How financial companies can stay relevant with blockchain
The motto for Ergon’s 2019 “Beer, Bytes & Beats” summer party was “A connected world: working together to boost value creation”. In the presentations, several heavyweights from Swiss business explored how cooperation and collaboration are changing in the age of digitalisation. Jan Brzezek, the CEO and founder of Crypto Finance AG, speaks about the opportunities presented by blockchain and its potential as an enabler of new collaborations.
Crypto markets are hot right now, although not everyone is aware of this. As Jan Brzezek points out, only a handful of people were able to imagine 20 years ago just how comprehensively the internet would change society and the way companies work – and we are at such an inflection point again today. Brzezek specialises in blockchain, where artificial intelligence, robotics and more are in play. “The ground is moving massively beneath our feet,” said Brzezek. He advised everyone to embrace the technological change going on around us sooner rather than later.
A new world full of collaborative opportunities
Blockchain makes it possible to transfer assets across the internet just as we already transfer information; this is spawning entirely new business models.
Switzerland is home to pioneering financial companies that have put their faith in APIs and their core banking systems, and have connected these to a range of platforms and startups. In much the same way as with a smartphone, in this new landscape you buy a device built by a particular company, but the apps and services it uses generally come not from the device manufacturer itself but from other firms.
“Switzerland is renowned for its innovation and courageous decision-making. With crypto assets and tokenisation, courageous decision-making is just what is required in the financial sector.”
Switzerland must become a blockchain pioneer
The loss of banking secrecy in particular has given rise to a unique opportunity in Switzerland. As a thought experiment, Brzezek asks us to imagine a banking app that allows individual customers to decide which solutions they wish to use and which to discard; blockchain has many advantages to offer here.
Brzezek is convinced that Switzerland can reposition itself and evolve into an important international hub. Here, he cites Luxembourg, which occupies an equivalent position as a small country but has become the most popular investment fund location in Europe and the second-most popular worldwide. The success Luxembourg enjoys today has nothing to do with raw materials or personnel – it is a direct result of a tax-friendly environment and progressive new laws.
With the right regulation and the right companies, Switzerland can become an international hub for tokenisation (the digital representation of physical assets). But for this venture to succeed, the typical Swiss approach of being an “early follower” simply won’t cut it; speedy action is required. Switzerland is renowned for its innovation and courageous decision-making, and this is precisely what is called for now.
Appeal to the private sector
Open banking is creating many new opportunities for cooperation between firms both great and small. In the past, banks would have written their software themselves. In future, they will be able to proceed dynamically, continuously selecting the best solution and generating a virtuous circle of effectiveness, efficiency and cost reduction.
Brzezek issued a call to arms to seize this opportunity and engage with it in order to stay relevant in the future. He noted that the regulatory authorities in Bern have done some excellent work in the blockchain arena in particular. Bitcoin first featured in an annual report in 2014. Since then, giant strides have been taken; the government has amassed considerable know-how and consultation to adapt existing legislation for this new technology is well under way. But is the private sector working on it with the same sense of purpose?
Jan Brzezek on the potential of blockchain and an idea that, thanks to a fruitful partnership, was realised in next to no time.