Long-time Polish-UK trans-European project Billon has recently been selected by Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) to showcase their technology in the bank’s Elevator Lab Partnership Program. The awarded idea, presented during the final qualification round on 17 October 2019 in Vienna, is a distributed ledger technology (DLT) based digital cash platform enabling transactions with tokenised euro stored on the blockchain. 

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“Participation in the Elevator Lab program is a chance to forge a partnership with a large international financial institution and a leading bank in Central and Eastern Europe, something that Billon aspired to since the company was created. Seeing RBI’s eagerness to implement innovative technologies, I am confident this collaboration will have a very strong and positive effect on our business,” says Wojtek Kostrzewa, CEO of Billon Group.

Billon plans to demonstrate its proven technology, showcasing the capability to mint, transfer and redeem regulated currency on a distributed ledger. The Polish-British fintech will work with RBI to use the platform for interbank or intercompany transfers of funds and settlement with digitised euro. Later, the scope of work can be expanded with mass payouts of funds from corporates to individuals, merchant accounts for e-commerce and e-money accounts for individual customers.

“We have selected Billon as an Elevator Lab participant because Raiffeisen Bank International is interested in applications of the distributed ledger technology. Over the next months, we will be testing Billon’s solution and evaluating the potential added value for our customers,” says Maximilian Schausberger, head of fintech partnerships at Raiffeisen Bank International.

The Elevator Lab program seeks partnerships with the best fintech startups operating in central and eastern Europe and offering, among others, fintech and AI solutions. This year, over 280 companies registered for the third edition of the program. In addition to Billon, five companies finally qualified to the acceleration phase:

  • Uhura Solutions from Montenegro (using AI to verify and draft contracts)
  • imVision from Israel (an API security platform)
  • Minna from Sweden (subscription management for online banking systems)
  • Quantoz from the Netherlands (blockchain payments for IoT devices)
  • Nayax from Israel (cashless payments)

In the next few months, companies participating in the partnership program must create a proof of concept, showing that their technology can work with RBI’s systems and processes and generate added value for the bank. Billon and other finalists will present their PoC in Vienna on Demo Day, scheduled to take place on March 5, 2020. On this basis, RBI will evaluate possible cooperation.

“In the following months, we will take part in monthly acceleration workshops in Vienna. This will help us adapt our idea to the bank’s internal structure and regulatory requirements in Austria,” added Wojtek Kostrzewa. 

Billon was originally established in Poland in 2012, and claim to have created the first enterprise DLT system, unifying national currency transactions, document management, and identity management into a single architectural system. Following several years of R&D in Poland, Billon UK was incorporated in 2016. 

Its unique DLT protocol has been supported by many R&D grants, including the EU Horizon 2020 program. Billon is licensed to issue electronic money by regulators in the UK and Poland and employs a global team of more than 80 professionals in its two offices in London and Warsaw. 

The highly innovative company first solved the challenge of transacting micropayments at scale, and now also claim to be able to encrypt documents and data on-chain, unleashing the transformational capacities of DLT in the regulated world. Billon’s high-performance DLT system is designed to deliver tangible business results in the areas of Account & Transactions, Trusted Documents, and Identity & Data Sharing.

Billon actively works to implement its technology commercially with leading business partners, such as FIS in the US and BIK (the Polish credit office) in Poland. In 2018, the company won the Global FinTech Hackcelerator competition at the Singapore FinTech Festival, showcasing a solution to zero-cost blockchain micropayments. Billon is currently taking part in the Elevator Lab accelerator by Raiffeisen Bank International, working on e-money transactions with digitised euro on DLT.

For more information, visit www.billongroup.com.

Founded in 2017, the fintech partnership program of RBI focuses on innovative ideas and solutions in the areas of Advanced Analytics & Artificial Intelligence, RegTech, Large Corporates & Institutional Clients, Payments and Transaction Processing for Mobility Services, Retail Banking, SME Banking, Cyber Security and FX Solutions. The largest program of its kind in CEE aims at long-term cooperation with these fintechs. For more information, visit elevator-lab.com.

About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem – Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China’s first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission’s SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government’s Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He’s written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein’s professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he’s travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Seas’ travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he’s raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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