Despite that the bearish trend brought down the majority of cryptocurrency rates, the leading market players in 2018 were provided with new opportunities. So, while traders and investors nervously watched cryptocurrency charts, crypto companies and blockchain projects struck 115 partnerships, mergers & acquisitions, and takeovers to further improve their organizations, products, and services. As a result, the year 2019 promises to be a challenging but exciting, during which we will see a rapid growth of the entire crypto industry. DeCenter considered the most memorable crypto deals of the past year and the degree of their influence on the digital assets market.
IBM and Stellar
IBM announced its plans to launch a blockchain-based cross-border payment system in October 2017. Then the American IT giant considered the possibility of cooperation with the teams of Bitcoin Core, Ripple, and Stellar, but ultimately settled on the latter non-commercial project because Stellar had already provided a scalable network. In March 2018, the head of blockchain at IBM Jesse Lund first spoke about the details of this partnership during the Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. Then it was announced that IBM already used the Stellar network for cheaper and faster cross-border payments, and the project cryptocurrency Lumens (XLM) has become a key asset for the company’s universal payment solution.
In early September, the technology giant announced the launch of the international payment system Blockchain World Wire, which was developed based on the blockchain Stellar. This system allows financial institutions to conduct clearings and make instant international transfers. Moreover, IBM is working on launching Stellar-based stablecoins, which will become the link between cryptocurrency and fiat.
Binance and Trust Wallet, MSX PLC, and TRON Foundation
Binance, one of the leading cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, in 2018 led an active search for partners and interesting projects for cooperation. July 31 edition of Bloomberg announced the plans of the exchange to make its first-ever purchase of a third-party company. It was about the startup Trust Wallet, the provider of a decentralized, open-source mobile crypto wallet that allows users to store more than 20,000 tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain. Moreover, Trust Wallet does not have access to private keys and enables traders to save their assets outside the exchange. As noted by Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, this way, “both centralized and decentralized custodial solutions” are now presented to users.
On September 11, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the cryptocurrency exchange and a subsidiary of the Malta Stock Exchange MSX PLC. As part of this agreement, both companies have begun work on launching a new digital platform for trading security tokens. According to both parties to the agreement, this partnership will allow for transferring traditional financial assets to the blockchain and will also contribute to the development of the cryptographic market in Malta.
And less than a month later, on October 9, the exchange announced its intention to launch its own charitable organization. On October 26, the Blockchain Charity Foundation (BCF) began work with the support of the President of Malta, Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. As Zhao stressed, the goal of the BCF is to use blockchain to increase the transparency of charitable activities. The architecture of the foundation allows users to ensure that all donations are sure to reach the final recipients, while Binance and the foundation will cover all operating expenses. In the same month, the TRON Foundation company, which is headed by Justin Sun, commissioned the allocation of $3 million for BCF. “We all decided to be leaders in the pursuit of blockchain technology for the public good. The Binance Charity Foundation is taking significant steps in this direction, increasing the transparency of charitable work so that we can see where donations and their further influence are being channeled,” said Sun.
TRON and BitTorrent
Speaking of TRON, one cannot forget one of the largest deals of the year, when a crypto company announced the purchase of the BitTorrent P2P protocol and the popular torrent client uTorrent. The deal was announced on July 24, and, according to CoinDesk, its amount was $120 million.
On November 27, the TRON Foundation announced an iteration plan with BitTorrent as part of the Atlas project. Thus, BitTorrent customers will be able to pay for premium accounts using TRX, BTC, and BNB cryptocurrencies. At the same time, high user activity will be encouraged by TRX tokens. Also, TRON’s blockchain internal tokens can be used to increase the speed of downloading files and promote the activities of seeds (users who distribute data). To implement the project, Atlas BitTorrent will have to connect its peering network to the TRON blockchain.
Coinbase and Circle, Paradex, and Earn.com
The American Coinbase cryptocurrency exchange, like Binance, concluded several deals over the past 12 months. On April 16, Coinbase acquired the Bitcoin startup Earn.com, which allows users to earn cryptocurrency for performing various tasks, for example, for participating in a marketing survey or for answering emails. The amount of the transaction amounted to more than $120 million, and the former head of a startup, Balaji Srinivasan, was appointed CTO of Coinbase. And on December 19, it became known that the crypto exchange rolled out the educational platform Coinbase Earn, where users can earn 0x tokens for completing webinars on cryptocurrency topics.
Also on May 24, Coinbase announced the purchase of the Paradex decentralized exchange. This exchange is based on the 0x protocol, which allows for a decentralized transfer of tokens of the ERC-20 standard without the need to pay transaction fees. During integration, Coinbase made some technical changes to the Paradex architecture, providing access to the site for customers outside the United States.
And on October 23, it was announced that Coinbase, together with the payment company Circle, supported by Goldman Sachs bank, began work on launching their own stablecoin USD Coin (USDC). The stablecoin is pegged to the U.S. dollar at a 1:1 ratio and a special consortium Center was created for its development. According to the latest data, on December 18, the stablecoin passed the second independent audit, which confirmed its full backing. The audit was conducted by one of the largest accounting firms in the USA, Grant Thornton LLP.
Dow Jones Media Group and Brave
Under this agreement, both companies will test the content delivery system based on the blockchain platform Brave. Content providers are subsidiaries of DJMG—Barron’s and MarketWatch—which will provide a limited number of Brave users, the total number of whom in October exceeded 4.5 million, with premium access to published content. In turn, users of the new system will be able to receive internal BAT tokens in exchange for the consumption of advertising information from approved advertisers.
Litecoin Foundation and TokenPay
On July 10, the non-profit Litecoin Foundation, which supports the popular cryptocurrency, entered into a strategic partnership with the payment blockchain platform TokenPay. As a result of this agreement, the Litecoin Foundation acquired 9.9% of the shares of German bank WEG Bank AG, which had been previously owned by TokenPay. Thus, the Foundation, together with the blockchain project, will work on integrating Litecoin into the services of WEG Bank AG. As said by the head of Litecoin, Charlie Lee, thanks to this integration, users will find it easier to buy and use Litecoin. At the same time, the Litecoin team will help TokenPay in developing and launching its own blockchain network.
Blockchain.com and Ledger
Finally, we’ll tell you about the joint project of one of the first online wallets, Blockchain.com, and the developer of hardware crypto wallets, the company Ledger. On October 25, the crypto companies released the Blockchain Lockbox hybrid crypto wallet. The new device allows users to carry out operations with crypto assets both online and offline. As noted by Blockchain.com CEO Peter Smith, it was important for both companies to provide a product that would allow their customers to carry out all the necessary operations without having to visit additional sources. The basis of the new device was the popular hardware wallet model Ledger Nano S, and Blockchain.com specially developed the software.
Conclusion: Joint Efforts Will Take the Market to a New Stage
The above mentioned are only some of the joint projects that were launched in 2018. Undoubtedly, as the crypto market matures, this trend will continue next year. In confirmation of this, the organizers of the annual blockchain conference at Stanford University emphasized that in 2019, the main topic will be cooperation: “We aim to foster multidisciplinary collaboration among practitioners and researchers in blockchain protocols, distributed systems, cryptography, computer security, and risk management.” The success of projects born of such partnerships will bring the entire industry to a whole new level of development, while failures will serve as a valuable lesson for all participants of the crypto market.