May 28, 2018
For a country of just 2 million people, Slovenia is punching well above its weight in blockchain.
Its pretty and petite capital, Ljubljana, has become a global hotspot for blockchain and crypto technology companies, with several world leaders being born out of the country, and Slovenia was early to the blockchain party.
Nicehash, a cryptocurrency cloud mining operation founded in 2014, is now the world’s largest crypto-mining marketplace. Bitstamp, founded by two Slovenes in 2011, is another big name to come out of the country and is now one of the world’s top Bitcoin exchanges.
Eventum, the Ljubljana-based company which is using the wisdom of crowds principal and ‘blockchain as a court system’, has already raised several million euros in funding following trips to Asia and the US. Interest was so great that Eventum hit its funding target from private investors and cancelled its planned public sale (ICO), having no need for additional investment.
There are numerous other examples of Slovenia being a first-mover in the blockchain space; Slovenian electronic-music producer Gramatik was the first artist in the world to tokenize his intellectual property by creating his own cryptocurrency and allowing fans a share in the revenue generated by his work.
In March 2018, Slovenia claimed the world’s first blockchain monument by building a giant Bitcoin sculpture in the town of Kranj. Funded by two local blockchain companies, Bitstamp and 3FS, it’s an ode to the country’s prowess in blockchain and cryptocurrency tech.
So what is it that makes Slovenia such a hot spot for blockchain? Martin Mikeln, co-founder of Eventum, explains:
“There are several factors that have made Slovenia a blockchain and crypto capital. Firstly, Slovenia has a large number of very talented developers; we’re very connected with a strong community and because we’re a small country we exchange knowledge very quickly, so Slovenians are fast to adopt new tech.
This led to the success of the Slovenian company Bitstamp back in 2011, which had a major impact on the general awareness of crypto. When Bitstamp became the first real European crypto exchange, it hit the headlines, so Slovenians learned about Bitcoin quite early on. This lead to more crypto companies being born.
Iconomi for example, was one of the first and largest ICOs (Initial Coin Offerings), receiving $10M in funding, and this seeded even more interest, leading to the many blockchain companies we see today.”
And it seems the Slovenian government are keen to help make Slovenia a Silicon Dolina of blockchain too. In October 2017, Slovenia’s Prime Minister at the time, Miro Cerar, declared that the government "want[s] to position Slovenia as the most recognised blockchain destination in the European Union."
The rapid growth in blockchain companies is creating new job opportunities which may help to stem and even reverse the traditional ‘brain drain’ that Slovenia has sometimes seen in the past.
“We have the talent right here in Slovenia. I want Eventum to be part of the Slovenian success story of creating world-class companies in cutting-edge tech. We are currently hiring and already attracting people from both Slovenia and abroad to join us. As a nation, we should ensure we have the right policies and framework that continue to allow Slovenia to flourish as a centre of blockchain excellence” says Martin.
Melania Trump may have helped put Slovenia on the map (although perhaps not for the best reasons) but being a blockchain capital really is something Slovenia should shout about.