Focusing on blockchain applications in Food & Agri

Nick van Nispen, IT intern

‘I studied Business and Consumer Studies as well as Applied Information Management. This combination led me to Rabobank for an IT internship. My final internship before graduation is a chance to immerse myself in blockchain technology, which is actually a hobby of mine. The job posting for this internship said they were looking for someone who had an affinity with business and IT and was interested in working with blockchain. For me, it was the ultimate chance. I thought, let’s turn my hobby into my job and spend six months broadening my horizons!’

One of them

‘When I entered Rabobank headquarters in Utrecht on my first day, I sort of felt like being at the airport. People are always coming and going. No sooner had I found my workspace than I was given the freedom to discover how Rabobank uses blockchain technology. I learned about the bank’s progress with this technology and about the problems it had to deal with. The fact that my co-workers treated me like one of their own was really useful, it helped me become acquainted with the world of blockchain in different fields in a very short time. There were conferences about blockchain, meet-ups and in-depth discussions, all with an active role for me as an intern. At the same time, my own research was taking shape. I focused on blockchain technology in the Food & Agri sector and investigated Rabobank’s role in this sphere.

For some time now, food chains have been becoming more and more complex and transparency has been decreasing. Despite the rising number of certification systems, confidence levels are falling. There’s a need to create transparency throughout food chains to ensure that consumers trust the food they eat. Blockchain can play an important role in this process by connecting every player to a shared database that represents a single truth. Blockchain will make fraud impossible. How can you determine whether particular blockchain projects in the Food & Agri sector are a good fit for Rabobank’s mission? Which blockchain technologies can be meaningful for customers and which for the bank? What do we want to offer these parties and how else can we help them? These are the questions I was trying to answer.’

Two steps ahead

‘The blockchain team would meet every Monday to discuss the previous week and to take stock of what was still in store. Then, in the afternoon, we’d have a deep-dive session where we’d discuss the subjects that needed closer investigation. Then we’d set to work on that. I usually spent Friday afternoons programming (Solidity, the language for Ethereum) with other interns on the BAL team (Blockchain Acceleration Lab). I had weekly meetings with my team supervisor too. Once the research really got going, I could meet him more frequently to discuss my personal and professional development.

Rabobank is a great organization to intern for. I was free to do as I liked, which gave me room to take just that one extra step. In addition to sound supervision, I also got the chance to learn an enormous amount. The experience has given me a solid foundation for the near future, which I will be spending as a part of Rabobank’s Young Professional Program in IT. When Rabobank does something, it does it well. Whether it’s organizing a blockchain conference or providing guidance to interns, not only does Rabobank think of everything, it thinks about you.’