Event Recap
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FinTech Vortex recap: Workshops – IBM, Rabobank, Profinit

IBM & Blockchain

With a title like Coffee and Blockchain, IBM’s introduction workshop to this new technology was packed. And why wouldn’t it? Who does not want to learn more about this ground-breaking new development with a coffee on the side?

Edwin Ciggaar kicked of by explaining the broader concept of blockchain. “The problem nowadays is that every participant holds their own copy of the record, claiming it as being the truth. One blockchain replaces all these records.” This shared ledger has many use cases in business. Extensively covered is the usage of a blockchain in supply chain. For example a shared ledger can be created which keeps track of spare parts, as such the final user can check if the part is authentic.

In order to visualize the functioning of the new technology, Edwin launched an interactive game in which participants bought and sold coffee beans. While all in the audience were busy on their devices selling and buying by creating smart contracts between each other, the screen kept track of all transactions.

This showcased the beauty of a shared ledger: while many individuals are involved in one-on-one transactions, the ledger kept track of all and allows everyone to have full transparency about other’s transactions. This transparency quickly made clear that there was one seller outperforming all others, and therefore the coffee beans (real ones, not virtual) went to the player with the ironic name boontje komt om zijn loontje (bean comes for his wages).

Rabobank & Cybersecurity

During this workshop, presented by Martin de Vries from Rabobank, we talked about cybersecurity and cyberthreats lingering over companies. Martin detailed in a first part these risks, before explaining how to protect your company from it.

In the context of a rising level of cyberattacks, company must more than ever be aware of the methods used against them, to know better how to react to it.

Martin thus drew the threat landscape, introducing 5 common threats roaming on the net, listed here:

  • Malware/Ransomware – WannaCry/Petya
  • Mobile malware – Overlay attacks
  • Insecure coding and development practices
  • DDoS – (ab)use of IoT – For Martin, device makers have to produce more secure product instead of worrying first about time-to-market issues
  • Phishing

To counter the peril, businesses face several challenges, of which 5 were depicted, with respect to the risks enumerated above:

  • Backups/Never pay!
  • Overlay detection
  • Ensure your developers practice secure coding
  • Use DDoS protection
  • Educate users: raise security awareness

To put things in context and realize the actual danger, we reached few examples of hacked companies, such as Clinkle, mobile payments start-up that got hacked before it could even launch, or InsureX, a hacked UK-based marketplace for insurance. According to Martin, “secure innovation is a matter of three resources (lack of) cash, time, priority,” particularly hard to come by for start-ups.

Therefore the mission of Rabobank is to help companies or other businesses to secure their systems, to often neglected security wise. To do so, the bank provides methods such as CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). Missed the presentation? Martin was happy to share his slides here.

Profinit – Software Development

A focused crowd of 20 individuals joined the Profinit workshop on the placement of software development within the fintech organisation. Profinit is a consulting, software services, product development & outsourcing business located in Prague, Czech Republic. They advise, produce or allow for the entire outsourcing of software development for for financial and telecom companies.

With 19 years of experience, Profinit has become a trusted partner of over 40 large corporations across Europe. Bohumir Zoubek, Services & Products Director at Profinit, took the attendees through the journey of developing a piece of fundamental software for a fintech company, be it a bitcoin exchange, a payments app or an insurance portal.

What are the major pitfalls and most importantly, if one decides to partially outsource the software development, what does a company have to look within its own organisation to make the implementation a success? The differences between the developers and the business side are an important boundary to overcome. Language and jargon strongly differ between these groups and it is vital to establish a working relation of common understanding.

From the business side its more important to understand the lifecycle of software development, from business ideas through analysis, design, implementation and testing before going live, and the requirements and health checks which have to be performed every step of the way. This process allows for a smooth transition from business to development, and a successful implementation of a software project by a company like Profinit.


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