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Singapore startup to bring 'smart' electricity contracts to Australia and Japan

Electrify harnesses blockchain technology to cut power prices

Electrify co-founder Martin Lim envisions letting consumers control their energy consumption data in order to negotiate better prices.

SINGAPORE -- Local startup Electrify wants to expand into the Australian and Japanese electricity markets by using blockchain to cut costs for both retailers and consumers.

The company, founded in 2017, is a web and mobile platform where consumers can buy energy from an electricity retailer through "smart" contracts. These contracts directly write the terms between a buyer and seller into lines of code, enforcing the agreement through a blockchain network.

"Electrify is currently in talks [that should result in] new partnerships in both countries in the medium to long term," said Martin Lim, the company's co-founder and chief operating officer.

Electrify plans a trial deployment soon with TAKE Energy Corporation, a southwestern Japan-based independent power provider with an emphasis on renewable energy. "This will put Electrify on track for its targeted expansion into Japan by first-quarter 2019," he said.

Australia and Japan "offer immense opportunities" as energy needs rise in both countries, Lim said. Japan's energy market, served by more than 400 deregulated retailers, collectively has seen energy demand "rise by more than two-thirds," he said.

Japan's cabinet recently issued an energy plan that urges the development of a sustainable market for renewables such as wind, solar and geothermal. The country will shift further toward renewable energy and cut dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power, the cabinet said.

Australia offers a highly deregulated market amid its own transition to cleaner energy. In his visits to Australia, Lim found that the market's maturity could help Electrify learn and create "new business models to be used in newer emerging and recently deregulated geographies."

The startup is looking into other uses of blockchain, including data control for consumers. If consumers own their data, they can negotiate for better contract terms by showing their energy consumption to their current retailer or a competitor.

"If the consumer has a good record, the retailer may offer him a very good discount," Lim said.

Electrify's entry into the industry comes as Singaporean authorities are opening up the city-state's electricity market to bring about more competitive energy prices for consumers. An open electricity market means that consumers can choose their seller.

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