Out of the blocks

FREMANTLE’S nascent blockchain and technology community came together last week for the first of what’s hoped to become a regular sector-building networking event.

It was just 12 souls for the first Tech Lunch Friday at the Orient Hotel, but some of the startups represented are already attracting international interest.

Organiser Johnny Swanepoel jokes that he’s just a retired “blockchain bogun” who became interested after hearing about crypto currencies, but he’s got his finger on the local pulse and reckons Freo’s got a great opportunity to capitalise on its tech-heads.

Tim Dean is one of the success stories, with his lending platform Credi already signing up thousands for its “bank of mum and dad” approach.

• Blockchain and technology experts drink beer while discussing the future of cryptocurrency (and their high score on Donkey Kong).  Photos by Anton La Macchia

Mr Dean’s company formalises loans between family members, taking away that grey area about what’s to be paid and when, but avoiding the more onerous credit checks of other online lenders.

“We are the only software platform in WA doing the mums and dads lending, and Fremantle is leading the world in it,” Mr Dean said, adding that pollies and government departments are already lining up to find out how he’s made it work.

Mr Dean is also the founder of Thinklab, a business incubator on Market Street. He says there’s now 20 entrepreneurs beavering away upstairs in a heritage building, many having ditched working from home after finding it unproductive but not in the position to take up a full office.

Another company attracting international interest is BuildSort, which is using blockchain technology to develop a one-stop supply chain for the construction industry.

• Credi CEO Tim Dean.

Founder and CEO Chris Dorian claims BuildSort is so effective in managing a building project, that if it had been used on Perth’s new children’s hospital, it wouldn’t have been so plagued with problems and the WA government could have saved itself millions.

Also represented was Plaak, one of only a few companies approved by the federal government to operate a crypto currency exchange. Plaak also includes a freelancing app that allows small-scale tradies and service providers to spruik their services.

Founder Chai Shepherd says they’re also working on a way to roll in a health platform that will use blockchain to keep track of people’s health records and allow them to pay for medical services and health insurance using the company’s cryptocurrency, known as a plaak.

There’s a Facebook group Blockchain Fremantle for anyone who wants to keep up with local innovations and join the networking events.

by STEVE GRANT

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