Hi Kai, welcome to the Fintech series. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My pleasure. My name is Kai Meinke, and I am the Co-Founder and Business Lead of deltaDAO AG, located in Hamburg, Northern Germany, and Lead of the Gaia-X Open-Source Software Community, creating a federated European data infrastructure since 2021. My professional background is in IT systems integration and economics, with previous stations in research, private and public sector projects around data platforms, ecosystems, and data-driven decision-making. Since 2021, I have been fully focused on the European data economy, emerging data spaces and Web3, and new digital markets now emerging in Europe.
Recently, you have partnered to make EUROe with Finnish fintech company Membrane Finance. Could you please share your strategy?
Within the European digital single market, especially regarding data spaces and infrastructures, we see fragmentation and strong dependencies on non-EU actors across technological ecosystems, domains, and platforms. Our biggest challenge, and thus our strategy, is to remove unwanted dependencies, fragmentation, friction, and barriers to business from this market. EUROe is an integral part of enabling seamless, inter-company, and cross-country payments in real-time to remove any unnecessary friction and risk from settlement processes.
When we look at the data economy, we need instant payments, security, and instant access to results to facilitate decision-making and not slow down our digital processes. ERC20 and stablecoins, such as EUROe, as the emerging standards for payments and the disruption tokenized assets bring to the market cannot be ignored. Every digital service will be tokenized in some form over the next years. Membrane Finance allows us to concentrate and scale our digital infrastructure and service business. At the same time, we can rest assured that interoperable, scalable payment rails and compliance are taken care of, all connected to the emerging tokenized economy evolving globally at a rapid pace.
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Could you please make our readers understand the tech terms “Polygon Supernets and Ocean Protocol technology stack”?
Ocean Protocol is an open-source software framework that provides a scalable, decentralized data infrastructure and a set of tools that enable developers to build data marketplaces, AI (Artificial Intelligence) applications, and other data-driven solutions.
Ocean Protocol utilizes smart contracts to automate and manage interactions between data service providers, consumers, and other ecosystem participants, including payments and access controls.
An amazing feature given by Ocean Protocol is the capability to orchestrate Compute-to-Data on any infrastructure, even on edge devices. This privacy-preserving feature allows data to remain securely on the data provider’s premises while enabling consumers to use the data. This approach helps maintain data privacy, protect IP (Intellectual Property), and the right of economic exploitation while it makes it easy to comply with data protection regulations. We use this Ocean Protocol technology stack, as well as Polygon and others, to build decentralized data spaces in Gaia-X and to enable technological data sovereignty.
Polygon is a widely adopted open-source framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. It helps to overcome the limitations of Ethereum’s scalability, and it allows developers to create sovereign, Ethereum-compatible blockchains that can have their own consensus mechanisms, security models and custom features while still being able to interact with the Ethereum ecosystem. Polygon Supernets allows clients to build and power their own app chains with advanced compliance implementations. For these reasons, we selected Polygon as the Ethereum-compatible basis of our Gaia-X network.
How is tech enabling faster and cheaper international payments and allowing automated and programmable Euro–denominated value transfers?
Settlement in any B2B, B2G environment can still be a slow and sometimes cumbersome process, especially when standardized, agreed-on, and fast payment rails are missing.
Web3 has shown us how sovereign, fast, secure, and efficient this can be handled between two parties that want to do business with each other. Today settlement can be done in seconds – without intermediaries, exceptionally low third-party risks, at a fraction of the cost it would normally take to connect companies in different nations. Trusted global decentralized networks, based on the internet and blockchains, are now able to transact value and this is becoming the new normal. Taking tamper-proof audit trails, identification, harmonized regulation, and the ability to implement this in any digital application against the amounts of friction, risk management, and costs we are seeing today, we expect a “new normal” to be the standard rather soon.
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Which is the best stablecoin for 2023?
This question cannot be answered for everybody, as it depends on your specific customer requirements, market, and jurisdiction. For the B2B and B2G ecosystems we are creating in Gaia-X and across European data spaces, our answer is EUROe. It brings the required regulatory approval, trust, level of maturity, and acceptance to the European market. Using other means, outside of EU regulation, is not an option we would pursue right now.
Data sharing is based on trust. With the world going totally on the web, we have concerns about data being compromised; what are your takes on cybersecurity issues?
Trust is at the core. “How much trust do I need to start?” and “How can I establish a trusted relationship with somebody I do not know personally?” Technology can certainly help us to address both – enabling trust faster and lowering the amount of trust needed at the same time. In this regard, the most promising technologies are Self-Sovereign Identities and Verifiable Credentials by providing a secure and standardized way to share and verify digital identities, ensuring that the information exchanged is authentic and accurate. We now have the means to establish trust in real-time. We see this adoption now across Europe and elsewhere in the world, and it will contribute to protecting personal and confidential information and solving trust issues we face all around the web. Faked identities, identity theft, and social engineering, the causes of many data breaches in the past, will hopefully be very much limited in the future.
Furthermore, we see great advances on the other side as well, as we transition from a digital ecosystem where we depend on trust and “please don’t be evil” written agreements towards “you can’t be evil because I have full control.” Privacy-preserving technologies, advanced means of data, and IP protection now enable you to make sensitive data available for usage without the need to share it.
This is a transition to technical data sovereignty that goes beyond written contracts and agreements requiring a difficult-to-achieve level of trust. Tools such as Compute-to-Data, Federated Analytics, Encryption, and Trusted Execution Environments help us increasingly take back control over our data and lower the barriers of cooperation around one of the most important and renewable resources of our time: data.
We leverage these technologies extensively to enable our partners and clients to build data-driven products, make the most of their data, monetize, and collaborate without exposing company secrets to unacceptable or avoidable third-party risks.
Can you also share your thoughts on other technologies or tools for generations other than millennials in the marketplace that are game changers?
The most relevant other technologies now available to the market and of relevance to all generations, at least from my perspective, are advanced AI language and machine learning models in combination with voice control, telemedicine, smart wearables, sensors, and applications in business, education, and research.
These technologies will change how we interact with our environment across all touchpoints, allow us to speed up technological advances, distribute knowledge, raise our standard of living, and transform our everyday life in many ways – beyond what we currently can imagine – and they are all data-driven. We are now seeing “the last user interfaces” – financial services, how we do business, work, learn, and make choices – this will look quite different from today in 3-5 years. And as everything depends on data and who controls it, we expect that IP management and protection will see a lot of attention.
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Thank you, Kai! That was fun and we hope to see you back on globalfintechseries.com soon.
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Since 2021 Kai Meinke has been the Co-Founder and Business Lead of deltaDAO AG and Lead of the Gaia-X Open-Source Software Community. He has a professional background as Economist, IT Specialist for Systems Integration, Product Owner, and Project Manager in the private and public sectors.
deltaDAO AG is a Web3 software development, integration, and consulting company based in Hamburg, Germany. Its focus is to enable a transparent, secure, and decentralized data economy in which large enterprises, SMEs, and public institutions keep full technical control over their valuable and confidential data. deltaDAO provided the first Gaia-X Web3 Ecosystem powered by Ocean Protocol in 2021, based on open-source software and Web3 components. In 2022 deltaDAO created the first Pan-European federated Gaia-X edge network “GEN-X” for Gaia-X, together with Polygon and EuProGigant, the Austrian-German Gaia-X lighthouse project.