Since its inception, investors have looked at the blockchain technology that powers Bitcoin’s cryptocurrency as a new platform to bring a new level of trust to real world transactions.
Now, Colu, a Tel Aviv-based startup has launched to develop a platform to make that vision a reality. Colu is developing technology to enable programmers to access colored coins and Bitcoin 2.0 infrastructure through an application program interface that will enable new distributed applications.
“The simplest way to think about the blockchain is as a Google spreadsheet that you’ve shared with everyone on the planet,” says Amos Meiri, the chief executive and co-founder of Colu. By giving everyone access to that spreadsheet, and the means to approve changes to the sheet (or ledger), it creates an opportunity to bring more trust and security to transactions.
Basically Colu is creating a meta-data layer on top of the basic bitcoin transaction, which just records volumes or amounts of bitcoin exchanged. Using Colu, application developers can add blockchain-based approvals to any transaction enabling them to exchange more than just a virtual currency, but real world objects like keys, tickets, titles and deeds, or anything else.
“This is a bitcoin-secured platform that empowers millennials and baby boomers looking for new ways to access online purchase and experiences,” says Meiri.
Already, several application developers are using Colu’s platform to integrate bitcoin into their transaction systems.
To fuel the development of its technology and bring on more application developers, Colu has raised $2.5 million in financing from a group of investors led by the Israeli venture capital firm Aleph, and US-based Spark Capital.
With its launch, Colu becomes the latest example of bitcoin 2.0 technology, which seeks to take bitcoin beyond its use as simply a store of value.
“Our goal at Colu is to use the blockchain’s ability to safely enable access to everything from online purchases to opening the front door of our vacation stay and locking the door of the car that brought us here,” says Meiri. “It’s a broad spectrum of uses, but completely possible using blockchain validation and security.”
In their previous incarnation Meiri and his team were involved in the development of colored coins, which formed the basis for the work Colu is doing now.
The company is still beta-testing its development platform, but will be releasing a more public build in the second quarter of 2015, according to a statement.
Despite the slide in Bitcoin’s value over the past year, there’s been a steady drumbeat of positive news pointing to the continuing maturation of the technology and its embrace by more consumers.
This week, on the heels of its massive $75 million round, CoinBase has launched the first regulated Bitcoin exchange in the U.S.
As my colleague, Jon Russell reported yesterday:
The company, which added the New York Stock Exchange and USAA to its list of investors last week, told the Wall Street Journal that it has “regulatory approval” in half of all states, including significant areas like New York and California. (The New York Department of Financial Services has been very vocal in its call for regulation via a proposed ‘BitLicense’.)
Coinbase already offers exchange services in 19 countries overseas, and it said that its work accruing necessary licenses and approvals in the U.S. took five months. The company will only be able to offer services to customers that sign up in states were it is approved, but there are plans to gain approval in further states.