Hyderabad: Prime Minister Narendra Modi said investors were emptying their pockets on blockchain startups but the the ground-level scenario is that it is still in the preliminary stages but investors are keeping an eye on the segment. Mr Modi has spoken on blockchain at least three times this year.
Mr Modi said at an event in Singapore on Wednesday: “I have heard of an advice going around in start-up circles. To increase your venture capital or VC funding by 10 per cent, tell the investors you run a “platform”, not a regular business. If you want to increase your VC funding by 20 per cent, tell the investors that you are operating in the “fintech space”. But, if you really want the investors to empty their pockets, tell them that you are using blockchain.” He made this remark during his keynote address at the Fintec Festival to point out the “excitement and promise of emerging technologies to transform the world of finance”.
While several surveys concur with statement that start-up scenario for blockchain is increasing, the hype is because of a combination of real innovators and a herd mentality. Nasscom says blockchain start-ups have observed significant inflow of funding from $2 million to $11 million growing over 500 per cent year on year.
Entrepreneurs say that it is an emerging technology and will have its evolution cycle as everybody is either learning or piloting for the first time.
Mr Pavan Adipuram, founder of Chitmonks, which runs on blockchain said, “Going by the statistics, the number of blockchain companies funded this year in India is at an all-time high. I have seen folks talking about blockchain in their own language with limited research, reading or understanding. Block-chain is A for you, B for Him and C for me. The possibility is that all of them might be right in their own way. What is more important is how an entrepreneur fits the solution for the problem they are solving. The problem is we are passing through that phase and a confused lot trying to understand with our own views.”
Another entrepreneur-investor said, “It has become customary for startups to refer to blockchain in their pitches to investors. When we probe into how they intend to implement it, the pitch falls flat and it is evident that their understanding is limited. Despite blockchain becoming a catch phrase, ultimately it is the business value proposition that we look at.”
Experts note that investors are funding blockchain start-ups because it helps enterprises become future-proof. Mr Manish Jain, partner, Digital and Fintech, Management Consulting, KPMG said, “There are a very few cases which are truly done by blockchain and is not possible to deliver by other technologies. Start-ups are supposed to help enterprises become future-proof. Investors feel that blockchain enables them to become more future-proof thereby eliminating one extra element that blockchain may introduce.”
Large enterprises often have limited resources to explore new technology and invest into innovation. So funding tends suddenly goes into areas which are happening.
Mr Devang Mehta, partner, Anthill Ventures, said, “There is no hype-meter to gauge the level of hype and compare it to actual innovation. Blockchain is exciting in India because many current processes are fractured, involve multiple intermediaries and, in many cases, are implemented in less-than-transparent ways. Blockchain has the capability to change a lot of this thereby unleashing gains for many participants in the chain.”
On the other hand blockchain start-ups were using initial coin offering (ICO) to raise funds through crowdsourcing but the market has slowed down internationally. Since then, they are looking at investors.