Blockchain opens up huge new possibilities

Claudia Terpstra, Blockchain specialist

9 January 2019 ‘Blockchain will be very significant for Rabobank in the future. But even at this stage we can achieve a lot with this technology. I work in a team which is already supporting and investigating new possibilities.’

Smart contracts

‘I work as a blockchain specialist at Rabobank. I’m part of a team of 10 people, which investigates and supports projects that could benefit from blockchain technology. For instance, we.trade is a trade finance platform for business. For this project we’re working with 13 other European banks. Through we.trade, companies can store immutable agreements in smart contracts. When all the delivery terms have been met, the payment is made automatically.

We’re investigating and experimenting with other new developments too. Take the combination of blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT). We’re also tracking the different variants on the public blockchain Ethereum, including hybrid blockchains like Quorum. These technologies allow people to do both public and semi-private transactions.’

Encourage sustainable production

‘I think blockchain technology will become extremely important for Rabobank for the long-term. We’re already using it to achieve a lot on various projects. Not only we.trade, but also the Sustainable Pay-per-Use project. This project responds to the trend that people no longer own devices, but instead pay to use them. This encourages manufacturers to make their products more sustainably. Blockchain allows you to keep immutable records of what people have used. As a result, users become more aware of what they use. They can then pay for that use simply and accurately, whether it’s a car journey of 3.14 kilometer or printing a single sheet of paper. In fact, one advantage of blockchain is that you can do low-value transactions, also known as micro-payments. In short, blockchain offers many new opportunities.’

Endless possibilities

‘So how do you become a blockchain specialist? Lots of my teammates have a Business and/or IT background. I studied Finance and Supply Chain Management, then started working for a corporate. But I didn’t feel at home in a Finance role in a large organization, so I did a programing Boot Camp. That led me to a blockchain startup in London. When I came back to the Netherlands, I started looking for jobs where I could use my blockchain knowledge. Rabobank was one of the companies I came across.

I was a bit wary at first: I didn’t want to start working for a large organization again. But I was really interested in all the blockchain stuff the bank is doing. Now I see that it was an excellent choice. I feel part of the team and they give me lots of responsibility. I can be myself and people appreciate it when I come up with new ideas. And working in this big organization—with so much experience and knowledge and so many specialists around you—creates lots of possibilities to really get things moving.’

Innovation mindset

‘The Rabobank blockchain team is part of the InnoHub at the Digital Transformation Office, which, as the name implies, is devoted entirely to digital transformation and innovation. In fact, we operate as a kind of startup within the company. We can set up projects ourselves if we spot opportunities. We often work with teams from other departments. I’m amazed at the innovation mindset at Rabobank. They really want to move forward. It’s great that people from Legal, Risk and Compliance make constructive suggestions too. We give each other interesting insights for implementing or improving projects—which is mutually beneficial—and important. We’re all working together to build the bank of the future.’

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