key sectors where Lithuanian blockchain startups are
present include FinTech (Bankera), education (BitDegree),
music (Musical blockchain) and several others. It appears that
the majority of startups are still at a pre-revenue or early
revenue stage. The exact figures are not known as companies
are exempt from publicly reporting their financial figures due to
their small size.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The biggest centres of software development in general and in blockchain software development are Vilnius
and Kaunas, and, to a lesser extent, Klaipeda. All of the cities are major economic and administrative centres
of Lithuania.
Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania and its biggest city. International
companies that selected the country’s capital as a location of their
major R&D offices include Wix (a site development tools platform,
with almost 200 professionals employed in Vilnius), Uber’s critical
site reliability centre, Adform (advertising platform, offices in both
Vilnius and Kaunas, employing more than 600 full-time equivalents),
Unity, Revel (a payment technology startup, employing 180 full-time
equivalents) and several others.
Vilnius is the site of several regular blockchain events. The majority
of events are organised by Blockchain Centre Vilnius. The topics discussed at the events include blockchain
use cases, startup management, financial and legal issues surrounding startups, as well as synergetic
technologies such as AI.
In addition to the events, Blockchain Centre Vilnius offers mentorship to premium residents of the centre. To
be eligible for mentorship, a startup must focus on “creating proper solutions to real-world problems using
blockchain technology.”
International companies are less well represented in Kaunas. The most notable international IT company with
offices in the city include Adform and Bentley systems, a developer of engineering software. Nevertheless, the
city is a magnet for local startups – almost half of all blockchain startups. Mentors have broad and varied
experience ranging from investment banking to legal to software development to sales and marketing.
The most significant blockchain community event in Kaunas is Kaunas Blockchain meetup, which is
performed every few months. Also, due to the geographical proximity to Vilnius (a 90-minute journey by train
or car), blockchain developers from Kaunas can easily attend events organised there as well.
The blockchain community in numbers: Lithuania’s blockchain community is small, by European
standards, but remains on par with the region. As many as 935 LinkedIn professionals are currently
registered as working with or in the industry. There are also 7 regular Meetup groups and 4 354 Meetup
attendees, making this community relatively active. What’s more, a Facebook marketing campaign indicates
the audience for blockchain related terms is 70 000.

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NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Musical Blockchain offers an AI composer solution underpinned by blockchain-based nodes collaboration
solution. Users upload their data and the Musical Blockchain’s solution converts it into a melodic sequence.
The company’s technology can use, for example, images or text (what it describes as “inspiration”) for a
tune. The company foresees a much wider application area for its solutions. Its website mentions such
additional use cases as city development, art, education and medicine.
DappRadar is a market intelligence vendor for decentralised applications (DApps). The company aspires to
remove the noise and hype from the DApp selection process and instead focuses on measurable indicators
such as the number of active users, token volume and transaction activity. In September 2019, the company
raised EUR 2.1 million in seed funding from investors that include Naspers ventures.
Bankera is focused on creating a banking experience that seamlessly integrates crypto and traditional
banking. Founded in 2013, it was initially known as the developer of SpectroCoin – a cryptocurrency
brokerage service. SpectroCoin enabled Banker to develop the transaction processing infrastructure that can
rival that of traditional banks.
Currently, the company looks to address inefficiencies inherent in traditional banking, such as high effort and
cost required to make cross-border transactions. The company attempts to differentiate itself by focusing on
ease of use, initiative user interface, instant transaction processing as well as by being crypto-friendly.
Bankera does not only provide crypto wallet services to its customers, it also operates a fully licenced
cryptocurrency exchange.
Bankera has raised a total of EUR 100 million in funding over two rounds. Its latest funding came in
November 2017 from an ICO round.
Gatepool are positioning themselves as investment managers in the decentralised economy. Founded in
2017, the core of Gatepool is a technology-enabled investment platform that enables institutional investors,
family offices and high-net-worth individuals to analyse and invest into decentralised assets. The information
about funding is not publicly available.
BitDegree describes itself as a “Blockchain-based and gamified online education platform”. The key
advantage of BitDegree’s offering is that information about completed courses is stored immutably on
blockchain. Unlike traditional online course providers, BitDegree developed a blockchain based microscholarship programme that keeps customers engaged and motivated throughout the process. Founded in
2017, the company is based in Kaunas.
CoinGate was founded in 2014 in Vilnius, CoinGate, and represents the first wave of blockchain startups. The
company provides acquiring and trading/investment solutions in the cryptocurrency space. CoinGate
exceeded 1 000 users in 2016 and exceeded 10 000 users in 2017. The same year the company became
the first one to launch phone cryptocurrency payments. The company employs around 20 specialists across
its sales and marketing, development, operations and customer support teams. The information about
funding is not publicly available.
Lympo is a developer of digital wellness and engagement programmes. Founded in 2017, it also provides
incentivised brand management services (rewarded marketing programmes). Operating from Vilnius, Lympo
has raised a total of EUR 8.5 million from an ICO on 3 January 2018.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Despite the hype about blockchain and its potential applications, driving the transformation to the internet of
value, there are limited insights about what companies can do to reap all the benefits. Representatives of the
largest blockchain startups in Lithuania describe the great opportunities as well as several challenges ahead
for the Lithuanian blockchain scene.
Development of the industry in Lithuania will largely depend on sufficient funding for successful new projects,
as well as continual regulatory progress expected from the Lithuanian government.
Gabrielius Bilkštys, who serves as the Chief Business Development Officer at Mistertango, a payments
and cryptocurrency startup, noted that he is concerned about the rising regulatory hurdle of operating a
crypto business. He stressed there is a lot of legitimate activity occurring in crypto space and that increased
compliance requirements risk strangling the nascent market (while criminals will always find ways to
circumvent the regulations).
Vytautas Karalevičius, the CEO of the highest valued Lithuanian blockchain startup, Bankera, holds a
different view than Bilkštys. He noted that the burden of increasing regulation is manageable. Improved KYC
and AML checks will reduce criminal usage of cryptocurrencies and blockchain and will help establish
blockchain’s image as a tool for the good.
For Karalevičius, the key to further development of blockchain in Lithuania hinges on the elimination of
regulator uncertainty. He also notes that several Lithuanian teams have decided to incorporate their projects
abroad to avoid regulatory risks.
As an advisor to the Board Member of the Lietuvos bankas, the country’s central bank and the main
regulatory authority, Jekaterina Govina leads the Bank of Lithuania LBChain project (blockchain
sandbox/accelerator). She supports a measured approach where new solutions are tested on real customers
in the “sandbox” regime and the lessons learned from the testing are applied to develop regulations. Govina
also favours EU-wide and global regulatory initiatives such as the Global Financial Innovation Network – a
global sandbox for FinTech startups and finance industry incumbents attempting to create new solutions.
She also mentioned that she sees the next steps in the regulations as addressing inefficiencies in such
areas as investments and insurance.
Antanas Guoga, Member of Parliament, founder of Blockchain Centre Vilnius, Lithuania
“It’s more about the creation of smart contracts and in those smart contracts, we can put assets, such as real
estate. In the future poor people all over the world can own assets like rich people can now. It’s an easy way
of purchasing assets virtually.”
Read more: “https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/news/article/antanas-guoga-blockchain-can-empowerlots-of-people-to-help-change-the-world”
Vytautas Karalevičius, CEO of the highest valued Lithuanian blockchain startup Bankera
“As in the current regulatory environment, these businesses have two sides requiring completely different
mindsets. On the one hand, these businesses are completely technology-driven, and everything is binary
and concrete. On the other hand, compliance is a legal field which is rarely binary – black of white – and
requires good interpretation skills.”
Read more: “https://www.pymnts.com/news/b2b-payments/2020/bankera-crypto-business-banking/”

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USEFUL RESOURCES
Blockchain Partners – Articles, interviews and guides on Bitcoin and the blockchain space
EU Startups – Startup-related content, including on blockchain
Cryptocurrency Tax Information – Interactive map of cryptocurrency taxation per country
Blockchain Centre Vilnius – Blockchain hub in Lithuania
Coinmap.org – Website containing information on physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)
Blockchain technology group website – a leading research and educational institution in Lithuania

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
Gabrielius Bilkštys – Chief Business Development Officer of Mistertango
Vytautas Karalevičius – CEO of Bankera
Jekaterina Govina – an advisor to the Board Member of the Bank of Lithuania (Lietuvos bankas)

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€507,19 million
Funds raised by blockchain projects by
VCs or other sources of funding, such
as crowdfunding, ICOs, and STOs.

THE MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Securities,
Fintech,
Insurance
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

38

Luxembourg
THE BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM IN
LUXEMBOURG AT A GLANCE
Luxembourg is one of Eurozone’s financial centres and the
second largest investment fund capital in the world. Luxembourg
remains constantly Europe’s centre of excellence in wealth
management, corporate, commercial, and depositary balking,
featuring 125 international banks from 27 countries,
EUR 395 billion private banking Assets under Management
(AuM), and a solvency ratio of 25.9 %.
According to the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur
Financier (CSSF), the financial regulation Authority of
Luxembourg, (June 2018), Luxembourg is a global hub for
international fund distribution, and more precisely the No 1 in
Europe, and only the second in the world, with EUR 4.8 trillion
AUM in investment funds (as of January 2020) (12). Similarly, the
country has a strong Insurance industry with 55 non-life
insurance companies, 195 independent or captive reinsurance
companies, and 41 life insurance companies.
Luxembourg is the European leader in international securities
listings with 36,000 listed and tradable securities on the
Luxembourgish Stock Exchange in over 64 currencies, counting
2100 issuers from 100 countries, and an EUR 7 billion held in
custody by major post-trade services providers, including
Clearstream, a leading international central securities
depository (ICDC). The country is a major European FinTech
and startup hub, with eBay, PayPal, Amazon Pay, Rakuten,
Alipay, MangoPay, AirBnb amongst the leading startups
incorporated in the country.

Luxembourg’s advanced financial and startup ecosystem is the result of a responsive regulator and EU-wide
licensing, along with a politically stable country. According to the Eurobarometer, Luxembourg is the most
multilingual country in Europe, with an average of 3.6 spoken languages, partially since 48 % of the
population are foreigners, which ranks first when it comes to highly skilled workers in the world according
to the World Economic Forum (WEF).
According to Luxembourg for Finance, the agency for the Development of the Financial Centre, Luxembourg
has emerged as a key European payment and e-money hub, underpinned by the relocations of major brands
in the context of Brexit. With the advent of PSD2, Luxembourg aims to strengthen its role as home to one of
the largest open banking platforms in Europe with specialised providers of API gateways catering to the
needs of banks.
Luxembourg is committed to adapt its legislative framework to encourage innovation by the financial industry
and push for the development of the European legal framework in new finance sectors such as tokenisation.

(12) See: https://www.alfi.lu/

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All those factors constitute favourable conditions for the growth of the blockchain scene in the country. The
Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT), a public-private sector initiative that drives technology
innovation for Luxembourg’s financial services industry, is featuring a dedicated task force for the promotion
of the blockchain technology in the industry. The task force aims to connect the major actors of the
Blockchain/ Digital Assets industry to fix issues, tackle challenges, and foster collaboration between the
stakeholders with four major directions: Education, Banking Relationship, Legal & Process & Mentoring. One
of the Members of the Board is the Ministry of Finance, which is receiving updated feedback directly from
the market.
The Luxembourg financial regulator Financial Sector Supervisory Commission (CSSF) was the first authority
in the financial sector that was in favour of the regulation of platforms for the exchange of virtual currencies
when exercising an activity of the financial sector, since 2014. The CSSF considered that activities such as
the issuing of means of payments in the form of virtual or other currencies, the provision of payment services
using virtual or other currencies, and the creation of a market (platform) to trade virtual or other currencies,
are to be defined as being financial activities and that any person wishing to establish in Luxembourg to
carry out such an activity has to receive a ministerial authorisation.
The country is home for numerous high growth blockchain startups. We have located at least three operating
non-governmental organisations, which consist of hybrid organisational formats (engaging the public sector
with the private market) committed to widespread adoption about the blockchain technology, and further,
educate the professionals about prospects and applications across numerous domains.
In the whitepaper ‘Smart Contracts, A Luxembourg Perspective, Assessing Key Legal Opportunities &
Challenges’. published in July 2021, the non-profit organisation LëtzBlock outlined the potential areas of
legal uncertainty and associated challenges related to smart contracts.
In January 2022, the Luxembourg financial sector supervisory authority, the Commission de surveillance du
secteur financier, published a white paper on DLT and Blockchain sharing its advice on assessing the risks
when designing or implementing a project using DLT.. The publication of this whitepaper is a reaction to a
considerable number of solicitations of the CSSF from different market participants, ranging from wellestablished institutions to startups, wishing to use DLT and blockchain for various purposes.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Public Sector, Regional Governance & Policy-Making: As a global financial centre, Luxembourg has
positioned itself as a financial technology startup hub, embracing early blockchain technology. It’s been
widely considered amongst the most innovative EU countries, with a liberal and progressive mindset,
embracing new technologies by the innovation through law mindset. Luxembourg has been the first EU
country that has licensed virtual currency exchange platforms as financial institutions. In April 2016, Bitstamp
Europe SA has been authorised to exchanges Bitcoins, euro and US dollars. This authorisation is the
outcome, from the opinion issued by the CSSF, which was the first regulator that has advised that virtual
currencies could be regulated by financial activities.
In December 2019, five leading actors active in the blockchain space joined forces to support Luxembourg’s
economy. This initiative, called Blockchain Lab, includes:




Infrachain (a pan European organisation supported by the Luxembourg government to enable
governance for operational blockchain use);
the Luxembourg Blockchain and DLT Association LëtzBlock (a non-profit supporting the blockchain
industry in Luxembourg);
the Luxembourg House of Financial Technology (LHoFT) (a dedicated startup centre to foster innovation
in Financial Technology);
the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST); and
the University of Luxembourg (SnT).
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This cross-sectoral consortium supported by the Ministry for Digitalisation intends to develop a European
Blockchain Lab for research, education, and industrial blockchain projects where industry could test
commercial proof-of-concepts by the end of 2020.
Prime Minister Xavier Bettel stated during the Luxembourg Blockchain Week 2021, that the country is
planning to “keep looking forward” and “keep taking risks” when it comes to innovative technology like
blockchain. “My government’s goal is to make out of Luxembourg the digital frontrunner it already is,” said
the Prime Minister. “It is in the frontrunner’s nature to keep progressing, rather than preserving the lead of
the moment.”
Legislation for virtual currencies that might affect blockchain: Luxembourg’s Chamber of Deputies has
passed a bill to “offer greater certainty for investors and to make the transfer of securities more efficient by
reducing the number of intermediaries. The BILL 7363 provides a legal framework to the financial market
participants by bringing transactions performed using blockchain and DLTs at par with the traditional ones.
In April 2013, Luxembourg amended the securities law of 1 August 2001 and made it possible to legally
issue “dematerialised securities”. Bill 7363 now essentially adds Article 18a to update the umbrella of
dematerialised securities. The Commentary makes an explicit reference to blockchain, which is however only
one of the possible technologies that could qualify as a distributed electronic register (i.e. DLT) and therefore
even more so as an electronic registration device.
The Commentary further specifies that, in the securities accounts world, a “token” stored in a blockchain
should be considered as an “electronic asset” representing the security, as in the case of paper security or a
traditional dematerialised security. Hence, the token would be the instrument representing the security.
According to PWC CEO’s Agenda, while the Amendment remains technologically neutral, blockchain mostly
aptly serves as a technology that could serve as a distributed electronic register. The commentary makes
specific mention of the blockchain technology.

The Amendment refers only to the holding and circulation of securities, not their issuance. This
constitutes clear that the Bill 7363 is not governing Security Token Offerings.
A token stored in a blockchain serves as a means of representing securities. The possession of a token
serves as proof of holding the associated security.

On 29 November 2021, in issuing guidance composed of a communiqué and an FAQ on virtual assets, the
CSSF confirmed its ambition to frame and promote innovation in the financial sector. As summarised by
Laurent Fessmann and Catherine Martougin in their memo Luxembourg: Crypto-assets – Luxembourg
regulator paves the way for alternative investment funds to invest in virtual assets, the purpose of the
communiqué is to introduce the CSSF’s general guidance on virtual assets. UCITS and UCIs addressing
non-professional customers and pension funds are not allowed to invest directly or indirectly in virtual assets.
Alternative investment funds (AIFs) may invest directly and indirectly in virtual assets provided that the
following conditions are met: the AIF markets its units only to professional investors. If the AIF is managed by
an authorised AIFM, it should have obtained from the CSSF the extended authorisation for this new
investment strategy. In response to the specificities of the virtual assets and associated risks (i.e. volatility,
liquidity and technological risk, etc.) which may affect the risk profile of the AIF, the CSSF expects that
proper assessment be made at the time of the integration of virtual assets in the investment policy, that it
shall be ensured that adequate internal control functions are implemented and that investors are properly
informed in a transparent and timely manner.
Academic Courses and Professional Qualifications: While there is no available academic coursework
dedicated to blockchain technologies, the University of Luxembourg has acted proactively – showcasing
partnerships with the private sector. A plethora of organisations are actively organising events and trainings,
to educate mainly professionals and students about the blockchain technology.

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Additionally, the American technology company Ripple has announced it will partner with the academic
community to help lead the development of blockchain research. The University of Luxembourg is building a
new blockchain research programme inside their Departments of Computer Science and Engineering with
the help of the University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI).
Previously, the Luxembourg-based VNX Exchange and the University of Luxembourg aim to improve the
security of digital assets, business news outlet Luxembourg Times reported on 23 November 2018. The
researchers at the university’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability, and Trust (SnT) will reportedly
design new IT frameworks to improve exchange security, as well as custody of crypto assets.
Blockchain across key industries: According to a recent round-table discussion (22 July 2020) with
blockchain experts: Antony Martini, Engagement Manager, LHoFT, Laurent Marochini, Head of Innovation at
Societe Generale Securities Services in Luxembourg. Tom Kettels, Project Lead at Infrachain and Member
of the Blockchain expert policy advisory board at the OECD, and Tobias Seidl is a FinTech and Investment
structuring expert blockchain that could affect the following industries: Payments, Big Data, Insurtech,
Regtech, Lending. The experts have referred to three startups in the following industries Tokeny, Stokr and
Stampify which are all on their way to become the first Luxembourg unicorns.
Cryptocurrency Exchanges:

EU Passporting License, two cryptocurrency exchanges already licensed
Partnership with Key Fintech hubs around the world

Tokenised Securities:

Law on blockchain and the circulation of tokens as dematerialised securities.
Flexible company law. In Luxembourg, as an issuer, one can manage their own securities register.

Other notable use cases gathered by media releases/mentions:
Music Royalties:
ANote Music is a European Marketplace for buying and selling songs that aim to connect investors with
owners of music rights. The startup is restructuring how music is funded and creating a liquid, transparent
and integrated market for music rights.
Real Estate Tokenisation:
Property Token S.A., co-founded by Creahaus S.A. and Espace Invest S.A., two key real estate players in
the Grand Duchy, has successfully launched the first issuance of a Luxembourg real estate token. The first
example has been the tokenisation of an office complex located in the Grand Duchy.

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THE BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE

According to LHoFT, there are 55 companies in the Luxembourgish blockchain ecosystem. The equivalent
report which is used as a benchmark for our report suggests 38 companies, which have raised collectively a
little more than EUR 507 million. The difference between the Crunchbase report and the following map is
mainly due to the Holding Company registration.

THE BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Luxembourgish blockchain ecosystem is prominent,
featuring high-growth opportunities due to the active
engagement opportunities in the scene, and the large
number of organisations advocating to support the
blockchain technology. The community consists of 30 300
to 35 600 observers, or a general audience loosely
interested in blockchain and virtual currencies.
Source for Observers: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+,
Locations: Luxembourg, Keywords: Block Chain, Cryptocurrency,
Virtual Currency, Bitcoin | Source for Enthusiasts

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NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Blockchain.com: Over 50+ million customers have signed up to use the Blockchain.com platform. It’s the
fastest and easiest way to buy your first bitcoin, trade crypto, send, receive, secure and borrow digital
currencies. The Blockchain.com explorer is one of the most trafficked websites in the world to find out what’s
happening in the crypto markets and the Blockchain.com exchange supports a lightning fast trading
experience.
INFRACHAIN is a Luxembourgish non-profit organisation supported by the Luxembourg government and
created by the emerging blockchain-industry. INFRACHAIN is a blockchain community, a non-profit
organisation, committed to creating an on-top governance framework allowing blockchain applications to
become operational in the current regulatory environment.
LHoFT is a public-private partnership. The organisation is supported by the Government of Luxembourg, by
Luxembourg For Finance who assist to promote FinTech around the world, and the Chamber of Commerce
of Luxembourg. LHoft has a task force dedicated to the blockchain with seven members and one of the key
challenges is also to issue a recommendation to the Board of the LHoft.
Bitstamp is the world’s longest-running cryptocurrency exchange, continuously supporting the Bitcoin
economy since 2011. With a proven track record and mature approach to the industry, Bitstamp provides a
secure and transparent venue to over 4 million customers and enables partners to access emerging crypto
markets through time-proven infrastructure.
A-Note Music: ANote Music is the European primary and secondary market for music royalties. Through our
investment platform, anybody can now invest in music and purchase rights from content creators.
Stokr: Stokr provides a turn-key solution to founders for their investment processes. Using Stokr, founders
can manage the issuance, subscription, maintenance and administration of security tokens (programmable
digital shares), as per the EU capital market laws. Stokr provides support for multi-blockchain issuance of the
security tokens.
3C Payment: Their technology makes it convenient and secure for consumers to pay in person and online
with point-to-point-encryption (P2PE) solutions and specialised EMV tokenised transaction flows which
simplify the payment experience. Their secure 3C Integra hosted platform unifies multiple payment channels
allowing merchants to confidently trade cross border in over 30 countries worldwide with multiple acquirers
through a standardised infrastructure integrated to onsite and ERP systems.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€141 million
INTERESTED IN BLOCKCHAIN AND
CRYPTOCURRENCIES

26 000 people
(6.3 % OF THE POPULATION)

FOR BLOCKCHAIN AND DIGITAL
CURRENCIES

360° regulation

Malta
THE MALTESE BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Malta is located in the southern European archipelago in the
Mediterranean Sea. Counting a population of approximately
500 000 and covering an area of 316 km2, the island state is one
of the smallest countries in Europe and the 10th smallest in the
world. Despite that, Malta’s innovation-driven economy has led
the country to adopt a proactive and receptive approach towards
blockchain and digital currencies. Malta’s positive outlook on
those technologies further confirms the trend of smaller
European nation-states, Austria, Cyprus and Estonia included,
adopting blockchain as a facilitator of economic growth and
entrepreneurship.
In 2018, the Maltese parliament enacted three laws establishing
a comprehensive regulatory framework for blockchain and
digital currencies, as part of the country’s national strategy to
pave the way for blockchain adoption. Malta became one of the
first countries in the world to offer relative regulatory clarity in
those areas. As a result, many prominent businesses from the
blockchain and digital currency space, including Binance, OKEx
and BitPay, along with hundreds of smaller startups flocked to
Malta to benefit from this positive regulatory climate, while other
notable initiatives, such as TRON, expressed their interest in
contributing to the country’s blockchain vision. This “migration”
was welcomed by the prime minister and other high-profile state
officials. Within a short timeframe, Malta became a hotspot for
blockchain conferences and business–state dialogue, and even
adopted blockchain technology to issue and store its
educational degrees and register of local businesses. The
largest university in the country, the University of Malta, started
offering a master’s programme in blockchain and DLT in 2019.

Following initial enthusiasm, Malta’s change of leadership in early 2020, coupled with the inability of many
companies to comply or receive necessary licenses, the newly elected government repositioned the
country’s blockchain ambitions under an umbrella approach that included other niche sectors. In an interview
with Cointelegraph, Kearon Bruno, chairman of the country’s Digital Economy Think Tank, mentioned: “We’re
moving away from [being a] blockchain island and more towards a digital island because we believe more in
this holistic vision that includes all aspects and technological components.”

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Malta’s blockchain strategy is characterised by a regulation-first approach.
While addressing the UN in 2018, former Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat presented the country as
“Blockchain Island”. In the same year, following a highly collaborative procedure involving regulators and
businesspeople, the country launched the highly anticipated Digital Innovation Framework, a comprehensive
regulatory scheme concerning the areas of blockchain and DLT, ICOs and digital currencies. The goal of the
framework was to foster innovation in the aforementioned areas while preserving the country’s financial
integrity and stability and protecting potential investors.
Malta was the first country to install an Blockchain based IP Register and transfer 60 000 records using the
blockchain network. Thereafter, the Government of Malta announced three new blockchain projects to be
implemented, covering: a project for the certification of food products produced in the island of Gozo; a
blockchain based property planning system for ensuring transparency of processes; and a blockchain based
copyright and IP system.
Regulation was deemed necessary to realise the country’s ambition for blockchain to account for 10 % of its
total GDP by 2027. The key authorities responsible for the trio of laws collectively referred to as the
Innovation Framework include: the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA), and the Malta Financial
Services Authority (MFSA). Furthermore, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) announced a digital asset
focused sandbox thereafter. The laws approved by the Maltese parliament were the Virtual Financial Assets
Act (VFAA), with an objective to regulate the field of ICOs, digital assets, digital currencies and related
services, the Innovative Technological Arrangements and Services Act, which empowers the MDIA to
oversee the registration of technology service providers in the blockchain space and the certification of DLT
and related software, and the Malta Digital Innovation Authority Act, which establishes the MDIA and
outlines its roles.
The Malta Digital Innovation Authority launched a Technology Assurance Sandbox. A flexible environment
within which new types of technologies and operations (e.g. NFTs and DAOs) can raise levels of
trustworthiness through supervision of a national authority through a staggered and gradual approach in aim
of reaching full certification.
As in most European countries, digital currencies are not considered legal tender in Malta. However, unlike
most other nation-states, the country’s financial regulatory framework (including the VFAA) recognises four
distinct categories of digital assets, subject to a different set of rules. These mutually exclusive categories
are: electronic money, financial instruments, virtual (utility) tokens and virtual financial assets (VFAs). The
MFSA has introduced the Financial Instrument Test to classify blockchain and DLT-based assets in one of
the aforementioned categories and thus determine whether they would be subject to regulation under the
VFAA. Digital assets falling under the virtual token category are exempt from regulations. Digital currency
and digital assets taxation adhere to the aforementioned guidelines, with such assets taxed according to
their classification. Licensing requirements for activities involving blockchain and digital currencies are also
determined according to provisions of the VFAA. Four different types of licences exist, and companies
interested in acquiring one need to apply to the MFSA. Activities in the digital currency and blockchain space
are subject to AML and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) rules.
In 2019, Malta became the first country in Europe to issue its educational certificates in blockchain. Junior
Minister of Financial Services, Digital Economy and Innovation Silvio Schembri announced that the country
will utilise blockchain to register new businesses. In the same year, “Vision 2021” was launched as an
initiative to strengthen the MFSA and prepare for the next generation of financial services, including
blockchain-backed ones.

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BLOCKCHAIN IN ACADEMIA:
The Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies of the University of Malta offers a Master of Science in
Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies allowing students to specialise in either ICT, Law and
Regulation, or Business and Finance. Students of the programme have reportedly developed and launched
a blockchain voting platform. In 2022, the university announced the Malta Blockchain Summer school (MBS)
which offers an Introduction to blockchain, DLT, cryptocurrencies, NFTs and beyond.
In addition, the Leadership and Management Institute offers blockchain courses and programmes, including
a Master of Science in Blockchain and Cryptocurrency.
Blockchain across key industries: Maltese regulation and guidelines were some of the first in the world to
provide a framework for ICOs at a time where excitement around alternative forms of financing was high. Various
local startups took advantage of this newly found market for ICO services by beginning operations in the field, in
an example of a state-identified business opportunity/sector that was exploited by private initiatives. Similarly, the
country’s intent to provide a welcoming regulatory slate for financial service providers active in the blockchain and
digital currency space attracted global players in this field. While the ICO frenzy has come to an end, Malta
remains home to initiatives across the financial, payments and banking services industries.

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The state’s actions and its adoption of what was seemingly a blockchain-friendly regulatory framework
constituted a catalytic development for the local blockchain and digital currency startup and business scene.
From late 2017 to mid-2019, Malta became the recipient of a migration wave from large companies active in
the blockchain space, due to them facing increasing regulatory scrutiny in Japan and other areas of the
world. This wave included well-known names such as Binance, OKEx, ZBX, BitPay and other companies
with which government officials maintained strong ties. Smaller startups followed suit in what would become
– in many regards – a case of success for the country.
In April of 2020, the MFSA announced a “Warning to the Public”, stating that “[a large number of companies]
failed to submit either a letter of intent to initiate the application process for a Virtual Financial Assets
services licence or a cessation of activities notification,” before warning the public of the risks of conducting
business with unregulated firms. With only 26 of the initial 83 companies applying for a licence and none
granted to date, all signs point to the fact that many entities found the VFSA’s requirements too demanding.
Many companies ceased operations, while others have maintained presence in the country.
Malta’s top 10 companies collectively raised north of EUR 141 million through a variety of mediums. Most
businesses participated in seed funding rounds, with others conducting ICOs and seeking later-stage
venture funds. High concentration and business activity is observed in the financial services industry, which
slowed down overall after the – stricter than expected – regulation.

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
30
20
10
0
2015

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2016

2017

2018

2019

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2020

2021

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Despite its small size and low population, Malta is home to a vibrant blockchain
and digital currency community. Beginning in 2018, the country became a
hotspot for some of Europe’s biggest blockchain conferences, which featured
prominent figures from the space. The two flagship conferences that focus on
blockchain technology are the AI and Blockchain Summit and the DELTA
Summit. The former attracted 12 000 attendees from over 80 countries in
2021.
The number of citizens interested in blockchain and cryptocurrency adds up to
33 500 people, or a notable 6.3 %.
(Source for Observers: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+, Locations: Malta, Keywords:
Blockchain, Digital assets, Digital Currency, Bitcoin | Source for Enthusiasts)

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Joshua Ellul, Director Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies. Senior Lecturer, Department of Computer Science.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Malta? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Given Malta’s effort towards providing a regulatory framework for Blockchain and Cryptocurrency related
activities, there is a high level of general awareness regarding the existence of cryptocurrencies. Albeit many
are not interested in the sector (like all countries) and/or lack depth in regard to what cryptocurrencies
actually are (and how blockchain differentiates from it). However, given the initial interest from various
sectors (from tech, legal, finance, business, and other related sectors) many professionals have general
awareness of blockchain and crypto. At the same time there is a large and ever-increasing interest from
younger generations in cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Overall, based on my experience I would say that the
local population has a high level of general awareness.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Malta?
Initially when the laws were enacted, many companies came to Malta, and as well since some left – I believe
a large part of this is because Malta put in place a robust regulatory regime adequate and proportionate for
the types of operations being regulated, which some may have not expected. With EU laws in the process of
being harmonised (through the digital finance package), of which I have heard many states see how many
aspects being proposed are inspired by Malta’s regime, now Malta is in a good place to be in line with such
laws and presents a suitable jurisdiction to gain EU-wide recognition. That said, in the meantime there are
quite a few large players operating from Malta. In my opinion, the current ecosystem is a suitable size for
sustainable growth in the area. Especially as we investigate new innovative regulatory tools and regimes –
for example, MDIA’s Technology Assurance Sandbox which provides for a flexible and adaptable
environment for new technologies and sectors, such as NFTs and DAOs.
What measures has Malta taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and legislation
to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
The recently launched Technology Assurance Sandbox (TAS) aims to lower costs associated with
technology assurances targeted for startups and operations and activities that are lower risk. We envisage
that the TAS will be a useful tool for innovative blockchain activities to operate under the oversight of a

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national authority to gain user and investor trust in early stages. Furthermore, three national blockchain
projects were announced that will help spread awareness as well as provide assurances in (the specific)
public sector processes –- for which the public may begin to realise what guarantees blockchain offers and
hopefully in future expect our public system to provide further such assurances in public sector services.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
Education is key – and education at various levels. With cryptocurrencies and blockchain likely to change
aspects of some of our lives over the next few years, especially with central bank digital currencies (CBDCs)
being proposed to be launched, governments (national and EU level) should: (i) provide general awareness
training for decision-makers and advisors (you cannot regulate what you do not understand) – and thereafter
once policymakers and advisors realise what this technology brings and its potential impact, we would hope
that they would then delve into further promotional policy to ensure that EU becomes the leader in
blockchain, DLT and crypto sectors; (ii) fund initiatives for general public training and (upskilling) for
specialisation in the sector.
Furthermore, initial test projects should be rolled out – to both help raise awareness as well as to put
governments through the learning curve with respect to development (likely procurement) of blockchain
projects, and to familiarise with all activities associated with their operation.
What does the future hold for the Maltese blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
Breaking it down into the various stakeholders, I foresee the following for:

Business ecosystem: there are already large players operating from Malta which is great, but we need
to see more smaller startups in the sector, try, fail, try again, potentially fail, and keep going to see
successes. Malta is making progress in this regard with various new initiatives to promote startups and
raise funds. As blockchain/crypto will start to transform aspects of businesses (around the world), Malta
can be at the forefront of such adoption given the high level of awareness.
Education: The University of Malta runs a multidisciplinary Masters in Blockchain and DLT, that allows
students to both specialise in their field, but also gain an understanding and literacy of the other fields.
The programme is attracting an international cohort of students which will help strengthen the
ecosystem. Undergraduate courses have also been included in curriculum. Further courses to provide
general awareness to the public and to professionals is lacking though, however we see this gap being
filled in the near future.
Regulators: The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) already have in place a crypto regime, the
Virtual Financial Assets (VFA) framework, providing regulatory clarity and market and consumer
protection – and given similarities emerging from EU’s digital finance package, I envisage that Malta will
be at a good position to be in line with harmonisation requirements.
Government: The government continues to invest in blockchain-based solutions in the public sector. By
continuing to do so, public awareness should increase with respect to the benefits of blockchain, and
once enough people understand the benefits it brings it should lead to a demand for more blockchain
based systems and decentralisation.
The people: We are already seeing a large interest in people investing in, building or taking a general
interest in cryptocurrency and NFTs. Besides some naysayers who may have lost funds due to bad
investments – or generally do not understand the beneficial societal change that the technology can
bring, I only see interest in it increasing – for the benefit of the local and EU societies at large.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS

160+
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€370+ million
MEMBERS IN THE LARGEST
BLOCKCHAIN MEETUP COMMUNITY
IN THE COUNTRY

~20 000
NOTABLE INSIGHTS:

A European magnet for qualified
immigration

Multiple tax incentives

Favourable regulation, especially
for FinTech

Netherlands
THE DUTCH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The Netherlands has traditionally been very strong in the tech
industry. Such global names as Philips, NXP Semiconductors,
ASML, Adyen and Booking Holding (US-domiciled but main
operating division in Amsterdam) are headquartered or have
their roots in the Netherlands.
With an English-speaking environment and immigration-friendly
policies, the Netherlands is also a startup hub in Europe,
featuring one of the highest startup densities in the region. The
Netherlands’ position is further enhanced by the balanced
approach adopted by lawmakers, who showed their willingness
to try new technologies as long as they do not create
unmitigated risks for the public.
The country’s blockchain startups work in a wide variety of
areas, including payments, FinTech, healthcare, education and
supply chain. A large share of blockchain startups operate on
the intersection between blockchain and other cutting-edge
technologies, such as Internet of things and AI.
The country has a number of blockchain communities and
meetup groups that deal with both organisational/business and
technology/software development facets of blockchain. The
largest such community counts more than 7 000 enthusiasts as
part of its membership. Almost 10 other communities exceed
1 000 members.
Overall, the country is poised to maintain its innovative lead in
blockchain due to favourable government policies, a vibrant
startup scene and high public interest in blockchain.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: In general, the Dutch government supports the adoption of blockchain
technology. Types of support include financing research and participating in public-private partnerships. In
addition, the government has shown a willingness to reconsider the existing legal frameworks if they are not
sufficiently flexible or do not mitigate the risks of technology to the extent required.
The priority use cases for the Dutch government include: (i) ship registers, (ii) grant administration
automation, (iii) smart contract adoption, (iv) hazardous waste tracking, and (v) data protection.
There is no coordinated blockchain strategy at the national level, so different government departments
independently explore the areas of blockchain technology that fall under their purview. That includes, for
example, an analysis of ICOs undertaken by the Dutch National Bank that paved the way for the introduction
of a regulatory regime similar to that applicable to traditional financial services providers.
Legislation for virtual currencies which might affect blockchain: Dutch regulators (DNB and AFM)
recognise that the implementation of certain blockchain-based products might be stymied by current
regulatory framework limitations. Therefore, they have developed several tools to overcome these limitations.
The first is InnovationHub, a one-stop shop for regulatory information for startups. The second tool is a
regulatory sandbox that empowers regulators to use a principles-based rather than a rules-based approach
when dealing with emerging technologies. This means that some technicalities might be put aside, and
compliance is determined based on the intent of laws and regulations rather than their letter. The final tool is
partial authorisations, which means that licenses are available on an à la carte basis, i.e. a FinTech startup
does not need to meet all the banking licence criteria if it only wants to conduct money transfers.
Blockchain in academia: Notable examples of dedicated blockchain educational programmes include the
Blockchain Summer School offered by the University of Utrecht School of Law and blockchain masterclasses
from the University of Amsterdam. There appear to be quite a few open positions for blockchain lecturers at
all the leading Dutch universities, indicating that they are looking to create dedicated blockchain courses
and/or integrate blockchain studies into their existing curriculums. In addition to the previously listed options,
there are multiple online courses available through global and local providers.
Blockchain across key industries: The Netherlands is a home to a flourishing startup ecosystem. The
Dutch government provides several forms of assistance to startups, including a special visa regime for
startups (Netherlands startup visa) and tax rebates for recently qualified immigrants, a reduced effective tax
rate for technology-intensive businesses, reliable infrastructure and great physical and virtual connections
with other countries. Overall, the Netherlands boasts over 7 000 startups according to startup tracker
tracxn.com, over 155 of which are involved in blockchain-related research.
In addition to a vibrant startup ecosystem, positive attitude towards advancing regulation by the government
and general public support for blockchain technology, the Netherlands has replicated this enthusiasm
through a number of notable industry uses. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Tymlez launched a project to
support the government’s transparency in medical supply chains through blockchain technology. Dutch
agriculture is also renowned for its efficiency. For example, there are projects in this area such as Blockchain
for Agri-food that is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality to improve agrifood supply chains.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The Dutch startup ecosystem is well established and mostly relies on traditional venture capital funding
rather than on ICOs. That explains why the funding amounts raised by Dutch startups might look small in
comparison to other countries that took advantage of inflated valuations during the ICO boom. On the other
hand, reliance on traditional venture funding provided a more sustainable flow of funds into blockchain
innovations.

Startups in the Netherlands
Blockchainrelated startups,
2%

Currently, according to tracxn.com, the Netherlands has
11 800 startups, 265 of which are related to blockchain.
The key sectors where Dutch blockchain startups are
present include FinTech (e.g. Finturi, a blockchainpowered trade finance platform), location services (e.g.
UNL), decentralised marketplaces (SingularityNET) and
entertainment (iCasting). Multiple companies work on
the intersection of blockchain and other next-generation
technologies such as AI.

It appears that the majority of startups are still at a pre-revenue or early revenue stage. The exact figures are
not known as companies are exempt from publicly reporting their financial figures due to their small size.
Academic and international experience as facilitators of entrepreneurship: The Netherlands is a magnet for
qualified emigrants in Europe. The country does not only offer a simplified visa process for startups and
qualified migrants, but also tax rebates for the first five years of an immigrant’s residency in the country. In
addition to the tax breaks, the Netherlands benefits from a mostly English-speaking environment. Combined
with the cultural appeal and stability, these advantages place the Netherlands in a league of their own in
attracting top foreign talent.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
As a country, the Netherlands is extremely well connected and decentralised. Most parts of the country can
be reached from Amsterdam in under 2 hours. This helps explain the fact that the startup ecosystem in the
Netherlands is quite spread out and that multiple startups were established outside major cities.
This spread of activity is also evident in the number of
venues (bars, restaurants, hotels, cinemas and other
attractions) that accept cryptocurrencies. With 188 venues,
Arnhem has the highest concentration, followed by
Amsterdam with 69. A significant concentration is also
observed in the Rotterdam-The Hague area with over 45.
The Eindhoven area, home to many high-tech companies,
ranks fourth with 16. It is estimated that over 520 000
people, 3.04 % of the Netherlands’ total population, currently
own cryptocurrency.
Amsterdam is a major centre for conventions and conferences. 2020’s Blockchain Expo was held in
Amsterdam in November. Blockchain Expo is Europe’s largest Blockchain Conference and Exhibition
primarily targeting enterprise technology. The blockchain event will be held simultaneously with the IoT Tech
Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo to help participants explore the synergistic effect
of these technologies.

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There are several Meetup groups in Amsterdam, including those that are business and societal impact
focused such as Blockchain Talks, Blockchain Netherlands, Food Integrity Blockchained, Permissionless
Society Blockchains and Bitcoin Wednesday Amsterdam, as well as more tech focused such as Ethereum
Dev NL and Hyperledger Netherlands. The largest of these Meetup groups counts more than 7 000 people
as part of its membership. Most of the communities organise recurring meetings, such as the monthly
international BCT event that is hosted in Beurs van Berlage (a former stock exchange) in Amsterdam.
The blockchain community in numbers: The Dutch blockchain community is larger than the median
European level, with 12 000 LinkedIn professionals registered as working with or in the industry. With over
50 regular Meetup groups and over 43 000 Meetup attendees, the community is quite active. A Facebook
marketing campaign shows the audience for blockchain-related terms is 330 000.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS
Bitfury: Global emerging technologies company founded in 2011 designs and produces mobile bitcoin mining
datacentres powered by custom semiconductor chips (ASICs) and proprietary liquid cooling appliances.
Software division develops and markets crypto-compliance tools and enterprise blockchain software. AI
division develops solutions for Edge data processing. It raised EUR 145 million in investor funding. In the
latest round, the company was valued at around USD 1 billion.
Finturi: Blockchain-powered trade finance platform acts as an intermediary between businesses that can use
it to obtain financing backed by receivables and financiers. The loan to value amount is currently set at 80 %
and the company’s fee is 0.5 % of the value of each transaction. It was founded in 2018 in The Hague and
raised EUR 1.7 million in financing.
UNL: Mapping and navigation services provider founded in 2018 in Amsterdam. Data about the Earth surface
and indoor spaces is stored on a blockchain. Data is accessible through an API based on a virtual location IP
address. Believes that the technology can transform such industries as logistics, advertising (location-based
ads), city management and public administration. It raised EUR 1.7 million in financing from investors,
including SOSV, HERE and The Mobile Only Accelerator.
SingularityNET: Aims to create a marketplace that connects AI algorithm developers and AI data providers
and algorithm users. Developers can protect their intellectual property by wrapping it into a smart contract.
Seeks to develop an ecosystem that fosters cooperation and will allow small companies to reap benefits of
AI technologies. Founded in 2017 in Amsterdam and raised EUR 1.7 million in financing from investors,
including 42Fund, Suicide Ventures and Chrono Fund.
Attrace: Creating a smart contract-based affiliate marketing tracking system. The system will introduce
transparency and auditability to the currently opaque process of advertising measurement. It was founded in
2017 in Amsterdam and raised EUR 850 000 in financing.
Aurus: Creators of a gold-backed cryptocurrency underpinned by Ethereum blockchain. The cryptocurrency
can be used both as a medium of exchange and as a store of value. The company was financed through an
ICO. Investors in the company’s coin will receive 50 % of transaction fees generated by AurusGOLD.
ICasting.com: Blockchain-based platform that matches actors, models, extras, singers and dancers with the
companies representing the world of entertainment. The talent matching process is based on both models’
looks and their skills. Users include TV production companies, media groups, brands, media agencies and
small business owners. It was founded in 2014 in Zwolle and raised EUR 850 000 in financing.
Recheck.io: Developer of blockchain middleware. Stores and secures documents using blockchain, and can
be used to audit authenticity of documents and transfer ownership of the data. It was founded in 2016 in
Geleen and raised EUR 850 000 in financing from investors, including AE ventures.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Blockchain remains one of the most controversial technologies of our time. Some people oppose blockchain
on the grounds that it is “hype” and a bubble. Yet other people’s negative attitude towards blockchain is
because cryptocurrencies can be used to conduct illicit activities. On the other hand, blockchain supporters
tend to underestimate the complexity of technological and organisational hurdles that blockchain needs to
overcome to become the backbone of the future programmable society.
This is why regular interaction with blockchain practitioners is essential for understanding the perspectives of
the technology and its benefits. Only this way can a balanced view of the technology and its benefits be
obtained.
Djuri Baars, head of the blockchain development team at Rabobank, described the biggest problem
hindering blockchain adoption as “invisibility” to end customers. “Blockchain does seriously affect your
internal processes, but the client is of course not so interested in that or the technology.” He emphasised the
importance of educating clients and other stakeholders about the benefits of the technology.
Another way of solving the problem of “invisibility” is shown by Ledger Leopard, the first healthcare
blockchain application to be legally certified as safe to use. Its founder, Jeroen van Megchelen, recommends
blockchain entrepreneurs focus on actual problems where current solutions clearly do not work. This is how
he described the inspiration for his company’s maternity app: “Cooperation between stakeholders in the
healthcare supply chain is generally pretty inefficient: the data islands, different languages and diverse
standards are all hard to connect, plus there’s a huge administrative burden.”
Rudolf van Ee, Co-founder of Blockchain Talent Lab ( BTL) and board member of the Blockchain
Netherlands Foundation (BCNL Foundation)
“Blockchain isn’t about companies, it’s a movement. Being part of BCNL is a great step towards being part of
AND creating a healthy and inspiring ecosystem, and having a healthy ecosystem is part of our mission.”
Read more: “https://bcnl.foundation/startups/”
Christiaan van Steenbergen, Founder of PayAccept
“The majority of the world, both individual and business, relies on legacy banking and payment systems for
their financial activity. But these legacy systems can be impacted by the decisions of political leaders and
central banks. Nowadays, if you want to open a business that is active in the cryptocurrency market, banks
refuse to do business with you. In some countries, you do not even get access to a bank account. Without it,
you cannot be active in the global financial system. Gladly, blockchain and DeFi are making it possible to
offer these businesses and (the unbanked) people around the world access to an excellent alternative
platform.”
Read more: “https://techbullion.com/interview-with-christiaan-van-steenbergen-founder-of-payaccept/”

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USEFUL RESOURCES
Blockchain Partners – Articles, interviews and guides on bitcoin and the blockchain space
EU Startups – Startup-related content, including blockchain
Cryptocurrency Tax Information – Interactive map of cryptocurrency taxation per country
Bitcoinmarketjournal – Information about blockchain community in the Netherlands and other countries
Coinmap.org – Website containing information on Coinmap.org: physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)
Blockchain Foundation – blockchain foundation in the Netherlands

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
Rudolf van Ee – Co-founder of Blockchain Talent Lab (BTL) and board member of the Blockchain
Netherlands Foundation (BCNL Foundation)
Christiaan van Steenbergen – Founder of PayAccept
Djuri Baars – head of the blockchain development team at Rabobank
Jeroen van Megchelen – founder of Ledger Leopard

OTHER SOURCES
Finturi: finturi.com
UNL: https://www.unlinternetofplaces.com/
SingularityNET: https://singularitynet.io/
Attrace: https://attrace.com/
Aurus: aurus.io
iCasting: https://www.icasting.com/
Storro: www.storro.com/
ReCheck: recheck.io

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Key Figures
TOTAL EQUITY FUNDING

€27 million
OVER

200 000 people
OWN CRYPTOCURRENCY
(I.E. 5 % OF THE POPULATION)

BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS

22

Norway
THE NORWEGIAN BLOCKCHAIN
ECOSYSTEM AT A GLANCE
The Norwegian economy is a highly developed economy with
government ownership in strategic areas. Although sensitive to
global business cycles, the Norwegian economy has
experienced robust growth since the beginning of the industrial
age. The country has a very high standard of living compared to
other European countries and a highly integrated welfare
system. Norway’s modern industry and welfare system rely on a
financial reserve built up through the exploitation of natural
resources, especially North Sea oil.
Although much of the highly controversial public debate about
EU membership revolved around political rather than economic
issues, it affected economic policy in several ways:


Both politicians and the public have come to terms with the
fact that Norway’s economic development depends on
exploiting its comparative advantage by specialising in
certain areas for exports and relying on imports for
everything else. This has had a significant impact on
Norwegian agricultural policy, which has been redesigned to
take into account population structure rather than selfsufficiency.
The proceeds from oil revenues could not boost private or
public consumption if Norway wants to maintain its
prosperity when oil reserves run out.
To participate in European markets, Norway had to open its
domestic markets to European imports. Although some
pricing and distribution issues (e.g. alcohol and automobiles)
remain unresolved, Norway’s consumer, capital and labour
markets are increasingly converging with those of Europe.

Along with the other EU Member States and Liechtenstein, Norway has joined the EBP. The Partnership is
committed to realising the potential of blockchain-based services for the benefit of citizens, society and the
economy. The Partnership is building an EBSI. Its vision is to use blockchain technology in creating crossborder services for public administrations to verify information and ensure trustworthy services. Since 2020,
EBSI has built a network of distributed blockchain nodes across Europe to support applications for selected
use cases (e.g. for citizens to manage their own identities, education credentials, and document registration).
Although Norwegian regulators have not yet taken a definitive stance on blockchain technology, the
Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (FSA) has emphasised the risks associated with trading
cryptocurrencies and the need for a strong regulatory framework if cryptocurrencies are to become a suitable
investment vehicle for consumers. The use of digital tokens and virtual assets is not yet widespread in
Norway, but Norwegian residents have shown an increasing interest in these assets, especially since 2021.
The main reason that artists and collectors have turned to digital art by supporting blockchain technology (i.e.
NFTs) was that the COVID-19 pandemic closed galleries, exhibitions, and other opportunities to buy and sell
art. In addition, the pandemic has led Norwegian investors into new areas of saving and investing,
including cryptos.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Currently, there are no laws or legal frameworks in Norway that specifically
relate to blockchain technologies. However, there are a number of laws that apply to activities and services
based on blockchain technology.
The Norwegian Personal Data Act (2018), which includes the GDPR, applies to blockchains that contain
personal data. Key issues related to blockchain technologies and the GDPR include identification of
controllers and processors, international transfers of personal data, enforcement of individuals’ rights in
relation to the processing of personal data in the context of blockchain and the need to conduct a data
protection impact assessment before using blockchain.
When using blockchains for transfers of value (e.g. currency and financial instruments), the various
blockchain concepts may be subject to money laundering and terrorist financing regulations (Money
Laundering Act (2009)), taxes and duties, depending on their characteristics.
The advisory and supervisory authorities for the above laws are the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, the
FSA, Norges Bank and the Norwegian Tax Authority.
Separately, the EU is considering a proposal for a regulation on a pilot scheme for market infrastructures
based on a DLT pilot programme. If adopted, this proposal would likely make the pilot scheme applicable in
Norway. The FSA has noted that a legal framework and rules for investor protection are needed if
cryptocurrencies are to become a suitable investment for consumers. However, it is unlikely that Norway will
enact additional legislation on cryptocurrencies until the EU adopts its flagship cryptocurrency legislation, the
“Regulation on Markets for Crypto-Assets” (MiCA).
In June 2022, the Norwegian Government announced that they will be releasing a solution on public
Ethereum: a cap tables platform for unlisted companies, becoming the first European nation to embrace
public Ethereum.
Digital Currency Legislation: The FSA has established a regulatory sandbox to encourage FinTech
innovation despite the otherwise stringent regulatory environment in Norway. One of the participants
selected to participate in the regulatory sandbox was Abendum, a company developing a solution for storing
and publishing audit evidence based on blockchain technology. Other companies had the opportunity to
apply in October 2021.
If the EU adopts the DLT pilot programme, the regulatory sandbox for blockchain-based distribution and
trading of traditional securities (e.g. stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds, etc.) would likely be introduced in
Norway as well. Norway, through its participation in the EEA Agreement, has committed to implement the
relevant EU rules for the financial industry.
After completing the third phase of a study on CBDCs, Norges Bank announced in May 2021 that it will begin
testing technical solutions for a CBDC over the next 2 years. One of the goals of the technical testing is to
determine a preferred solution if the introduction of a CBDC becomes relevant in Norway. Norges Bank has
been looking at CBDCs since 2017. In 2021, the central bank published a working group report
recommending a CBDC in the form of registry-based token money. In the 2020 report, Norges Bank
indicated that it favours a CBDC that is linked to a registry and can be accessed via cryptographic codes that
are not linked to an identity. In practice, the user interface could provide easy and secure access to funds.
Nonetheless, Norges Bank has emphasised that the introduction of a CBDC will require longer consideration
and investigation.
Blockchain in academia: There is not much going on at the academic level with regard to pursuing
blockchain-related skills and qualifications in Norway. The only courses identified are offered by the
Knowledge Academy and are the following:
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Blockchain Training Course
Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Course
Ethereum Developer training

Blockchain across key industries: The most notable applications of blockchain and other DLTs include
cryptocurrency trading, secure information storage, supply chain tracing, public registries and oil, gas and
energy trading. Notable examples of the above include:

Centralised cryptocurrency trading and broker platforms, including Norwegian Block Exchange AS,
Kaupang Krypto AS and Firi AS (formally known as MiraiEx) are regulated by the FSA.

Decentralised exchanges (DEXs), including Uniswap, Sushiswap, dYdX and Raydium, which are smart
contract protocols that enable users to trade cryptocurrency peer-to-peer, are accessible to Norwegian
citizens. However, due to their decentralised architecture, DEXs are not actively regulated by any
governmental authority in Norway.

DNV, an international accredited registrar and classification society, and Deloitte have entered into a
partnership which has led to a live blockchain solution for storing certificates.

Norwegian startup Diwala has created a platform that enables educational institutions and organisations
to safely and digitally issue and verify credentials, backed by blockchain technology.

The Norwegian Seafood Trust is a national seafood tracking network launched in 2020 by the Norwegian
Seafood Association and the Nordic IT infrastructure company Atea. The network utilises IBM blockchain
technology to share supply chain data throughout Norway’s seafood industry. As of 2021, Nova Sea and
BioMar have joined the network.

The Norwegian industrial company Hydro has also announced that it is piloting the DNV blockchainpowered “Tag. Trace. Trust.” service to provide evidence of its sustainability claims for the aluminium it
produces.

The Norwegian Registry of Business Enterprises is building a solution for shareholder registers on the
blockchain together with Symfoni (formerly known as Blockchangers). Symfoni has announced that it will
launch “Symfoni” by the end of 2021 – a unified software collection for the development of
interconnected services on the blockchain.

Symfoni has also signed an agreement with the Norwegian Intellectual Property Office for the
development of a license register and has developed a prototype for a property registry for OBOS BBL
(the largest housing developer in Norway) which records real estate and ownership transactions using
blockchain technology.

The public sector has a strong interest in Norway’s oil and gas production and the Norwegian state is the
main shareholder in publicly traded Equinor ASA. Equinor has tested GumboNet, Data Gumbo’s proprietary
blockchain platform, which encodes an immutable record of the operations at Equinor’s oilfield to confirm
transactions and pay suppliers.

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THE BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Approximately 7 830 individuals interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies could be identified, a number
that amounts to 0.15 % of the total population. Community members are geographically split in the capital
city of Oslo, along with Bergen, the second-largest city by population. There are 15 groups/communities of
practice and these are the key organisers of most major community meetups.

Source for general audience: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+, Location: Norway, Keywords: Block Chain (database),
Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ethereum | Source for Community Members
Source: Coinmap.org

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Norway’s tech sector is quite promising, with many tech startups blossoming in Oslo but not only. However,
the number of startups in the blockchain industry remains limited. The most promising ones include:
Choose: a cryptocurrency platform backed by CO2 emission permits. The platform tokenises the carbon cuts
and enables companies and people to monetise their CO2 cuts. Users are rewarded for their climate positive
efforts. The platform offers carbon neutrality by buying and deleting CO 2 emission quotas. Multiple plans are
available on the platform based on different carbon cuts. The clients of the company include Designers
Remix, Fortum, Telia, Santander and more.
VipiCash: VipiCash is an online platform facilitating global money transfers using blockchain technology.
Users place their order on the platform and the goods are delivered to the receiver’s address. Money can be
sent for groceries, school fee, health service, energy, transport, etc. As of May 2018, the platform is in
private beta.
Diwala: Diwala is a decentralised platform for skill verification of individuals. It allows users to create an
unchangeable record of skills and achievements, which is verified with blockchain technology. Users can
create a digital resume, showcasing their verified skills, education and sales. Moreover, it provides a private
encrypted key to users, which enables sharing of verified details and documents.
UNISOT: UNISOT offers a blockchain-based ERP system. It provides complete business solutions using big
data, cloud computing, blockchain, and machine learning. Furthermore, it provides supply chain solutions for
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businesses such as transactions, traceability, product origin, etc. It offers both free and premium cloud-based
ERP modules for business.
Taqanu: Taqanu Bank is a blockchain-based digital identity management platform. The platform runs
alongside a railed attestation network called the Abacus Fabric. The network keeps track and keeps the
record of secure identity transactions on the blockchain. Users can input identity facts, to be declared,
sourced, audited and proven on the attestation network.
BitGate: BitGate is a mobile-based cryptocurrency wallet application. Allows users to buy, sell, secure and
send cryptocurrencies and it provides electronic ID solutions for automated on-boarding. Users can purchase
Bitcoin through integrated API from Safello.
HandleKrypto: HandleKrypto is an exchange platform for cryptocurrencies, which allows the user to buy, sell
and exchange digital currencies with the help of an e-ID card. It supports the transfer of digital assets
including Ethereum, Bitcoins and bitcoin cash.
Triwer: Triwer is a blockchain-based mobile application for last-mile deliveries. The blockchain application is
powered by smart contracts and enables users to book-on-demand last mile delivery services. The request is
routed to a network of crowdsourced delivery agents. Features include real-time tracking, proof of delivery,
complimentary packages insurance, cryptocurrency payments and more. Its mobile app is available for iOS
and Android devices.
Parsec Frontiers: Parsec is a multiplayer strategy game built on blockchain. The game is open-sourced and
community governed. Users can make in-game purchases using the native Parsec token.
White Rabbit: White rabbit is a decentralised content monetisation platform, which allows its users to reward
the films and series they stream, on multiple peer-to-peer content streaming platform. It offers users a
personalised content library and a browser plugin. The platform recognises content and utilises blockchain to
facilitate payment between the user and the films rights holders.

No of companies (since 2015)
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
2015

2016

2017

Sources:

https://www.legal500.com/guides/chapter/norway-blockchain/
https://www.globallegalinsights.com/practice-areas/blockchain-laws-and-regulations/norway

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2018

Key Figures
FUNDS RAISED BY BLOCKCHAIN
PROVIDERS

€38 161 148.08
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS

90

Poland
THE POLISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM AT
A GLANCE
Poland is located in central Europe and is the fifth Member State
in population in the EU. The European Commission has
published a forecast and indicators for the nation’s economy. An
overview of the Polish ecosystem has more than 3 000
startups, as indicated in Polish Development Fund. The Polish
economy is well integrated with the EU and the world, as stated
in the EC’s report.
There is some initiatives indicating the intention for solid
adoption of blockchain in Poland but updates on the
development are scarce and hard to judge. The cases of
blockchain adoption are in private and public sectors alike. The
most notable case is the virtual sandbox and Innovation Hub by
the Polish Financial Supervision Authority (UKNF).
The legislative frameworks in Poland around blockchain and
cryptocurrencies focus on taxation and AML. The existence of
simple joint stock mainly aims to promote innovation and can
impact the blockchain sector. The current legislation frameworks
follow the European frameworks.
The blockchain community can educate through courses and
trainings available from academia. Moreover, there are
associations supporting the community with events and workshops.

The interest in blockchain is vivid, and the blockchain ecosystem
expands each year. This observation is a result of the increase in
the number of startups and large-scale events for 2022.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: There were updates from the public involving blockchain. As one of the hot subjects in
Europe, Poland’s Department of Digital Identity includes blockchain and DLT in the technologies to establish
digital identities. Blockchain was included in the task force for breakthrough technologies to provide
mechanisms of state involvement and research for activities.
The adoption of blockchain in the public sector is a subject of research, as blockchain can decentralise public
administration and its processes. The adoption of technology by the public sector can accelerate its adoption
by the rest of the sectors. In Poland, Olsztyn has adopted blockchain to improve services in tourism and
emergency services. The system possesses a native token, CoperniCoin, that can be used in the different
services in the municipal area, as stated in an article.
Another public authority experimenting on blockchain applications is Warsaw Stock Exchange (GPW), which
aims to pioneer the deployment of a platform for settlements based on the technology. The memorandum
between the Ministry of Digital Affairs and GPW in 2018 and the GPW Tech project in 2019 were initiatives
for adopting blockchain in the public sector. But there are no updates on the development of the project’s

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developments. From a published interview, it became apparent that experiments are ongoing with a platform
targeting small exchanges to be referenced during the interview.
The UKNF launched a virtual sandbox in 2021. The virtual sandbox was intended to simulate a number of
banking operations and test solutions with the interaction with Open API for innovative payment services.
A Polish project, Student Coin, proceeded to an awaited launch with an ICO in 2021. In an announcement,
the project announced that it reached its hard cap of USD 21 million in 58 days. Users will have at their
disposal a tokenisation option for an educational token. Users of the system can be people and
organisations that opt to launch a digital token.
Blockchain has the potential to disrupt the business models in different sectors. Sport teams experiment with
the technology to change the activities and organise their structure to facilitate the supporters’ involvement.
There are established companies around Europe, but one can be found in Poland. The startup, Zetly,
suggests a platform for issuing utility tokens. As reported in an article, the ’s smart contract will be deployed
on the Polygon network.
An interesting case for blockchain adoption is the idea of an established business accelerator, ReaktorX. A
blog post referred to the idea of shifting to a DAO format for the accelerator. The concept will be based on
three groups of stakeholders and establish an internal digital currency to facilitate the purpose of the
accelerator.
NFTs exploded in popularity during 2021, and the public still learns about their implementations and
applications. Similarly to sports, there is activity around NFTs at a national level. A startup using NFTs
featured on national website is SmartVerum, as their application is based on art tokenisation.
Legislation of blockchain: Poland has in place a tax policy for blockchain and cryptocurrencies, but there is
no a specific framework for the sector. General legislation like AML and Simple Joint Stock can impact on the
sector are presented. A report on good practices for the cryptocurrency market was published in 2017
providing an initial study for a future framework.
The Office of the Polish Financial Supervision Authority published a warning in July 2021 on the Binance
platform, which had traction in popularity. The warning was similar in fashion to other national supervisory
authorities about Binance Markets Limited operation. The warning was more of a reminder to the public that
the cryptocurrency market is neither regulated nor under any supervision, and there are risks involved in
investing in them.
Cryptocurrency regulations have introduced a new AML regulation for entities operating in the cryptocurrency
space. The blog post by Schonherr details the regulation and notes that companies need to register in the
Register of Virtual Currencies curated by the Polish Ministry of Finance. There is a fine for those that do not
abide by the regulation.
It should be noted that the regulatory framework has introduced the Simple Joint Stock since 2020. This new
type of entity aims in promoting ideas to startups and aid innovation in Poland. A nominal company capital
makes it easy to establish an entity along with an online registration process. There are more characteristics
that can impact the business scene in the long run.

BLOCKCHAIN IN ACADEMIA
This section expands the previous report’s educational initiatives. There are dedicated programmes for
educating the public on the blockchain along with research initiatives. Only an indicative number of academic
programmes and research initiatives are presented in this subject.

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Initially, the SGH Warsaw School of Economics facilitates a postgraduate blockchain programme addressing
the business, law, and technological aspects of technology. The participants will attend lectures and
workshops to acquire up-to-date knowledge on different blockchain subjects, including smart contracts.
Furthermore, the University of Gdansk facilitates a bachelor’s degree for blockchain engineers per source.
Another training programme is the IT technologies and business processes organised by Informatyka
Akademica Gorniczo-Hutnicza. As blockchain is a general technology, the Poznan University of Economics
and Business provide professional certificates to participants to Blockchain Fundamentals for Accounting and
Finance. Individual courses are available in programmes for undergraduate and postgraduate students, such
as the one from the University of Warsaw.
The research on the blockchain in Poland is rich with numerous works published works. The Wroclaw
University of Economics and Business returns 110 publications on the term “blockchain”. Moreover, the
University of Warsaw facilitates the Cryptography and Blockchain Lab with emphasis given on cryptography.
Finally, the Nicolaus Copernicus University researches the subject and has consequently published an
empirical study for the uses of cryptocurrencies in the payment services.
Blockchain across key industries: The Polish economy is solid, and the forecast is to recover from the
pandemic with positive growth rates. Blockchain is mainly adopted for providing IT and financial services.
Blockchain is a component in the architecture of a solution that provides specific functionalities. Finally, the
financial sector is one of the most active sectors in including new technologies.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The blockchain startup in Poland grows with more entities
entering the scene. Generally, this is due to the organised
environment around funding companies, as indicated by
Poland’s Venture Capital Landscape. An interview from Szymon
Janiak accommodated in Cyfrowa provided a brief statement of
the blockchain scene in Poland. A notable point from the
interview is the availability of the funds for early and later
stages, but there are issues for mid-range funding to scale
entities.
There are a couple of options in venture capital for entities to
address funding. One choice is Black Pearl VC with a focus on
early-stage venture capital firms in the technology sector. The
VC has a blockchain solution in their portfolio with Autenti, an esignature documentation. There is a chance for software
founders to address Alfabeat for funding as an entity in analytics
of cryptocurrencies, Coinfirm, is part of the portfolio. There are
more choices in VCs focused on specific sectors like
AgriTechHub that is active in the agricultural sector.
The business scene expands each year with new startups
operating in Poland. While the number of startups created in
2017 and 2018 exceeds the rest of the years in our dataset, the
rest of the years report moderate activity. Blockchain is a
technology that gathers the interest of well-established entities
as they expand their business and include blockchain solutions.
The majority of the entities are considered small and medium
enterprises due to the number of employees. Despite that, there
are a couple of entities exceeding the number of 250 employees. Finally, the startup scene is involved in a
wide range of business sectors, but the major sectors are IT and financial services.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The blockchain community in Poland is vivid, as indicated by the associations and events in the country. The
associations active in the country organise activities for educating the public and promoting the technology.
There are large-scale events for the community to participate in to further expand their connections within the
community.
There are private initiatives for promoting blockchain. One of them is the Polish Blockchain and New
Technology Chamber of Commerce, that is a community driven initiative with the objective to open a dialogue
with public authorities.
A detailed description of the initiative established in 2017 by 150 founding member is available online with
objectives and areas of activities. An action by the Chamber is the Arbitration Court of the Blockchain as the
first case in Europe to settle disputes in this novel area.
Associations are formed throughout Europe to support the community around blockchain with actions organised
towards educating and informing the public. The Blockchain Poland Association (Blockchain Polska) was
established in 2018 by a group of active blockchain participants. Apart from traditional initiatives, the association
has established a community for women in technology named Blockchain Girls. The initiative has organised
meetups for educating its audience on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. As reported in the last version of the
report, Swiss-Polish Blockchain Association continues its activity with a range of activities like events and
workshops. Moreover, this association aims to aid Polish initiatives to operate in a legal form based in
Switzerland. Another initiative is the non-profit organisation, Blockchain Development Foundation, located in Łódź.
Finally, another association is the Polish Bitcoin Association which has a long history, as it was established in
2013, and has a goal to demystify Bitcoin and blockchain as the underlying technology of the token.

The community has the opportunity to participate in conferences and events for learning and networking
during those. In Poland, there is the cryptocurrency expo held in March 2022 with numerous speakers. The
participants can choose to either participate physically in Warsaw or pick the online version. Another event
for the community is the World Blockchain Summit held in Warsaw with speakers from around the globe.
Additionally, the FinTech and InsurTech accommodates discussions and presentation on blockchain
subjects. Another event is the Digital Money and Blockchain that is an annual event with the 9th taking place
in June. Finally, workshops are held by the different groups and associations. For example, Blockchain Devs
held a webinar on NFTs in March 2022.

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AN INDICATIVE BUT NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
IN POLAND
Cryptiony: is an application deployed in 2021 that aids users to overview their cryptocurrency taxes. Profits
from crypto trading are regarded as monetary capital and are taxable, so it is important for users to keep a
track record of their transactions. The applications uses exchanges’ API keys which are provided by users,
and the application generates a tax report once the application collects the data.
Formation.Fi: is a protocol for cross-chain risk parity smart farming established in 2021. The protocol allows users
to diversify their portfolios depending on their risk preferences. In a Medium post, the protocol has set seven
principles; chain agnostic, low transaction costs, radical simplification, investment, communal effort, long-term
focus, and constant innovation. The protocol has attracted a figure of over EUR 3 million for investing.
TRUSTT: is a platform launched in 2021 and aims to be a marketplace for cannabis and hemp. The platform
relies on technologies like blockchain and GS1 framework. Blockchain is selected for its immutability for data
and metadata storage, while GS1 should improve the safety and efficiency across supply chains as a data
quality framework.
Terra Land: is a real estate platform launched 2020. Initially, the platform was named FCQ Platform, but
rebranded to the current name in 2021. The platform is based on blockchain and facilitates the sale of real estate
properties in their entirety or individual parts. Despite the initial launch on Ethereum blockchain, the project
migrated to Terra in 2021. The published roadmap sets the goal of introducing NFT for real estate in 2022.
DAC.Digital: is a developers studio that delivers information technology services founded in 2009. One of the
technologies that the studio is involved with is blockchain. The studio participated in the Block.IS programme.
REXS.IO: is a startup established in 2020 that offers a technology stack based on blockchain for the
notarisation of existing data. The software aims to abstract the interaction with the DLT ecosystem and
mitigate the complexity. Moreover, the functionality is delivered to be technology-agnostic to be used in
different cases. The startup participated in the BlockchStart programme.

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Filip Pawczynski, founder and the Chairman of Polish Bitcoin Association and Blockchain Advisor at Polish
Ministry of Digital Affairs.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Poland? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Poland’s involvement with blockchain and cryptocurrencies is close to the beginning of the technology. A
growing community was established in 2010. In 2011, Bitomat was a small cryptocurrency exchange and
one of the first in Europe and worldwide. As the community grew, the Polish Bitcoin Association officially
formed from the Polish community in late 2013. It was a step from a fragmented collaboration to a systematic
approach. This association was one of the first worldwide initiatives, as only associations in US and Israel
were formally established.
Generally, the Polish business market is large, considering users and banking operations. Between 2013
and 2016, the number of companies related to cryptocurrencies grew four times, from 3 to 20 companies.
The majority of them were exchanges, but there were enough tools, wallets, or payment processing systems
developed by the community’s continuous efforts. By 2016, the market has matured, proven by the pair
PLM/BTC volume being among the top five worldwide. In the same year, the government paid attention to
the technology as the turnover of the crypto exchanges was higher than Warsaw Stock Exchange. The
Ministry of Digital Affairs published taxation of the capital from cryptocurrencies.
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Apart from the taxation, an interdisciplinary program between the Ministry of Digital Affairs, Ministry of
Finance, and Ministry of Growth occurred between 2016 and 2018. The stream about blockchain and digital
assets amassed the largest number of researchers, and some of the subjects were digital signatures,
invoices, and other public services. The stream established an educational group for educating and fostering
awareness among the public. The last stream was about regulation and taxation, introducing the minimal
standards of cryptocurrency exchanges acting as a community pillar for regulation. The work from the
community, established in 2014 and compared only to the Bit License from New York, was extended in that
stream. The regulatory environments from Switzerland, Singapore, and China were used as references for
the legislative work. The program was not continued after a change in the Minister’s role.
As blockchain is a universal technology, the Swiss Polish Blockchain Association is established to support
the community and widen the range of choices for business operations. Switzerland is prepared to
accommodate enterprises despite the strict procedure, as regulation is in place.
Finally, the Blockchain and New Technologies Chamber of Commerce was established in 2018. The initiative
aims to facilitate any future dialogue for legislative actions with public authorities by providing its opinion. The
Chamber of Commerce’s legal form is different from the association’s as it necessitates its inclusion in the
public opinion for legislative creation or update.
While the community believes in the need for a proper regulation to develop businesses and avoid bad
actors, Poland only has tax regulation on the gains from the digital assets activity. There is no need for VAT
payment, but the taxes are personal taxes. Moreover, working with digital tokens can be a tipping point for a
Polish company with the law. So, it is common to run business operations from abroad while the developing
team is based in Poland.
How would you evaluate the public awareness to blockchain and cryptocurrencies? Apart from the
public, do you feel regulators have at their disposal material to guide learn about the technology?
Public authorities are interested in different applications of blockchain and a wide range of them can be
found in the work from the work with the Ministry of Digital Affairs. Despite the interest, the adoption and
deployment is slow like the register by the Stock Exchange. There is a running project by the PKO Bank with
a private tamper-proof blockchain. Another bank, Alior, uses Ethereum for tamper-proof of documents. Billon
is another company in blockchain with close sourced code projects. The public displays its interest on the
technology with events on the technology. For instance, more and more schools request a lecture from the
Chamber of Commerce.
Generally, there are two general groups of people relating to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. One group has a
short-term goal of profit from trading, while the other group envisions changing the world through technology.
The community grows every year even without regulation, and more and more know about cryptocurrencies.
Public awareness can be fostered by sharing knowledge and clarifying information on the news. Educational
programs separate blockchain and tokens into the technological and economic side, respectively. The
cryptocurrencies result from the technology allowing for building trust systems and identification in a
decentralised network. Misinformation about blockchain creates confusion and can harm the adoption. There
were cases in the media in the past of misinformation.
Reports, conferences, and workshops are means to share knowledge. In 2013, the Bitcoin Association
created and maintained one of Poland’s biggest cryptocurrency and blockchain expert groups. Social media
groups and the Polish Bitcoin Forum are additional tools for the association. Finally, the association tries
publishing warnings on nefarious projects to protect the public from harm.
Additionally to educational programs and conferences, influencers like YouTubers have gathered public
attention with crypto popularisation. The influencers’ work impacts the community as people search for
material, but the purpose of their material is different.

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People in Poland use services like international exchanges (Binance) to dive into cryptocurrencies. The
public gets more familiar with the technology via the use of user-friendly interfaces of the exchanges.
In my opinion, there is educational material about the technology with information for regulators. The main
issue for me lies with the interests of the different stakeholders and the business model that will be shaped.
Blockchain can disrupt the way that contemporary markets work, and the role of stakeholders can change in
these new business models. For example, a decentralised system based on the blockchain can contradict
the current banking system.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Poland?
The exact number of Polish projects is hard to be determined, as projects run by Polish developers and
entrepreneurs are operated from abroad. For example, Golem is a notable long-term project, but it operates in
Switzerland despite the founders and team being Polish. Golem was notably one of the most remarkable projects
in the ICO era in 2017 for Poland. Currently, Uniqly.io is one of the most prominent projects and is about the NFT.
There are competent developers who are interested in the different underlying blockchains and use them,
and some examples can be on Solana or Avalanche. The most experienced people come from Bitcoin and
Ethereum and still work on chains. Projects relate to Poland as the Polish developers have built an
understanding of the technology.
Obtaining a fair view of Polish projects is hard as developers relate to many projects. The report by Chainalysis
gives an overview and provides exact numbers, including Poland. For example, the DeFi Adoption Index and
crypto adoption index indices rank Poland in a good position compared to other European countries.
Do you think that there are risks about the future of the blockchain?
The general problem lies in marketing projects for financial gains via social media, while the decision to
change the approach mandates knowing about the impact and benefits. This is evident from the people’s
mentality of quick gains from cryptocurrencies. People dive into projects without prior knowledge and may
lose money, triggering regulators to take a strict approach to safeguard investors.
Another general issue that can be considered a risk is the financial education of the public. People turn to
influencers for easy profit and disregard basic economic and entrepreneurship knowledge. The lack of
knowledge makes it hard for the public to grasp the differences between the traditional and digitalized
economy. Finally, the public can miss out on the social impact that the technology might have.
Another issue that can block the adoption can be the education of higher-level employees from public
authorities. While there are material and events, the constant change of personnel does not give time for
people to learn about the technology and dive deeper.
All in all, education and awareness can drive the adoption and alleviate such issues.
What does the future hold for the Polish blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
I think that the current trends in Poland are to continue as we wait for a European regulation like MiCA. The
government will have a wait strategy where the discussions will be postponed for the future when there is to
be a set of regulation. Despite that, people will keep working and experiment with blockchain in projects.
Security will be a focal point as companies will seek for attracting funds. Regulations can ease and protect
investors and consequently allow the technology to flourish as more investments will take place. Essentially,
regulations will improve the stability of the sector, rule out bad actors, and persuade people to pursue
running their businesses from Poland rather than selecting foreign countries.

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Key Figures
FUNDS RAISED BY BLOCKCHAIN
PROVIDERS

€44 006 294.64
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS

28

Portugal
THE PORTUGUESE BLOCKCHAIN
ECOSYSTEM AT A GLANCE
Portugal is a European country located on the Iberian
Peninsula. The country is part of the European Commission and
the economy is forecasted to recover from the pandemic in the
next years.
There is interest in Portugal to adopt blockchain, as presented in
the following section on adoption. Moreover, the country is to
establish a node to join the EBSI, as reported by European
Commission.
Portugal is reported to have friendly legislation towards
cryptocurrencies holders, as the Portuguese Tax & Customs
Authority (PTA) announced that it is tax-free to exchange
cryptocurrencies. There is legislation to support innovation via
the blockchain application.
The startup ecosystem and community seem to have grown
since the last version of the report. The startup scene has
several options in funding, as contribution from North America is
available per Portugal Startup Outlook. The blockchain
community is supported by associations organising events and
other actions. Detailed descriptions are included in the following
chapters for Portugal.
All in all, the blockchain ecosystem is really active and grows
each year. The main sectors for blockchain are application
development and appliance in the financial sector.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: The public has interacted with blockchain technologies mainly through
cryptocurrencies, extending to exchanges. Exchanges are an easy way for the public to purchase
cryptocurrencies with fiat. Portugal’s Central Bank granted the first operating licenses for crypto exchanges
to Criptoloja and Mind the Coin with an official statement.
The financial sector is a prime sector that researches and applies blockchain in different scenarios. In
Portugal, Deloitte has developed a platform for distributing funds. The initiative is related to the Portuguese
Association of Investment Funds, Pension Funds and Asset Management. The aim of such a platform is to
facilitate the payment procedure and alleviate issues encountered in the procedure.
Public administration takes action for adopting the blockchain in the public sector. A use case is the
participa.gov platform with the objective to aid in the citizens’ participation via a safe and reliable manner.
Apart from public administration, the agricultural sector applies blockchain for tracking food products while
enhancing safety. The Portuguese Veracruz entity has collaborated with Arabyka to apply blockchain in the
supply chain.

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Blockchain has applications in sports, and Portuguese teams are part of the initiative. Some examples are
the news about the national football team collaboration with Socios for launching a crypto token and teams
like Porto.
Legislation of blockchain: There are updates from the previous report about legislation in Portugal.
Generally, Portugal applies European legislation and suggestions on the blockchain. Generally,
cryptocurrencies are not tried as legal tender, but there is a division between utility tokens and security
tokens based on the tokens’ functionality.
Blockchain and its implementation gather interest and are discussion topics in events. The Central Bank of
Portugal accommodates a speech by Governor Mário Centeno, where crypto assets, DeFi, and digital euro
were referenced briefly. Another source is the keynote from the speech by Governor Mário Centeno at
CIRSF Conference 2021, where legislation frameworks and digital euro were discussed.
Entities active in virtual assets provision have to adhere to requirements to operate within the Portuguese
territory. The central bank presents the requirements including Article 112-A of Law No 83/2017 and Notice
No 3/2021. The Notice sets in its scope that regulates the provisions of the previous article and involves
entities to exercise in a professional capacity activity with virtual assets.
Additionally, there are two Ministerial Resolutions from 2020 relevant to the blockchain, as stated in the
Global Legal Insights Portugal report. In more detail, Resolution 29/2020 sets the principles for establishing
Technological Free Zones, while Ministerial Resolution 31/2020 has the Digital Mission Structure as its
subject. Both resolutions can aid the country to be better prepared for the digital age and make the most of
the challenges and opportunities that will arise.
Blockchain in academia: The pandemic impacted the events as they remained digital during 2021.
Webinars are held to support communities on blockchain subjects. Specific examples for webinars in
Portugal were the Euro Digital and opportunities and challenges for companies from blockchain and smart
contracts.
In an extension from the previous report, there are opportunities to educate on the blockchain via individual
courses. In 2021, a collaboration between Microsoft and Algarve Uni For example, a training course took
place on for March 2022 by Católica Lisbon School of Business & Economics and IST Técnico+. The training
course has two subjects eluded by its title “Blockchain & Smart contracts”.
There are programmes supported by European Commission to support people interested in venturing in the
blockchain ecosystem. Specifically, DCentral Lab is open to submissions for students and recent graduates
aiming to conduct research on blockchain. Details on the internship programme can be found on the BIG ERA
chair.
Blockchain across key industries: The adoption of blockchain is concentrated in two sectors, which are
service delivery and financial services. Services use blockchain as a component in this underlying
architecture for benefitting from blockchain’s characteristics. Blockchain is usually included in the FinTech
ecosystem as one of the technologies to digitalise the economy.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Portugal has a vibrant startup ecosystem with active entities in different
sectors. There are entities that gathered the media interest and
attracted funding for their operations. Ancorage is an international
startup raised to unicorn status and has connections with Portugal, as it
has operations established in the country. Another example of a
Portuguese startup covered in the news was TAIKAI with a EUR 2
million funding round.
There are different initiatives to support the blockchain ecosystem.
Some accelerator programmes were included in the last version of the
report. An active accelerator is organised by Bright Pixel supporting
blockchain. Bright Pixel participates in recent events of the panEuropean programme BlockStart.
Venture capitals can support the startups to grow and reach new
audiences. In Portugal, there are venture capitals active in boosting the blockchain ecosystem. A dedicated
blockchain venture capital led by Portuguese partners is Lightshift Capital, with a news article referring to the
availability of funds for investing in blockchain.
The blockchain startup ecosystem consists of small and
medium companies in Portugal. This is a fact to be
expected as technology startups have small and shift
teams while achieving great impact with their developed
applications. A great number of startups was established
in 2018, but more startups are established each year
expanding the startup ecosystem. The main sectors that
startups are active in are the services and financial
sectors. In essence, blockchain is adopted in applications
to deliver functionality for users.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Portuguese community rapidly grows and aims to
extend their operations on the global scale. The
community can opt in participating in associations,
events, and hackathons focused on blockchain.
Associations are formed in Portugal to foster the
growth and support the needs of the community
around blockchain. The last version of the report
included the Portuguese Blockchain Alliance, which is
still active with news, events like the seminar on smart
contracts, and partnerships for blockchain adoption like
the public administration sector. Another association
active in Portugal is the Associação Portuguesa de
Blockchain e Criptomoedas with vivid interests in
blockchain and cryptocurrencies. An association
founded in 2021 and focused on the digital economy is
the Instituto New Economy. Technologies are to
disrupt and revolutionise the way of business
operations and the institution will support the national
ecosystem and its global standing.
The Portuguese community is interested in a wide
range of blockchain subjects, and there are events to
accommodate the variety of interests. Last year, a
topic that gathered the public’s interest was the nonfungible tokens. A 2-day conference on the subject
was held in April 2022 in Lisbon. The community had
the opportunity to participate in a larger-scale event in
October 2021 as the Lisbon Blockchain Week facilitated
different discussions and presentations on blockchain.
There are hackathons for the community to test their
skills. The recent events are usually held digitally, with
participation to extend further than a single country.
The Portuguese VC Faber participates in the
organisation of a WEB3 hackathon running until March
2022. In 2021, the hackathon, ETHLisbon, was held for
developing ideas on the Ethereum blockchain. The
hackathon lasted for 4 days and was held on the
premises of Fintech House.

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AN INDICATIVE BUT NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
IN PORTUGAL
Anchorage Digital: is a company founded in 2017 with offices established in Portugal. The company offers a
financial platform and is an infrastructure provider for digital assets. It aims to help institutions to invest in
digital assets in a secure manner and with regulatory compliance.
Catappult Console: it introduced as an app distribution console established in 2019. It is based on a
subscription to allow developers to distribute their applications across numerous stores. Essentially,
developers sign their APK to be managed by the protocol.
Knowtary: is a company founded in 2020 with participation in BlockStart. The main goal of the company is to
support any entity that deals with contractual agreements, signatures, and essentially provides the public
with document certification. The documents are notarised with the use of blockchain. The transition to digital
documents along with the efficiency in the processes can alleviate bureaucracy and lessen the
environmental burden. The company solution has been adopted in SMEs as indicated by BlockStart.
NAU21: is a developers studio established in 2015. The studio consults projects on cutting-edge technologies
and one of them is blockchain.
Polkastarter: is introduced as a decentralised protocol to launch new ideas established in 2020. The protocol
is an IDO (Initial DEX Offering) extending the previous well-known ICO structure. The project’s
documentation clarifies that projects can set fixed swap pools to raise funds. The protocol implements crosschain swaps and runs on Polkadot due to speed, scalability, interoperability and governance. An IDO’s
advantage is the community establishment to invest in inspiring projects.
Revault: is a multiparty vault architecture established in 2020. The protocol is open-source with the code
available in Github. The protocol aims to enhance security to the key management method of Bitcoin to
mitigate thefts and other threats. Moreover, multiple stakeholders can delegate the fund management to
selected managers. A paper in Github clarifies the idea and architecture of the project.
Sense Finity: is a company established in 2013 that works in the supply chain. During BlockStart, the
company has introduced a blockchain-based solution for food provenance certification. The solution is in
place to track food’s distribution with sensors and trackers. The blockchain offers data immutability and is
based on Hyperledger. The solution allows consumers to accurately inform about their food.

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Key Figures
FUNDS RAISED BY BLOCKCHAIN
PROVIDERS

€7 443 370
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS

36

Romania
THE ROMANIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Romania is a country located in the eastern part of Europe. The
country fosters a growing economy as indicated by the
economic forecast and indicators reported by the European
Commission.
The ecosystem around blockchain is active in Romania.
Moreover, there are news and events indicating that has grown
since the last version of the report. In detail, blockchain adoption
takes place in the public and private sectors. For instance, the
Authority for the Digitization of Romania has an initiative for
adopting blockchain along with other technologies in the public
sector in the project “Strategic framework for the adoption and
use of innovative technologies in the public administration 20212027 – solutions for business efficiency”.
Since January 2021, the private sector accommodates a unicorn
with the entity Elrond, launched in July 2020. The entity’s activity
is multidimensional, as it includes different sectors. Elrond,
along with other private entities, moved forward with acquisitions
described in the business scene. Another entity was Human.AI
with news like Initial Dex Offering (IDO) and the inclusion of its
token in KuCoin. Romania has established regulations mainly
around cryptocurrencies to protect investors. The most notable
point in the regulation is that the introduction of the emergency
ordinance has made stricter for institutions in payment methods.
The following sections aim to provide indicative information on
Romania’s adoption, business scene, education and community
around blockchain.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Blockchain adoption: Countries can be hesitant over blockchain adoption despite the activity around
technology. On the other hand, there are countries experimenting and adopting blockchain as a driver
towards the future. Romania implemented blockchain to safeguard the integrity for parliamentary elections in
November 2020. Blockchain is used as a trust layer to guarantee that no interference occurs in the election
process. Moreover, two systems benefiting from data immutability are deployed on top of the blockchain for
monitoring election’s turnout and producing reports that are publicly available on the site.
Romania’s public sector fosters interest in implementing and experimenting with blockchain technology. The
strategy for 2021-2023 published by the Financial Supervisory Authority includes several mentions of the
blockchain. The report mentions that “the Authority aims to cut red tape by implementing Blockchain” and
synchronise with requirements by ESMA, EIOPA and ECB. There are initiatives that will deliver material on
the blockchain, like the Authority for the Digitalization of Romania for public administration. In 2021, the
Authority for the Digitization organised a conference for e-government tools’ development as part of the
initiative.
Blockchain is the subject of discussion in research and legislation more often, but vivid and active examples
are indisputable cases for the public to grasp the different uses for blockchain. A major music festival in
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Romania, Untold, announced in August 2021 that the audience could pay with Elrond’s crypto eGold for
purchasing tickets for the event. Furthermore, the event has minted NFTs inspired by the Transylvania’s
myths. The NFT collection launched in collaboration with Stakeborg and is accommodated on the OpenSea
marketplace. It is refreshing to witness art events to experiment with NFTs, as they are envisioned to
revolutionise the art sector in different ways. While only being an initial step in the blockchain ecosystem,
NFTs collections can act as a funding means for art institutions.
Apart from brand initiatives, projects mentioned in the previous report still grow. For instance, Restart Energy
has issued the MWAT token with the aim to democratise the energy sector with the use of blockchain.
Legislation of blockchain: The last version of the report included a warning and an announcement from the
National Bank of Romania (BNR). The National Bank published an updated press release in April 2021
about virtual currencies, as their popularity keeps growing. The National Bank has previously published two
press releases in 2015 and 2018. In the current press release, the currencies are referred to as speculative
and very volatile, hence being very risky investments. It reminds that entities active in the exchange of virtual
to fiat currencies have to abide by Law No. 129/2019 and include MiCA regulation. Since then, the National
Bank has active participation at the European level in projects related to crypto-assets regulations and
relevant conferences and events. Additionally, BNR has a Cryptocurrency and Digital Currency Office In
September 2021, as an experts team commenced working on a CBDC pilot in September 2021 to develop in
a closed testing environment for gaining a better understanding of the concepts related to technical, security,
legal issues, and policy implications about the Digital RON’s potential issuance.
Law No. 129/2019 focuses on AML and is supplemented by the emergency ordinance (‘GEO’). In a blog
post, the regulation is briefly described, along with the definition for digital wallet providers. Finally, the
regulation around cryptocurrency taxation is at a 10 % rate equal to the income taxes rate as included in Law
30/2019.
On May 30, 2022, the Commission for regulations in the field of distributed technologies was established by
the Prime Minister’s decision 343/2022 under the coordination of the National Institute for Research and
Development in Informatics – ICI Bucharest. The commission’s objective is to identify and formulate the
necessary legislative solutions for the creation of a National System of Records of Issuers and Digital Assets
(NFTs-Non Fungible Tokens). The commission is composed of representatives of the Ministry of Finance,
the National Agency for Fiscal Administration and ICI Bucharest. Furthermore, ICI Bucharest announced a
collaboration with Elrond Network for implementing platforms in digital asset trading (NFT) for institutions and
modernising DNS and TLD systems with blockchain and Web 3.0 technology.
The interest from the public sector is vivid in Romania for blockchain, as indicated by the different projects at
the national level. The ICI Bucharest commenced its activity in April 2022 for the implementation of the
Romania National Blockchain Framework. Romania is an active member of EBSI with three validator nodes
set by the National Institute for Research and Development in Informatics – ICI Bucharest, UEFISCDI, and
Special Telecommunications Service – STS. Another blockchain project is EBSI4RO by CEF Telecom and
implemented by the UEFISCDI and UPT. Apart from implementing a national system for issuing university
diplomas and micro-credentials as Verifiable Credentials on EBSI, the project offers five MOOCs about
blockchain and EBSI on the UPT MOOC platform Unicampus.
Public projects were announced in 2022 for developing blockchain solutions. In June, the Ministry of
Research, Innovation and Digitalization approved the Government Cloud Platform project as an integral step
for digitalisation with an investment of almost 600 million euros. The Authority for the Digitalization of
Romania will develop an application on blockchain for tracking access to citizens’ cloud data. One of the
technologies included in the government’s memorandum for the establishment of a Center of Excellence in
Technology published in August was blockchain for the transfer of expertise, including through the
organisation of training. Finally, blockchain was part of the call for the SMEs’ digitisation through training
programs published by the Ministry of Research, Innovation and Digitization in August, where SMEs’
employees are to be educated on emerging technologies.

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Blockchain in academia: A report about the Romanian Blockchain Ecosystem by Carmen, Victor and Tudor
Holotescu include details on academia courses and research initiatives. The dedicated courses in
universities’ curriculums mentioned in the report are in different institutions like “Ioan Slavici” University of
Timișoara, West University of Timișoara, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iaşi and Babes-Bolyai University
of Cluj-Napoca. The courses are varying on the subjects as the topic of the courses can be programming for
different blockchain platforms or smart contracts. The report includes also the postgraduate programme for
entrepreneurship in Blockchain organized by the West University of Timișoara, also modules and courses
like Modex collaboration with Politehnica University of Bucharest and Bucharest Academy of Economic
Studies.
An online educational initiative is available for executives to grasp blockchain and drive innovation. There are
plenty of initiatives in research with the example of National Institute for Research and Development in
Informatics – ICI Bucharest in Romania. ICI Bucharest established the European Center for Excellence in
Blockchain Romania in 2018 and delved into delivering courses through the Executive Blockchain Laboratory
that organises an 8-weeks online program in collaboration with international partners titled “Blockchain
Technology: Application and Innovation of Transformational Business”.
Additional initiative in research is the collaboration between research centres and companies from Romania,
Moldova, Republic of Montenegro, and Slovenia on the platform EERTIS with a Blockchain-based Reputation
Infrastructure for Open Research.
Blockchain across key industries: The majority of the companies are active in the financial sector. There
are different reasons attributing to that fact. The regulations in the financial sector are well established, and
the reasoning and procedures are clear, making it easy to code in programming logic. Moreover, blockchain
and its ledger fit well to document the transactions by alleviating issues like double-spending. Finally,
blockchain is a component in complex architecture that delivers a specific functionality like data immutability,
security and others. The inclusion of IT services as the second sector is logical, as users select services
based on their functionalities and can be oblivious to the underlying technologies.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Companies realise that blockchain can be a disruptive technology for any
sector. As this realisation sinks in with the administration members,
larger companies look for experimenting and exposing themselves to the
technology. Acquisitions of smaller and independent companies can help
larger companies, as the acquisition involves an experienced team with
hands-on experience in the technology. A couple of notable acquisitions
reported in Romania were Zitec’s acquisition of Udev, Elrond’s
Portuguese startup Utrust and Softbinator Technologies’ WiseUp.
Independent projects and teams can benefit from innovative ways to find
the necessary funding to grow. The innovative way of fundraising, IDO,
refers to the process of launching a token on a DEX through a liquidity
pool. Humans.ai is a startup with a platform based on blockchain that
raised over a million Euros in half an hour via Polkastarter. Polkastarter is
known as a cross-chain token pools for launching projects. Additionally, a
project accelerator in the Hedera Hashgraph Ecosystem, HeadStarter,
has been established
for supporting early-stage projects.
On the other hand, there are contemporary finance
routes for startups and companies to find monetary
funds. For example, crowdfunding is an option for raising
funds from a large audience. In 2021, Rōnin added as a
choice for a platform that blends the traditional
crowdfunding method with blockchain to provide
transparency. The platform envisions in becoming a
community of Romania entrepreneurs who will grow
together.
VCs are another valid option for projects to raise funds.
Traditionally, venture capitals specialise on specific sectors to pinpoint the best options to invest. Startups
and companies can generally look for venture capital in the technology sector for funding. The Romaniabased VC Clever Capital has funded projects related to blockchain, like Mina Protocol.
The startup ecosystem in Romania is generally composed of small and medium companies, as indicated by
the number of employees for each company. The majority of companies was established in 2017 and 2018,
but the popularisation of blockchain as a technology has attracted the attention of established companies. As
with other countries, the financial sector is the predominant area to apply blockchain technology.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The interest in blockchain and its subject are vivid as the community in Romania grows each year. The
majority of meetups and events take place in cities like Bucharest, Cluj and Timisoara. The community in
Romania can interact in associations, events and hackathons.

The community of people interested in blockchain has the opportunity to participate in organisations fostering
the blockchain ecosystem. In Romania, there are several organisations and associations to promote
blockchain and educate the public on the technology. Asociatia Blockchain Romania was included in the last
version of the report, but there are other communities also included in the Romanian blockchain ecosystem.
Blockchain Romanian Community is a community supported by BlueDrive, but there are few updates on its
activity. The mentioned report on the Romanian ecosystem includes Legal Blockchain Association by
Alexandru Pop for legal practitioners to learn about blockchain.
One of the biggest events on the blockchain is the Romania Blockchain Summit. The event seems to be
affected by the pandemic, as the 2020 version was postponed for 2021. Another event held in June 2021
was the 4th workshop on blockchains for inter-organisational collaboration. The aforementioned workshop
was paper-oriented with a wide range of subjects and the application of blockchain. Finally, an event by the
Horizon 2020 project Fintech was organised in Bucharest. Finally, the conference “Critical Infrastructure
protection and resilience Europe”, that took place in March 2022 allocated time for a presentation for the use
of blockchain in smart grid security.
The blockchain participants have the opportunity to participate in hackathons to test their skills around the
technology. Cluj Startups and Spherik Accelerator curated an open hackathon under the European project Bhub for Europe for public sector challenges.

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AN INDICATIVE BUT NON-EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
IN ROMANIA
ClapArt: is a project launched in 2021 that brings blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to the media
and entertainment market, through a decentralized ecosystem, where artists would directly address the
public for investment in the development and promotion of their work.
Coreto launched in 2022 and introduced a social media platform for creating a secure environment for
cryptocurrency and blockchain investors. The platform introduces a reputation-based mechanism based on
an ERC-20 utility token for representing the reputation as per the lightpaper.
Farm XYZ is a startup that turns yield farming into structured assets for everyone to use, and was awarded
the Blockchain competition winner at the Banking 4.0 event in May 2022.
Herity Network: is a seeding platform established in 2021. The platform has launched a native token on the
Binance blockchain for crowdfunding early-stage projects. Projects are to be nominated to tokens’ holders
after a review and an audit from the project’s team. Additionally, the platform has an NFT marketplace for
artists to accommodate their art. Finally, charity events can be hosted on the platform. The project has laid a
roadmap to follow for 2022, which includes stacking the native token, bridging with the Polygon network and
more auctions.
Lanceria is a startup founded in 2021 with an AI-enabled platform for freelancing. Blockchain and its features
can be the foundation for the platform. The published whitepaper contains details such a metaverse and
more.
Nexity Network is a company established in 2021 to allow enterprises to streamline collaboration across the
supply chain and smooth the transition to the circular economy by integrating AI and CircleChain Tools with
blockchain.
Sourceless Blockchain: is a project founded in 2020 that aims to build a hybrid blockchain. The idea is to
combine public and private blockchains’ functionalities to control access while providing freedom over
actions. The project has launched its native token on Binance blockchain. The whitepaper describes the
projects’ benefits and case studies for its use. The project’s hybrid blockchain has been adopted in University
management and Wisp.
Zitec is a company specialised in the development of digital transformation solutions, including blockchain.
The company offers a wide range of services in blockchain and highlights relevant projects
like Aurus, Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), and Crypto One-Stop_Shop (COSS).

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Prof. Carmen Holotescu, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Director of the Center for Open Education
and Blcokchain at ‘Ioan Slavici’ University of Timisoara, Romania.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Romania? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
One can note a significant increase in the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency
in Romania, especially in the last 2 to 3 years. As drivers for this process can be considered:

an important number of events, conferences, and webinars, with national and international
participation;
active specialized social media channels/influencers, many articles on visible sites or magazines;

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active communities of interest and practice, and associations;
in education, there are innovative initiatives, projects, university and postgraduate programs,
MOOCs, productive research teams, and also policy proposals;
a visible presence in media and social media of successful and innovative Blockchain companies
and projects, their participation in different national and worldwide (e-)events; also their support and
partnership in academic programs or hackathons;
NFT phenomenon and some interesting Romanian projects of NFT and crypto art;
some government projects, initiatives, and working groups – organized by the Ministry of
Communications and Information Society prior to the Romania Blockchain Summit in 2019, by the
Authority for the Digitalization of Romania at the end of 2020 and the one gathered in January 2022
by Sebastian Burduja, the new nominated Minister of Research, Innovation and Digitization, for
drafting a law project for the regulation of crypto-assets.

According to recent market research conducted by IPSOS Romania for Tradesylvania and published in
January 2022, 96% of Romanians heard about crypto, 50% know about NFT and 40% have or had
cryptocurrency. Two-thirds of people familiar with cryptocurrencies believe that they can represent both the
future of online payments and the future of investment.
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Romania? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
Romania has a growing number of experienced companies, innovative startups and projects, and active
accelerators. Besides the unicorn Elrond, experienced Modex and Zitec, innovative Restart Energy and
Humans.ai, there are tens of companies and startups developing blockchain projects. As for accelerators,
the notable ones to mention are Techcelerator, AgTech TM, Spherik Accelerator and other specific
accelerator and funding programs for startups developed in academia. Many companies and universities are
involved in blockchain projects with EU and national funds. The most active blockchain centers are
Bucharest, Cluj-Napoca, Timisoara, Iasi, Constanta, Sibiu, and Brasov. Also, an important number of
startups founded by Romanians are active in Europe, Asia, and USA, with a strong presence in media and
events. The growing business ecosystem is supported by the numerous educational programs offered by
universities at undergraduate, master, doctoral and postgraduate levels, also by training companies.
Only respond if specific measures have been taken – What measures has Romania taken over the
past year in terms of public sector initiatives and legislation to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption?
There are numerous initiatives and use cases for blockchain in Romania, with voting systems being the first
to come to mind. Since July 2020, citizens with the blockchain-based platform developed by the Ministry of
Environment, Waters and Forests with Modex can vote on ministry projects. Additionally, Romania became
the first EU country to use a voting reporting tool as the national parliamentary elections in December 2020
used blockchain to guarantee the integrity and strengthen transparency.
Another application is a blockchain reputation mechanism for the EERIS implemented in the project
“Increasing the capacity of the RDI system to respond to global challenges.
The public sector promotes blockchain use with tenders. Some examples are the Ministry of Finance tenders
for studies in 2020 and the postponed Digital Transformation of Public Administration in 2021.
Apart from tenders, the public sector experiments with blockchain in pilots in conjunction with private
partners. In April 2022, the Financial Supervisory Authority announced completing a pilot project testing
blockchain to improve and reduce the volume of manually processed data. The results indicated that the
institution’s existing reporting and data collection processes could be successfully improved, digitalized and
secured using this technology. The same month, ICI Bucharest started the implementation of the Romanian
National Blockchain Framework; the universities in the country were notified and invited to host network

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nodes. Another notable EBSI4RO project is where the goal is to create an extendable and sustainable
ecosystem to facilitate and accelerate the awareness, knowledge and adoption of the EBSI by the Romanian
citizens, businesses, institutions and administration.
Romania is actively involved with EBSI as three nodes are set up in different organisations. Moreover,
EBSI4RO’s project team implements a national system for issuing digital credentials and micro-credentials
on EBSI, integrated with the National Student Enrolment Registry and will conceive policy proposals.
In December 2020, the Authority for Digitization established a 30-month project for innovative technologies
where an operational and legislative framework associated with blockchain and a national strategy for public
administration are expected results. Additionally, the Authority for the Digitization of Romania initiated the
public consultation procedure on October 2021 for the Digital Transformation of Public Administration in
Romania; including a chapter related to blockchain for exploring the technology to identify the most effective
ways of application at the government level, and for piloting the implementation of technology in institutional
projects.
In a report “Barriers to Digitization of the public and private environment in Romania“, published by the
Authority for the Digitalization of Romania in April 2021, it is stated that Romanian micro-enterprises are
close to the European average in terms of the use of Big Data Analytics, AI and Blockchain, at a higher level
than the use of other emerging technologies. The National Recovery and Resilience Plan (the plan in
Romanian), approved in September 2021, specifies measures related to the digitalization of public
administration and SMEs through the use of emerging technologies, including blockchain and the
development of training programs for these technologies. At the end of March 2022, the Ministry of
Research, Innovation and Digitization published for consultation the Applicant’s Guide for “Improving /
retraining employees in SMEs in order to use emerging technologies”. A report published by the Authority for
the Digitalization of Romania in April 2022 shows that the digitalization degree of the state is at 21%, the
target being 100% in 2030, according to the Commission’s 2030 Digital Compass.
What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
For the wider development of the Romanian blockchain ecosystem, we consider that the following issues
require solutions:



a clear regulatory regime in areas pertaining to crypto-assets and blockchain-based applications,
aligned with European and worldwide initiatives; this makes blockchain a much more approachable
industry, giving companies and startups clear definitions for how they should proceed and providing
protections for investors; as already mentioned above, the project “Strategic framework for the
adoption and use of innovative technologies in the public administration 2021-2027 – solutions for
business efficiency” is expected to develop an operational and legislative framework; also a working
group was gathered in January 2022 by Sebastian Burduja, the new nominated Minister of
Research, Innovation and Digitization, for drafting a law project for the regulation of crypto-assets;
blended Blockchain training programs, integrating Massive Open Online Courses, Open Educational
Resources, collaboration with universities and companies having experience in blockchain, and not
the sterile transmission of information in f2f courses; the standards defined by INATBA and CHAISE
should also be considered;
transparency of participation in the EBP, informing companies and universities which could be
involved in the development of EBSI and decentralized applications; Romania is the only country
having 3 EBSI validator nodes;
a dynamic system for supporting startups, companies and universities offering educational programs
in the field
communication of the ministries and agencies that implement projects in the field, and transparency
in organizing efficient working groups.

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More collaboration, sharing of experience and best practices, dissemination of the ongoing projects,
and a more pro-active approach are needed for those acting in the Blockchain field, from
administration, business and academia.

What does the future hold for the Romania blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
The development of the ecosystem will accelerate, having the premises presented above. Since November
20, 2020, when EU Blockchain Observatory published the report EU Blockchain Ecosystem latest
developments, there has been huge progress on all the four axis favouring Blockchain development
mentioned in the report: work towards regulation, the ongoing development of a national Blockchain strategy,
strong steps for an innovation-friendly climate, and multiple programmes for a skilled workforce. Some of the
developments are included in a broader report for the Romania Blockchain Ecosystem, where I was part of
along with co-authors. The report is accommodated by the EBSI4RO and aims to provide a general overview
in initiatives in Romania.

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Key Figures
MARKET CAPITALISATION

8 blockchain
solution
providers and
startups
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€ 13.7 million
MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

Cybersecurity
Cryptocurrency
Exchanges

Slovakia
THE SLOVAKIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Despite the relatively limited blockchain scene in Slovakia, the
Slovakian blockchain hub is constantly offering opportunities for
the local tech professionals to engage further with the blockchain
technology and community.
The country maintains an essential landmark in the history of
virtual currencies. On 8 December 2013, Europe’s first Bitcoin
ATM was installed in Bratislava, Slovakia. Similarly, an
independent store of the popular fast-food chain Subway has
been accepting payments with digital currencies in its Bratislava
store since 2013.
On another note, the Venture Capital firm and crowdfunding
platform Crowdberry, an official partner of the Slovakian
government sovereign fund Slovak Investment Holding, has
invested in blockchain startups.
The country is home to a Bitcoin mining facility which converts
human and animal waste into Bitcoin hash rate, securing the
network while mining Bitcoin. AmityAge Mining facility uses
human and animal waste to generate electricity for mining.

Software
Development
BLOCKCHAIN PROFESSIONALS

113
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

14

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
There is no available data suggesting blockchain has significant adoption in the Slovakian public sector or
regional governance.
Legislation of blockchain: On 23 March 2018, the ministry of finance published guidance explaining that
revenues stemming from cryptocurrencies need to be taxed. It said that any type of exchange, such as an
exchange of a virtual currency for an asset or a service rendered or for another virtual currency, must be
considered to be a taxable transfer. The guidance underlines that virtual currencies must be treated as
“short-term financial assets other than money” and priced at market value at the time of transaction. The
guidance also notes that virtual currencies directly obtained from mining should be kept off the balance sheet
until they are sold or traded. Earlier, the finance minister had pointed out that trade in cryptocurrencies,
which is unregulated and anonymous, involves risks of terrorism and organised crime
Blockchain in academia: Beginning from the academic year 2020-2021, a full-fledged University-grade
course for Computer Science classes focused on an in-depth understanding of bitcoin, Ethereum,
Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology lectured at Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies
at Slovak University of Technology will be offered by blockchain advisors David Stancel and Kristian Kostal.
The course syllabus is publicly available.
Additionally, Blockchain Slovakia, an educational non-profit organisation, aims to create a platform that
brings together all the stakeholders in the country’s crypto space. such as the regulators, developers,
businesses, and the general public. The organisation is focused on raising awareness about
cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology via various educational activities. The organisation is regularly
hosting meetups, seminars and workshops.
Blockchain across key industries: The Slovakian cybersecurity firm ESET has been active in identifying
malware along numerous blockchain and Virtual Currency projects. ESET began as a pioneer of antivirus
protection, creating award-winning threat detection software. Given the company’s expertise and size in the
Slovak tech ecosystem, cybersecurity could be identified as one of the industries relevant to blockchain
opportunities.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE

The number of blockchain startups in Slovakia is rather low, with only one startup in the revenue generating
phase. There are 14 blockchain startups and cryptocurrency-themed companies, accordion to data retrieved
by Crunchbase,

.
Bratislava is home to the second centre for crypto-anarchy – the Paralelni Polis, which has been initially
established in the Czech Republic. Paralelni Polis is self-described as a “freedom think-tank” that aims to
serve as a breeding ground for such ideas. A phrase that translates to “parallel city,” at its surface, Paralelni
Polis is like many Virtual Currency centres worldwide. The Paralelni Polis focuses on education, meetups, a
co-working space, and walking newcomers through the process of converting their fiat into Virtual Currency
to buy a coffee, for example. As Coindesk reports, Paralelni Polis stands for its open refusal to cooperate
with governments and its role in nurturing projects that actively antagonise the state. It is also on a mission to
provide individuals with the tools to disassociate themselves from it.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The community consists of 130,000 observers, according to the extended outreach data, as those exported
by Facebook audiences. Out of these, 935 members are engaged with communities of practice, involved in
five frequent meetup groups. According to LinkedIn data, 113 professionals are directly or indirectly associated
with the blockchain technology.
Sizeable communities of technology enthusiasts can be found around educational NGOs such as Paralelni
Polis and Blockchain Slovakia. They are committed to educating the public.
Source for Observers: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+, Locations: Slovakia, Keywords: Blockchain,
Cryptocurrency, Virtual Currency, Bitcoin | Source for Enthusiasts

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
Mangata Finance: Mangate Finance enables easy and secure decentralized trading for Polkadot and
Ethereum. The project claims to be the first decentralised blockchain exchange without insider trading and
MEV.
3IPK: 3IPK is a B2B blockchain Software as a Service (SaaS) platform providing digital solutions automating
certification, supply chain, maintenance and programme management processes for aerospace, automotive,
defence and other sectors.
Fumbi Network: Smart and Safe investing in a dynamic portfolio of top cryptocurrencies for the general public.
SuperScale: SuperScale is an all-in-one Growth Platform that profitably scales games & blockchain apps to
their maximum potential.

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
David Stancel, COO at Blockchain Slovakia
To verify the findings of desktop research, David Stancel, COO at Blockchain Slovakia, was interviewed. He
also serves as adjunct Lecturer in Cryptocurrencies in the University of Economics (Bratislava), and advisor
in numerous Virtual Currency ventures.
David Stancel notes the Slovakian community around digital assets and blockchain is quite mature and has
roots in early hackerspaces and tech communities that established even before cryptocurrencies became a
thing.
Therefore, the community of early adopters is rather sizeable and has been active for many years. This is
reflected also in a couple of companies that were founded in this field in the country.
The tax and regulatory regimes have not been keeping up though. Many of the crypto businesses suffer from
de-risking and are flatly denied banking services regardless of their product or adherence to Know Your
Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) rules. The growth of this sector has been dwarfed. So
have tax rates related to Virtual Currency trades. Given that most of the surrounding countries offer more
favourable conditions in this regard, some companies decide to operate from elsewhere. This pattern is more
material especially in relation to the Czech Republic with which we have historically a very close connection.
According to Mr. Stancel, there are two major educational organisations – Paralelni Polis and Blockchain
Slovakia – that organise meetups on the wide variety of topics related to cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

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In addition to this, there are a few successful Slovak companies in this field. The list includes Virtual
Currency broker Fumbi and Bitcoin ATM providers such as Bitcoinmat.sk or Cryptodiggers that also provide
a payment gateway.
There are also a number of companies developing different blockchain products. David Stancel listed the
following: Decent, Bethereum, and CryptoTittiez. He also noted that most of them did not get much traction.
There are also several companies that focus on software development services focused on Virtual Currency
and blockchain space and these include Vacuum Labs, Creanet, DLT Soft, or Block Unison.
A working group focused on digital currencies was formed in 2018 by the Centre for Financial Innovation
under Slovakia’s ministry of finance. The Slovak National Bank launched an Innovation Hub in 2019 which
deals also with crypto companies. However, none of the initiatives have produced tangible results that would
positively impact the companies active in this space. The only Virtual Currency-specific laws that Slovakia
has are related to taxation Virtual Currency trading.
As one of the founding members and COO of Blockchain Slovakia, an NGO which offers seminars and
workshops for companies as well as public institutions, David Stancel has backed a full-fledged semesterlong course on digital currencies and blockchain, in cooperation with industry leaders such as Ernst &
Young. The course is currently being offered by two universities, the Slovak University of Technology and the
University of Economics in Bratislava. The course is open-sourced and continuously updated on Github, so
that other institutions can use it too.
In general, Slovakia boasts with one of the densest networks of Bitcoin ATMs in the world, and there is a
number of merchants, both small and big, accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. Given the educational
efforts of the companies and NGOs in the field, the general public awareness is relatively high.

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Key Figures
OF GLOBAL INVESTMENTS IN
BLOCKCHAIN PROJECTS

5%

Slovenia
THE SLOVENIAN BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The Republic of Slovenia, while small in size, is renowned
worldwide for its blockchain companies. The country promotes its
economy as “Green, Creative, Smart” and one that leans towards
higher adoption of blockchain technology.

MOST ACTIVE SECTORS

FinTech,
Supply Chain
BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION PROVIDERS
AND STARTUPS

32
BLOCKCHAIN PROFESSIONALS

286

To highlight the importance of blockchain-related technologies in
the Slovenian economy, in October 2017, Slovenia’s Prime
Minister at the time, Miro Cerar, declared that the government
“want[s] to position Slovenia as the most recognised blockchain
destination in the European Union.”
In December 2019, an important milestone was reached in the
country. Slovenia launched the national test blockchain
infrastructure SI-Chain, enabling the testing of existing and new
blockchain applications for the public and private sectors. This
also provided the country with the opportunity to actively
participate in the development of use cases implemented on the
European Blockchain Services Infrastructure. Slovenia became
the first EU Member State to establish a blockchain test
infrastructure.

Slovenia was further recognised by the United Nations Group of
Friends on Digital Technologies as a role model. This stems from
the cooperation between public and private sectors in the country to develop blockchain solutions. Finally, the
European Commission recognised Slovenia as a reliable partner to be hosting the first pilot project – the
regional investment fund for AI and Blockchain startups in Europe.
The University of Ljubljana, a major research and education organisation in Slovenia, participates in Next
Generation Internet projects such as the scientific and technical coordination of the ONTOCHAIN project and
the Europe-South Korean project DECENTER. Slovenia currently presents at the Expo Dubai 2021 with its
collection of memorabilia that takes the form of Non-Fungible Tokens – IfeelNFT.si. It is the the first country in
the world to issue NFT tokens which serve to promote the Slovenian economy and tourist destinations.
An aggregated cryptocurrency index published by CryptoHead has ranked Slovenia in the seventh position
worldwide when it comes to its capacity to fully adopt cryptocurrency assets, along with metrics such as Google
searchers, crypto ATM saturation and legislation.
In August 2021, the Slovenian Finance Authority announced a proposal to tax cryptocurrency participants
with 10% of their assets income – particularly on purchasing and selling activity. Under the current legislation
method, the authority analyses an individual’s digital asset activity case-by-case basis by trawling through
their buy and sell transactions. In October 2021, the Slovenian Finance ministry sought a public opinion
regarding crypto tax laws. The proposed bill will impose a 10% tax rate on every fiat-crypto conversion and
payments made with cryptocurrencies if signed into law under Slovenia’s Income Tax Act. However, the
threshold for tax liability will be set to 15,000 euros ($17,387) for the calendar year. Investors within the limit
will be exempted from crypto taxes.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking In November 2019, the launch of the SI-Chain was established by the
technology provider company Hashnet in cooperation with Telemach, the telecommunication solutions
provider, helped Slovenia’s public sector make significant progress toward blockchain adoption. Moreover,
Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia, established in 2017, serves as an open forum that enables individuals,
organisations, and commercial and state bodies to work together, share, and exchange information. The Think
Tank is one of the key enablers promoting the blockchain environment in Slovenia by fostering the
dissemination of information among relevant stakeholders, from the government, research and innovation
bodies, companies, and non-governmental organisations, as coordinated by the Ministry of public
administration.
Recently, Danfoss Trata Slovenia and Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia agreed to collaborate on a joint project
focusing on identifying blockchain companies and projects in the wider region that are developing technological
solutions within the energy industry.
Legislation of blockchain: The Financial Administration of the Republic of Slovenia clarifies that the profit
received by individuals from trading virtual currencies (due to fluctuations in the virtual currency market) is not
subject to any income taxation. This clarification is based on the fact that according to the Slovenian Income
Tax Act, capital gains are generally not taxable if derived from movable property or disposal of derivative
financial instruments. Taking into account that virtual currencies are not defined as financial instruments or
shares, they do not fall within the scope of capital gains tax applicable to natural persons.
Blockchain in academia: Following the wide adoption of blockchain technologies in the country, academia is
also starting to adapt to this new trend. The University of Ljubljana is the scientific and technical coordinator
of the Next Generation Internet project ONTOCHAIN and participates in the European Union-South Korean
project DECENTER. The Digital Innovation Hub Blockchain for Trusted Data Ecosystems was also formed in
2021 as an initiative of the University of Ljubljana, the Technology Park Ljubljana and the company Hashnet.
These stakeholders organised the European Blockchain Week in the second half of September 2021. The
Blockchain Lab of the University of Maribor is also a notable academic initiative in Slovenia related to
blockchain technology. The blockchain lab consists of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, developers, and
consultants who develop and evaluate solutions and services, based on blockchain technology. The lab’s focus
is on promoting and accelerating the use of blockchain technology in developing innovative IT solutions and
services that support new business models. In addition to this initiative, other universities have already added
or are in the process of adding courses related to blockchain technology to their curricula. Moreover, several
associations such as the Slovenian Blockchain Association, the Bitcoin Association Slovenia, the Blockchain
Alliance Europe, and the Noordung Blockchain Hub offer professional training related to blockchain and virtual
currencies.
Blockchain across key industries: While blockchains startups operating in Slovenia cover a wide spectrum
of sectors and businesses, those focusing on financial and virtual currency make up the majority. Of these,
Bitstamp is the most notable virtual currency startup. It was originally incorporated in Slovenia, but later moved
its registration to the United Kingdom and then to Luxembourg due to the lack of adequate financial and legal
services in Slovenia. Supply chain-related startups are also starting to emerge in the country, making this a
promising sector for the years to come.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE

Relative to its size and population, Slovenia hosts a large and vibrant blockchain ecosystem. This is no
surprise, as some of the most significant EU blockchain companies emerged from the country’s capital. The
fast-paced growth of the blockchain startup and business scene is attributed to the fact that since 2017,
Slovenian projects have received over 5% of global investments in the country. Half of the startup companies,
not eligible for institutional funding due to their growth levels, were mainly funded by ICOs, which gave rise to
the blockchain-related entrepreneurial ecosystem and expanded the existing business environment in
Slovenia in new directions. As a result of this boom in blockchain startups, Slovenia currently has a large
number of IT professionals that offer their services not only to companies within the country but also to
companies worldwide that outsource parts of their software development process.
To promote the development of an innovative and diverse startup ecosystem, as well as to foster the
productivity and competitiveness of the Slovenian economy, in 2018, the Ministry of Economic Development
and Technology issued a call for demonstration and pilot projects funded by EU funds amounting to € 73
million. It was allocated to projects planning the use of blockchain technology (65% funding) and artificial
intelligence (74% funding) and other converging technologies (Internet of Things, big data, machine learning,
predictive analytics, augmented reality, virtual reality, mixed reality, 3D, etc.). It is expected that the results and
the lessons learned from these projects will allow the Slovenian government to create the necessary regulatory
framework for the various sectors disrupted by blockchain technology. This regulatory framework will introduce,
among other things, the “smart contract” definition into Slovenian corporate law and define the required
regulatory sandboxes for different fields of industry and the public sector.

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The blockchain community in Slovenia consists of both professionals and enthusiasts, as well as associations
targeting the promotion of blockchain-based solutions in a more organised and systematic manner.

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Established in 2017, the Slovenian Blockchain Association aims to connect developers, students, crypto
enthusiasts, and organisations wishing to participate in the transition into the decentralised future to foster
knowledge sharing, testing, and development of impactful blockchain solutions. The Bitcoin Association
Slovenia, is another example primarily focusing on the virtual currency-related application of blockchain
technology, while the Blockchain Alliance Europe, was established with the purpose of mutual assistance in
the field of business development, networking, cooperation, and a joint approach to defending the interests of
the members of the alliance. It also seeks to raise awareness of the importance of blockchain technology
among the professional and lay public and organises various events and training courses. It also cooperates
with government authorities in the field of relevant legislation. Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia operates under
the auspices of the Slovenian Digital Coalition and its purpose is the distribution of knowledge, as well as the
exchange and transfer of information among all the relevant stakeholders (from the government, research and
innovation bodies, companies, and non-governmental organisations, as coordinated by the Ministry of Public
Administration.
Moreover, the Noordung Blockchain Hub, aimed to create a network of businesses and individuals from
different branches, where they can participate in the development and optimisation of their work and business,
the development of project ideas and projects, and to access knowledge and information.
Apart from the organised blockchain associations and hubs, the Slovenian blockchain community consists of
22, 000 observers based on the extended outreach data from Facebook Audiences, which corresponds to
approximately 1.1 % of the population. Based on LinkedIn data, 286 professionals are directly or indirectly
associated with blockchain technology.
The number of blockchain startups in Slovenia, according to Crunchbase, is 32.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
NiceHash: A virtual currency cloud mining, hash rental service, and multipool. It offers two separate
marketplaces: Europe and the United States with stratum servers and also provides stratum proxies located
in Asia (Tokyo and Hong Kong). It charges a processing fee from each party of hash rate trade (buyers and
sellers) and the fee is currently set at 3%. It offers two types of contracts, auction-based and fixed price.
0XCert: The vision of 0xcert is to provide an open framework with the protocol for standardized and certified
unique assets to a broader tech audience. With the 0xcert Framework, you can build your decentralized
applications on top of distributed and decentralized systems, employing the complete 0xcert toolset,
development framework, and a set of conventions for various use cases.
CargoX: Aims to disrupt the global logistics industry by introducing Smart B/L documents based on blockchain
technology, replacing old-style paper Bill of Lading documents. It claims to reduce the time taken for transfer

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of ownership from the traditional 5-10 days involving the physical transfer of the certificate to 20 sec by building
a smart contract for the transfer of ownership.
Elly: Uses blockchain and AI technology to provide an e-commerce platform. It provides product
recommendation and matching algorithm, value prediction algorithm, decentralised loyalty, blockchain
database, crypto-payment gateway, etc.
Blocksquare: Blocksquare is a developer of blockchain-based tokenization system for commercial real estate
properties. Blocksquare’s vision is to provide real estate businesses with the world’s best real estate
tokenisation system with all required tools and modules for the creation, issuance, sale, distribution,
management, tracking, and trade of tokenised properties.
Hiveterminal: A blockchain-based invoice financing platform. Users register their company details and upload
their invoices. The platform utilises its real-time invoice rating algorithm and provides information about the
financial health of the invoice. Once the invoice is purchased from the invoice seller, the invoiced buyer
receives the full invoice amount directly from the invoice seller’s debtor on the invoice due date.
Iconomi: A virtual currency investment platform. It supports bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, etc. It offers multiple
virtual currency indices for investments including Incrypt Fundamentals, StrongCoindex, Hive Index, Solidum
Prime, etc. It also offers a mobile app to buy and sell virtual currencies and digital portfolios.
OriginTrail: Enables data sharing along any supply chain. The decentralised, blockchain-supported platform
helps companies exchange relevant data seamlessly and in a secure way to build accountability, protect their
brands, and increase efficiencies.
SunContract: An energy-trading platform that utilises blockchain technology to create a new business model
for buying and selling electricity.
Tolar HashNET: A scalable, fast, secure, and fair decentralised- beyond blockchain project, leveraging
Distributed Ledger Technology and consensus algorithm which keeps all positive characteristics of blockchain
technology while increasing throughput to more than 200,000 transactions per second.
Viberate: A database and analytics company for electronic music artists and professionals. The platform is
meant for artists, labels, and venues to browse profiles of other professionals. The company tracks the
performance of artists and venues through online channels and generates analytics based on the same.

INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Quote from Anja Blaj – President Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia
Slovenia has a lot of early crypto adopters and if you sit down for a drink at the riverbanks in the middle of
Ljubljana, you’ll hear people talking about bitcoins and blockchain based projects even when there is no alltime-high on the market. The know-how has been shared and internationally applied on numerous ends. I
believe clear tax and accountancy standards established early on can drive the adoption of blockchain
infrastructure even further.
Quote from Nejc Novak – Blockchain Legal Specialist, Founder Novac Router
Slovenia is home to a number of excellent and experienced blockchain developers, who have tapped into the
space. They now work with some of the best-known names in the industry and many of them have the
majority of their operations in Slovenia, namely Bitstamp, OriginTrail, Iconomi, Eligma and others. As a
country, Slovenia has been supportive of the blockchain industry, but favours an EU-wide regulatory
approach instead of country-per-country regulation. The Slovenian tax authority has provided clear and

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favourable crypto taxation guidelines, but for more regulations, Slovenia seems to be waiting for EU-wide
action.
Quote from Tadej Slapnik – Director, Tolar HashNET
Slovenia is a country of successful blockchain companies, always on the global frontiers of blockchain
development and implementation.

USEFUL RESOURCES
Slovenian Blockchain Association – Website of the Slovenian Blockchain Association
Bitcoin Association Slovenia – Website of the Bitcoin Association Slovenia
Blockchain Alliance Europe – Website of the Blockchain Alliance Europe
Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia – Website of the Blockchain Think Tank Slovenia
Noordung Blockchain Hub – Website of the Noordung Blockchain Hub
Digital Innovation Hub on Trusted Data Ecosystems – Website of the Digital Innovation Hub DataTrust
ONTOCHAIN project – Website of the Next Generation Internet project ONTOCHAIN, University of Ljubljana
DECENTER project – Website of the EU-South Korean project DECENTER, University of Ljubljana
IfeelNFT – Website of digital NFT memorabilia prepared for Slovenia’s Expo Dubai 2021
Blockchain Lab of University of Maribor – Website of the Blockchain Lab of the University of Maribor
Virtual currency Tax Regime in Slovenia – CEE Legal Matters

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€87 million
OFFERING PROGRAMMES RELATED
TO BLOCKCHAIN

11 universities
COMPANIES ACTIVE IN THE
BLOCKCHAIN SPACE

200+

Spain
THE SPANISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Spain is the second largest country of the EU and the fourth
largest within the continent. Blockchain technology is generally
viewed as an opportunity by country officials and local
entrepreneurs alike.
The year 2018 was catalytic for blockchain’s development in
Spain as the technology gained traction amongst regulators and
prominent entities in the business field alike. Draft bills and
suggested legislation regarding blockchain enjoyed wide
acceptance across the country’s political parties too. At the
same time, Spanish authorities issued warnings against ICOs
and digital currencies on several occasions. Nonetheless,
blockchain initiatives by the private sector started gaining
significant traction, with companies in the banking, energy and
shipping sectors exploring blockchain applications.
Today, blockchain and digital currencies remain largely
unregulated, while Spain is home to more than 200 companies
and startups in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space. These
companies are active in a variety of verticals, with only financial
services presenting a high amount of concentration.
Approximately 2.3 % of the country’s population is interested
blockchain and digital currencies. Despite that, no less than
eleven universities offer higher-level blockchain education.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: The year 2018 was characterised by the increased interest of Spanish
policymakers in areas relating to blockchain and digital currencies. In May of 2018, a draft bill to regulate
blockchain and digital currencies received wide cross-party support in the Spanish Congress. The initiative
promoted blockchain as a cost-efficient system to facilitate payments and monetary transfers and argued for
the introduction of blockchain technologies to the Spanish market in a controlled manner. A month later,
deputies from the leading party proposed the use of blockchain in public administration, while tax breaks for
blockchain companies were also being considered. At the same time, a Spanish bank reportedly became the
first in the world to utilise blockchain technology in their financial products. On 17 September, the Spanish
Congress unanimously approved a new legislation to facilitate the digital transformation of the financial
system. The new bill introduces a regulatory sandbox for novel FinTech projects, including blockchain and
digital currencies. Eighteen total projects have been selected to participate in the sandbox, half of which
utilise blockchain technologies in their operation. Of the 67 applicants in total, 10 correspond to the Bank of
Spain, 4 are from the Directorate-General for Insurance and Pension Funds, and another 4 from the National
Securities Market Commission.
Digital currencies are not considered legal tender and their exchange is VAT exempt. They are largely
governed under legislation that relates to commodities, namely the general rules of the Civil Code and the
Code of Commerce. On several occasions, Spanish financial authorities have criticised and distanced
themselves from digital currencies and ICOs. This is especially true in areas that fall under the country’s
securities legislation. In February 2018, in a joint statement, the Spanish National Securities Market
Commission and the Bank of Spain noted that digital currencies are not issued, registered, authorised or
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verified by Spanish regulators, in an attempt to alert investors to the inherent risks of loss or fraud associated
with them. In a similar announcement, on 27 March 2019, the National Securities Market Commission stated
that the agency has never approved or authorised projects active in the ICO sector to that date. In February
of 2021 the Bank of Spain issued another warning to the public, which besides reiterating on points made in
2018’s announcement, also warned against malicious advertisements and cryptocurrency derivatives. Most
recently the National Securities Market Commission issued guidelines on the content and format of
promotional campaigns for cryptocurrencies in an attempt to ensure that “the advertising of the products
offers true, understandable and nonmisleading content, and includes a prominent warning of the associated
risks.”
Capital gains from the exchange of digital currencies are subject to a variable tax rate ranging from 19 % to
23 %. ICOs and other alternative forms of financing that utilise blockchain may be subject to securities
regulation. Digital currency mining remains unregulated.
Blockchain in academia: Spanish universities, vocational institutions and training centres are committed to
providing higher-level blockchain education, with numerous standalone courses offered across a wide range
of interest areas. In total, eight universities that are offering master’s programmes focusing on blockchain
could be identified. Through their academic programmes, these institutions cover a wide range of areas –
even niches – in the blockchain space, including, but not limited to: smart contracts, decentralised
autonomous organisations, game theoretical elements, regulation and tax, cryptography, development and
monetary policy. Most programmes are offered in-person, while others adopt a hybrid model or are
conducted exclusively online. Courses are taught in Spanish and English. More specifically, some of the
courses offered are:
University of Alcala: – “Master’s in Blockchain, Smart Contracts and CryptoEconomy”: Established in 2019,
the “Master’s in Blockchain, Smart Contracts and CryptoEconomy” is offered in Spanish and provides
options for in-person and distance learning. It focuses on the areas of game theory and blockchain
application development, with a primary focus on Ethereum. It also offers the “Master in Blockchain
Engineering” programme, offered in Spanish as well and it is mainly focused on understanding, designing
and developing models defined by the blockchain technologies, such as Ethereum, Bitcoin, etc.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Business School – “Master’s in Blockchain and Fintech”: Since 2018, the
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Business School has been providing an online master’s degree in
blockchain and FinTech. The curriculum covers the areas of blockchain, regulation, digital currencies and
smart contracts.
University of Barcelona – “Global Master’s in Blockchain Technologies”: Since March of 2019, the University
of Barcelona has been offering the online Master’s in Blockchain Technologies, in collaboration with the
Zigurat Innovation & Technology Business School. The curriculum covers the areas of blockchain
architecture, cryptography, digital currencies and regulation.
Miguel de Cervantes European University – “Master’s in Applied Blockchain, Programming Taxation and
Cryptoeconomics”: Since March of 2019, the Miguel de Cervantes European University has been offering a
master’s degree in applied blockchain, focusing on the areas of programming, taxation and digital currency
economics.
EU Business School / Universidad Católica de Murcia / University of Roehampton – “MBA in Blockchain
Management / MSc in International Management”: The programme on blockchain management by the EU
Business School offers a dual qualification depending on the students’ professional experience: an MBA by
the University of Roehampton and a master’s degree in international management accredited by the
Universidad Catolica de Murcia.
University of the Basque Country – “Master’s in Blockchain Technology and Cryptoeconomy”: Since October
of 2020, the University of the Basque Country has been offering an in-person master’s degree in applied
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blockchain, focusing on the areas of cryptography, game theory, regulation and tax, quantum computing and
blockchain programming.
University of Girona – “Master’s in Distributed Ledger Technology and Artificial Intelligence”: The master’s
programme on DLT and AI offered by the University of Girona focuses on high-level programming, security
and cryptography, the business and legal aspects of blockchain and relevant technologies as well as the
development of applications that can interact with blockchain protocols and smart contracts.
Universidad Europea de Madrid – “Masters and Fintech in Blockchain”: With a duration of 6 months, the
postgraduate programme offered by Universidad Europea de Madrid teaches the fundamentals of blockchain
design, development and implementations. The same university also offers an in-person 3-month bootcamp
on blockchain technologies.
Universidad de Salamanca – “Master in Blockchain Technologies and Smart Contracts”: With a duration of
one academic year, it mainly focuses on Cryptography, Blockchain, Bitcoin, Smart Contracts and the
Regulations surrounding them.
Universidad Internacional de Andalucia (UNIA) – “Master of Permanent Training in DLT & Blockchain”: a
postgraduate programme recently approved to start this year, jointly organised by University of Jaen, Alastria
Association and UNIA. It is expected to start in October of 2022 and run until June 2023,recurring every
academic year. Mostly, the master programme will focus on DLT and blockchain standards, network
architecture, protocols and associated technologies, tokens and DeFi, self-sovereign identity and data
protection in PDLs, and cybercrime. It aims to touch upon the technological, economic and legal aspect of
blockchain and it is addressed to predoctoral or master alumni or any blockchain professionals who
specialise in one or more of the three aspects above.
Universidad Cardenal Herrera (CEU) – “Certificate in Fintech and Cryptoactive”: An online programme that
lasts for 8 weeks and runs every 4 months. The certificate focuses on the areas of FinTech and crypto
assets and it is mainly appealing to audiences with banking background. On the first edition of the certificate,
in October 2021, the programme awarded 19 students, while in the February 2022 edition the programme
was expected to surpass the number of 25 participants.
Blockchain across key industries: Spanish banks were some of the first entities in the country to explore
blockchain-powered applications. BBVA issued a EUR 750 million loan entirely on-chain, which reportedly
“cut the negotiation time for the loan from days to hours”. Banco Santander announced plans to utilise
xCurrent, a blockchain-based technology offered by Ripple, for cross-border payments and remittances.
CaixaBank continues to explore blockchain technology, even partnering with leading companies from the
space. Firms from one of Spain’s largest sectors, the energy sector, are also exploring blockchain
technology. Indicative examples are initiatives from ACCIONA and Iberdrola. Endesa is also using blockchain
in collaboration with the Malaga City Council to protect financially vulnerable customers. The food giant
Campofrío also uses blockchain technology to guarantee transparency in some of its food products.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
The Spanish blockchain startup and business ecosystem is active with initiatives from prominent players in
traditional fields such as banking, energy, shipping, telecommunications and even sports. In 2017, 70 of the
largest Spanish companies from the areas of banking, energy and telecommunications came together to
form Alastria, a non-profit consortium aiming to accelerate digital transformation through blockchain
technology. Today, Alastria counts more than 500 members from the private and public sectors and has
developed a digital identity model, Alastria ID. In 2018, BBVA became the first global bank to issue loans
utilising blockchain. In 2020, CaixaBank implemented the we.trade blockchain platform allowing smart
contract-enabled trade and payments.
Spain is home to more than 212 small and medium-sized companies and startups in the blockchain and
digital currency space, which employ on average 10-15 individuals. Companies in the country have
collectively raised north of EUR 80 million in funds primarily through venture funds. Blockchain companies
are active in a wide range of areas, from financial services and IT to gaming and energy. Apart from financial
services, no significant concentration in any other vertical could be identified.

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
50
45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
2015

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2016

2017

2018

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2020

2021

BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Compared to the country’s population and total area, the Spanish blockchain and digital currency community
is relatively small. Approximately 1 100 00 individuals interested in blockchain and cryptocurrencies could be
identified, a number that amounts to 2.3 % of the total population.

Source for general audience: Facebook audience, ages: 16-65+, location: Spain, keywords: Blockchain (database),
cryptocurrency, bitcoin, Ethereum)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Urko Larrañaga Piedra, Blockchain Lead, IZERTIS
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency
in Spain? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
In general, citizens will make use of the services offered to them, whether they are blockchain and
cryptocurrencies or not. However, I do believe that in the last year the public became more interested in
cryptocurrencies. Many citizens have become aware of the existence of other digital assets beyond Bitcoin
and are starting to see them as a medium for alternative investments.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Spain?
In the European context, the level of maturity and size of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem is good. Companies are constantly adapting their services and solutions making the use of
blockchain easier through SaaS, PaaS or BaaS modalities. Likewise, there is also a wide range of entities
that offer solutions in the field of tokenisation. Banks such as Santander and BBVA have also emerged as
strong players, offering consumer facing crypto services. Despite this, it seems that the Spanish business
ecosystem has slowed down lately.
What measures has Spain taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and legislation
to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
The following initiatives are representative of Spain’s crypto strategy over the last year:


Ley 11/2021: law that legislates the obligations of crypto asset owners and service providers, regarding
virtual currencies. In this law there is also a definition of what is considered a virtual currency.
Press Release – Joint Declaration Spain Germany: a press release where Spain and Germany announce
that they join forces on the development of a cross-border, decentralised digital identity ecosystem.
The UNE standard for Digital Identity (December 2020): UNE71307-1:2020 Digital Enabling
Technologies. Decentralised Identity Management Model based on Blockchain and other Distributed
Ledgers Technologies. Part 1: Reference Framework.

What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
I believe that the key lies in providing a trust framework where services and solutions based on this
technology can be built and tested. This trust framework could be completed by blockchain systems and
networks that will be accepted by institutions. On the other hand, a Blockchain Sandbox could be proposed,
with the objective of advancing in the validation of the solutions that have been built. In this way, it would be
provided a reference trust framework for entrepreneurs.
What does the future hold for the Spanish blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
I believe that blockchain technologies have room to grow and mature in several sectors. However, the
ultimate success will depend on institutional support which can come in the form of public-private
partnerships. This will be true regardless of whether Spain’s influence diminishes or not.

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Key Figures
BLOCKCHAIN STARTUPS LAUNCHED

15+
INDIVIDUALS ORGANISED IN
VIRTUAL CURRENCY COMMUNITIES

8 000+
RAISED BY BLOCKCHAIN ICOS IN
SWEDEN

€40+ million
NUMBER OF ICOs IN SWEDEN

2

Sweden
THE SWEDISH BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
The Swedish blockchain ecosystem is well developed and
diverse in terms of practical applications, community interest
and government support. Sweden has a strong talent pool in the
industry. It also has a notably high level of scientific and
technological education which means that public attitudes
towards blockchain and other emerging technologies are
positive.
The Swedish Central Bank (Riksbank) is one of the public
supporters of blockchain technology, in particular their e-Krona
initiative. Cash use continues to decline in Sweden. Riksbank
has proposed that if the marginalisation of cash continues, a
digital krona – e‐krona – could ensure that the general public
still has access to a state-guaranteed means of payment. The
nation’s central bank has noted that being slow to act in the face
of current developments will completely leave the payment
market to private agents, and ultimately leave the general public
entirely dependent on private payment solutions that may make
it more difficult for the central bank to promote a safe and
efficient payment system. According to the dGen report, Sweden
has already made significant progress in a CBDC development
and might become a cash-free country by 2025.

Other government bodies are equally supportive of the
technology. For example, the Swedish land ownership authority
Lantmäteriet began testing blockchain technology in 2016 in
cooperation with the telecommunication company Telia,
consulting firm Kairos Future and the blockchain company
Chromaway. As a result, a pilot project was presented to
develop future real estate transactions by using smart contracts that aimed to significantly reduce the time it
takes to sign contracts, register a deal and ultimately sell a property. The project consists of three steps. The
first was an experiment to demonstrate the technology’s potential. On 30 March 2017, the second stage
ended with the release of a report that showed how the preparation of smart contracts automates the
processes of cadastral operations. The third phase enabled the actual transfer of land rights. In June 2018,
developers completed the first successful transaction on the platform.
The private sector also carries out notable blockchain projects. The SEB, one of Sweden’s major banks, has
initiated a project together with Nasdaq, the stock exchange operator, called Nordic Fund Ledger. It aims to
improve mutual fund trading by applying blockchain in order to protect customers’ data and build their
systems exactly according to their own needs.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: In 2017, the Swedish government assigned a special committee to
investigate the need for legislative changes in eliminating barriers to digital development in the public sector.
However, the investigation did not result in any legislative amendments to facilitate the use of blockchain
technology. At the same time, the Minister of Finance publicly declared to the Parliament that the Swedish
government is positive towards technical innovations and that blockchain technology creates opportunities in
a variety of sectors where the technology could be used to improve record keeping. For this reason, the
attitude should be regarded as positive.
Virtual currency legislation that applies to blockchain: The adoption of blockchain and other DLTs in
Sweden has not yet fully taken off. Several initiatives and collaborations have been initiated with the purpose
of utilising and commercialising the technology, but the market is still in its very early stages. Blockchain is a
novel technology that in many ways does not fit in with the current legal framework, and the absence of new
legislation specifically addressing it creates a legal vacuum. This means one must often use the existing
legal framework and force blockchain to fit within that framework, which of course is not ideal. Therefore, the
principal supervisory authorities likely to make inroads in the blockchain space are the Swedish Financial
Supervisory Authority (the SFSA) and the Swedish Data Protection Agency. Consulting firms are also
involved in blockchain development. For instance, the global consulting firm Accenture has been contracted
by the Riksbank to work on e-krona.
Blockchain in academia: There is quite a limited number of entities that supply special courses via
blockchain technologies. The Swedish Center for Digital Innovation (SCDI) offers Blockchain LAB (BLAB), an
initiative for creating a creative environment that allows researchers and students involved in SCDI to work
with blockchain solutions in their studies and research. At the same time, the KTH Royal Institute of
Technology in Stockholm provides a special course on blockchain fundamentals. This course provides a
comprehensive survey of topics relevant to blockchain technology and the ecosystem surrounding it, starting
from the basics of cryptography to the related economics and game theory premises.
Blockchain across key industries: There are a limited number of technological startups that utilise
blockchain as their underlying technological infrastructure. However, the FinTech sector intends to move
forward with modern market development and evolve blockchain technologies. The government, larger
financial institutions and private equity firms asked the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (SFSA to
consider the need for a regulatory sandbox in Sweden. The SFSA decided against creating a regulatory
sandbox, arguing that innovations in the financial sector are already strong in Sweden and that a regulatory
sandbox could adversely affect competition in the market. For the same reason, the SFSA decided not to
consider any regulatory changes.
There are not many large-scale industrial blockchain applications. However, there is one project that is
particularly notable. Axfoundation, together with Martin & Servera, SKL Kommentus, Sustainable
Procurement (a collaboration between Sweden’s provinces) and Kairos Future, collaborated to map
blockchain’s potential within the nation’s food industry.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Sweden has a variety of small and medium-sized startups, companies and non-profit organisations active in
the blockchain space. Most organisations have an international focus. The average number of employees is
between 15 and 20.
According to data, as for now there are 16 blockchain startups or almost 3 % of the total number of startups
in Sweden.

Business opportunities in the space were identified as early as 2012, with most companies founded between
2014 and 2016. Revenue numbers are hard to come by, both due to their small volume and the variety of
income generation mechanisms employed by those companies and startups. The issues with identifying
exact figures are amplified due to the use of virtual currencies as a medium of payment.
One of the most notable non-financial applications of blockchain technology in Sweden is a collaboration
between the Swedish Mapping, Cadastral and Land Registration Authority (Swe. Lantmäteriet) and several
private sector companies that used blockchain technology to successfully carry out a real estate transaction.
There are also attempts to create electronic negotiable promissory notes using blockchain solutions. These
carry specific legal issues under Swedish law that technology could potentially resolve. There are also
established businesses in Sweden that deal with virtual currency mining and businesses that offer trading
venues for virtual currencies and tokens.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
Relative to its size, Sweden fosters a small blockchain
community that is mostly located in Stockholm. Official and
unofficial medium-sized enthusiast groups, some of which
have been active as early as 2013, amount to more than 8 000
active members. They are concerned with a variety of
blockchain and cryptocurrency aspects, from purely
technological and social to speculative.
The Swedish Competition Authority recently issued a report
that analysed blockchain technology from a competition
perspective. The report investigated whether blockchain
technology could have potential anti-competitive effects, but
also whether it could facilitate the Competition Authority’s
supervisory work.
The main outcomes suggest that, while risks exist, blockchains
are used for anti-competitive practices, today such risks are
mostly of a theoretical nature. However, the report pointed out
that whatever risks there are, could be reduced by giving
competition authorities insight into private blockchains that are
developed within consortia of companies, either voluntarily or through legislative measures.
The Swedish blockchain community in numbers: The Swedish blockchain community is mid-sized, with
2 600 LinkedIn professionals registered as working with or in the industry. With 15 regular Meetup groups
and 4 500 Meetup attendees, the community is quite active. A Facebook marketing campaign indicates the
audience for blockchain-related terms is 190 000.

NOTABLE BLOCKCHAIN COMPANIES
3Box: Secure and decentralised user data storage system. It is the easiest way for developers to build
engaging, fully featured applications without needing to run a backend for handling user data. The product is
fully open source and licensed under MIT.
AIAR: Developing an Ethereum-based education platform that leverages AI and blockchain technology.
Claims to provide personalised learning content such as videos and reading material by using AI. Allows
users to earn, trade and donate EdTokens.
Bitrefill: Provides digital gift cards and mobile airtime refills to 170 countries using cutting-edge bitcoin
technologies. The platform offers an evolving shopping platform with innovative cryptocurrency payment
options, including the latest Lightning Network technology.
Blocksettle: Offers a blockchain-based trade settlement solution. The company is developing a system that
allows for transactions to be validated and transferred without using a traditional bank as a verifier. Features
include on-chain asset issuance, on-chain atomic swaps, cross-chain atomic swaps and real-time bilateral
settlement.
ChromaWay: Founded in 2014 and an early pioneer of what is now blockchain 2.0 technology. With great
blockchain experts, it provides a platform for smart contracts, and issuing and transferring assets through a
blockchain. It has been working with the Swedish Land Registry and other institutions and financial
companies to provide smart contract solutions for real estate. Among many other successes, ChromaWay
presented Postchain, a consortium database.

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Chromia: Relational blockchain designed to make it much easier to make complex and scalable DApps.
Cinizen: Swedish startup founded with the goal to revolutionise the existing film distribution model.
Goobit: Fintech company in the Swedish bitcoin and blocktech industry. Main business is exchange and
management of virtual currencies. Its first product enables the exchange of Bitcoin from Swedish crowns
under the main brand BTCX – Bitcoin Exchange. Other products and services include: BTCX Payments
allowing shopping with Bitcoin over the counter, in regular stores and online; BTCX Donation enabling
organisations to receive donations in Bitcoin; BTCX Wallet allowing users to manage their Bitcoin funds; and
BTCX News is their Swedish language blog and news outlet.
Norbloc: Premier blockchain platform and applications provider in Europe. It focuses on regulatory solutions
for financial services and sectors with sensitive personal data. Financial services platform embeds the
KYC/AML process on a blockchain framework, allowing removal of duplication of efforts between financial
institutions and other obliged entities.
Qwids: Rewards and loyalty platform enabling users to share photos and videos online for companies and
organisations. Users are rewarded points for sharing vital information regarding brands. Provides a web app
wallet and a mobile app. The app is available for Android and iOS.
Safello: Founded in July 2013, set out to bring greater compliance and security to the bitcoin industry. Its
user-friendly approach has since attracted thousands of customers throughout Europe with an easy way to
get into bitcoin. Today, supports direct payments in 32 countries and payment methods like Swish, bankgiro,
SEPA and international wire. With tens of millions of Swedish Krona, euro and British pound sterling in and
out of Bitcoin processed, Safello is leading the crypto currency revolution in Europe.
Starflow: Blockchain-based fan engagement platform for brands and influencers. The platform enables
influencers to connect with their fans and monetise their content. The platform also allows influencers to
partner with brands for launching marketing campaigns. The company is offering StarCoin, an ICO for its
crypto tokens. The app is available for iOS devices.
StrawPay: Micropayment system based on blockchain. They operate an open payment network built on the
features of bitcoin protocol, Stroem, that can handle micropayments, down to a few cents. They claim that
the payment process from the consumer to a merchant takes less than a second. Stroem also builds on top
of the payment protocol spec BIP 0070 which is used primarily between the consumer’s wallet and the
merchant. Characteristics include low cost, privacy, fraud resistance and proof of purchase, etc.
Trijo: Cryptocurrency exchange platform allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and
Monero. Offers news, analysis and explanatory texts on cryptocurrency exchange.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
The hype of blockchain and its potential applications is driving the transformation to the internet of value. Yet,
there is limited insight into what companies are doing to reap its benefits.
Following interviews with experts from Sweden, it is clear that the biggest interest comes from software
integrators and innovation departments wishing to reduce the operational costs from legacy software and
expand their market supply. They see a tremendous marketing opportunity.
David Suomalainen, who works as an advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Infrastructure with a focus on the
digitalisation of the public sector, commented that he is optimistic about blockchain implementation, but the
whole implementation process will take a lot of time and other resources.
Maria Marenco, a blockchain and digital health consultant, feels enthusiastic about the possible
implementation of blockchain technologies in the healthcare industry. She insists on the production of
educational resources that can promote best practices and guidance around its adoption and implementation
of the technology in the healthcare field.
David Suomalainen on blockchain adoption for government:
Blockchain is hard for a government, especially open blockchain because government usually is just in
control of certain processes. That’s the job of government. I personally think that if technology is available to
help you work better or more efficiently, we should try it.
Read more: “https://northsearegion.eu/bling/interviews/interview-1-david-suomalainen/”
David Suomalainen highlighted the following use cases for blockchain implementation at EU level:



to audit bills
for diplomas
for self-sovereign identity
for data sharing

Read More “https://northsearegion.eu/bling/interviews/interview-1-david-suomalainen/”
Maria Marenco on blockchain contributing to a healthcare solution:
Through the use of blockchain technology, we could increase privacy, security and trust of the evolving
digital environment, empowering citizens and mental health professionals in proactively monitor treatments,
regardless of the geographical location of the patients or the healthcare provider. Blockchain not only helps
with the uniformity and accessibility of data between primary and secondary health providers and social
services, but also helps to incentivise healthier behaviour through tokens and cryptocurrencies.
Read more: “https://blockchainhealthcarereview.com/feature-interview-with-maria-marenco-the-state-ofblockchain-in-healthcare-in-the-uk-sweden/”

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USEFUL RESOURCES
Legal500 – Articles, interviews and guides on legal activity
chainEurope – blockchain startups in Europe
Cryptocurrency Tax Information – Interactive map of cryptocurrency taxation per country
Coinmap.org – Website containing information on physical virtual currency exchanges (ATMs)
Startup Ranking – Information about startups around the world

OTHER SOURCES
Tracxn: tracxn.com
Goodfirms: goodfirms.co
Swedish Blockchain Association: swedishblockchain.se
Safello: safello.com
ChromaWay: chromaway.com
Norbloc: norbloc.com
Axfoundation: axfoundation.se

INDIVIDUALS INTERVIEWED
David Suomalainen – advisor to the Swedish Ministry of Infrastructure
Maria Marenco – blockchain and digital health consultant

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED / TOTAL
VALUATION OF TOP 50 COMPANIES
(Q1 2021)

€3.7 bn / €254 bn
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS (960 INCLUDING
LIECHTENSTEIN)

877/960
(PROJECTS VALUED AT ABOVE $1BN)

11 unicorns*
Cardano,
Polkadot,
Cardano, Solana,
Cosmos, Tezos**
*Ethereum, Cardano, Polkadot, Aave,
Cosmos, Solana, Tezos, Dfinity, Near,
Nexo, Diem.
**Open, public, permission-less
blockchains are not owned or controlled by
any singular organisation and are
jurisdiction-agnostic.

Switzerland
THE SWISS BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Switzerland, coined the “Crypto Nation” and home to the
“Crypto Valley” of Zug, can – in many regards – be considered
Europe’s most mature blockchain ecosystem and a global
blockchain hotspot. The Swiss economy is amongst the most
advanced in the world, with wealth management and banking
constituting primary pillars of economic prosperity in the country.
Progressive blockchain and digital currency legislation coupled
with early successful private initiatives in the space, an
established infrastructure of educational and research
institutions, expertise in areas relating to financial services and
well-capitalised international investors have positioned the
country to emerge as a blockchain epicentre.
As of 2021, Switzerland is reportedly home to 877 companies
active in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space (960 when
counting Liechtenstein), valued at EUR 254 billion in total. The
top 50 companies are valued at USD 254.9 billion in total.
Amongst those companies, the country counts 11 “unicorns” or
projects valued at above USD 1 billion. These included the
Ethereum Foundation, DFINITY, Polkadot, AAVE, Tezos,
Cardano, Cosmos, Solana, Near, Nexo and Diem. Apart from
initiatives in the blockchain protocol and infrastructure sectors,
companies in the financial services cluster are driving innovation
too. Switzerland is home to the first two blockchain banks SEBA
and Sygnum, with a banking license from the Swiss Financial
Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA).
The large blockchain ecosystem can mainly be attributed to an
overall positive regulatory outlook towards blockchain and digital
currencies, a strong epicentre of blockchain activity, in the form
of the Crypto Valley, the emergence of large-scale, globalreaching initiatives from the country, such as Ethereum, and low
corporate taxation. On various occasions, blockchain has been
utilised by regional authorities for digital ID deployments, voting,
and even payments through digital currencies.

TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: Swiss regulators and policymakers are generally receptive towards blockchain
and digital currencies. The transformative potential of those technologies is generally recognised in the country,
with both the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and the federal government highlighting
their importance on various occasions. The government’s positive outlook was further reaffirmed by a recent
set of law reforms, in favour of blockchain technology. Those changes to existing laws came fully into force.
Legislation of blockchain: In December of 2018, the Swiss federal government issued an extensive report
analysing the applicability of the current general legal framework on blockchain. The report deemed existing
legislation sufficient. In March of 2019, the Federal Council published draft legislation in an attempt to
improve the existing framework conditions relating to blockchain and DLTs. In September 2020, the Swiss
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Parliament passed the DLT blanket act, which selectively adapts 10 existing federal laws. In August 2021
one of the key changes came into force, a licence for DLT trading facilities. This is a financial market
infrastructure for DLT securities that can admit other companies and persons to trading in addition to
financial intermediaries. At the same time, a new market authorisation category for “DLT trading facilities”
was created with the purpose of offering services in the areas of trading, clearing, settlement and custody
through a DLT medium to regulated financial entities and private customers. Lastly, licensing requirements
for securities trading were also addressed.
Switzerland is in many regards well positioned to reap the benefits of blockchain, in part due to its favourable
legislation and relevant efforts by the various state authorities or cantons. On a regional level, blockchain has
been used in the fields of digital self-sovereign identity and identity management as well as voting, with digital
currencies accepted for paying taxes and various public services. The city of Zug, arguably the epicentre of the
so-called “Crypto Valley”, spearheaded the above efforts. Following a successful pilot, the city launched its
blockchain-powered digital identity programme in November of 2017. In early summer 2018, the Ethereumbased “Zug ID” was successfully used for a non-binding referendum. In September of 2021 the Swiss
government started a public discussion on E-ID where one variant is self-sovereign identity. Additionally, in
what is the first case of government agencies accepting digital currencies as a form of payment, the
municipalities of Zug, Chiasso and Zermatt accept some tax payments in digital currencies. Bitcoin, the most
popular digital currency, can be bought 24/7 from all ticket machines of the Swiss Federal Railways.
Digital currency legislation that applies to blockchain: Despite the above, digital currencies are not deemed
legal tender in Switzerland, as is the case in most other countries. In 2014, the Swiss federal government
published a report addressing their economic significance, clarifying their legal treatment and highlighting risks
associated with their use and exchange. In the same report, digital currencies were characterised in the
following way: “A digital currency is a digital representation of a value which can be traded on the internet. …
Digital currencies exist only as a digital code and therefore do not have a physical counterpart, for example in
the form of coins or notes. Given their tradability, digital currencies should be classified as an asset.” This same
definition has been used by the FINMA and in the country’s AML ordinance. In 2018, the FINMA published
guidelines on how market legislation would apply to the various types of digital currencies and alternative forms
of financing such as ICOs. The FINMA categorised digital currencies based on their function and purpose as:
1) payment tokens, which have no further functions other than as a payment/investment medium; 2) utility
tokens, which provide utility on an underlying platform; and 3) asset tokens, which closely resemble financial
instruments that represent equity in an underlying company, earnings, entitlement to dividends and interest
payments. This last category is analogous to equity bonds or derivatives.
The AML and securities legislations were found to be most applicable to alternative forms of funding such as
ICOs. The latter were categorised in accordance with the framework presented above, as payment ICOs,
utility ICOs and asset ICOs, which are also subject to securities legislation.
Tax rates and rules vary between the individual cantons. Digital currencies are generally treated as foreign
currencies for the purposes of wealth taxation. Their exchange value is determined by the Federal Tax
administration at the end of the year, with assets that do not receive an official evaluation taxable at the cost
of acquisition. Capital gains on digital currencies are exempt from income tax for individuals. Purchases with
digital currencies are VAT exempt.
Blockchain in academia: Currently, blockchain education in Switzerland primarily comprises singular
courses often concerning blockchain in addition to other transformative technologies, offered by both
companies and universities. While many such initiatives exist, some indicative programmes offered by
prominent organisations are listed below:
University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) – “MAS in Blockchain, Digital
assets and Decentralised Technologies”: The Master of Advanced Studies in Blockchain, Digital assets and
Decentralised Technologies builds upon four modules, namely Introduction to Blockchain, Smart Contracts
Development and Use Cases, Crowdfunding and Regulation and Decentralised Technologies, to give a
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complete overview of blockchain technologies. The programme was jointly developed by SUPSI and the
Swiss blockchain company Eidoo and supported by the European Chamber of Digital Commerce.
Blockchain across key industries: Public and private actors in Switzerland have identified a plethora of
industries to be disrupted by blockchain technologies. In terms of regional governance, blockchain has been
utilised by regional authorities for identity management, voting and payments through digital currencies.
Companies in the country are active in the areas of financial and banking services, blockchain protocol and
infrastructure, and even art, education, energy and utility, insurtech, media and entertainment, transport and
supply chain.

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BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Data primarily derived from CV VC’s Q1, 2021 Report
The Swiss blockchain and digital currency startup and business scene is in many regards the most mature
and one of the largest in Europe and the world. In total, north of 877 blockchain businesses that employ
5 184 individuals are active nationwide. The top 50 organisations in the country have received upwards of
USD 3.7 billion in funding through a combination of venture funds and alternative forms of financing such as
ICOs. Regarding the latter, since 2016, Switzerland has hosted 6 of the 15 largest overall ICOs. In 2017,
ICOs active in the country raised EUR 1 237 million, a number second only to the US.

The so-called Crypto Valley, an area spanning the canton of Zug to Liechtenstein, is presenting the highest
concentration of blockchain businesses. CV VC’s biannual report highlights seven crypto hotspots in Crypto
Valley: Zug, Zurich, Geneva, Ticino, Liechtenstein, Vaud, and Neuchatel. As of February 2021, the area
counts at least eleven “unicorns”: Ethereum (USD 157.2 bn), Cardano (USD 40.6 bn), Polkadot
(USD 29.3 bn), Aave (USD 3.9 bn), Cosmos (USD 3.8 bn), Solana (USD 3.3 bn), Tezos (USD 2.6 bn), Dfinity
(USD 2 bn), Near (USD 1.1 bn), Nexo (USD 1.1 bn) and Diem (USD 1 bn). The valuation of the Crypto
Valley top 50 companies has increased 680 % to USD 254.9 billion from USD 37.5 billion. Companies are
active in a wide range of verticals, In total, CV VC’s report identifies six verticals of digitalisation where
blockchain technology is used: 1) future of work, 2) lifestyle & health, 3) education & science, 4) security &
identity, 5) e-commerce & logistics, and 6) finance & investing. The growth of DeFi has also influenced
demand for enterprise crypto custody and brokerage solutions, contributing to the growth of crypto banks,
such as SEBA and Syngum.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
The Swiss blockchain and digital currency business scene and community converge in many regards, with
the area known as Crypto Valley constituting the epicentre of most activity. Co-working spaces such as Trust
Square and initiatives such as the Crypto Valley Association or Blockchain Federation have emerged as
blockchain hubs for blockchain enthusiasts and businesspersons alike. Subject matter communities like
DIDAS (self-sovereign identity), Swiss Association of Crypto Investors, Bitcoin Association or Multichain Asset
Managers Association enrich the ecosystem and drive topics forward. Conferences on blockchain technology
and related topics are hosted regularly too. Fears about bankruptcy of Crypto Valley’s firms due to the
COVID-19 pandemic were not confirmed.
While past reports suggested that more than two thirds of Crypto Valley’s firms were likely to go bankrupt due
to the COVID-19 pandemic, in practice the Crypto Valley proved resilient. The COVID-induced digital
transformation was a boon for the crypto market. The number of companies in the Crypto Valley increased,
as did the number of employees (from 4 780 to 5 184). There is a total of 136 blockchain groups and
communities of practice.
(Source for Community Members: Facebook Audience. Ages: 16-65+, Locations: Switzerland, Keywords: Block Chain
(database), cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ethereum | Source for Community Members)

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Tim Weingärtner, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in
Switzerland? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
The public awareness for blockchain is constantly rising. This is due to the legal changes, NFT hype, DeFi
market, rising cryptocurrency prices, growing number of blockchain projects, and public discussion on
blockchain related technologies like SSI (self-sovereign identity). You find a lot of blockchain-related reports
in newspapers and media. There is often an ambivalent discussion due to energy consumption of Bitcoin.
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in Switzerland?
Switzerland has one the most mature blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystems in EU if not the world.
There are two crypto banks (SEBA and Sygnum) with banking licences and a new licence for a crypto
exchange (SDX). Switzerland has as very blockchain-friendly jurisdiction and due to the legal changes a high
legal security.
In the last years the number of non-cryptocurrency projects are rising.
What measures has Switzerland taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and
legislation to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?

Adaptations to existing laws

There is a public discussion e-ID and their implementation using SSI

Banking licenses for crypto banks and crypto exchange.

What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
The most important aspect from my point of view is blockchain education. There is still a lot of ignorance and
false knowledge in the public. Like digitalisation, a basic knowledge on blockchain needs to be spread to all
population segments. In Switzerland, there are some initiatives to bring the blockchain topic into schools.
Furthermore, there is an initiative for a blockchain certification (DEC). The COVID pandemic has also greatly
increased the number of company startups in Switzerland.
What does the future hold for the Swiss blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
There are some interesting projects in discussion or in the pipeline, like Cardossier, an e-ID, etc. The
growing digitalisation and growing demand for digital ecosystems promote blockchain-based
implementations. Furthermore, hyped topics like NFT foster the discussion on applications outside the art
market (supply chain, music, etc.). Finally, DeFi is a fast-growing market and gains attraction. 2022 will be a
very interesting year and we will see many new projects and implementations.

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Key Figures
TOTAL FUNDS RAISED

€3.8 bn
DEDICATED BLOCKCHAIN SOLUTION
PROVIDERS

1 000+
OF THE ADULT POPULATION
AWARE OF BLOCKCHAIN AND
CRYPTOCURRENCIES

78 %

United Kingdom
THE UK BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM
AT A GLANCE
Located off the north-western coast of Europe, with a population
of 67 million, the UK is the second largest European economy
and the fifth largest in the world by nominal GDP, with its
growth primarily driven by financial services. The UK constitutes
one of the most important financial centres of the world.
Country officials showed great interest in blockchain and DLTs
early on. The UK established itself as one of the first movers in
the space, as indicated by a 2016 report by the UK Government
Chief Scientific Adviser that explored the potential of blockchain
and DLT. Since then, local authorities have dedicated efforts in
understanding business behaviour and consumer sentiment in
the field. Overall, the UK’s policymakers have introduced no
specific cryptocurrency laws and have adopted a neutral
approach towards blockchain and DLT.
While in recent years more agile European countries may have
taken the blockchain lead in terms of utilising the technology in
public infrastructure, the UK remains a strong epicentre of
blockchain business activity. The country is home to more than
1 000 companies and startups active in the space, primarily
active in the financial services space. Those have collectively
raised north of EUR 3.8 billion in funding through a combination
of venture funds and alternative forms of blockchain
crowdfunding. London in particular, has emerged as a definitive
hub and is home to the vast majority of blockchain companies.

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TOWARDS MAINSTREAM ADOPTION
Regulation and policymaking: The UK was one of the first countries to officially recognise the potential of
blockchain and DLT in a 2016 report by the Government Office of Science. The significance of digital
currencies was highlighted in a 2015 report by Her Majesty’s Treasury (HM Treasury), which identified
potential benefits, risks and barriers towards their adoption and suggested regulatory actions in relation to
this new form of digital asset. In 2017, the government launched its Digital Strategy with an ambition to
facilitate the development of digital businesses, including companies active in the blockchain and DLT space.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) digital sandbox is also accepting initiatives from the blockchain space.
The UK’s financial regulators have on several occasions issued warnings in relation to digital assets, while
the broader legal framework is still largely under development. The Bank of England has officially highlighted
the potential of a digital currency issued by a central bank, also known as CBDC. According to Andrew
Bailey, the head of the Bank of England: “We [the Bank of England] are looking at the question of, should we
create a Bank of England digital currency? We’ll go on looking at it as it does have huge implications on the
nature of payments and society. I think that in a few years’ time we will be heading toward some sort of
digital currency.”

Legislation of blockchain: In May of 2018, the Chancellor of the Exchequer launched the Cryptoassets
Taskforce, bringing together the HM Treasury, the FCA and the Bank of England, in an attempt to foster
innovation in the blockchain and DLT space while protecting consumers and preserving the UK’s reputation
as a safe and transparent place for financial services through regulation. The Legal Statement on the Status
of Cryptoassets and Smart Contracts by the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce of the LawTech Delivery Panel (the
UKJT) has been instrumental in legal discussions on blockchain and DLT and, crucially, leading the way in
defining crypto assets as property across several jurisdictions. Legislation is not, therefore, the only place to
focus on developments in the law on crypto assets, or by extension blockchain and DLT. Yet, no direct
references to blockchain and DLT could be identified in UK legislation.
The same is true for utilising the technology in the public sector or regional governance. This regulatory
neutral approach is further reaffirmed in a 2018 report by the Cryptoassets Taskforce, which highlights: “The
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Taskforce considers that the technology is still in its early days, and there are some significant challenges to
wider adoption … The Taskforce does not consider there to be regulatory barriers to the adoption of DLT.
The PRA and FCA will continue to take a technologically neutral approach to regulation as well as providing
a platform for innovation.” The report goes on to highlight the potential of blockchain and DLT in areas such
as efficiency, resilience, transparency, automation and tokenisation.
Cryptocurrency legislation that applies to blockchain: The Cryptoassets Taskforce defines digital
currencies as “cryptographically secured digital representations of value or contractual rights that use some
type of DLT and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically.” The authority has created a framework
for the characterisation of digital assets based on their use and intrinsic value or lack thereof, categorising
them as: 1) exchange tokens, meaning digital currencies that are primarily used as a medium of exchange
and usually hold no intrinsic value; 2) utility tokens, or digital currencies that can be redeemed for services or
products in the underlying blockchain or DLT deployment; 3) security tokens, meaning digital currencies that
represent ownership of an underlying asset, share in future profits and others; and, lastly, 4) e-money
tokens, which refer to digital assets that meet the e-money definition of the Electronic Money Regulations.
From the above, the latter two, e-money and security tokens, are considered regulated tokens, or digital
currencies for which a regulatory framework exists, while exchange tokens and utility tokens remain
unregulated. Any digital currency or digital asset that doesn’t fit the description of security tokens or e-money
is considered unregulated.
Digital currency taxation is largely determined by a 2019 policy paper issued by the UK tax authority HM
Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Dealings in digital currencies are likely subject to capital gain tax and
income tax. Digital assets received for payment or income are subject to taxation too. Lastly, funds received
through activities such as mining and airdrops are also subject to income tax.
Blockchain in academia: Educational institutions in the UK are embracing blockchain as part of their
curriculum. Most notably, the Master of Science programmes in the field of FinTech from the University of
Strathclyde, the University of Sussex, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Stirling, SOAS
University of London and Coventry University are all covering blockchain technologies to a certain degree.
Stand-alone courses exist too, such as:
a) “Blockchain Software Engineering” and “Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme” course by the University
of Oxford
b) “Blockchain and Digital assets” course by City, University of London
c) “Blockchain Programming” by the University of London
d) “Blockchains and Distributed Ledgers” curriculum course by the University of Edinburgh
e) “UCL Blockchain Rules Online Programme” by University College London
f)

“Distributed Ledger Technologies: Foundations and Applications” curriculum course by the University of
Cambridge

g) “Blockchain Technology: Foundations, Applications and Implications Masterclass” by Imperial College London
h) “MSc Financial Technology (FinTech)” by the University of Exeter
i)

“Introduction to Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)” by the UCL Centre for Blockchain
Technologies

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Blockchain across key industries: Taking advantage of the country’s large financial services sector,
blockchain companies have leveraged existing expertise and infrastructure in their offerings. The majority of
blockchain startups and initiatives fall, one way or another, under the financial services or FinTech sector.
The energy and creative industries are two emerging sectors in terms of blockchain application.

Companies founded per year
(since 2015)
200
180
160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
2015

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2016

2017

2018

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2020

2021

BLOCKCHAIN STARTUP AND BUSINESS SCENE
Following initial enthusiasm for ICOs, the number of blockchain companies in the UK rose rapidly from 2015
to 2017, before declining sharply to pre-2015 levels. More than 300 companies have raised north of
EUR 3.8 billion, with an average of 4 investors per company.
Reports from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain (APPG Blockchain) and the digital
technologies agency Digital Catapult further reaffirm the above. In Digital Catapult’s report, the lack of
regulatory clarity and a deficit of legal experts in the field were highlighted as key sources of concern for
blockchain companies. Additionally, 54 % of companies active in the space faced significant difficulty in
opening a traditional bank account for their business activities. The capital city of London has emerged as
the UK’s most definitive blockchain hub and geographical cluster, with more than 90 % of all blockchain
companies in the country headquartered there.

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BLOCKCHAIN COMMUNITY
In an updated 2021 consumer research report, the FCA presents key figures of digital currency and digital
asset usage in the country. Its data can prove useful in determining the overall size and characteristics of the
domestic digital currency and blockchain community. The report estimated that 4.4 % of the adult population
own digital currencies at present (up from 3.9 % in 2020).
The median holding has also risen from EUR 310 in 2020 to EUR 360 in 2021. Additionally, 78 % of the adult
population reported having heard of cryptocurrencies and is less likely to cite them as a gamble. Digital
currency owners are predominately male, over 35, who acquired digital currencies as a gamble, or
alternative investment. More than half of cryptocurrency users plan to buy more, citing that “they know they
will make money at some point”. Additionally, participants in the updated review seem less well versed on
the technicalities of cryptocurrencies.

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INSIGHTS FROM EXPERTS
Robert Herian, Senior Lecturer in Law, Open University. Co-founder Law Information, Future, Technology
(LIFT) research group and the Equity and Trusts Research Network (ERTN)
How would you evaluate the public awareness and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency in the
UK? Has the recent growth of the cryptocurrency markets facilitated familiarity?
In the last 24 months, media coverage of cryptocurrencies in the UK has increased significantly, with more
mainstream discussion of cryptocurrencies and blockchains (e.g. BBC news). Although cryptocurrencies
inevitably grab headlines ahead of other uses for blockchain because of an inability for cryptocurrency (i.e.
Bitcoin) to shake off associations with criminality and a reputation for wild instability and high-risk investment.
In the last half of 2021, media interest in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) has contributed to interest in
blockchain-based technologies.
The UK Parliament, spearheaded by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Blockchain (APPG Blockchain), in
collaboration with the Big Innovation Centre, continues to promote and develop industry and entrepreneurial
initiatives, including those relating to crypto finance (DeFi), currency, trading, and FinTech assuming,
collectively, the largest share of activity. Such activity aims to influence and drive consumer uptake, albeit
with some degree of critical oversight from regulators and academia. And from a critical perspective,
promotion of blockchain along these lines arguably informs the notion that the technology remains, in many
use cases, “a solution looking for a problem”. Familiarity with and growth across collective crypto finance
markets is notable. Currency platforms, in particular, have been beneficiaries of the public’s increased
awareness, with over 2 million people in the UK now actively involved in crypto investment and trading,
although average investment amounts remain modest to low (approximately GBP 300).
How would you evaluate the overall size and maturity of the blockchain and cryptocurrency business
ecosystem in the UK?
The APPG Blockchain / Big Innovation blockchain landscape report for the UK at the close of 2021 points to
four key factors that show blockchain in the UK is a growing and maturing business ecosystem. Although, as
I describe in my answer to question 1, most businesses are dealing with cryptocurrency trading, which may
generously be said to include FinTech and DeFi solutions. The four factors are increased investor confidence
in blockchain; notable transition from concept to use case in sectors, including energy; growing talent pool;
better alignment between businesses and regulators. The UK remains at the early stages of each of these
four indicators of business maturity and, although the overall size of the blockchain and crypto business
ecosystem is growing; it is not doing so only, but integrated into existing business models. To that extent, it is
perhaps more accurate to refer, at least, to non-currency blockchain applications as an evolution in existing
“back-office” systems (applications layers) rather than growth in standalone businesses. Blockchain as a
service (BaaS), which is yet to come to fruition, may be transformative. Although there is an obvious risk that
BaaS becomes dominated by a single actor (i.e. akin to AWS- Amazon Web Services).
What measures has the UK taken over the past year in terms of public sector initiatives and
legislation to promote blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption?
Whilst no legislation yet exists regarding blockchain, DLT or cryptocurrency, the UK government and Law
Commission have both been looking at the need for specific legislation or law reform in areas concerning the
technologies. Research and discussion are ongoing, but the tone is one of acceptance of self-regulation at
present and that existing law can capture and deal with the novel issues the technologies may create. See,
for example, the Law Commission report on smart contracts. There are many initiatives underway in the UK,
driven by the various hubs within the Big Innovation blockchain ecosystems. The British Blockchain
Association’s “Roadmap” also ties in with UK government initiatives aimed at furthering the uptake of
blockchain across different public and private sector organisations.

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What measures can be taken at a national and European level to promote blockchain and
cryptocurrency adoption by the public while also making it a more appealing option for
entrepreneurs?
This is an interesting question because it implies misalignment between the desires of entrepreneurs and
those of the public. Is it ultimately a question of what technology is relevant and/or necessary in today’s
societies? I point again to the criticism that blockchain (and, perhaps, by extension other technologies it
supports, notably cryptocurrencies and NFTs) are a solution looking for a problem. Public enthusiasm for a
technology can be influenced, but better a technology is useful and, therefore, a social and economic good.
Measures taken to promote blockchain pervasively and expansively should be directly proportionate to the
public benefit, not for the gratuitous advantage of a small portion of stakeholders. To help achieve this, I
have spoken previously of the need for “critical regulators” that take seriously public benefit (see: Robert
Herian. 2018. Regulating Blockchain: Critical Perspectives in Law and Technology. Routledge).
What does the future hold for the British blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem?
As a global leader in financial services, I’m sure many would like to see the UK lead in blockchain and crypto
ecosystems. I’m not convinced existing cryptocurrency markets are a desirable endgame for public or private
stakeholders in the UK. From the government perspective, there is a keen interest in seeing how far CBDCs
can develop and whether there is an appetite for integrated payment systems for public sector revenue
streams such as tax and welfare. It is perhaps less clear how effective or successful non-cryptocurrency
blockchain and DLT solutions will be in the UK. Supply chain provenance, for instance, has long been an
area many see would benefit from blockchain integration. If such integration happens, it will be low key, done
with very little fanfare, and simply because of economic rationality. Because blockchain and DLT provide a
more cost-effective means of conducting business, including international trade and shipping. However, I
believe there may be a small window of time in which present blockchain and DLT solutions across financial
and non-financial sectors can prove themselves. This is because quantum computing, including quantum
computing as a service (which may also lead to quantum blockchains as a service), will prove far more
effective at optimising business models.

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BLOCKCHAIN ECOSYSTEM GROWTH & COMPARISON WITH PAST REPORTS
The European blockchain ecosystem continues to grow fast. Initiatives to standardise regulation at the EU
level enables EU Member States to benefit from the momentum of the growing blockchain and
cryptocurrency space. Individual countries continue to issue their own legislation and guidance for
blockchains and cryptocurrencies to develop their domestic ecosystems. In this section we will showcase the
growth of the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem across the observed countries by comparing the
updated data collected in December of 2021 and included in this report on the blockchain ecosystem, with
that collected in Summer of 2020 and included in the previous report.

In terms of the business ecosystem, the number of blockchain businesses in Europe, Switzerland and the
UK increased by 39 % from 2 924 in 2020 to 4 060 in 2020. Norway and Liechtenstein account for 30 and 20
blockchain businesses, respectively, bringing the total up to 4 110, of which 46 % are registered in EU
Member States.

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European countries exhibited the largest increase in the number of blockchain companies with Sweden,
Croatia and Bulgaria at the top. The average growth across the 31 countries was 56 %.
The total number of funds raised by companies in the 29 countries analysed in both reports amounts to
EUR 12.6 billion in 2022, an increase of 70 %. The addition of Norway and Liechtenstein bring this number
up to EUR 12.7 billion.

Total funds raised by companies established in EU Member States add up to EUR 5.1 billion, or 40 % of the
total funds raised by the 29 countries observed.
The average increase in total funds raised across the 29 analysed countries amounts to 173 % (excluding
the extreme case of Luxembourg). As with the number of blockchain companies, EU countries again
exhibited the highest increase, with Luxembourg, Austria, Bulgaria, France and Finland in the top 5.

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No pattern can be identified regarding the increases in the number of companies or funds raised, possibly
hinting to the natural expansion of the industry, and the Union’s moves towards standardising regulation.
Finally, the table below summarises our findings regarding the number of blockchain startups in each EU
Member State (plus Norway, Liechtenstein, the UK and Switzerland), as well as the total amount of reported
funds raised by these companies. The list provides a first categorisation of countries in terms of the intensity
and dynamism of entrepreneurial activity in each country and, hence, the ecosystem maturity in it.
Blockchain
Startups

Total Funds Raised (€)

2022

2020

2022

2020

2022

2020

Austria

50

40

€ 501.332.070,00

€ 47.000.000,00

56,22079464

5,305339203

Belgium

45

23

€ 22.616.844,80

€ 9.500.000,00

1,956474464

0,828970332

Country

PARTNERS

Funds Per Capita (€)

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Bulgaria

51

24

€ 6.389.974,80

€ 620.000,00

0,922435007

0,088571429

Croatia

15

7

€ 104.922,40

€ 50.000,00

0,025924689

0,012321341

Cyprus

48

27

€ 149.739.879,52

€ 142.000.000,00

168,6259905

162,1189634

Czech
Republic

31

38

€ 5.516.757,00

€ 1.450.000,00

0,515584766

0,135640786

Denmark

40

24

€ 65.156.044,80

€ 32.300.000,00

11,17331083

5,563210472

Estonia

226

143

€ 285.012.344,32

€ 257.000.000,00

215,6064666

193,3784801

Finland

28

17

€ 31.906.170,56

€ 4.600.000,00

5,768899991

0,833635375

France

232

170

€ 1.353.542.531,00

€ 181.500.000,00

20,0847425

2,709359606

Germany

343

180

€ 320.576.878,16

€ 227.500.000,00

3,851211864

2,740963855

Greece

13

9

€ 151.360,00

€ 147.000,00

0,014125267

0,013712687

Hungary

16

14

€ 5.594.029,76

€ 4.000.000,00

0,573760765

0,409290904

Ireland

68

50

€ 69.097.546,32

€ 45.000.000,00

13,83411809

9,176182708

Italy

97

67

€ 47.391.179,44

€ 25.600.000,00

0,795767934

0,424121935

Latvia

15

8

€ 2.135.012,00

€ 2.000.000,00

1,122774579

1,041666667

Liechtenstein

20

N/A

€ 63.168.348,32

N/A

16562,23081

N/A

Lithuania

36

31

€ 119.557.315,00

€ 422.000.000,00

42,78001753

151,0379384

Luxembourg

37

49

€ 507.196.331,84

€ 13.000.000,00

802,1831367

21,17629428

Malta

77

60

€ 141.781.173,60

€ 51.000.000,00

269,9154234

99,1130355

Netherlands

243

150

€ 1.102.503.952,00

€ 337.000.000,00

63,21283769

19,50231481

Norway

30

N/A

€ 30.512.868,00

N/A

5,54806755

N/A

Poland

90

54

€ 38.161.148,08

€ 20.000.000,00

1,005542652

0,52673163

Portugal

28

16

€ 44.006.294,64

€ 40.000.000,00

4,270150738

3,891050584

Romania

36

20

€ 7.443.370,00

€ 20.000.000,00

0,385944399

1,030396703

Slovakia

12

8

€ 7.612.306,24

€ 13.700.000,00

1,394494102

2,510076951

Slovenia

32

25

€ 73.782.085,52

€ 67.700.000,00

35,13215159

32,53243633

Spain

212

150

€ 87.126.423,12

€ 23.000.000,00

1,82082389

0,489987218

Sweden

62

20

€ 105.450.373,00

€ 47.330.000,00

10,18505666

4,626588465

Switzerland

877

800

€ 3.700.000.000,00

€ 3.500.000.000,00

421,7179261

408,4014002

UK

1000

700

€ 3.800.000.000,00

€ 1.970.000.000,00

56,53475571

29,55738935

*All data on funding figures sourced from the crowdsources database of Crunchbase in December of 2021. Keywords
used: Figures converted from US dollar to euro exchange rates at a rate of 1:0.88.
Data on Switzerland sourced from CV VC’s Top 50 Report

Education initiatives
European universities have offered academic programmes focused on blockchain and virtual currencies
since 2013 (the University of Nicosia’s MSc in Digital Currency being the first such programme in the world
and the largest to date), while the number of programmes available has increased significantly after 2017.
Today, blockchain education in Europe is alive as never before, with many prominent universities
progressively incorporating relevant material in their undergraduate curricula, a large number of dedicated
postgraduate programmes, an increased interest by PhD candidates, as well as numerous professional and
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executive qualification courses. We have identified more than 20 postgraduate programmes (at the master’s
level) that focus on blockchain and virtual currencies, offered by universities in 14 European countries, with
Spain leading the pack with no less than 10 such programmes.
Academic and professional educational offerings cover a wide range of interest areas, primarily
concentrating on business and entrepreneurship, economics and finance, programming and IT, as well as
regulation and law. Blockchain and virtual currencies are explored holistically in most curricula, which study
both public and private deployments, as well as state and regional initiatives. Programmes can be
segmented in three distinct categories and their combinations:


Programmes that focus on the technology of blockchain and distributed ledgers.
Programmes that focus on virtual currencies and digital assets.
Programmes that incorporate blockchain and/or virtual currencies under a wider umbrella that includes
FinTech, RegTech, the digital economy, international management, and other so-called exponential
technologies, such as AI, machine learning and the Internet of things.

This holistic focus has lately been adopted by many universities, for example the Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien
(WU) through its MSc in the Digital Economy. Moreover, many UK universities, including the universities of
Strathclyde, Sussex, Manchester, Stirling, SOAS, Coventry, Oxford, LSE and City, follow a similar approach,
as well as many Spanish universities like University of Barcelona, Universidad Europea de Madrid, University
of Girona, Universidad Internacional de Andalucia and many more. If this trend is to prevail, one can expect
an extended incorporation of blockchain and virtual currency educational material in relevant existing
curricula, and less new stand-alone programmes, at least on a postgraduate level.
Most academic initiatives in the space have embraced distance learning or are adopting a hybrid approach,
offering courses through various platforms such as Moodle, Canvas, other proprietary solutions, as well as
on-campus. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of programmes are taught in English, with only a
few exceptions. From the above,