Two years ago, December 2017, blockchain mania reached its peak as the price of Bitcoin hit an all-time high. This pulled up the valuations of a dizzying number of other tokens and start-ups, a fair few based in Slovenia – with the country receiving over 5% of global investments in blockchain projects – and introduced the wider world to terms such as FOMO, HODL and “to the moon”. The mass hysteria may have waned as prices fell and observers became more familiar with terms such as "buy the dip", "exit scam" and SFYL, but the underlying technology is still around, and Slovenia is still punching above its weight on the scene.
Ljubljana is the home of BTC City, which is and isn’t “BTC City”, as the name is unrelated to the abbreviation for Bitcoin, but it does still promote itself as a brick-and-mortar location where such “money” can be spent, as well as hosting the European Blockchain Hub...which today (16 December 2019) declared bankruptcy.
The latest news in this regard is last week’s announcement, made by the Government Communication Office, that the country has launched a national test blockchain infrastructure, SI-Chain, which will enable testing of existing and new applications for the public and private sector. Not only is Slovenia the first EU Member State to establish such infrastructure, but the only the second in the world, after China.
SI-Chain was set up by the Hashnet in cooperation with Telemach in November. Hashnet owns one of the fastest and most energy-efficient distributed ledger technologies in the world, and the managing director of the Slovenian branch, Tadej Slapnik, has said that the goal of the project is to integrate the technology into the business models of companies and public services.
The news is related to the 2018 call from the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology for demo/pilot projects in 2018 that would receive support from €73 million of EU funds, with the foci being on blockchain, AI and other converging technologies (IoT, big data, ML, predictive analytics, AR, VR, MR, 3D and so forth). Some of the aims in supporting these projects will be to help the government create regulatory solutions for specific industry verticals using blockchain, the introduction of smart contracts into Slovenian corporate law, and with regulation of digital entities and regulatory sandboxes for different fields of industry and the public sector.
All our stories on blockchain in Slovenia are here