Austria has embarked on a digital transformation journey and has set out to become a hotspot for blockchain technology.
In 2017, the government of Austria presented its Digital Roadmap, a strategy that analyzes the country’s challenges and describes nearly 150 measures and activities that promote digitalization and digitization. The ambitious strategy is set to help citizens and businesses benefit from digitalization.
“For the first time, the activities of all ministries are bundled together in a joint strategy paper of the Federal Government,” the government writes.
“Because digitalization is rapidly changing our world, the digital roadmap is a moving target. The dynamic strategy paper is continuously adapted to the latest developments, to offer a reliable common guide towards the digital future.”
Among the key technologies and areas of focus, the paper cites 5G, the Internet-of-Things, big data, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, open knowledge, 3D printing, and blockchain technology. In particular, blockchain is praised for eliminating the need for middlemen, its immutability, and transparency.
The paper reads:
“This technology can revolutionize the way in which we enter into contracts, trade on stock exchanges or carry out banking transactions. In future, for example, digital contracts could be made forgery-proof using blockchain technology.”
One initiative the Austrian government is backing is the Research Institute for Cryptoeconomy, a blockchain research effort headquartered at the University of Vienna. The government said in December 2017 that it would be supporting blockchain research projects through a EUR 8 million research fund, an initiative that will also be invested research to enhance different kinds of digital services.
Among the most recent blockchain advances and developments in Austria, the country’s largest energy supplier Wien Energie unveiled earlier this year that it was looking to market end-customer blockchain-based products after experimenting with blockchain applications in commodity trading.
Austrian bank Raiffeisen Bank International announced in April that it would be entering the blockchain space, first by joining the Blockchain Research Institute, a group of over 55 members who work to support blockchain-related progress in the fields of finance, retail, technology and media.
Besides blockchain technology, cryptocurrency adoption is on the rise in Austria as well. An ING Bank survey released in June found that Austria had the highest cryptocurrency awareness rate with 79%, compared to 57% for respondents in the US.
Austrian blockchain ecosystem
According to Conda, there are over 50 companies and organizations in Austria focusing on blockchain or cryptocurrency space. These convert a wide range of services from cryptocurrency mining, and exchanges, to blockchain infrastructure, lobbying and consulting.
The Blockchain Landscape Austria map, by EnliteAI and CryptoRobby, provides a broader view of the Austria blockchain ecosystem with over a hundred organizations including universities, accelerators and incubators, and public agencies.
One notable startup is Bitpanda. The Austrian cryptocurrency platform made headlines in February when it unveiled a new office in London as part of a strategic expansion. Bitpanda claims EUR 600 million (US$736 million) of transactions through its platform in 2017.
Other cryptocurrency companies include Coinfinity, which creates products and solutions around Bitcoin and operates Austria’s first bitcoin ATMs, and Blockpit, which provides online tracking of cryptocurrency trading on all popular exchanges, mining and staking income.
In the blockchain space, Conda is the startup behind the CRWD Network, a decentralized network protocol on the blockchain providing regulatory-compliant investment in small businesses, startups and real estate projects, Finnoq is a decentralized protocol for crowdsourced advice on financial products, instruments and services, and Avinoc, is a blockchain platform for the global aviation business,
Several organizations and communities also exist including Bitcoin Austria, which focuses on promoting cryptocurrencies, BlockchainHub, a network of independent Austria hubs, and City of Blockchain, a hub in Vienna for distributed ledger technology.
Fintech Austria Startup Map
Featured image: Austria flag, Pixabay