With its platform, which revolutionises interactions between banks and asset managers, Wecan Group is attracting many players. The applications of blockchain technology abound and the Geneva-based company could position itself as one of the leaders in the sector in Switzerland.
After an hour’s interview with Vincent Pignon, director of Wecan Group, we say that the general enthusiasm around the blockchain may well be justified. And it is not the managers of the banks Lombard Odier, Pictet, Edmond de Rotschild, Reyl and Hyposwiss who will say the opposite; they have joined the Wecan Comply platform, which greatly improves communication with independent asset managers. It will be launched on 1 January 2021. “More than joining it,” says the entrepreneur, “these banks have been true partners in its development from the very beginning”.
To understand how this Wecan Comply platform works and how useful it is, one has to go back to the financial crisis of 2008. Following this crisis, the Confederation decided to adapt the regulations in the field of financial services and institutions. The LSFin and LEFin laws therefore came into force at the beginning of this year 2020, making relations between banks and asset managers more complex and forcing the implementation of new processes that are costly in terms of time and personnel.
With this in mind, Wecan Group has come up with an innovative, even revolutionary solution: from now on, banks will be able to access asset managers’ official documents automatically in real time. With its decentralised architecture and encrypted transmissions, the blockchain technology should save time and improve efficiency, eliminating the need to send redundant e-mails for each compliance procedure.
A long standardisation process
The platform was therefore the result of a collaboration between a dozen banks and around fifty independent asset managers. But in order to reach a consensus, the Geneva-based company and its partners had to create a new standardisation for the various data, as each banking institution had until then had its own standards for exchanging information with external managers. “This was clearly the longest process but also a crucial point,” relates Vincent Pignon. It is very complicated to get everyone to agree and it is rare to achieve standardisation in an existing industry”.
Platinn played a leading role in the development of the Wecan Comply platform. “When launching such a product, there are a multitude of areas to consider beyond pure IT development,” explains the director. Coach Frédéric Dreyer has been very supportive, especially when it comes to patent registration. He also helped us set up an Innosuisse project that is currently being validated. Wecan Group could benefit from the research and development work of two people from the EPFL. If our application is accepted, the researchers would then focus more particularly on real-time security monitoring, on the scalability of the platform, its capacity to support an increase in users, but also on its energy consumption, a major issue in blockchain projects”.
From land registry to mountain guides
To achieve the success of its Wecan Comply offer, Wecan Group has relied on strong expertise in promising blockchain technology. Created by Vincent Pignon, who was quickly associated with the EPFL engineer Dominique Goy, the company was initially interested in fields other than banking. “We first developed solutions linked to the building rights register of the Fondation des Terrains Industriels du canton de Genève, but also to the verification, by clients, of the status of mountain guides in Valais (diploma, up-to-date training and insurance)”, explains the Geneva entrepreneur. Wecan Group also offers a Wecan Tokenize platform for the management of digitised assets as well as certified training, in partnership with the CREA school – Inseec Group, to make it easier for companies and organisations to adopt blockchain technology.
The fields of application are therefore numerous and Wecan Group intends to take advantage of them. “With the tokenisation of any object or individual, i.e. the creation of an encrypted and completely secure digital identity, the potential of blockchain technology is simply enormous,” says Vincent Pignon. And Facebook’s decision to set up its Libra encryption system in Geneva is not insignificant: Switzerland could well be at the heart of the implementation of the international standardisation needed to develop blockchain projects on a large scale”.
The coach’s opinion
“I often explain to the people I work with that we have to compare our contribution to that of a sports coach,” says Frédéric Dreyer. The coach will explain how to do the exercises, but he is not the one who will do them. And so, in this sense, my role has been to advise Wecan Group on the strategy to be followed, whether it be for the positioning of new services, key sectors, patent registration and above all for the preparation of an application for an Innosuisse project, the answer to which is due at the end of the year. The collaboration with this company was very interesting because of its human size, with about ten employees. I was thus able to work with different profiles, be it a developer, a project manager, a communications manager or members of the management. Everything went extremely well, the team being dynamic, reactive, highly motivated, with great human and entrepreneurial values”.
By Loïc Delacour