I had the pleasure of interviewing Koen Vanderhoydonk, CEO Belgium & Luxembourg blanco. His expressive passion for the future of banking made him a FinTech and RegTech influencer for the past years. He envisions the client to be in the driver seat of change and banks to provide a seamless experience using the latest technology.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
When I was younger, I felt my life was already set. I was to become an engineer like my father. At a young age, I found out that the real-world was not build with bits and bytes, zeroes and ones nor latest tech alone. But rather a subtle mix between human interactions, actual solutions and good old emotions. I found this mix at Euroclear where I became a commercial guy that converted customers into real friends all over Europe. My passion for the overall banking industry sharpened as I got older.
I was very proud when I became General Manager for Belgian bank offering B2B services. That was the moment I started to be more active on social media. It took a few years after the 2008 crisis before Fintech reached our small country. I got the opportunity to travel and see a lot of initiatives in Europe. I brought back home several stories about banks delivering really cutting-edge products and happily shared them with the local community. At this time, I co-founded a local “Financial Think Tank”.
Time flies when you are having fun. Without realizing it I became an influencer. I appreciate the recognition; however, I believe modesty suits a good influencer. Most of us have a day job and contribute to the community in the evening and weekends. I have been like that too for a long time. Until I got the opportunity to become the CEO Belgium and Luxembourg for Blanco. I love and enjoy every moment and feel that I’m working hard toward a highly technology enabled future for our industry allowing to put the client fully in the center supported by regulations. For me, that’s what Regtech is about.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now?
I’m currently working on several exciting projects. Firstly, we are working and paving our ways towards future success and industry impact with our regtech scale-up blanco.
Secondly, I recently participated to a new initiative in the Netherlands where several senior industry leaders and Fintech’s were brought together with one common goal. Namely, to explore how together we could introduce an IPCO (Initial Public Coin Offering) as a mean to inject cash into the local economy. I was flabbergasted with the commitment and dedication everyone had. We all learned from another and I literally felt strongly about the crypto-potential. There are many hurdles to overcome and I believe perception on the general public is one of them. Collaboration is answer. Stay tuned as this initiative will continue and we expect to extent to different countries.
Can you share 5 ways that Regtech can be used to help stabilize and professionalize the cryptocurrency market? Please give an example for each.
Lately, I have been discussing with several startups that are interested to become an ICO primary or secondary market platform. The elephant in the room is the reputation question. Many are searching for ways to prove their future customers that their platforms are legitimate and that investments in cryptocurrencies can be trusted as any other long-term financial investment. In my humble opinion, crypto is not known by the average person on the street and therefore currently isn’t seen as a valid alternative to other financial instruments (mutual funds, trackers, etc). However, the general public represent a huge market potential. Newcomers on the block are determined to enter this part of the market soon. I already mentioned the new initiative in the Dutch market to create an ICPO platform in collaboration with various stakeholders. Very early in the process we all agreed that a strong reputation and branding management is required to become successful. People need a proof of concept before they really believe.
Regtech startups that have been focusing on regulatory intelligence, policies mapping, training and compliance governance have already built experience in this domain. An example that comes to mind is Governance.com; they enable regulated companies and investment funds to require solid oversight and control of their business. The ability to simplify complexity is key.
In an attempt to link up to regulated banks, ICO Startups find it difficult to find an incumbent bank that is willing to handle their customer cash flows related to the ICO activity. This is a critical point where Regtech can support.
For several years, Regtech companies have been focusing on financial crime and identity management solutions and have been collaborating with banks already. Existing Regtech companies can help crypto-startups to get connected into the eco-system by bridging technologies and regulatory practices. It has been already predicted that Regtech 2.0 companies will further collaborate with banks and will need to expand to broader compliance propositions. I think there are opportunities for both crypto and Regtech companies to seek joined offerings like digital onboarding, know your customer, market abuse and anti-money laundering. Our company Blanco is focusing strongly on this topic too. Regtech is not limited to startups or scaleups only. I very much admire Hypothekarbank in Switzerland, who have a dedicated helpline for crypto startups. A real good example how banks can be the initiator of collaboration too.
Last but not least, I believe there is an opportunity for more financial inclusion and equality in the world. Decentralization and open source allow more participation by people and create a unique opportunity for our society to look at money in a different way.
For example: ICO’s smart contracts could include fundamental human values on top of pure financial attributes. Many early Fintech companies were against the traditional banking industry after the crisis of 2008 and they wanted to bring focus to the client (customer experience). However, these clients didn’t switch massively from their bank to these fintech companies. I know, I am simplifying and putting things too black and white. Many enthusiastic people switched companies and are now working for a regtech startups. Perhaps one fundamental difference, Regtech is convinced that collaboration is the key to mutual success. We are responsible for what we do today to build the future of tomorrow.
To summarize the 5 ways are :
– Solve the reputation risk issue
– Help with the educating the potential market
– Cross Collaboration amongst Banks, Regtech and Crypto firms
– Get plugged in the banking ecosystem
-An opportunity for financial inclusion and equality
Becoming an influencer or thought leader takes more than consistently sharing meaningful content. What lessons would you give to aspiring influencers on what they can do to emulate your success?
The most important lesson is to follow your heart and passion. Believe in yourself. When I used words such as glocal, intrapreneur, phygital for the first time my wife always changed them in my blog-post while she was proofreading. While writing this interview, I noticed that even the spellcheck does not complain about “intrapreneur” any longer.
I do not think the mission shouldn’t be to become an influencer, but rather be a meaningful contributor to our fast-moving industry. Therefore, get out and meet people. I learned many life-changing lessons while I was participating in growth hack meetups. I truly got to see myself in the mirror several times participating in startup weekends and hackathons. These are life lessons that you cannot buy. The best of all, these are the places where you will find equal minded people and build your professional network. As you get older you start to realize the importance of who you know. Don’t get me wrong, I also appreciate the value of social network and consider myself a heavy user. It’s always the sum of many actions leading to reactions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m a fan of Napoleon Hill: “Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” At many personal and professional occasions, I came to conclusion that it’s all about the believe in others and yourself. “Think before you act” and “dare to dream big” are things I hear when I read the quote. If I wouldn’t have done that in my life, I wouldn’t be writing this very pleasant interview.
Originally published at medium.com