What Is Polybius?

The Polybius project, established by the Estonian company Polybius Foundation, is a digital crypto-project focused on creating a financial institution that utilizes blockchain technology. When it was launched, it was the first fully digital European bank to be crowdfunded by its users.

The Polybius Foundation was founded in 2017 in Tallinn, Estonia. In May 2018, the company's activities expanded to Belgium, with the creation of a Belgian affiliate company called Polybius Fintech Sprl. Polybius Fintech Sprl is headquartered in Brussels, the capital of the European Union. The Polybius Foundation's main product is Osom, an artificial intelligence-powered trading algorithm that automatically locates growth opportunities for investors.

The initial coin offering (ICO) for the Polybius crypto-bank project launched on May 31, 2017.

Key Takeaways

  • The Polybius project, established by the Estonian company Polybius Foundation, is a digital crypto-project focused on creating a financial institution that utilizes blockchain technology.
  • The initial coin offering (ICO) for the Polybius crypto-bank project launched on May 31, 2017.
  • The Polybius project sought to unite legacy banking structures with more modern technologies.

How Polybius Works

A blockchain is a public ledger that contains the entire transactional history of the currency (or another data set) it is tracking. The transaction history recorded in a blockchain is regulated, verified, and relayed by a network of nodes (computing systems operated by participants, or miners) that mine for the code to verify the transactions recorded in a given block. The first miner to arrive at this code is rewarded in cryptocurrency tokens. Whatever the majority of nodes in the blockchain network agree upon (the consensus they arrive at) as the true transaction history is the history that the blockchain adopts.

Once a block has been coded for (meaning it has been both verified and relayed), the next block is created in the line. This process creates a traceable, verifiable, and irreversible comprehensive transaction history of the medium being recorded. Blockchain technology has many different potential applications, and the Polybius project is just one of these applications.

When the project was first announced, Polybius's bank was reportedly going to offer a traditional selection of financial services (such as deposits, credit financing, issuing bank cards, etc.) not only to cryptocurrency startups, but also to traditional businesses, and individuals. In this way, the project sought to unite legacy banking structures with more modern technologies.

The Polybius project aimed to distinguish itself from traditional banking institutions in several different ways. First, Polybius's bank would be a modern, digitized bank, aimed at improving convenience, accessibility, communication, and security. This digitization would also cut down on some of the expensive operating costs of non-digitized banks. (These costs are typically transferred to customers.)

This digitization would include a significant amount of automation, plus the migration of agreements that are typically finalized in a physical bank to a digital one. For example, the founders of the Polybius project believe that opening a bank account should be as easy as getting an email account. Additionally, Polybius aims to digitize records of all its internal documentation and all its external transactions in a blockchain.

The Polybius project is an entire ecosystem. This ecosystem also includes a "Digital Pass," which is a kind of remote identification service. A Digital Pass is a decentralized repository of private information about the user, from their credit history to their medical records; only users will have access to their Digital Pass. The information contained in the Digital Pass will also exist on the blockchain (with Polybius acting as an intermediary by verifying the data submitted by users). The Digital Pass allows users to keep all of their information in a secure, digital location. Users also have the authority to release relevant and necessary information to different services when they choose to. 

Finally, the creators of Polybius set out to make their financial institution especially accommodating for cryptocurrency ventures and start-ups. 

The Polybius Project Initial Coin Offering (ICO)

Instead of an initial public offering (IPO), or traditional crowdfunding, Polybius opted for an initial coin offering (ICO), which they launched on May 31, 2017. Even before the ICO launched, the company estimated that it had 500,000 early adopters.

The ICO removed the commission fees collected on crowdfunding sites, and allowed for smart contracts that exist in the Ethereum blockchain. These smart contracts facilitate a permanent relationship between Polybius and the individual that owns the contract (these smart contracts have been referred to as Polybius Tokens).

Essentially, these tokens indicate that token owners will be paid out of Polybius' profits. Each token is representative of a contract between Polybius and the token owner in which Polybius has agreed to pay out 20% of company earnings to owners of these smart contracts annually. (The other 80% will be reinvested into the project.) These tokens are valid as long as the Polybius Project exists and is functioning.

While the smart contracts exist within the Ethereum blockchain and Polybius caters to cryptocurrencies and startups, the money in Polybius's bank and Polybius Tokens will both be guaranteed by a fiat currency (not a virtual currency).

At the end of its ICO, Polybius had raised more than $23 million. Now that the ICO has ended, you can no longer purchase these smart contracts directly from Polybius; Polybius burned all remaining tokens in order to ensure the value of those that had been purchased. However, you can buy these tokens on any number of cryptocurrency exchanges.

The value of a Polybius Token was $10 at the time of purchase. Now that the company is being publicly traded, its value is determined by the fate of the Polybius project. As of May 26, 2021, the value of one Polybius Token was $1.27.