Your background briefly?
I started in banking, first as a commercial banker then as a merchant banker with a variety of banks in Europe. I then moved to the US for graduate studies, thereafter working in investment management on Wall Street. I then moved away from the banking world to “join” the startup world where I worked with a variety of software and software services companies, both pre and post revenue, all high growth, gaining solid operating expertise.
Venture partner for San Innoventures, what are you involved in / what successes are you most pleased with?
After many years operating various businesses in different roles ranging from CFO to COO to CIO, I then moved back to the investing world and built the fintech venture arm of an investment firm from the ground up over the past 5 years. More recently I have joined Santander InnoVentures as Venture Partner. Some of the more exciting companies I invested in the past with my previous fund are Ripple, DriveWealth, Clearmatics, Coverhound.
As a top FinTech influencer, which areas are you most excited by?
Currently I am focusing on techfin, that is enabling technologies that are being applied or will be applied to the financial services. These are AI, blockchain, IoT, quantum computing. Further I am taking a keen interest in all things insurance and identity management.
Can traditional banks successfully innovate to deal with the rise of FinTech banking disrupters?
Some will. The ones that will be most effective at prosecuting and implementing a platform strategy. I wrote a two series posts on platform strategy applied to financial services incumbents (banks, insurance companies), see my blog: www.finiculture.com – two posts co-authored with David Brear. I believe this to be the key for current banks or insurance companies to thrive and compete in the future. From the same token, many fintech startups with grand aspirations of dominating and competing in their own eco-systems will fail if they do not understand the changing competitive landscape they themselves are working under. Cooperation will be key I believe.
— Pascal Bouvier (@pascalbouvier) November 8, 2015
I would command all finserv incumbents (banks, insurance companies…) to adopt a platform strategy much like that implemented and used very successfully by the likes of Intel, Cisco, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Google… where the firm focuses on their core business and articulates links between the partners and its core. I would also command the incumbents to rejuvenate their c-suites by adding non bankers, non insurers, such as data scientists, technologists, entrepreneurs. Finally, I would command them to architect an innovation group that would be responsible for a) an innovation lab, b) a corporate venture group, c) joint ventures & acquisitions, d) investments in independent venture funds, e) accelerator/incubator interests & investments, f) later stage investments, AND I would command that group to report directly to the CEO or the board.
Will bitcoin achieve wider adoption or not? What are your thoughts on the viability of wider adoption of cryptocurencies?
I do not believe bitcoin the cryptocourrency, as it is architected currently, will achieve mass adoption. Too many limitations from a governance point of view, from a protocol point of view (deflationary, limits on coding smart contracts). I remain agnostic as far as any other cryptocurrency achieving mass adoption outside of cooptation from a central bank in any given country. Finally I remain extremely bullish on the technology being any cryptocurrency, that is consensus ledgers or as most mention it, “blockchain”. My view is consensus ledger tech or blockchain tech will be widely adopted in finserv industry and many other industries to the point that even experts and believers will still be astonished. As such, a cryptocurrency used with a particular consensus ledger or blockchain stack will serve more as a token than a real substitute for store of value or exchange.
You’re an active writer / blogger, how do you find this helps you to develop your thoughts and analysis of FinTech trends?
Blogging helps me in two ways. First, it forces me to refine my thinking and test my assumptions. Nothing worse than sloppy writing and slopping analysis. Second it opens me to all types of feedback and helps me discover other points of view – those readers that leave feedback – which I would not necessarily receive as freely and often as if I was not blogging.
Which thought leaders do you like to read / follow?
I do not follow or read many thought leaders. I do have a list of over 200 blogs I follow regularly on the various subjects that interest me. some of these blogs are written by thought leaders I am sure, but I do not focus on that. I tend to focus more on a variety and multitude of view points and data points.
How do you manage online / offline, work/life challenges?
Discipline of thought, discipline of a healthy life. Discipline of time. No wasted time as it is my most precious commodity. No wasting my thoughts on unimportant things. Too much disciplines is also a killer so I always allow for myself to be surprised by random acts or things and random encounters.