While Softbank has a strong penchant for next-generation technology, so far its managed to mostly keep its fingers out of the blockchain pie. Showing little interest in the crypto scene, especially since the founder’s big Bitcoin loss, Softbank’s blockchain investments appear limited.
Yet, when you scratch beneath the surface, another story appears. Indeed, Softbank may not be firing big bucks into a diverse spread of blockchain projects. However, projects that have sparked their interest, have been rewarded with outstanding investments from Softbank — in terms of time, technology, and money.
From developing Digital ID platforms to boosting blockchain integration for delivery services, Softbank is showing a growing interest in blockchain technology. Not convinced? Here are Softbank’s top blockchain indulgences.
OYO is an Indian blockchain project with aims to revolutionize the hospitality industry by leveraging blockchain to connect customers and service providers. Having raised $1.7 billion in total funding, the hotel network has enjoyed investments from AirBnB ($75M), Grab ($100M), and Huazhu Hotels Group ($10M), among others.
Softbank joins the investment team plowing $100M and $90M into rounds B and C, followed by a further $250M in Series D from the Softbank Vision Fund. In late 2018, Softbank Vision Fund dedicated $1 billion to OYO Rooms.
Where is OYO Rooms in 2019? OYO Rooms has surpassed itself in terms of adoption. Now serving 800 cities across 18 countries, OYO rooms has certainly taken off with over 50 OYO hotels across London, more than 40 in Bangkok, and even a couple in New York City.
While this may all seem very positive, the announcement of the OYO Smart Token (OSC) back in March 2018 seems to have fallen flat on its face. Despite the declaration of an ICO, there hasn’t been a squeak about the coin since.
Rappi didn’t set out to be a blockchain company. Instead, Rappi is an online delivery service platform based in Brazil, but aiming to serve all of Latin America. Describing themselves as the “everything store in Brazil”, Rappi’s platform enables users to have a wealth of items delivered — from pharmaceutical goods to wine to restaurant-cooked food.
Having raised $1.4 billion in total, Rappi has been impressive enough to raise $1 billion of this capital from Softbank. Having received funding in the past from Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, and Y Combinator, Softbank led the $1 billion Series E funding round in April of this year (2019).
Where is Rappi in 2019? This year’s huge injection of funding has pivoted Rappi’s payment strategy. Where previously only FIAT currency was accepted, Rappi has now started accepting cryptocurrency from its users. Active across 50 cities over 9 countries, the startup is planning to double its footprint by the end of the year. By accepting BTC on the platform, Rappi is opening the doors to the future integration of blockchain on to their platform.
OneConnect is a financial technology company that develops solutions using next-generation FinTech for all industry sectors. Based in Hong Kong, OneConnect covers the vast spectrum of technologies, including automation, AI, data analysis, blockchain, and cloud solutions. The tech development company has worked on several blockchain projects including FiMax, a blockchain security solution.
Having only experienced one round of funding since its inception in 2015, OneConnect has been solely funded by the Softbank Vision Fund since 2018. The Series A funding round raised OneConnect a whopping $650 million from the Japanese investor.
Where is OneConnect in 2019? In July of this year, OneConnect partnered with UBX, a subsidiary of Union Bank. OneConnect is building revolutionary software that leverages blockchain to provide accessible, affordable financing for small to medium enterprises (SME).
China’s only online insurance company, ZhongAn started out in property insurance but has now branched into many different sectors. These include household, liability, credit, and cargo insurance, as well as internet business-based insurance.
Morgan Stanley, CICC, and CDH investments all got ZhongAn off the ground with their early Series A investments in 2015. Softbank entered the project later, offering $100 million in 2018.
Where is ZhongAn in 2019? ZhongAn has announced a project to track indoor-raised chickens through the supply chain using blockchain. Dubbed ‘GoGoChicken’ the project aims to have a handle on the flow of 23 million chickens by the close of 2020. While early concepts imagined using facial recognition to monitor chickens, ZhongAn has now developed a GPS tracking bracelet to monitor chicken health and record it to the blockchain.
Atlas Protocol is a blockchain application layer protocol that enables an on-chain marketing and advertising network for global interaction. Splicing together xGoogler Blockchain Alliance (xGBA) and Nebulas Labs, the project formed back in 2018 to act as a disruptive platform to current marketing methods.
Having raised $3 million in total, Atlas Protocol has been backed by Baidu Ventures, Fenbushi Capital, SBCVC, and DHVC — with Softbank pitching in alongside.
Where is Atlas Protocol in 2019? While the Atlas++ Coin is available on Huobi Global exchange, the project seems to be relatively quiet. Atlas Protocol has developed an On-chain Campaign Management platform, an On-chain Data Analytics Platform, and an On-chain Advertising SDK, but the project is still to launch its full ecosystem.
Ludos Protocol is set to disrupt the gaming industry by providing a blockchain network for gamers and game developers. The network enhances the gaming experience for gamers by making it easier to transfer assets, while improving transparency and tightening security. For game developers, the platform helps users to access resources for development more efficiently, while also bringing developers closer to gamers to better monetize their work.
With rockstar angel investor and crypto enthusiast, Peter Du, on the advisory board, Ludos Protocol appeared to gain a lot of attention in early 2018. Softbank invested an undisclosed amount in the gaming company in late 2018.
Where is Ludos Protocol in 2019? With a large increase of users, Ludos Protocol is going through a major upgrade of its system currently. This year, the company launched its very first game, CRASH, on the network, which will soon be followed by a game made by DeNA group, a famous gaming group. Ludos recently entered a preliminary cooperation agreement intention with huge Japanese entertainment corporation, DMM.
OK Cashbag is Korea’s long-standing leading loyalty marketing platform. A subsidiary of SK Telecom, the company provides deals for loyal customers and has over 37 million subscribers and 50,000 partner stores. Using the platform’s coupons, users can access various deals depending on their balance. Having been around for 15 years, the company is extremely well known in Korea.
Backed by its parent company, SK, Softbank have invested an undisclosed amount in the company since it began.
Where is OK Cashbag in 2019? Still a thriving platform, OK Cashbag has made the list because they have new plans to branch into cryptocurrency. Where currently users are rewarded for loyalty with coupons to spend on deals, these could be replaced with crypto coins. However, this announcement came back in 2018, and no news has been released since.
SBI VC is Softbank’s own cryptocurrency exchange. The exchange started out by only exchanging Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Ripple against USD and JPY. Now the 23 million users can also exchange ETH.
Where is SBI VC in 2019? Growing quickly, the exchange plans to diversify its cryptocurrency offerings, especially since having dropped BCH in response to its potential hard fork.
The trading platform also envisions combining non-crypto services and infrastructure into their future plans to find a cohesion between on-chain and off-chain worlds. A spokesperson underlined this by saying: “Prioritizing customer asset protection, the SBI Group will make use of its synergies between current businesses, such as securities and FX, to acquire new customers.”
A relatively successful blockchain development company, Sivira has a few blockchain platforms under its belt. Sivira’s platforms include Broof, a contracts management platform, hublive, blockchain storage for IoT, and SoulGem, a blockchain company that stores records of love, among others.
Softbank is joining Sivira in their venture via Softbank Technology. The two companies announced their collaboration in designing and producing a consumer data management system that allows people to manage their personal financial data. The platform will allow banks to access client credit history and financial background for KYC check.
Where is Sivira in 2019? While there has been little further in regards to Softbank’s project, Sivira did announce the launch of its own token this year. The Token Economy Protocol (TEP) is set to be the world’s first ethical consumption token.
This carbon-cutting blockchain project was endorsed by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment for its work in energy sharing. The platform enables rural communities to share renewable energy from microgrids while being rewarded for surplus energy.
Power Sharing received backing from Softbank for the project, along with a commitment to guide the blockchain startup through their pilot. Softbank is backing the project in an aim to encourage a switch the renewable energy.
Where is Power Sharing in 2019? Power Sharing seems to have changed its name to ‘Electricity Sharing’. With institutional backing from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, Electricity Sharing rolled out a demonstration of their trading technology in August of this year. The tech will be piloted in 100 households in 3 areas of Japan. Results are yet to be announced.
Softbank joined with TBCASoft this year to transform identity verification procedures worldwide. Forming the Carrier Blockchain Study Group (CBSG), the two firms synchronize their minds, money, and technology to provide blockchain solutions to enable digital ID verification.
TBCASoft is a fast-expanding blockchain development company focusing on telecommunications. TBCASoft’s CEO, Ling Wu describes the company as “committed to working with telecom carriers to provide comprehensive and cost-effective blockchain-based identification and transaction services to businesses and individuals around the globe”.
Where is CBSG in 2019? The partnership, which was announced early this year, is hoping to develop a cross-carrier blockchain solution enabling users to work with multiple accounts using a singular digital ID.