Our portfolio company NGRAVE launches breakthrough technology to tackle the Achilles’ heel of blockchain technology: the security of private keys.
Will recent developments of global players entering the blockchain realm initiate a definite breakthrough of cryptocurrencies? Or will NGRAVE dazzle the world by finally and effectively tackling one of blockchains’ major challenges, i.e. security? If it were up to NGRAVE founders Ruben Merre (CEO), Edouard Vanham (COO) and Xavier Hendrickx (CTO), they are about to create a revolution, allowing us to finally move about in the blockchain world with the peace of mind that our valuables will still be there the next time we log in and check our digital wallets.
As a recent article on MIT Technology Review illustrates, hacks and security breaches have become one of the fundamental challenges for blockchain adepts and developers. Securing assets and transactions on the blockchain is a must in order to safeguard the reputation of this predicted-to-be-revolutionary technology and allow for its wider adoption. And, while small emerging blockchain initiatives have always been known to be vulnerable, recent events show that even the biggest and safest are not untouchable. Just a few months ago, media reported hackers stole $40 million worth of bitcoin from Binance, one of the largest platforms in the world for the purchase and exchange of cryptocurrencies. In the past two years, the total number of cryptocoins being stolen through hacks is estimated to exceed an equivalent of four billion U.S. dollars. And that’s only counting the thefts that have been publicly reported.
Focus on end-to-end protection of private keys
The NGRAVE founders put their heads together in early 2018 and quickly came up with a business idea and first prototype design. While blockchain security can be approached from a variety of angles, they decided to focus on the end user. Supported by a thorough market and customer investigation, NGRAVE’s specific focus became the end-to-end protection of blockchain-users’ private keys: from their initial purchase to passing on their crypto-assets to their heirs; and everything in between.
Building on credible partners
Asked why customers should trust NGRAVE, the founders comment: “We are working with partners who are globally the best in class. We’ve just graduated from imec.istart, which to us was an incredible acceleration vehicle for our idea and overall business strategy and implementation. The amount of support you get is really tremendous. Kris Mertens, our main contact at imec.istart has been almost like a team member to us: following-up on our progress, challenging us, and helping us get the most out of the program. As a world-leading technology developer, imec is also our hardware partner. We are working closely together with them, both for product development and the eventual industrialization. And to cover some of the security aspects and review our security architecture, we can rely on the expertise of COSIC: an imec research group at KU Leuven with world-renowned cryptography and hardware security experts. They recently hacked the famous Tesla cars and previously they also invented the worldwide standard for data encryption called “AES” (“Advanced Encryption Standard”).”
The overall market potential is huge. The cryptocurrency market as a whole equals just under $300B. And, while the overall cryptocurrency-market is still subject to substantial declines due to the volatile nature of the value of the cryptocurrencies, the number of wallet users has been growing non-stop. Doubling year on year since 2015, the number of users is expected to reach the 100M mark by mid-2020. For NGRAVE specifically, some other numbers are equally important: for example, the number of people who mainly “buy and hold”. In other words: users that invest substantial capital in cryptos and blockchain-based projects but mainly look at their wallets as a kind of savings account. Similar to how an average person distributes his budget 80/20 over conventional savings and current accounts, this target audience is estimated to make up 80-90% of the market. A recent report by Orbis Research (Dallas) indicates the market for hardware wallets will grow from $100M to $8B by 2025.
Yet, the NGRAVE founders don’t let this potential fame and fortune get to their heads, as they generously say: “All and all, we feel the entire challenge of allowing blockchain technology to break through is a community effort. We are not about competition or pointing fingers to others who might do better or worse. What matters most is that we can globally unite the knowledge and expertise to tackle some important challenges such as blockchain security.”