Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block

NCFA Canada | Sep 11, 2018

NB website - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block

Industry partners are the cornerstone of all NCFA industry building initiatives and programs.  As such, we're thrilled to announce NCFAs newest industry partner, Northern Block, a leading blockchain technology development firm based in Toronto who is building next generation blockchain ventures.  Below is the transcript of an interview that NCFA Founding CEO, Craig Asano, recently held with the CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block, Mathieu Glaude:

NCFA: Can you tell me about yourself and about Northern Block?

Mathiu Glaude pic - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block

Mathieu Glaude, CEO, Co-founder, Northern Block

Mathieu:  Hi, my name is Mathieu Glaude. I’m the CEO of Northern Block, a blockchain product development firm. I’ve always had a curiosity for emerging technologies and would definitely consider myself an early adopter. While working at Capital One Bank, I had the opportunity to be involved in many large projects that involved building scalable solutions leveraging microservice architectures, which in turn allowed me to dabble with big data and AI components in order to tailor servicing experiences to the customer. I had had some coding experiences but found myself really enjoying product management.  Being able to see a product go from ideation phase to being complete and used by actual customers felt very rewarding, and I enjoyed working horizontally across the business with various teams to execute on projects. While still at Capital One, I found out about blockchain technologies. It started with reading about it, then going out to networking events almost every day to learn more; you know, the common blockchain/crypto rabbit hole story.

 

I had never been more excited about a technological innovation and felt a calling to dedicate myself to it and help move the needle. Knowing I could use my product development background to build software in the blockchain space, I quit my job and founded Northern Block.

 

NCFA: Can you provide an overview of Northern Block’s growth to date and future roadmap?

Mathieu:  When my co-founder Sasha and myself founded the company, our goal was to build a blockchain-focused service company. We both noticed a high demand for projects, but a lack of firms in the space that were capable of executing. Although we had some visions for products at the time, we decided the service model would be ideal to gain an insightful perspective on the landscape, while continuing to learn and ramp up on the technology itself. It also of course allowed us to generate sustainable cash flow to grow our business! We got into the space in the middle of a hype cycle so we saw lots of investments being made and companies growing at rapid paces. We stuck to our plan and built a solid foundation. We’ve been tremendously lucky with the team that’s joined Northern Block. Every individual brings a passion and knowledge about blockchain that helps set us apart from other development firms.

 

NCFA: What type of clients do you work with?  What industries are ripe for disruption and the leading use cases out there today?

Mathieu:  The most important thing for us when choosing a client is their openness to learn and think outside of the box. With blockchain technologies, we’re not really changing processes by creating efficiencies, we’re radically flipping business models upside down. Being able to take a step back and accepting that the way things are done today are not the only way they can be done are a great first step. We’re in the game of building decentralized products that return data ownership rights to the users.

When we first started out, we built many proof-of-concept applications for larger enterprise clients. They often have innovation budgets to toy around with new technologies and they definitely understand the impact that blockchain can have in their industries. They definitely have an appetite to build proof-of-concepts. However, coming from a large enterprise, we realize how difficult it is to aggressively move innovative projects out of a sandbox environment and test with some of their real users. There’s lots of barriers in these companies for various reasons, maybe a topic for another discussion.

We began to believe that the true innovation would happen outside of the larger companies, similar to what you saw and are seeing in the fintech space. It starts outside and eventually there is market consolidation.

"We switched our focus at small to medium sized businesses who already have a successful business model with a client base. These businesses realize that their industries are ripe for disruption and they want to be at the forefront of it."

We don’t target specific industries, although our track record shows we’ve done lots of work in the financial space. We enjoy working across diverse industries because it allows us to come up with innovations we never would have thought about if we hadn’t had those experiences. As long as we know we’re ultimately going to create value for the end user and the client sees that as well, we’re willing to dip our toes in a new space. We’ve worked with all sorts of clients. Their businesses range from payment remittances, to supply chain tracking, to digital identity, to tracking the provenance of firearms. All over the place!

Tune in:  FINTECH FRIDAY$ immerse yourself in a Storytelling journey every Friday - Join the conversation!

NCFA: What excites you when you arrive at work each day (and what’s the most challenging part of the job)?

Mathieu:  Definitely the drive and passion of the twenty or so people on our team. Everyone continuously pushes themselves to learn new things so we can gain an edge in how we architect our solutions. I learn from them every day. The teams are self-organizing and are able to create value to our clients directly. Everyone has so much potential, and all we want to do is help them achieve their career goals.

Northern Block team 1 1024x678 - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block

As for the most challenging aspect of the job, it definitely has to do with learning as well. Running a business has its own challenges and ensuring that the products we’re building are built in a way that allows for scale is challenging on its own. At the same time, it’s important for us to still find time to read, explore, and learn new things. The space that we’re in is evolving so fast and to stay ahead of the curb, we need to ensure we’re continually learning.

NCFA:  Do you think the market is overhyped and if so why or why not?  Let’s talk about in production versus smoke and mirrors.

Mathieu:  We’re in an interesting phase in the market right now. Last year we saw tremendous growth in the overall crypto market as everyone and their mother was hopping into an ICO to raise money for their project that promised to ‘revolutionize’ a certain industry. We’re now seeing that most of these projects aren’t meeting their goals and falling apart. It has caused the whole market to turn bear over the past nine months, and we’re seeing less noise. We actually like this because it takes people’s minds away from thinking about making a quick buck off of crypto trading, and more about truly building products that solve real-world problems. I personally still think the market is still a bit over valued at the moment, even with the prices falling this year. The other day I had a look at CoinMarketCap, and noticed that there are still more than fifty projects valued over a hundred million US dollars. Those numbers are over inflated if you examine how much value they’re actually creating. Mind you, there are some very interesting projects that we’re excited about, but in full honesty, no one has delivered near enough value to the ecosystem to justify those valuations.

 

NCFA: What’s your crystal ball on the future of blockchain technology?

Mathieu:  We’re obviously very bullish on the whole space, which is why we’re here. We think that we’re going to see a random industry that no one is thinking about get completely disrupted by blockchain technologies, and this will tip the domino. We think that many use cases have not yet been identified because we haven’t learned enough from experiments to see what is possible.

"We think that interoperability between blockchains is going to play a big part in scaling solutions. When you look at it, you realize that not every computation in a solution needs to be run on a specific blockchain, or a blockchain at all. When you break down the problems you’re trying to solve for, you realize that maybe one blockchain is suitable for running smart contracts, but another one is better for holding value, or privacy of data, etc. We think that we’ll start seeing more hybrid blockchain implementations of solutions."

Everything is still a huge experiment.

 

NCFA: Last question, if you could choose anything else to do, what would it be?

Mathieu:  I would have loved to be a professional hockey player but that ship has sailed. Maybe I could still be a fighter? Actually, there’s almost no more fighting in hockey so maybe I’m better off here.

 

NCFA:  thanks so much for your time and support Mathieu, we look forward to working together.

Mathieu:  ditto!


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern BlockThe National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association of Canada (NCFA Canada) is a cross-Canada non-profit actively engaged with fintech, alternative finance, blockchain, cryptocurrency, crowdfunding and online investing stakeholders globally. NCFA Canada provides education, research, industry stewardship, services, and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers and works closely with industry, government, academia, community and eco-system partners and affiliates to create a strong and vibrant crowdfunding and fintech industry. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: ncfacanada.org

Latest news - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern BlockFF Logo 400 v3 - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Blockcommunity social impact - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block

University of Pennsylvania | Wharton Knowledge | Sep 10, 2019 As the finance industry grapples with what the next generation of banks and payment systems will look like, it’s clear that partnerships are a linchpin for riding the wave of change successfully, whether you’re a multibillion-dollar traditional bank or a startup looking to bring cutting-edge technology into the mainstream. “The rails that these payment systems are built on date back 20-30 years – people are not starting to reinvent that alone; it isn’t an overnight thing – it’s incremental innovation adding up to something massive,” said Jennifer Lee, vice president focused on fintech at growth equity firm Edison Partners during the recent Fearless in Fintech conference at Wharton San Francisco. At the conference, which was co-sponsored by Knowledge@Wharton and Wharton Executive Education and organized by Momentum Event Group, Denise Leonhard, head of global credit expansion, business development and expansion at Paypal, used her company’s online payments system as an example of the challenges ahead. “We’ve built our infrastructure with all these different partners – payment networks, bank issuers … we’re all playing in a very messy soup,” she said. “What we’ve been building in the last 20 years has brought ...
Read More
future of fintech partnerships - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
BBC | Sep 16, 2019 Kickstarter has been accused of "union-busting" after firing three employees. Taylor Moore, the company's head of comedy and podcasts, tweeted that he and another employee were fired on Thursday, while tech and design lead Clarissa Redwine was fired last week. All three were heavily involved in the formation of a Kickstarter union this year, Mr Moore added. Kickstarter confirmed the employees were fired, but denied that it was because of their union activity. Mr Moore tweeted that he had worked at the company for six years. He said that when Kickstarter fired him they "offered me no real reasons, but one month's severance for signing an NDA" - a non-disclosure agreement. "I will not be signing it." "The union busting campaign that Kickstarter management is engaging in is illegal and wrong," he added. "It is an unforgivable abandonment of the values of an organisation that I have loved and served with my whole heart." Ms Redwine also tweeted at the company, saying: "I will not be signing your termination agreement containing a non-disparagement clause. You can keep my severance." See:  A Digitized Staff Compliance Platform is a Must-Have She added: "Kickstarter's management continues to state ...
Read More
kickstarter acused of unionbusting - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
FCA | Sep 11, 2019 Speech by Christopher Woolard, Executive Director of Strategy and Competition at the FCA, delivered at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance annual conference, Judge Business School. Highlights: The UK has led the rest of the world with developments like the regulatory Sandbox, we are very proud of what has been achieved through it. Early engagement is incredibly valuable for monitoring, supervisory and policy purposes. Working with innovative firms helps us achieve a better bird’s-eye view, enhancing our understanding when the overall landscape is blurry and ­changing quickly. 'Stablecoin' is a term that has been widely adopted by industry, but we do not take it to be a distinct category of cryptoassets. Something labelled as a 'stablecoin' could sit within or outside of our regulatory perimeter. Note: this is the speech as drafted and may differ from the delivered version. See:  FCA confirms new rules for P2P platforms Last month, Facebook announced its plans for Libra, the stablecoin it is planning to launch in conjunction with a number of payment and tech firms. As has been widely reported, along with other regulators and central banks, we have been discussing their plans with Facebook. If this comes ...
Read More
Christopher Woolard2 - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
NCFA Canada | Sep 13, 2019 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Sep 13: Funding is Female with Jill Earthy EP37 GUEST: JILL EARTHY, Head of Female Funders (Linkedin) HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host BIO:  Jill Earthy is an entrepreneurially minded leader who believes diversity drives innovation. As Head of Female Funders (powered by Highine BETA), she is empowering female leaders to become investors in early stage companies. Her background includes being an entrepreneur, supporting entrepreneurs in various leadership roles and working as Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr, an online investment platform. She is a community leader and active mentor, currently serving on the national Board of Sustainable Development Technology Canada and as Board Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Centre in BC, and as Co-Chair of We for She. Jill was recently recognized by the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion award as a Community Champion, by Business in Vancouver as an Influential Woman in Business and by WXN as one the Top 100 most powerful women in Canada in 2019. About this episode:  On this episode of NCFA'S Fintech Fridays Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Jill Earthy the Head of Female Funders. The talk about what ...
Read More
FF EP37 female funders 1 - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
TechCrunch | Kate Clark | Sep 12, 2019 Affirm, founded by PayPal’s Max Levchin, is said to be raising as much as $1.5 billion in a combination of debt and equity, according to people with knowledge of the company’s fundraising activities. Josh Kushner’s New York venture capital firm Thrive Capital is said to be leading the financing, with participation from the San Francisco outfit Spark Capital. Affirm declined to comment. Representatives of Thrive and Spark, existing Affirm investors, have not responded to a request for comment. Sources familiar with Affirm, which gives consumers an alternative to personal loans and credit by financing online purchases at point-of-sale, presume the round will be made up largely of a line of credit from a large financial institution, known as a warehouse facility. Affirm recently raised a $300 million Thrive-led Series F round in April at a valuation of $3 billion. Fintech companies focused on payments and lending, however, require a vast amount of capital to sustain operations. Those capital requirements coupled with the frothiness of the venture capital market justify this additional cash infusion. To date, Affirm has raised $1.03 billion in funding from Ribbit Capital, Founders Fund, Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, Lightspeed ...
Read More
max levchin - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
Le Monde with AFP | Sep 12, 2019 Bruno Le Maire expressed his hostility towards this cryptocurrency project, saying that "the monetary sovereignty of states is at stake" Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Thursday (September 12th) that France was refusing to authorize the development "on European soil" of libra, the cryptocurrency that Facebook wants to launch in 2020. "Considerable financial disorder" "The monetary sovereignty of states is at stake," said the minister at the opening of a conference of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) dedicated to the challenges of cryptocurrencies - without specifying, however, what concrete measures he wanted engage to prevent the spread of libra in Europe. See:  Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency: Everything We Know In his speech, Bruno Lemaire described as "systemic" the risks that could result from this "possible privatization of a currency (...) held by a single actor that has more than 2 billion users on the planet" . "Any failure in the functioning of this currency, in the management of its reserves, could create considerable financial disorders , " justified the Mayor, also fearing that the libra is replacing the national currency in the States where the currency is weak or ...
Read More
Bruno Le Maire Minister Finance of France vows to block facebooks libra - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
CNBC | Bob Pisani | Sep 10, 2019 Key Points The head of the SEC says more needs to be done to make it easier for companies to go public. Jay Clayton says his office is taking a “fresh look” at allowing Main Street investors access to the private capital markets. The head of the SEC says more needs to be done to make it easier for companies to go public and that his office is taking a “fresh look” at allowing Main Street investors access to the private capital markets. In a speech to the Economic Club of New York on Monday, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said the lack of more IPOs and the inability of most of the Main Street investing public to access private markets was a “growing concern.” Clayton addressed what he called the “two segments” in capital markets: the public markets, and private ones, including private equity and venture capital investments. See:  The Solution To The Fintech IPO Shortage “Twenty-five years ago, the public markets dominated the private markets in virtually every measure,” he said. “Today, in many measures, the private markets outpace the public markets, including in aggregate size.” Clayton wants to make the ...
Read More
SEC jay clayton - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
Nesta UK | Rosalyn Old and Johnathan Bone | Sep 4, 2019 Earlier in May 2019, Nesta commissioned a report called 'Taking Ownership:  Community Empowerment through Crowdfund Investments' that looked at how community-led projects have the power to transform local areas socially, economically and environmentally and how institutions such as local governments, municipal authorities and foundations, can help community-led initiatives by making the most of new investment crowdfunding models (eg community shares and bonds). Key Findings Investment crowdfunding has been used to fund a broad range of local assets, including but not limited to, saving local shops and pubs from closure, creating new community centres and art spaces, and expanding leisure facilities and infrastructure projects. Potential opportunities in using investment crowdfunding for community-led initiatives include helping to fund projects that would otherwise struggle to access finance elsewhere, increasing the use of and volunteering for community initiatives, and strengthening local resilience and self-determination by bringing communities together to improve their area. The main challenges for community organisations raising money in this way include gaining access to assets to buy or use on a temporary basis, transitioning from grassroots fundraising to implementing a project and avoiding negative impacts on diversity and inclusion ...
Read More
taking ownership community empowerment through crowdfunded investment - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
NCFA Canada on behalf of our partner's Lending Loop | Sep 11, 2019 HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A CHESHIRE CAT SMILE? Well they deserve it. Back in October 2015, NCFA made this introductory video with Cato Pastoll, CEO and Co-Founder of Lending Loop, about a peer to peer lending marketplace for small businesses model that was new to Canada but was achieving significant growth internationally. The question and opportunity was back then:  why not here in Canada? A question that many of us ask ourselves, ask the community and point fingers at strict regulations and high operating costs.  Well fast forward several years and growth obstacles later, and the Lending Loop story continues to impress with their latest milestone of lending over $50 million to deserving small businesses to help them grow and expand operations while providing retail and accredited investors direct access to a wide range of lending and investment options, a robust community and the chance to strengthen Canadian small business - here here! The early vision... Brandon Vlaar, Co-founder and CTO of Lending Loop sharing their good news! CONGRATS to the entire Lending Loop Team for achieving this latest milestone.  We've 'got your back' and look forward ...
Read More
Lending Loop passes 50 million - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block
NCFA Guest Post | Sep 9, 2019 The world was shook when online money was first introduced. Some people didn’t like the idea. They’d prefer having something tangible, something that they can actually see and touch to use as currency. Some people were positive about the new experience. They believe that it can certainly make life more convenient. But hey, we’re now in 2019 and online currency is still widely in use. In fact, its uses have expanded way more since it was first introduced (read more). One of the most popular and controversial of its time was BTC or Bitcoin. Even without studying cryptocurrencies, you’ve probably heard this term once or twice before. You may have come across it in the internet or someone may have encouraged you to try trading it. After all, when cryptocurrency was first brought to light, many people saw its potential in the trading market. And it has been making noise ever since. See:  New Regulatory Framework for Canadian Retail Payments Coming in 2019 At first, Bitcoin was surrounded with a lot of controversy – and of course, a lot of doubt. People were scared of exchanging real world money for something that you ...
Read More
digital tokens and coins - Q&A with New Industry Partner Mathieu Glaude, CEO and Co-founder of Northern Block