Bitcoin dominated headlines throughout 2017 and has been watched closely in the last couple of years, even though it was introduced much earlier, in 2009. As its price surged, touching close to $20,000 at one point, it also dragged higher other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin and also sparked a boost in the cryptocurrency space that led to the creation of over a thousand other cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies made some people very rich pretty much overnight and since their growth looks a lot like a bubble, they are likely to make a lot of people poor in the near future.
However, aside from their monetary value, cryptocurrencies should be also credited with shining the spotlight on the technology that underlines most of them – the blockchain. Blockchain, or distributed ledger, has quickly gained attention in the financial world, with a survey conducted by Accenture plc in 2016 showing that nine out of 10 major US, Canadian and European banks exploring the blockchain technology in order to improve payments. Last year, UBS Group AG (USA) (NYSE:UBS) and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) were joined by Commerzbank, Bank of Montreal, Erste Group Bank and Caixa Bank in an initiative to develop Batavia, a blockchain-based platform that helps automate trade finance process.
Blockchain didn’t stop at finance and soon started to emerge in other industries, like logistics, supply chains, real estate, Customer Relationship Management and even government operations. Companies like Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) are looking for new market opportunities, whereas some microcap stocks like Long Blockchain Corp (NASDAQ:LBCC) change their names to take advantage of the immediate financial benefits of working on the blockchain technology. Blockchain technology is considered the biggest disruptor since the introduction of the Internet. According to a study by UK-based Juniper Research, more than half of the large corporations (with over 20,000 employees) are considering using blockchain technology and two-thirds expect the technology to be integrated into their systems by the end of this year.
Tech companies jumped at the prospect of new R&D projects in the blockchain space, as well as new market opportunities. In this way, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) have partnered to launch a new framework that would allow businesses to adopt blockchain technology, called the Coco framework. Also, last year, Microsoft Corporation together with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM), BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP), Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co (NYSE:HPE) and many other major names joined forces in Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, a non-profit project that explores the creation of an enterprise-grade blockchain based on the Ethereum Network.
Blockchain is also helping boost sales for big tech companies that have been focusing on cloud computing. Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) have launched Blockchain-as-a-Service based on their Azure and AWS cloud platforms. International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) has also launched BaaS based on the open source Hyperledger Fabric, version 1.0 from the Linux Foundation. In addition, IBM expects that blockchain will generate the majority of capacity demand at the company’s 60 data centers that it rents out to other companies.
Speaking about International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM), it has jumped on the blockchain bandwagon sooner than its competitors and has already established itself as a leader in the space, being involved in a variety of projects in many industries, including finance, healthcare, and supply chain management. We have already mentioned Batavia that IBM is developing in partnership with several major banks. Last June, the Big Blue was also selected to build a blockchain-based international trading system for a consortium of global banks, including Deutsche Bank AG (USA) (NYSE:DB), HSBC Holdings plc (ADR) (NYSE:HSBC), KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Société Générale and UniCredit. IBM has also partnered with food giants, including Nestle, Unilever plc (ADR) (NYSE:UL) and Wal-Mart Stores Inc (NYSE:WMT), to use blockchain in an effort to trace food contamination.
It’s not surprising that so many big companies are getting involved with blockchain, since the technology has many advantages to improve business operations and make them more efficient, as well as reduce the involvement of people in different processes, hence making it less prone to mistakes. Blockchain represents a decentralized open ledger where each entry represents a block that is linked to the previous block. The system is incorruptible, transparent and works faster than alternatives that are used today.
The popularity of blockchain also created a lot of opportunities for startups, many of which have found a new source of funding to tap into: Initial Coin Offerings, which involve the sale of tokens that can be used to pay for transactions on blockchains, but can also represent digital assets and therefore can be exchanged into other cryptocurrencies or fiat money. Small and relatively unknown public companies have also focused their operations on blockchain, sometimes even revamping their entire business models. In turn, this has attracted the attention of investors, leading to their stock prices skyrocket. For example, Longfin Corp (NASDAQ:LFIN), a finance company, saw its share price surge by over 2,000% within two days in December, after it announced the acquisition of blockchain company Ziddu.com. Long Island Iced Tea, which sells a line of bottled drinks, changed its name to Long Blockchain Corp (NASDAQ:LBCC) and switched its focus towards blockchain technology, also had its stock price increase more than fourfold last month on the back of the announcement.
Another small and unknown company that might be a great investment opportunity in the blockchain space is Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW). Right now, Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW) is a $27 million company focused on renewable energy. However, the company is currently looking to expand its operations and plans to focus on blockchain technology in the power grid management sector. Last Friday, Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW) has signed a binding letter of intent to acquire a 60-acre parcel of land through its wholly-owned subsidiary National Mechanical Group to develop a renewable energy project. The subsidiary will build a solar and wind turbines facility that would be capable of providing electricity for thousands of homes. To improve the efficiency and save costs, Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW) plans to use the blockchain technology in order to match energy distribution and pricing with demand in real time. The project is part of the Renewable Energy Growth Program in Rhode Island that supports the development of 160 MW of distributed generation projects in the state between 2015 and 2019.
What sets Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW) apart from other small companies that are getting involved in the blockchain space is that it is among the pioneers in the sector. Renewable energy accounts for a growing share in the global power supply, but it still has a long way to go before it matches power generated by fossil fuels, at least in the US. At the same time, in 2016, solar and wind power became cheaper than fossil fuels, which shows that the sector has real potential. In addition, the progress achieved in batteries that ensure lower costs and longer lifespan, could help consumers become producers and even suppliers in the energy distribution network.
Blockchain technology can play a crucial role in the new era of power generation and energy management. Intelligent meters can track consumption and payments and smart contracts that are based on blockchain technology can provide an efficient and fully-automated way to connect producers and consumers, and trace electricity from the point of its generation to the point of consumption.
Because the use of blockchain in the electricity grid management is still a new technology, there is only a handful of companies that are exploring the technology. In May 2017, Vanderbron, a 100% renewable energy supplier in the Netherlands, TenneT, a European electricity transmission system operator, and The sonnen Group, a German supplier of clean energy, and International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) joined forces to develop a blockchain-based electricity grid management system in the Netherlands and Germany. In 2016, LO3, a green energy startup, partnered with decentralized application startup ConsenSys, to develop TransActive Grid, which allows the sale of excess renewable energy to another consumer through smart contracts based on the Ethereum Blockchain.
In this way, Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW) will join a new effort that explores the potential of blockchain technology in power grid management and can be among those that revolutionize the space. The company is not only using blockchain for power grid management, but plans to include it in its other operations as well. Another one of Sun Pacific Holding Corp. (OTCMKTS:SNPW)’s subsidiaries, Street Smart Outdoor, is involved in street furniture (bus shelters, benches, telephone kiosks, etc.) advertising and maintains an inventory of solar powered bus shelters and place-based solar trash bins. Street Smart Outdoor also plans to use blockchain technology to keep track of its inventory and manage its maintenance database. The company, which aims to transform neighborhoods across the country into smart cities powered by renewable energy, has already signed contracts with several local cities and transportation authorities, most notably a 10-year exclusive comprehensive agreement with the City of Tallahassee for solar bus shelters and other transit amenities projected to be worth $63 million in revenue.