2020: the WeOwn year in review

What a year it’s been! Nobody could have predicted a world pandemic taking hold of us all and still going strong a year later. But here we are, ready to close the curtains to 2020, reflect on what we’ve achieved this year and lay down our plans for the year ahead.

Without further ado, here’s a quick glance through our milestones in 2020.

Blockchain technology

As a technology provider for financial services organisations, we never stop innovating and evolving. And so, our engineers were as busy as ever.

In 2020, we’ve continued to work on our native blockchain with several performance related fixes and features. Major part of the blockchain engineering work was related to digital exchange services and creating a true decentralised order matching and order book within our native blockchain. This major feature will be released into the blockchain version 2.0 scheduled for January, allowing our clients and projects to build against this new functionality.

For DeFinity Digital Assets (our joint venture in partnership with DMALINK), development work continued across the APIs and the and interfaces for both Liquidity Providers, Prime Brokers, Custodians, and the spot trading Credit Engine, supporting our first use case of fx spot trading across DMALINK’s existing client base. Read more about this exciting venture in the section on Partnerships below.

Platforms

In the first quarter of 2020, we completed our peer-to-peer debt and lending service, which we are selling as a B2B Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) model to financial organisations. It has a unique feature set around peer-topeer match-making and direct settlement and clearing of assets and funds, built on top of our blockchain and tokenisation engine. Read all about it here.

The lending solution includes a fully automated and digital integrated business credit score in partnership with Creditreform. We are currently working on a project to deliver the world’s first true 360 credit scoring for private businesses, allowing investors to understand the true nature of each business’ past, current and future finances. These tokenised debt products will have the opportunity to be traded on our liquid secondary market.

We are close to launching our consumer brand with a focus to offer smalltomedium businesses (and projects) a route to seek funding from friends, family, colleagues, and loyal customers. As we are (hopefully) exiting the pandemic very soon, several government grants will slowly phase out, leaving private businesses in a very precarious situation. Our mobile app has been built with small businesses and small angel investors in mind, and we are taking the hassle and awkwardness out of the equation, offering a sophisticated and legally binding arrangement between parties, and allowing those angels to inject cash into businesses quickly. Of course, all of this is built with our technology stack, allowing a 100% automated process. Stay tuned for our upcoming release early next year.

Partnerships

Despite the inevitable business challenges this year, 2020 was also productive in forging key partnerships for us.

We welcomed MoneyCorp as a strategic partner across our product suite with a focus on lending deal-flow and cross border fx transactions, highlighting the importance of tokenisation and digitisation of the financial services industry and our key market in the UK.

In the second half of 2020, we partnered with DMALINK to create a joint venture, Definity Digital Assets, to disrupt the fx spot trading market as an initial POC (Proof Of Concept) and to build a digital exchange to manage institutional clients and to serve the majority of financial assets. Watch the highlights of our AMA where we discuss the benefits of this partnership.

We’ve forged a major partnership with credit, securitisation and banking experts from key industry leaders in the UK to provide a brand-new lending service and solution for banks, non-banks and other financial services organisations in the UK. This project is likely to go live between Q1 and Q2 2021 and includes some of the most prominent and knowledgeable names in the industry.

Challenges

Due to the global pandemic, we did not fully release our lending platform into an environment where businesses can get free cash from all governments. The good news is that we already have a major lending/debt project ready to launch for 2021 (see above in the partnership section).

Like the rest of the world, we’ve been working in home office arrangements, and cross border travel across our sites and teams was basically non-existent. Although this did put a strain on our ability to innovate and workshop as a team, our work our productivity did not suffer as we already operate remotely.

When it comes to business, nothing beats business face-to-face engagement. Although we tried a few virtual conferences, we’ve not seen the same level of business and partner engagement virtually. We are hoping 2021 will get us back on the road, showcasing our products and services to an in-person audience globally.

Regulation, Market and Funding

Although Security Tokens (STO) haven’t gained as much traction from a (retail) investor and business perspective, the technology around tokenisation, the use of stable coins, the advancement in Decentralised Finance (DeFi) and the regulatory landscape allowing these models truly gained momentum towards the end of 2020. The benefits of these innovative technologies and concepts are here to stay, and we’re seeing greater interest and adoption levels across banks, non-banks and the financial services industry at large.

As we observe the global regulatory landscape for digital assets closely, we’re pleased to see recent activities by the German Government with the upcoming Electronic Securities Act (eWPG) that provides a far-reaching regulation for blockchain-based securities. Read our blog that explains why WeOwn is optimally positioned for the implementation of the upcoming law.

And finally, we are in discussions with several key strategic investors and customers in Germany and the UK for our next financing round in 2021.

Team

Our team has always been lean and adaptable, and although circumstances forced us to reduce staff capacity at the beginning of the year, to our delight WeOwn’s team has proved flexible, industrious, and highly creative, and we are slowly starting to grow again.

Strategically, we’ve formally welcomed two new senior business development and commercial strategists in the UK and Germany, and the engagement has already yielded several high-profile business engagements and leads. 2021 will see a number of these opportunities come to light, with a focus on our equity and debt products across financial markets in Europe.

Special thanks to every member of our team for their hard work, patience, and utmost dedication during such troubling times.

Final Thoughts

With only two in five UK SMEs believing that they have enough savings to carry on with their business, we feel fortunate and proud to have survived this tough year and plan for a brighter future. At the same time, our services and solutions will greatly benefit the speedy recovery of economies that have been hit hard this year. We feel fortunate and blessed to have the support of our backers, employees, partners, and clients, and we’re excited for what the future holds for us.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone – see you in 2021.

Sascha Ragtschaa
CEO, WeOwn