Blockchain technology is taking hold in the Southwest, with the help of organizations encouraging development in the space. A group called the Austin Blockchain Collective, for instance, is looking to establish the Texas city as a hub for blockchain innovation. “When blockchain technology is discussed, we want Austin to come to mind, just as centers like Silicon Valley, NYC, Toronto … are thought of,” Pete Harris, the organization’s co-founder and executive director, told PYMNTS in an interview.
Approximately 140 firms that are involved in blockchain technology and crypto assets have a presence in Austin, Harris said. Factom, whose website describes the firm as a “blockchain innovations company,” is likely the oldest such company in the region and is five years old this month, according to Harris. The city is also home to platforms such as NEM, Steem, Wanchain, DigiByte and Decred. It also has crypto investment funds such as Multicoin Capital and Adamant Capital.
The city has a rich history in technology, which Harris says he believes attracts blockchain developers. While firms such as Dell and IBM are old timers, newer players such as Oracle, Facebook and Amazon are taking hold. The University of Texas also has approximately 50,000 students (graduate and undergraduate) in Austin, and it teaches blockchain at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In terms of events that put Austin on the map, the city hosts a Formula One race and is, of course, home to the annual music/tech/culture festival known as South by Southwest (SXSW).
To foster the blockchain ecosystem in this environment, the collective works in practical ways: “We help to promote local companies and innovations, we provide news and social media services, we run educational meetups, we organize intro sessions with major companies that are looking to learn more about blockchain, we even help with business introductions,” Harris said. The organization has also created working groups to bring companies together that have common interests. It is also helping with the MyPass secure digital identity and document locker initiative for those who are experiencing homelessness in the city.
And, while the organization has a love for the capital of Texas, it is also connected with groups in other cities such as Houston as well as Dallas. It is also reaching out to other places to create the Southern Cities Blockchain Alliance, while also forming linkages with the trade commission in Australia and with groups representing crypto valley in Switzerland as it seeks to foster blockchain innovation.