Ledger Launches Newest Hardware Wallet: Nano S

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Blockchain hardware-solutions company Ledger announced a new hardware wallet today. A successor to the HW.1 and Unplugged wallets, Ledger’s Nano S differentiates itself by offering a built-in OLED display and by adding protection for Ethereum fund transfers.

The Paris-based company created the Nano S after spending 18 months improving the Nano, Ledger’s best-selling product. It connects to any computer through USB—allowing users to send and receive payments, check their accounts, manage multiple addresses—and even supports the FIDO Universal Second Factor standard.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.53.48 AMThe built-in OLED display on the Nano S allows the user to double-check and confirm each transaction by tapping the buttons on the device. While the Nano S includes built-in apps for both Bitcoin and Ethereum, it also supports other blockchain-based currencies.

Priced at 58€ ($66), the Nano S comes with a set of Chrome applications to help users manage their wallets. It is available for pre-order today and will be shipping at the end of July.

At FinovateEurope 2016 Ledger CEO Eric Larchevêque debuted Ledger Blue, a touch-screen smartcard for developers. Ledger Blue offers a second display that connects to devices via BLE, NFC, or USB and thwarts malware attacks by delivering the correct payment address.

Finovate Alumni News

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finvoate Alumni News

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Ledger Launches Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System

LedgerHomepage

A blockchain security company wouldn’t be as secure without its own operating system, which may explain why Ledger launched the Blockchain Open Ledger Operating System (BOLOS) last week.

The new operating system enables developers to build source code for native applications to protect the core against application attacks and to separate the applications from each other. This increased security mechanism means that each application can access only its own memory.

Ledger organized BOLOS into a set of different building blocks. Modules include:

  • Input/Output block to communicate with the outside world and third parties
  • Cryptographic block implementing low-level cryptographic primitives
  • Storage block for on-device storage
  • Wrapping block for external device storage, allowing you to securely bind data to the running BOLOS app
  • Endorsement block providing BOLOS application proof of execution
  • UI block for user presence and confirmation

Access is currently available for the BOLOS implementation on Ledger Trustlet (TEE) on Android. The Ledger Blue smart card hosts the first native implementation of BOLOS, although developer access isn’t available until later this month.

Ledger debuted Ledger Blue at FinovateEurope 2016 in London. Check out our in-depth coverage of the France-based company and interview with CEO Eric Larchevêque.

Finovate Alumni News

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On FinDEVr.com

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Around the web

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

Finovate Debuts: Ledger’s Blue Smartcard Mitigates Phishing, Malware Attacks

LedgerHomepage

Bitcoin is inherently difficult to protect and is not guarded from fraud, as many traditional accounts are. To navigate this issue, Ledger has designed hardware to help users preserve ownership of their digital blockchain assets.

The company began as the House of Bitcoin, a physical retail location in Paris where people exchange digital currency in person, learn about bitcoin, and share ideas with other startups (see below). Ledger was born from a merger of three different companies which had gathered at the space to collaborate.

The company’s flagship hardware product Ledger Nano helps individuals protect their bitcoins and make payments safely.

LaMaisonDuBitcoin

At FinovateEurope 2016, the company launched the Ledger Blue Smartcard (pictured below), an enterprise solution featuring a touch screen to serve as a second factor to validate transaction information before completing a settlement on the blockchain. The device mitigates phishing and malware attacks, which can occur due to inherently insecure computers, smartphones, or human negligence. ledger-blue

Ledger CEO and founder Eric Larchevêque says, “It is a hardware wallet, but we prefer to call it a personal security device because it can do a lot.” The device not only serves as a second factor for bitcoin transactions and interbank settlements, but also secures the movement of any assets held on the blockchain, including P2P stock trading, workflow certification for insurance management, and even process documentation for pharmaceutical clinical trials.

“It’s not about currency,” Larchevêque emphasizes, “but about what you can do with the blockchain.”

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CEO Eric Larchevêque demoed Ledger Blue at FinovateEurope 2016 in London.

Ledger Blue facts:

  • Employees: 16
  • Funding: €2.5M seed round in 2015
  • 10,000 units sold of first device, Ledger Nano
  • Customers across 100 countries
  • HQ: Paris, France
  • Founded: January 2015

EricLarchevêqueProfileIMGEric Larchevêque demonstrated Ledger’s Blue Smartcard on stage at FinovateEurope in London (above). Larchevêque studied as an engineer of macro electronics at the ESIEE Paris, a French graduate school of engineering. Since 1996 he has been an entrepreneur and has founded, sold, and crashed about a dozen companies.

Finovate: What problem does Ledger solve?
Larchevêque: Ledger secures the last meter of the enterprise infrastructure by designing a new generation of hardware security devices enforcing strong authentication, data integrity and compliance. Use cases range from critical workflow security to trusted hardware for blockchain-based applications.

Finovate: Who are your primary customers?
Larchevêque: Enterprises, banks, fintechs, insurers, asset managers, blockchain startups … Any company requiring a high level of compliance and security in their process. We are present on the European and North American market.

Finovate: How does Ledger solve the problem better?
Larchevêque: Ledger has a strong expertise in embedded hardware security and built its reputation on the blockchain market by designing a popular security solution sold in more than 100 countries.

Finovate: Tell us about your favorite implementation of your solution.
Larchevêque: In compliance, necessity of proof lies with the company under scrutiny. Ledger designed a blockchain-based immutable audit trail giving full traceability of any process. Each step is permanently recorded in the blockchain through the signature of personal, secure hardware keys. As the audit trail is fully enforced through a decentralized system, this solution brings the highest possible trust level and prevents any possibility of tampering.

Finovate: What in your background gave you the confidence to tackle this challenge?
Larchevêque: Ledger’s core engineers come from highly regarded hardware and security companies such as Oberthur, Gemalto or STMicroelectronics. Ledger is a full-stack company, with a rare expertise on secure elements (smart cards), and developed its own secure embedded operating system.

Finovate: What are some upcoming initiatives from Ledger that we can look forward to over the next few months?
Larchevêque: Ledger will soon release a suite of FIDO-certified hardware dongles for strong authentication (with USB, NFC and BLE capabilities). It’ll allow enterprises to bring access security to the highest level for both laptop and mobile web apps and native applications.

Finovate: Where do you see Ledger a year or two from now?
Larchevêque: Ledger will be a global leader in trusted hardware for cybersecurity and blockchain-based applications.


Check out Ledger’s live demo video from FinovateEurope 2016:

Finovate Alumni News

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This post will be updated throughout the day as news and developments emerge. You can also follow all the alumni news headlines on the Finovate Twitter account.

How is Europe Fueling the Fintech Fire?

FinovateEurope is just weeks away, so we’ve been paying closer attention to European fintech. The sector not only achieved a banner year for innovation, but also scored a record amount of VC investments.

To gauge the temperature of fintech innovation in Europe, we looked at Finovate alums in different regions: Aire.io in the United Kingdom, Bitbond in Germany, and Ledger in France.

United Kingdom

In an article titled, Britain’s Booming Fintech Scene, Ayondo reports that the region’s fintech sector brought in a record amount of venture capital funding in 2015, 63% of which was raised by London-based companies. Of that London total, a quarter went to fintech companies. The article also notes that venture capital investment rose from £34 million in 2010 to £312 million in the first six months of 2015.

In the summer of 2015, British Chancellor George Osborne appointed Eileen Burbidge as an ambassador for fintech, to establish a governmental voice for fintech and to position the U.K.’s industry for growth. London & Partners anticipates an additional 8% of the U.K.-based online population will start using fintech products in 2016.

AireHomepageAire.io, a startup committed to help thin-credit-file users build a credit score, is headquartered in the Silicon Roundabout. Founded in 2014, the company’s CEO Aneesh Varma talked with us about its London roots.

“I have been in the London startup scene for almost 10 years now, and it’s been really amazing to witness the transformation,” says Varma. “The people, the events, the universities, and players like Techstars and the Google Campus, have really helped create that virtuous circle we needed.”

According to Varma, the environment has helped foster the startup’s growth: “We ourselves just moved into larger offices to create space as we are actively hiring to grow our team. Being in Shoreditch has been enlightening, as it feels like we are the outsiders who are rethinking how to fix up the cracks of the financial district next door.”

Additionally, Varma noted the active role Aire plays in the startup scene by giving back to the fintech community: “We are also gearing up to host events to help create an opportunity for banks and lenders to meet the very people we are trying to help—we call them Citizens of Aire.” Varma says the moves will showcase why Aire matters to the “wider fintech ecosystem.”

*Read the rest of the interview in the addendum at the bottom of this post.

Germany

In Germany banks are beginning to invest in fintech. Commerzbank, the country’s second-largest bank, invested in five fintech companies through its investment arm, CommerzVentures. Deusche Bank, Germany’s largest lender, is entering the mix by opening innovation hubs in London, Berlin, and Silicon Valley.

Peer-to-peer bitcoin lending platform Bitbond is based in Berlin. Earlier this week we spoke with the startup’s co-founder and CEO Radoslav Albrecht who described the city’s attitudes toward fintech. Albrecht says fintech activity is somewhat centralized in Berlin, recently ranked the fastest growing startup hub in the world by Compass.co. Albrecht notes that one of the contributing factors is the much-lower living expenses in Berlin compared with other large German cities.

BitbondHomepageBitbond, which debuted its Autoinvest feature at FinovateEurope 2015, has been doing well over the past year, shifting its focus from consumer loans to SMB loans. Almost 40% of Bitbond lenders have deployed around $100,000 of capital through the Autoinvest tool, which enables investors to define investment preferences, and invests automatically on their behalf.

Additionally, Bitbond is working on creating an investment vehicle that will allow users to invest in loans on its platform without having to purchase bitcoins or set up a bitcoin wallet. Because traditional currency is not involved, fees are much lower.

France

There are fewer fintech startups in France, but that is about to change. In November 2015, NewAlpha became the first French VC fund dedicated to early stage fintech financing.Ledger - Hi Res

At FinovateEurope this year, Paris-based Ledger will debut Ledger Blue, a personal device that secures payments and smart contracts for bitcoin- and blockchain-based applications.

If you’re eager to see more in the European fintech scene, check out FinovateEurope on 9/10 February at the Old Billingsgate Market Hall in London. Learn more about the 71 presenting companies and register now to join us.


*Here is the full interview with Aneesh Varma, Aire.io CEO:

Finovate: What is Aire doing that its competitors are not?

Varma: At Aire, we don’t focus on competitors. We instead are focused on building the best product based on our core principles of what we would like to see in the world.

One such core principle at Aire is to go beyond just the data, and understand the story of the applicant. Many companies these days get carried away by big data, throwing 20,000 data-points at the problem. But in reality it can lead to situations such as Ben Bernanke not being able to re-mortgage when he changed jobs. The ‘data’ was changing jobs; however, the ‘story’ was that he still had a strong income.

At Aire our research has focused on leveraging artificial intelligence and the cognitive sciences to evaluate more meaningful and deeper data. Understanding the individuality of each applicant and not relying on population-based statistics.

All of our personal data comes directly from the user, via our virtual interview, done in an adaptive interface. It’s like having a human underwriter interview every applicant, but is automated so we can run it at scale with real-time scoring.

This is really powerful, as the Aire process can score anyone without any dependency on external data. This is especially important as we expand out to new geographies.

AireAccess

Finovate: What is the biggest challenge Aire faces in achieving its goal of offering fair access to finance?

Varma: The work we are doing at Aire is really personal to us. In many ways we have ourselves been victims of the cracks in the current system of credit scores. We know what it means to be financially excluded. It’s really tough.

Our work is to onboard more lenders who share the same ethos as Aire about ensuring people aren’t getting marginalized just because they don’t fit into the standard boxes.

We know the Aire product works. Over the last few months we have been able to observe empirical evidence—data on our performance—and it is really phenomenal how we can boost acceptance up to 14% while still ensuring over 90% of the candidates get through our process.

It’s a changing world. More and more of us are going to be self-employed, become freelancers and or migrate to other countries. We shouldn’t be left out.

Finovate: How do you engage with developers?

Varma: Ours is a startup with a purpose. We are solving a real problem; in fact, a really hard problem. There is no hype to our work. It is pure performance which is why we have to carefully leverage technology, research and human emotions to build a great product.

This attracts a very particular type of person who genuinely cares about making an impact with their work, [to become] part of the DNA of our company.

For most of us in the team, this is our second or even third startup. We constantly try to optimize on everything we have done in the past. Most importantly, we focus on culture and hiring the right people.

We have a very rigorous hiring process over six stages. Once someone gets through that, we provide one of the most exciting work environments in London. You are surrounded by leading experts in each field and get to learn from them. And even teach them a few tricks! Perhaps a reason why we are attracting some great minds to join us on this journey (and a place on the European breakout list via Scott Sage).

Finovate: What’s on the horizon for Aire in 2016?

Varma: The biggest push now is to take our product to more people, in more markets. North America is next on the horizon and we are launching there shortly. The emerging markets are also relevant, and we are starting to prepare the groundwork there.

Naturally, ongoing research is very important to improve our product. We continue to invest in research across the various fields that will enhance our offering for new markets, including fellowships with our partner universities. Ultimately, there are going to be multiple versions of how we end up delivering our scoring product to consumers.

And other than that, it’s about focusing on hiring great people. This problem we set out to solve requires not just engineers and scientists, but people across various disciplines. We have baked that into our culture as a company. So a major part of my role ends up looking at how to bring together various people to collaborate as we invent new dimensions to our product.

FinovateEurope Sneak Peek: Ledger

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FEU2016_logo_withdateA look at the companies demoing live to 1,500 fintech professionals. Get your tickets to join us in London!

LedgerLogo

Ledger Blue is a personal handheld device that secures payments and smart contracts for bitcoin and blockchain-based applications.

Features:

  • Secure: based on banking standards with a trusted screen—what you see is what you sign
  • Open: API to build custom applications for industry needs
  • Ubiquitous: BLE/NFC/USB connectivity

Why it’s great
A bank-grade security device built on open standards to secure critical assets and transactional flow for fintechs and financial institutions.

LedgerPresenter

Presenter: Eric Larcheveque, CEO
Serial entrepreneur since 1996, Larcheveque has founded several companies in Europe. Respected member of the bitcoin community, he launched La Maison du Bitcoin, a French Bitcoin center, before founding Ledger.
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