In brief

  • Forbes has released its second annual Blockchain 50 list.
  • New entrants include payments processor Square and the United Nations.
  • The number of mining companies has declined, while blockchain-as-a-service is prominent.

Forbes has just released its second annual Blockchain 50 list, compiling the top 50 companies and organizations that are doing the most to adopt decentralized ledger technology for their needs.

Every company on the list has a valuation in excess of $1 billion and has adopted blockchain technology and/or cryptocurrencies to bolster or improve their current operations.

Banks and tech giants figure heavily

Many of the names found on this year's list are industry heavyweights with a well-known blockchain presence—but others might surprise you. In total, around half of this year's list has been refreshed.

This year, high-tech giants like Google, IBM and Amazon again made the cut. Last June, Google announced it would bring its BigQuery data on-chain by integrating it with blockchain platform Chainlink, while organizations can build using blockchain tools through the Amazon Web Services cloud computing platform.

Although banks have often taken a wait-and-see approach to blockchain technology, it appears that many are now warming to the technology. In total, more than nine banks made this year's list, including the likes of JPMorgan, ING Group and Credit Suisse. Many appeared in last year's list, though there are a number of new entrants including China Construction Bank—which currently has nine different blockchain projects on the go.

Among the most prominent newcomers to the list include the United Nations, which currently has several different blockchain efforts underway, and plans to use the technology to help its Sustainable Development Goals. “For the United Nations to deliver better on our mandate in the digital age, we need to embrace technologies like blockchain that can help accelerate the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals,” said UN secretary-general António Guterres.

Several of the entrants on this year's list offer blockchain as a service, including Microsoft and Broadridge, allowing other firms and organizations to quickly get to grips with the technology without having to develop their own proprietary blockchain.

Bitcoin mining is under-represented

Although many of the companies listed in last year's report have maintained their position as frontrunners in blockchain adoption, there has been a shuffling of the deck, with some once-prominent names replaced.

For instance, Square, a mobile payment platform founded by Twitter's Jack Dorsey, now makes the list after earning $148 million in fees from Bitcoin transactions and securing a patent for a new fiat-to-crypto payments system.

Likewise, De Beers, an international diamond exploration and mining corporation, has been added after launching Tracr, a blockchain initiative designed to track natural diamonds from the miner to the retailer.

Despite Bitcoin miners generating a reported $5 billion in mining rewards in 2019, the number of firms with direct links to cryptocurrency mining making the list has halved since last year. Now, cryptocurrency mining hardware manufacturer Bitfury is the only mining company to have made the cut, while Fidelity, an investment firm with a strong mining presence, was cut from the list.

Overall, the majority of the firms on this year's list tend to use blockchain for the same restricted set of use-cases, including the tracking of goods in the supply chain, cross-border payments and redundant data storage. This mirrors last year's list, indicating that few major corporations are looking to break new ground with the technology.