Blockchain startup Billon Group received almost two million euros from Horizon 2020, the EU’s biggest research and innovation program. According to an announcement on July 20, 2017, Horizon 2020 awarded funding to Billon based on its application of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to the alternative payments market, which is projected to increase to $1.4 trillion. As per Robert Kaluza, Co-Founder and COO of Billon:
“Billon’s DLT/Blockchain technology is the first cloud and mobile peer-to-peer solution for everyday currencies using DLT, where we provide [Polish zloty] and [Great Britian pound] solutions in partnership with banks. Billon now moves beyond solutions to digitally pay people, to now enable participants to spend their funds online.”
According to the 2016 Global Payment Report by Worldpay, alternative payment systems are increasing in popularity in various markets around the world. Additionally, according to eMarketer, retail ecommerce sales are expected to grow from $1.915 trillion in 2016 to $4.058 trillion in 2020. Thus, investment in Billon makes sense, as its app, which allows users to send money to people and organizations in real-time, will capitalize on the opportunities presented by these increasing trends. Tadeusz Kuropatwinski, managing director of digital payments at Billon, said:
“We believe content monetization and eCommerce payments will be one of the main drivers behind the global demand for micropayments, especially in emerging markets. Today’s payment solutions include clumsy pre-paid vouchers and premium SMS, and Billon can transform this into a digital payment experience on a mobile phone, and with a full audit trail.”
On July 17, 2017, the Horizon 2020 initiative announced that 64 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from 16 countries had been selected for their latest funding round, which saw applications for 1,514 projects. According to the release, in addition to facilitating the development of a business plan, the phase two funding will allow recipients to invest in innovation activities, such as demonstration, testing, piloting, scaling, and miniaturization.
Blockchain technology and FinTech have been one of the main focuses of the EU over the past year. In June, the EU’s Financial Technology Task Force requested feedback from stakeholders on how technology like blockchain and DLT will impact the European financial services industry. In addition, the European Securities Market Authority stated that it would closely monitor EU market activity related to DLT.