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Taiwanese Blockchain Startup Secures US$10 million from Japanese VC Firm


A Japanese venture capital firm is betting that a Taiwanese startup’s blockchain technology will ensure the safety of food and access to discounted hotel rooms.

Japanese venture capital firm SBI’s investment in the 7-year-old firm OwlTing will disburse some of the US$200 million that SBI allocated two years ago for artificial intelligence and blockchain enterprises. OwlTing has secured US$10 million.

OwlTing launched its first blockchain venture in May 2017. That venture, Owlchain, helps raise the transparency and reliability to food supply chains.

According to the company’s website, a certain type of blockchain structure can show where pork came from – starting with the birth of a pig and moving on to its vaccines and feed. Blockchain is an open transaction ledger of inalterable data points that are shared on multiple computers.

In theory, consumers could simply scan a QR code on a pork product, and examine all of the data from the pig, from farm to table.

Months later, the company established a blockchain-based hotel booking system. This system allows hotels to manage their own booking reservations from many channels rather than spend long hours sorting out the room availability and customer schedules.

The blockchain-based service synchronizes vacant inventory and automates early-bird discounts and special rates for repeat customers.

“We hope that we can use the ability of OwlTing to solve problems with blockchain technology and apply similar concepts to other financial and insurance related industries, to jointly improve the blockchain ecosystem,” SBI’s CEO and executive chairman Yoshitaka Kitao said as cited here by Business Next.

Hotel model

Room rates could fall, along with times spent on bookings if the blockchain model works. Owlnest accepts payments in Bitcoin and will eventually take other kinds of cryptocurrency.

About 400 Taiwan hotel operators pay Owlnest for its services, and OwlTing founder and CEO Darren Wang told Business Next he expects 30,000 hotels on board next year.

The hotels give room inventory information to 300 online travel agencies, which take a 25% cut for every sale. Hotels routinely set aside 10% of their occupancy in case of double bookings by different online agencies, but they can earn more money by keeping that rate down – an advantage that OwlTing can offer by sending over last-minute bookings.

“SBI has long held an interest in blockchain startups with technical power and we hope to apply the problem-solving capabilities of OwlTing and those concepts to other industries,” SBI’s CEO Yoshitaka Kitao said in a press release.

News source is from Business Next.

OwlTing has offices in Japan, Malaysia the United States. The company expects to add offices in Sweden, Thailand, and Indonesia later this year, Wang said. Investment from SBI will speed the company’s outreach to other hotels and food consumers.

Wang intends eventually to list the firm on a U.S. stock exchange. “The most important milestone next year is the listing on Nasdaq in the United States,” he said in the Business Next report.