Anyone still on the fence about blockchain's importance or its future direction need look no further than the blockchain solution release earlier this week from Microsoft in partnership with Ernst & Young that is designed to streamline content rights and royalties management. The solution is first being rolled out to Microsoft's game publisher partners.

The chain will manage the intellectual property of authors, song writers, production houses, developers and more — Intellectual Property (IP) which generates millions of transactions worth billions of dollars per month in royalties. The royalty calculations along the value chain are currently mostly manual and generally managed via offline data sources. The solution aims to provide near real-time visibility of sales transactions to the participants in the blockchain network and to help participants react to market needs faster and more effectively, but it also points to some possible future uses of blockchain.

Related Article: 7 Trends Driving Blockchain Forward

Big Tech Eyes Blockchain

Microsoft isn't the only tech giant experimenting with blockchain either. While Google announced a ban on all bitcoin and cryptocurrency ads on its platform in March, this shouldn't be read as Google being disinterested in blockchain. The new policy, which comes into effect in June, follows similar bans from Facebook and Twitter (editor's note: Facebook reversed its policy after this article was written). 

    However, it also emerged that Google has approached Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum — the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency — in the hopes that he would help the technology giant with a blockchain project, the Russian-born programmer has revealed. The UK- based Independent newspaper reported Google's interest, including a truncated screenshot of an email from Google recruiter Elizabeth Garcia to Buterin, appearing to offer him a job. The article added that Buterin shared the email from Garcia, along with a poll asking “should I drop Ethereum and work for Google?”

    As many enterprises consider where blockchain fits in their future strategy, the developer community has also been showing signs of interest.  

    Related Article: Buzzword or Buzzworthy: How to Decide if Blockchain Is Right for Your Business

    A Virtual Blockchain Summit

    Hack VC, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm, announced its Hack.Summit virtual conference taking place July 9 to 11 will focus on blockchain as its main theme, with headline speakers including technical founders of projects including ZCash, Ripple, Mt.Gox, Kadena, Stellar, DFINITY, Monero, Oasis Labs, Orchid, Bancor, Basis, and others. The event, which has Hack VC claims has historically been the largest gathering of developers across the globe, is a purely-virtual, not-for-profit event, which aims to educate and encourage the advancement of technology, regardless of location or socioeconomic status.

    This year’s event will gather leading technical founders of blockchain foundations to educate the world on important blockchain topics. All ticket sales from the event will be donated to coding nonprofits, particularly those that support diversity in coding with organizations like Oracle, IBM, Facebook, Microsoft, Github and Uber having supported the cause in previous years.

    While the role of blockchain in the enterprise is slowly growing, so too are the number of vendors and companies are developing solutions around blockchain. Over the past two weeks as we have dug deeper into blockchain, companies continue to emerge. What follows are six new additions to this quickly evolving market: 

    1. Aventus

    Aventus Protocol Foundation is a non-profit entity whose mission is to develop and market the open-source Aventus protocol, and grow an associated ecosystem. Aventus Protocol launched on the Ethereum MainNet with the goal of eliminating fraud and ticket scalping. Aventus allows each event ticket to have a unique identity tied to its owner. This means sellers must adhere to pre-defined rules and greater security, so tickets can be capped for resale prices and avoid duplication. This problem has recently been acknowledged by major entities such as the Fifa World Cup and other ticket-dependent events.

    Related Article: Blockchain Security Concerns and How to Mitigate Them 

    2. Blockmason

    Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands-based Blockmason is a blockchain developer focused on building the foundational base-layer frameworks on which blockchain solutions can be built. Its first and largest product to date is the Credit Protocol, a standardized, secure and reliable way to record and permanently store mutually-confirmed debt or credit obligations on the blockchain.

    Credit Protocol is a base-layer blockchain technology which functions as a streamlined system for the management of credit processes. Any business, startup or development team who wants to use blockchain technology to solve a credit problem — for example, a peer-to-peer lending app, a student loan platform, a mortgage facility or other uses — will need a foundational code platform from which to build their own commercial tech. The Credit Protocol is a platform from which developers can then build their own projects.

    3. Decentral

    Decentral is the Toronto-based creator of the multi-platform, multi-currency digital wallet Jaxx, founded by Anthony Diiorio. Jaxx Liberty is the first in a series of products aimed at making cryptocurrency accessible to the mass market. It aims to provide a unified experience within the highly fragmented cryptocurrency landscape, offering a means to interact with over 70 currencies.

    Learning Opportunities

    Related Article: Blockchain Is on the Cusp of Changing Entire Industries

    4. DLT Labs

    Toronto-headquartered DLT Labs specializes in distributed data management and enterprise solutions powered by blockchain. It uses proprietary parent and child architecture and DNC Cluster Infrastructure to solve blockchain problem like scalability, throughput, latency and tight coupling of data and logic, making blockchain enterprise ready. 

    It works with multiple blockchain protocols, including Ethereum, Hyperledger Fabric, Corda and Holochain, among others. Using these protocols, its blockchain registers, certifies and verifies transactions, tracks and traces assets along the supply chain, to govern data privacy and empower consumers. It also supports loyalty rewards issuance, redemption and exchange as well as payment and crypto activities including smart contracts and ICOs.

    5. Paxos

    New York City-based Paxos is a financial technology company delivering blockchain solutions for global financial institutions. Its flagship service is Bankchain, a blockchain settlement platform that delivers instantaneous settlement and greater automation, offering market participants reduced counter party risk, lower capital requirements and increased operational efficiencies. 

    Paxos emerged in 2016 after financial services company itBit migrated its blockchain projects to a new entity. Paxos houses itBit's distributed ledger efforts, while itBit focuses on bitcoin exchange and over-the-counter trading services. ItBit currently operates a global bitcoin exchange offering institutional and retail investors a powerful platform to buy and sell bitcoin. 

    They also recently announced a Series B round of financing and announced it will be the first blockchain-powered trust that has been selected by a major international gold mining company to deploy its Bankchain platform for the first time in a live environment.

    Related Article: Blockchain Makes Inroads in the Enterprise at Consensus

    6. Proxeus

    Zug, Switzerland-based Proxeus aims to make blockchain more accessible to previously paper-bound, traditional businesses so they can transition easily to new blockchain-based business models. Proxeus is essentially a WordPress for blockchain, helping traditional enterprises to easily integrate blockchain workflows in parallel with their existing enterprise systems. 

    It claims it recently used the Hyperledger blockchain to legally register a new Swiss business entity — from start to finish — in just one hour and 37 minutes, a process that traditionally takes anywhere from 10 days to up to six weeks. Similarly, it also claims to have helped the University of Basel in Switzerland issue and register course certificates via blockchain in less than 100 hours.

    These are only a handful of companies operating in this space. We will be looking at other companies soon.