Ledger at the Web Summit: European SMEs are unlocking the global cryptocurrency market
Technological expertise, an understanding of business needs and a truly global approach; these are some of the factors behind the remarkable success of French cryptocurrency firm Ledger. The business, formed when a group of experts decided to pool their competences in 2014, has benefited from advice from the Enterprise Europe Network at critical stages of their development.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin were created as an alternative currency system following the financial crisis back in 2008. Transactions are recorded in blockchain, a kind of digital ledger that applies complex mathematical equations to ensure security.
The Ledger team saw the potential for developing a secure operating system as well as secure hardware to buy, sell and store cryptocurrencies. For example, the Ledger Nano S is a USB ‘cryptocurrency wallet’ with a small screen for payment validation that can be connected to any computer. Growth has been dramatic; revenues have increased from €600,000 in revenue in 2016 to €45 million in 2017, with over a million customers worldwide.
“While there are lots of hardware cryptocurrency wallets on the market, our company has pioneered security features that you won’t find elsewhere,” says David Balland, VP Operations at Ledger. This builds on Europe’s reputation as being at the cutting edge of financial technology (or fintech) development; a key competitive advantage that Ledger is keen to exploit.
Ledger has been involved with the Enterprise Europe Network from the beginning. “A Network partner in Orléans has been there whenever we’ve needed to find funds or get advice on pivoting into new product areas”, says Balland. “Even if you’re based in a small city, the Network means you have access to international resources and contacts.”
Internationalisation - one of the key services provided by the Network - is crucial for SMEs in this field; the cryptocurrency market, for example, is currently divided equally between Europe, the US and the rest of the world. “There are so many cultures and languages in Europe that to become a tech giant you have to go international”, says Balland. “For us, it was absolutely the right decision to have this ambition from day one.”
According to the latest data from the Enterprise Europe Network – based on survey data from businesses using the Network's services in France – in the coming year, 56% of SMEs who internationalise expect to increase their turnover, 34% expect to create jobs and 48% expect to increase their market share.
The Enterprise Europe Network is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized businesses with international ambitions.