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Crypto-currency outfit Epiphyte triumphs at Innotribe Startup Challenge

02 October 2014  |  10524 views  |  8 Sibos 2014

US-based crypto-currency startup Epiphyte has emerged as the winner of the Innotribe Startup Challenge at Sibos in Boston.

With Bitcoin riding high on the agenda at the Swift conference, Epiphyte triumphed over a field of nine other start-ups to walk away with a $50,000 cash prize following a competitive 10-minute pitch at the incubator's final Sibos session.

To qualify for the challenge, eligible start-ups had to be less than three-years old and have no more than $1M in combined revenue and investment in the last 12 months.

Epiphyte is deploying enterprise software that allows the pre-installed systems of financial institutions to 'talk' to crypto-financial networks. Using the service, banks, for example, will be able to integrate with cryptocurrencies over traditional protocols like Swift.

Epiphyte says its first product provides banks with a low risk way to provide services to their customers. The firm says it will be rolling out a pilot implementation of the product with "marquee clients" over the coming few months

A second Innotribe face-off between six later-stage or 'innovator' companies was won by MatchMove, which delivers a social entertainment and e-commerce platform-as-a-service.

Comments: (8)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 02 October, 2014, 11:00

A cryptocurrency-based start up called Epiphyte Corp? Life imitating art? Neal Stephenson would be pleased!

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Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton | 02 October, 2014, 11:29

Baffled by crypto (secret) offerings being embraced at SIBOS where many other sessions are about transparency and integrity within the traditional payments eco-system.

We have recent papers from the US and European regulators that state definitively that the crypto world is for criminality, money-laundering and tax evasion.

Creation of money supply without governmental authority used to be known as forgery; at least - if the crypto currency is allowed to flow into the real world - this artificial increase in money supply causes inflation and the reduction in the value of other assets (pensions, investments, savings), or else asset bubbles such as in property to the detriment of ordinary citizens.

We have enough of the kind of increase in money supply with the various central bank instances of Quantitative Easing; the last thing we need is another unofficial source of money supply.

If economic activity migrates to the crypto world - an untaxed world without the inconveniences of Pay-as-you-Earn taxation - you have a threat to the affordability of state pensions and the public services on which many of our fellow citizens depend.

At this conference where we have (in my opinion) an industry responsibility to assure and strengthen the transparency and the integrity of the payment mechanisms behind a fair, open and democratic society, we should be working on techniques to isolate the crypto world hermetically, not to allow it to co-mingle.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 02 October, 2014, 16:31

Actually, interesting you should focus on the opacity and criminality of cryptocurrency...

It is 100x more transparent than the existing banking system, and that's arguably it's biggest challenge, aside from the amount of misunderstanding about the technology.

Critics will point out Mt. Gox and Silk Road however the internet was initially primarily used for pornographers and other less than savory characters.  Yet today, the internet is a key engine for financial inclusion and economic growth.

I'd love the opportunity to explain in more detail how these technologies can improve peoples lives, dramatically reduce criminality online and revolutionise the cost base for banking in emerging markets.

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 02 October, 2014, 17:45

@JoL + 1. The really big ticket nefarious activities happen via wire transfers thru' the banking system. While I've read about this in fiction novels, it sounds plausible since (a) it's physically impossible to move 10M in cash from Zurich to Turk & Caicos in real time (which is what happened in the latest of such novels I just finished reading last week) (b) a couple of banks have been fined billions for facilitating such nefarious transactions. In this day and age, I'm amazed at how some people stick to the quaint notion that cash (or cryptocurrrency) must mean illicit activity and / or tax evasion and that banking system must mean legitimate activity and / or tax compliance.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 03 October, 2014, 02:35

Bob Lyddon, as a consultant you're supposed to do research on a subject before you state an opinion. In this case it seems that you did none whatsoever. "The crypto world" doesn't even exist and crypto currencies are definitely not untaxed.

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Russell Bell
Russell Bell - Fastbase Ltd - Wellington | 03 October, 2014, 05:44

Claiming that crypto currencies are for criminals is like taxi companies saying that Uber is evil, just the traditional reaction to a competitive threat - try to demonise the opposition.

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Bob Lyddon
Bob Lyddon - Lyddon Consulting Services - Thames Ditton | 03 October, 2014, 12:45

Here are the research papers used as the basis for my opinion:

European Banking Authority EBA/Op/2014/08 EBA Opinion on ‘virtual currencies’

FATF Report June 2014 – Virtual Currencies: Key Definitions and Potential AML/CFT Risks

Elements of the EU Payments Regulatory Package:

-          Draft of the 4th EU AML Directive 2013/0025

-          Draft Funds Transfer Regulation 2013/0024

-          Draft of the 2nd Payment Services Directive 2013/0264

2012 FATF Recommendations (global-level basis of 4th EU AML Directive)

From my angle these amount to a sufficiently authoritative package and – in my opinion – it behoves the industry to adhere to both the spirit and the letter, rather than creatively seeking unregulated areas in which to lay the groundwork for a future South Sea Bubble that authorities (and through them the taxpayers) will be called upon to remedy.

By staying on the reservation that the regulators and political authorities have circumscribed, the industry would show that it has changed its culture and can be a reliable enough partner to be accorded self-regulation at some point in the future.

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 08 October, 2014, 18:19

If a real world currency, or stock price moved from $100 to $1000 and back to $300 in the course of a year I think there would  be questions asked. It is true that the dark side tends to drive innovation - Porn drove what we now see as Youtube,  iGambling drove most innovative online payment service providers and schemes... We will get there - Cryptocurrencies just have to come of age and regulators have to get used to regulating them.... unregulated they may want to be, i would Like to drive at 200 miles an hour on motorways - not good for either of us to get our unrestricted wish (imhop)

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