2nd December 2020
Adi Ben-Ari is the founder and CEO of Applied Blockchain. Applied Blockchain builds business applications using blockchain and data privacy technologies to provide superior data trust, security and privacy.
As we approach the end of the year, it is safe to say the last nine months have been a tumultuous journey.
However, for Adi Ben-Ari, the founder and CEO of Applied Blockchain, the last year has been about solid growth compared to the roller-coaster blockchain has experienced in previous years.
“Blockchain has followed that cliché tech cycle – a bit like the internet itself. There was that meteoric rise when everyone jumps on the bandwagon and people think it can solve the world’s problems, followed by a period of rationalisation when people realise it will not, which can create a crash. Finally, there is a steadier curve of maturity, when the real value comes through.”
“We have very much been on that journey with blockchain. We started in 2015 and in 2017, the hype reached its peak. Our pipeline was crazy, and blockchain companies were popping up by the day. By 2019, the buzz has died down and since then we have been on a steady upwards trajectory, building on a fantastic client base, improving our offering, and generally continuing to demonstrate the very real benefits blockchain and privacy-preserving technologies can bring to a business.”
“In many ways, 2020 has been a great, solid year for us. We closed our fundraise in February – which in hindsight was very good timing – and since then have expanded our team from 15 to 23 as a result of new business.
Of course, the pandemic has re-shaped the business landscape and the acceleration of digitalisation across all sectors has contributed to this growth.
Adi noted “When we talk of digitalisation, we’re not referring only to websites or portals – these already existed. It’s the ‘last mile’ processes which have remained stubborn against innovation so far because they involve more friction due to security – such as legal, compliance and payments. These areas are deeper in the company and harder to digitalise. That is really our sweet spot, because we focus on security, trust and privacy in digitalisation.
In addition to this, Adi has also noticed the pandemic has led to new industries seeking the benefits of blockchain, who beforehand had little interest in the technology.
“An example of the push for increased trust and security in business transactions can be found in the travel industry, where one of our clients operates. The travel industry has had a hugely challenging year and its normal processes have not coped well. They simply were not designed to handle the mass disruption that occurred in payments, compensation and settlements. Blockchain can introduce greater flexibility and transparency in payments, making the sector more resilient to this kind of disruption in the future.
Looking to 2021, Adi foresees more opportunity, as a smaller number of focused, specialist companies such as Applied Blockchain move the sector forward.
“In 2020, we were all in the same boat, working remotely, so it will be interesting to see what happens next. Some people have heralded remote working as the future, but I am not completely convinced. Once some companies start going back to the office, start re-engaging face-to-face, conducting meetings with clients in person at their offices and having that spark of in-person engagement back – we will be reminded of why we did it all along.”
He adds, “That being said, my biggest takeaway from 2020 is just how much can be achieved in difficult circumstances. The tech sector in general has demonstrated outstanding resilience and growth, and the confidence still being placed into the start-up sector is hugely impressive.”