By Yahsin Huang
Blockchain technology has been perhaps the most talked-about topic of 2018. Many entrepreneurial professionals living and working in Taiwan are showing a lot of interest in blockchain technologies. Some of them, intrigued by the idea of blockchain when first introduced to the concept a couple years ago, have been experimenting with the technology. Looking ahead to the next year, blockchain communities in Taiwan are expected to see a lot more exciting activities, meet-ups, projects, and new companies.
It is worth noting that the 7 firms listed below generally fall into two categories: home-grown players and international players. It’s interesting because it looks like the top tech talents that the blockchain communities are constantly on the lookout for is something that Taiwan could, to some extent, offer. ThunderCore, Bitmark, and Quantstamp are the 3 international companies that were founded by entrepreneurs from the U.S., and elsewhere, and decided to establish offices in Taipei.
Some of the most exciting Taiwan-based blockchain companies to look out for in 2019 are:
MAX - MaiCoin Asset Exchange
MAX/MaiCoin Asset Exchange is the biggest crypto exchange in Taiwan. Founded in 2013, the firm builds exchange platforms that allow users to buy cryptocurrencies with New Taiwanese Dollars (NTD). Co-founder and CEO Alex Liu is an US-educated Taiwanese technology entrepreneur based in Asia. Liu has quickly risen to become an important voice in the Taiwan blockchain communities over the past few years. He has been working towards building a thriving community in Taiwan by inviting notable speakers to visit Taiwan, not only to give talks, but also to have meetings with decision-makers from various sectors. The company is known for recruiting best talents from the ecosystem – Dr. Chang-Wu Chen from the Ethereum Foundation research team, for instance.
CoolBitX, a Taiwanese cryptocurrency wallet company, offers CoolWallet S, a slim, credit card-sized crypto wallet whose features include e-ink display, secure cold storage and Bluetooth connectivity. It claims to be the only mobile cold storage wallets available in the market. The hardware wallet allows users to store different cryptocurrencies such as BTC, ETH, LTC, and ERC20 tokens. The company started with a 2014 Indiegogo campaign in Taipei as a blockchain technology developer. In his early thirties, founder and CEO Michael Ou is a Taiwanese fintech entrepreneur with a background in entrepreneurship, marketing, and communications.
Founded in 2013, Taiwan-based compiler company Skymizer specializes in developing compilers and virtual machine technology. The firm has been designing virtual machine frameworks for blockchain applications. Taiwanese tech entrepreneur Luba Tang is the founder and CEO of Skymizer. One of Skymizer’s senior blockchain engineers Hong-ying Dai, a Taiwanese engineer whose online identity is associated with the username “hydai,” gave a speech in August at a Taipei technology conference. He talked about how “Lity” — a programming language for building blockchain smart contracts — could be an interesting choice of programming language for developers.
Joyso is a hybrid-decentralized exchange (HEX) launched in May 2018 by 3 Taiwanese founders Tom Soong, Will Hsieh, and Taka Kao in Taipei, Taiwan. The hybrid-decentralized exchange creates a trading platform that possesses both characteristics of centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges: fast order matching speed and small hacking risks. The firm completed its initial coin offering (ICO) in March 2018. The Joyso founders as well as some of their engineers have been active members of “Taipei Ethereum Meetup,” Taiwan’s largest developer-focused Ethereum community.
According to the ThunderCore website, ThunderCore is its own blockchain with its own native cryptocurrency. It is EVM-compatible with a throughput of 1,200+ TPS, sub-second confirmation times, and low gas costs—making it quick and easy for DApps to deploy and scale. Company founder Dr. Elaine Shi said that in February the firm opened an office in the US; in July it opened an office in Taiwan, during a Taipei meetup event on Thursday in late December. The mainnet is expected to be sometime in the first quarter of 2019, according to Shi. ThunderCore’s Dapps full stack engineer Lucien Lee said that the firm is launching a new grant program for teams and individuals to build DApps (decentralized apps) on the ThunderCore protocol. A total of 5,000 Thunder tokens will be awarded to the winners. The proposal submission deadline for the ThunderCore Dapps Grant program is January 7.
The website of Bitmark says the company enables ownership and property rights to digital assets of value such as health data, art, digital collectibles, song rights, and medical records. The tools, apps, and products create secure pathways for trading digital assets and help unlock new markets and economic activity for these properties. American founder and CEO Sean Moss-Pultz would sometimes give talks at meet-ups and conference events in Taiwan. The firm is perhaps best known for its partnership with KKFARM (investment group of KKBOX, Asia’s largest music streaming service) to record, track and transfer access to song royalties using blockchain technology.
According to the Quantstamp website, Quantstamp is a Y Combinator backed security company with a mission to secure and drive the mainstream adoption of Smart Contracts. The firm hopes to build a protocol that aims to help blockchain developers and projects around the world use its technology to perform cost-effective security audits on their contracts. Richard Ma, CEO of Quantstamp, formerly software engineer at Tower Research, visited National Taiwan University’s computer science and information engineering department as an invited guest speaker in December. The topic was about “decentralizing smart contract security,” in which Ma introduced the design approach of the Quantstamp protocol — a scalable way to check smart contracts for vulnerabilities. Danger Zhang, the leader behind the Quantstamp Taiwan team currently based in Taipei city, is managing and recruiting for the team.