Charlotte’s future lies in financial technology, building on our decades of experience as a banking center.
And nothing is more exciting in the world of fintech right now than blockchain. Remember how 10 years ago, every smart developer was building an iPhone app? That’s how things are becoming right now with blockchain.
Charlotte could soon become a major player in that space. The Carolina Fintech Hub is sponsoring a Blockchain Generation Challenge that will collect and incubate ideas for startups in this red-hot space from universities in North and South Carolina.
The best ideas could get immediate backing from Charlotte’s largest financial institutions.
What is blockchain?
Blockchain technology is a little hard to explain but has transformative potential across industries.
Think of a traditional bank as keeping a ledger that tracks all of the transactions it processes. Well, blockchain distributes that ledger across thousands of computers instead of keeping it all in one central system. This makes it extraordinarily difficult for it to be hacked. And each “block” of information carries markers of the blocks before it, meaning nobody can change any part of the system.
You’ve probably heard of Bitcoin. That’s run on blockchain technology, enabling currency to be able to be transferred peer to peer with no trusted third-party standing in the middle of the deal.
How will the contest work?
Registration for the challenge is open now and runs through February 25. Teams must be made up of college students or recent graduates (less than 2 years out of school).
These teams have until February 28 to submit a one-page disruptive use of blockchain and a business case.
Finalists will then be chosen to get paired up with a mentor and create a proof of concept by April 18.
On April 21, they’ll present in front of a panel of judges, with the winner receiving $6,000.
Judges will include representatives of Bank of America, Wells Fargo, BB&T, EY, Ally, Oracle and Sia Partners — all sponsors of the Carolina Fintech Hub.
Why is this important?
Blockchain development is primarily centered in Silicon Valley, New York City, London, and banking hubs in Asia. Should Carolinas college students come up with ideas that gain traction, this could put Charlotte on the map alongside those esteemed cities.
This challenge also involves major financial institutions — which have the money to back ideas they think could be transformative for their businesses.