The future of digital currency is evolving, and a new bitcoin-focused incubator launched Friday at 1871 to support startups dedicated to influencing it.
The Chicago Bitcoin Center will work with companies focused on the development of blockchain technologies, which provide a secure and trusted network for transmitting and transferring bitcoin and other forms of value, founder and CEO Matthew Roszak said. Roszak is also founding partner at Chicago-based Tally Capital, a venture capital firm focused on investing in block chain technology and in bitcoin.
The Center counts among its advisers some experienced finance and venture capital leaders, including Don Wilson, founder and CEO of DRW Trading; Andrew Filipowski, founding partner of Tally Capital; Ezra Galston of Chicago Ventures; and Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Washington-based Chamber of Digital Commerce. Filipowski is the Center’s chairman.
Howard Tullman ⇒, CEO of 1871, said the viability of digital currency is increasing. He said 1871 now accepts payments in bitcoin but that “we’ll be rushing to the bank to convert it to dollars,” since some may have concerns about holding payments in digital currency.
Tullman cited Citibank’s revelation this week that it is developing a digital currency called Citicoin as evidence of growth in that sector.
“When you have the biggest banks in the world starting to acknowledge that this is a viable currency and everybody has to be involved in it, we think it’s going to have implications for our companies,” Tullman said. He said the Center is one part of 1871’s fintech offerings, which will include a retail incubator whose launch date is not yet known.
Entrepreneurs who work with the Center will have access to its office space in 1871, as well as mentors and public relations and government affairs services. The first group of companies includes Glidera, which gives merchants a secure way to buy or sell bitcoin, and Red Leaf, which is creating a network of bitcoin ATMs across Chicago.
Roszak said he aims chiefly to connect blockchain entrepreneurs to his network of experience technologists, marketers, advocates, investors and others. These people will help the entrepreneurs navigate the development and regulatory challenges of building a blockchain or bitcoin company, he said.
Tullman said the work of blockchain companies could transcend financial technology.
“The whole blockchain-based technology space is really going to be used beyond currencies pretty soon,” Tullman said. “We think the next thing you’ll hear is cyber security.”Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune