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The distributed Blockchain middleware that allows business worldwide to build business solutions with Blockchain technology

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SettleMint (The distributed Blockchain middleware that allows business worldwide to build business solutions with Blockchain technology)

Reporting period: 2020-03-01 to 2021-02-28

The blockchain technology is a very recent and is considered as the 4th Industrial Revolution. According to a global market survey by Juniper Research (2017), 60% of the large corporations are considering blockchain deployment during the next 2 to 10 years.
In addition, reports by the World Economic Forum (2017) reveal that more than 30 governments and 90 central banks are currently investing in blockchain, and more than 80% of banks are planning to initiate blockchain projects in the very near future.
The challenge, however, lies in a complexity of blockchain technology itself, as most organizations don’t have enough IT personnel & knowledge to deal with this digital transformation.
The specialized blockchain developers are very scarce - only approximatively ten thousands worldwide – and the training trajectory takes approximatively 18 months. This lead-time potentially means high investment costs and impacts on the competitive advantages.
At SettleMint, we bridge the gap between enterprise and blockchain technology by providing a middleware solution – MINT - that makes it easy for companies to plug-in on the blockchain technology in a few weeks’ time.
SettleMint has been established in 2016 in Leuven, Belgium by Roderik van der Veer and Matthew Van Niekerk who combined their expertise and passion for business and technology.
We have tested MINT across different sectors from banking, telecom, insurance to energy. We are now in a truly scale-up phase and we internationalize in fast pace.
Our MINT technology has been recognized by numerous awards, prized and media coverage. Within this SME Instrument proposal we want to achieve a set of objectives to increase visibility of the company in the
international markets, scale in sales and significantly increase headcount up to 244 professionals by end of 2022.
One of the success criteria of SettleMint is its continuous client surveys, taking into account their feed-back in (re)shaping the roadmap for product development. This process has its influence on our project planning which is assessed at regular moments and shifts whenever needed to remain a first mover in blockchain technology. As expressed by our clients, “we breathe blockchain”.
As such we took onboard feedback in Q2-Q3 2019 about the most sought-after cloud infrastructure so¬lutions asked by our target clients and put emphasis in Q3-Q4 2019 to include Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure and Alibaba Cloud in our BPaaS solution as opposed to focusing on one cloud infrastructure provider. Listening to the market and taking this one step further, we decided to offer hosting on each of these cloud infrastructures in multiple regions. Governments, for instance, are very sensitive to data sove-reignty so simply having AWS in one region is not sufficient. We have seen competitors falter and lose deals for this exact reason so proactively incorporated multi-region support in our solution. Taking this client feedback into our BPaaS solution, we expanded our solution, offering hosting in at least 5 regions per cloud provider.
Client surveys resulted in another switch in our planning, i.e. between adding a novice user interface for configuring use cases (adding an additional layer of abstraction to existing supported chain technolo¬gies in our product) versus first broadening the number of chains fully supported to the same level of abstraction. We initially planned to build all abstraction layers (6 in total) for Enterprise Ethereum and when this was complete, to then add Hyperledger support with all 6 layers of abstraction and when this was complete, to then repeat the process for Corda. Based on feedback from several clients and pros¬pects from Q3-Q4 2019, we realised that 4 layers of abstraction available in SettleMint BPaaS for Enter¬prise Ethereum were sufficient to commercialise our product for this blockchain protocol and that we were already far ahead of any competitor for this protocol. In addition to this finding, we also recognised from client feedback that having these same 4 layers of abstraction for both Hyperledger & Corda would support further growth more than focusing on the next 2 layers of abstraction for Enterprise Ethereum as clients & prospects in APAC & India began to demand Hy-perledger & Corda. Not having these 4 layers of abstraction for Hyper¬ledger & Corda quickly would have become a competitive disadvantage.
As a result, we modified our roadmap, shifting priority in Q4 ’19-Q1 ‘20 to incl. all 4 layers of abstraction in our SettleMint BPaaS for these 3 Enterprise blockchain technologies (Enterprise Ethereum, Hy¬perledger Fabric and Corda). The additional 2 layers are the Inte¬grated Developer Environment (IDE) to fully customise smart contracts (layer 5) and the layer for non-programmers (layer 6). In parallel to this shift, we will accelerate the development of the Integrated Developer Environment across all 3 blockchain technology (by end of May 2020).
A key area of increased demand we discovered in the client surveys was technical support for consortia set up. We are currently adding functionality to scale out network deployment for multiple consortia members and making this very easy for founding members of con¬sortia to invite new members to join their network. This is currently in place for Enterprise Ethereum and Corda networks with Hyperledger Fabric support expected to be completed by end of Q2 2020.
Another area of increasing interest in the blockchain space is interoperability across chains. We picked this up from both existing clients and prospects so we have planned development of interoperability across chains shifting forward to early Q3 2020 to meet this emerging demand from the market.