Exclusive speaker interview - Maarten Ectors, Chief Information Officer at Legal & General
Discover how Legal & General are implementing Blockchain Technologies across the business. Maarten explores the obstacles Legal & General have faced and the benefits they have seen as a result of rolling out Blockchain solutions.
Can you tell us a bit about your position at Legal & General and your experience?
Let me start with my experience first. Before I joined Legal & General I had no financial services experience. My experience was in the domain of high-tech innovation, e.g. Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cloud,… In Legal & General, I focus on solving “Harry Potter Problems” [HPP]. There are two types of business-critical problems. The first type can be solved via money and time. The second type are those critical problems, the business does not have an answer for or have tried to solve multiple times and failed. The only thing the business can wish for is an innovator with a magic wand to make the problem go away; hence these problems are called Harry Potter Problems. The Future Ventures team, which I set up, focuses on solving Harry Potter Problems through fast and cost-effective experimentation of new technologies and business approaches. If the HPP is solved then we then try to convert the solution in a venture that can help others as well. The team has already launched multiple award-winning solutions.
How is Legal & General utilising Blockchain Technology?
Legal & General created estua-re, a pension risk transfer solution which runs on top of Amazon’s managed blockchain. Estua-re is currently used in production and we are scaling up the usage. We are also working on using blockchain technologies in other parts of our business.
Why did Legal & General start to implement Blockchain Technology?
The Harry Potter Problem we tried to solve was for our reinsurance business in Bermuda. Each new reinsurance contract involved hiring more people who would every month take weeks to reconcile data. They could not scale their reinsurance business because the local talent pool in Bermuda is very small. We used smart contracts to do reconciliations automatically in minutes.
To what extent will Blockchain Technology be crucial to securing the future of the financial services industry?
Blockchain is one of the multiple disruptive technologies which allow businesses to scale globally at unseen speeds. Those who master these exponential technologies and solve critical business challenges or launch new exiting products will see interesting growth opportunities.
What are the obstacles you have faced implementing Blockchain Technology across the business?
Many. From technology challenges around operational aspects, scalability, performance, … to process, legal, compliance, financial, risk, procurement, HR and other challenges. The introduction of any new technology comes with new challenges. Disruptive technologies just come with more. At the same time, however, there has been an enormous excitement around blockchain which resulted in lots of teams helping us to solve all the challenges we ran into. The sponsorship from the executives has been amazing.
How would you say the Blockchain systems have benefited Legal & General so far?
We are still in the process of realising the biggest benefits, given that we are now in the scaling-up phase. However, an unexpected benefit has been the sheer amount of attention our first blockchain project received. Both internally and externally it created a mentality shift. We are now innovating together with amazing partners and customers. We are the market leader in pensions and blockchain. Our digital and innovation teams are enabling our businesses to win technology awards, happily surprise our customers and generate new business.
Why will events such as Blockchain for Business Summit continue to be important?
Last year we met several interesting blockchain innovators and we learned a lot by talking to them. We hope that this year there will be a lot more.
You can attend Maarten's session at the Blockchain for Business Summit 2020 (2-3 September) and many more for free. Register for your free visitor ticket today.