Blockchain startup secures cryptocurrency funding

Choice, founded in 2017, claims to be the first blockchain project out of New Zealand to secure non-equity funding from the NEM.io Foundation

New Zealand based blockchain based payments system Choice has raised the equivalent of NZ$1 million in funding in the form of XEM cryptocurrency.

Choice, founded in 2017, claims to be the first blockchain project out of New Zealand to secure non-equity funding from the NEM.io Foundation, the Singapore based not-for-profit organisation behind XEM whose stated purpose is “to introduce, educate, and promote the use of the NEM blockchain technology platform on an international scale to all industries and institutions.”

It opened an office in New Zealand in December 2017 saying as part of what it said was  $US40 million global expansion plan, and was promoting, in New Zealand, a $US90 million ($130m) global development fund that it said would help kick start local blockchain companies.

Recipients of NEM blockchain community funding are chosen through community voting, with companies posting the concept for their startup or business on NEM community forums, which are then voted on by users. Successful companies are then presented to the NEM.io Foundation, which carries out due diligence before issuing the funding.

Choice describes itself as a payments gateway platform that aims to greatly reduce the two to six percent transaction fees that electronic card transaction companies such as Visa and Mastercard pass on to merchants, by proving a direct transfer infrastructure between customers and merchants.

It promises to donate half of those merchant savings to registered charities of the consumers’ choice.

Ossie Amir, co-founder and blockchain lead at Choice, said the project was the first in the world to integrate fiat payment transactions with blockchain infrastructure in order to make a social difference.

"Nowhere in the world is there an agreed standard for the measurement of social impact,” he said. “Choice has set out to empower the growing number of consumers wanting to make a positive change in the world and create a new measurable way to track the impact of charitable donations.”

NEM.io Foundation for Australia and New Zealand, Jason Lee, said the organisation saw Choice as “a leading contender to showcase the practical use of the NEM blockchain to the entire world.”

Choice says it is refining its beta product and expects to implement the service with a number of New Zealand hospitality businesses. It has been working in Wellington at Creative HQ for the past six weeks as part of the Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator program and says it is working closely with New Zealand regulators.

NZ becoming “a global blockchain centre”

FintechNZ general manager James Brown said this week that New Zealand was becoming a global blockchain centre.

"There are a growing number of blockchain launches involving Kiwi firms including Blockchain Lab NZ which has helped raise over NZ$410 million through initial coin offerings,” he said.

"Some of New Zealand’s tech stars are involved in a global team which recently launched the world’s first ever blockchain platform for the multi-billion-dollar global online ratings and review industry.

"Kiwis involved included the 2017 New Zealand chief executive of the year award winner Leigh Flounders, NZTech and FintechNZ chair Mitchell Pham and Blockchain Labs NZ chief executive Mark Pascall.”

According to Brown, the blockchain platform lina.review will change an entire global industry and demonstrate how blockchain can solve real world problems.

He listed other notable achievements as being:

• A New Zealand financial technology advisory services provider, Capital Trust Group (CTG), has forged partnerships to form three blockchain projects in Wellington;

• Kiwi firm Centrality recently raised the equivalent of $110.5 million in virtual currency that can be used in an online marketplace.

• Christchurch based Cryptopia has grown from being a two-person team 12 months ago to employing 50 people and being one of the larger cryptocurrency exchanges in the world.

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