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

Share

NCFA Canada | Sep 11, 2018

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?

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.

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!


The 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

Blockchain is here – so what next? The Blockchain Developer Opportunity If you are a software engineer interested in emerging high growth project opportunities, you’ll want to ensure your technical skills are polished and you have access to proper training and resources. There is a significant shortage of skilled Blockchain developers unable to meet the demand of emerging projects! NCFA is pleased to announce an inaugural educational partnership with the Blockchain Learning Group offering a special introductory rate to attend an immersive, 2-day Blockchain developer training course on decentralized application development to help fill the gap of skilled engineers while connecting graduates to project opportunities. According to a recent 2018 PwC survey, 84% of 600 executive responders confirmed some involvement with Blockchain technology from proof of concepts to well capitalized international scale-ups and incumbents looking to modernize legacy systems. Distributed and immutable ledger applications are evolving rapidly with uses cases that improve trust and transparency for many business processes while distributing transactions to a decentralized network in a way that reduces costs and eliminates intermediaries. While crypto markets have exceeded $200 billion in just the last 2 years alone, the underlying technology is forecasted to disrupt almost every vertical with ...
Read More
Immersive 2-day Blockchain Developer Training Course (Nov 10-11, Toronto): Decentralized Application Development
Incipient Industries | Steven Dryall | Sep 19, 2018 Incipient Industries Releases Whitepaper Describing How Cryptocommodities  Are Created and Used As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency Toronto, ON, Canada, September 17, 2018 - Incipient Industries Inc. announces the release of the definitive whitepaper on the subject of cryptocommodities. Following years of development combined with the dissemination of information related to cryptocurrency viability and asset- based cryptocurrencies, an actual description of how to deploy a cryptocommodity  is now available. This is a first in the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and represents a significant step towards a stabilized digital economy. The cryptocurrency industry is still developing and discovering ways to integrate with traditional financial systems or to replace them altogether. The introduction of cryptocoomodities into the cryptosphere creates a new category of opportunities for pioneers in the space. For those seeking a solution to a stable cryptocurrency, this is the best path to success. See:  3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith “This is a perfect use case for cryptocurrency and also follows the Three Pillars of a Viable Cryptocurrency framework.” says Steven Dryall, CEO of Incipient Industries, who has pioneered several key concepts of ...
Read More
Whitepaper Provides Information About Cryptocommodities As The Basis For A Stable Cryptocurrency
Bloomberg | Joshua Brustein | Sep 4, 2018 With fewer than 100 residents, Ocean Falls is looking for a revival after almost four decades of industrial false starts. In 1971, an 11th grader named Greg Strebel wrote the introduction to a book about Ocean Falls, the tiny town in the British Columbian hinterlands where he lived. Strebel mentioned the odd fact that many of the town’s roads were made of wood, said the weather wasn’t as bad as some people made it out to be and noted that it had just gotten a new school building. But the one thing that mattered above all, according to Strebel, was the paper mill. “To most, 'the mill’ imparts a sense of security by its presence,” he wrote. “A low throb of power is audible throughout most of the town as long as the mill runs, accompanied by voluminous exhalations of steam.” The security provided by the mill turned out to be fleeting. It went silent when Strebel was in his 20s. Most of the buildings in Ocean Falls that haven’t been demolished over the decades are crumbling in place, and Strebel, along with most everyone who once lived there, is long gone. A ...
Read More
The Bitcoin Boom Reaches a Canadian Ghost Town
Australian Financial Review | Michael Bailey | Sep 12, 2018 Businesses wishing to raise money from retail investors will no longer have to convert to an unlisted public company structure, after an amendment to 2017's equity crowdfunding legislation passed federal Parliament. The legislation, which takes effect in 28 days from Wednesday, allows proprietary companies or unlisted public companies with annual turnover or gross assets of up to $25 million to advertise their business plans on ASIC-licensed crowdfunding portals, and raise up to $5 million a year to carry them out. Investors can put up to $10,000 a year each into an unlimited number of ideas. Australian private companies are typically limited to a maximum of 50 non-employee shareholders. However, under these reforms, investors acquiring shares through a crowdfunding portal are excluded from this cap, allowing private companies to raise funds from potentially hundreds or thousands of investors. See:  Australia and UK set up FinTech Bridge to deepen collaboration between governments, regulators, and industry bodies Proprietary companies with crowdfunded shareholders will have to prepare annual financial and directors' reports in accordance with accounting standards. Only large proprietary companies, defined as those with any two of either $25 million turnover or above, $12.5 million of gross ...
Read More
$5 million Equity crowdfunding extended to private companies
NCFA Sponsored guest post | Sep 18, 2018 “You are such a worry-wart.” This is the common reaction I get whenever I tell people about how I like to plan ahead. They tell me that I’m too overreacting, that I live too much for the future and not for the present, and that I really don’t get the concept of YOLO. I really don’t give a darn about what these people say. They’re impractically wasting their time, breath, and energy trying to change how I live my life. What if I’m so gung-ho about planning for the future? What if I’m too overly prepared even my future dogs and cats will be feasting every single day? It’s still better than having no insurance. It’s still better than having my children carry my weight. Lastly, it’s still better than being ill-prepared. See:  What Can Traditional Banks Learn From Fintech? If I were to choose between too much and too little, I’d choose too much any day. After all, what’s wrong with having so much you could spare a ton? It’s a thousand times better than having to ask for financial aid because you have so little. Do you get me? I ...
Read More
Why Life Insurance Policies Matter
Forbes | Michael del Castillo | Sep 17, 2018 People keep asking me, what’s the deal with stablecoins? With two prominent regulatory approvals to issue the blockchain-based tokens, many have heralded them as the next evolution of cryptocurrency, while others say they’re perfect evidence of why no one ever needed cryptocurrency in the first place. On a basic level, a stablecoin is a token that has a mechanism in place to minimize its price fluctuations. Unlike traditional cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin and ether, which are directly tied to their wildly fluctuating demand, a stablecoin can rely on four methods to constrain its fluctuations. See:  One SEC commissioner is establishing herself as the voice of innovation for the crypto market The first and by far most popular way to achieve this stability is to peg the price of the token to a more stable asset like the U.S. dollar. This is what both the Gemini and Paxos cryptocurrency exchanges received permission to do from the New York Department of Financial Services last week. Unlike bitcoin and ethereum, which are created through a mining process that also ensures the blockchain’s accuracy, these stablecoins are only created when someone buys them with U.S. dollars. Gemini and Paxos ...
Read More
3 Clever Ways To Reach Crypto Price Stability, And One Giant Leap Of Faith
NCFA Canada | Sep 14, 2018 Ep9-Sep 14: Curexe's New SmartPay Product & Front-line of Global Digital Payments About this episode:  On this episode our host Manseeb Khan sits down with the CEO And founder of Curexe, so chat about their new product called SmartPay! They also talked about how A.I is going to touch the payments and every other industry, regulations that could be in place when accepting crypto and many more. Enjoy! Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host Guest: Johnathan Holland, Founder and CEO, Curexe Bio:  Johnathan Holland's experience comes from a decade of learning about capital markets and a relentless pursuit of providing better customer experiences in the payments and currency exchange industry. Johnathan’s advantage has been to look at the currency exchange industry in a new light, which enabled him to create a new, better way to empower the businesses that are underserved by their current solutions.  Johnathan graduated from the 2016 cohort of the Next 36 accelerator program that helps young entrepreneurs build high impact businesses and is currently running the company out of the DMZ.  LinkedIn profile Join NCFA's weekly Podcast series 'FINTECH FRIDAY$' where we sit down with the incredible people ...
Read More
FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.9-Sep 14):  Curexe's New SmartPay Product & Front-line of Global Digital Payments with Johnathan Holland, Founder of Curexe
Bloomberg | By Natalie Wong and Gerrit De Vynck | June 20, 2018 A cryptocurrency baron has bought the largest and one of the most expensive condos in Canada, paying for it partly with digital money. Anthony Di Iorio purchased the three-story penthouse for C$28 million ($21 million) at the St. Regis Residences Toronto, the former Trump International Hotel & Tower in the downtown business district. The unit totals 16,178 square feet (1,502 square meters) and includes a wrap-around patio overlooking the city’s skyline at the corner of Bay and Adelaide Streets. Di Iorio didn’t take out a mortgage for the property because he doesn’t “like being in debt.” Instead, he cashed out some of his cryptocurrency and made a wire transfer to pay the price. “I don’t remember exactly which ones I cashed in but this is my safety net, real estate right?” he said in an interview with Bloomberg at his new condo. He now owns two condos units in Toronto for a total investment of about C$34 million, he said. “I decided to take a bunch out and put it in real estate.” The hotel is owned by InnVest Hotels LP and operated by Marriott International Inc. as ...
Read More
Crypto Pioneer Buys Penthouse in Former Toronto Trump Tower
Computer Weekly | Karl Flinders | Sep 13, 2018 A Tech Nation programme to support the UK's financial technology startups demonstrates the increasingly diverse range of business-to-business products and services available through the country's fintech community Financial technology (fintech) is providing a market where IT professionals in the finance sector and beyond can find answers to their business challenges through specialist tech startups. UK-based CIOs have the benefit of having these fintech startups on their doorstep. UK government-backed startup network Tech Nation has selected 20 such fintech startups to take part in a five-month programme that aims to scale up early-stage companies. The programme’s business-to-business (B2B) focus demonstrates that beyond the high-profile digital challenger banks and payments companies targeting consumers with funky apps, there is a deep source of niche financial services IT innovation in the UK. Fintech solutions begin life as an idea about how to use technology to solve a particular financial services problem. The speed of software development today means products can quickly follow. See:  UK Government Ups Crowdfunding without Prospectus to €8 Million – Matching Germany But the challenges really begin when it comes to turning a great idea into a commercial success. This is where the likes ...
Read More
Tech Nation startup programme demonstrates richness of UK fintech
Forbes | Enrique Dans | Sep 5, 2018 The growing popularity of fintech and the emergence of competitors in different phases of the cycle, from new banks such as Germany’s N26 to partial service providers such as Revolut and others, or niche competitors such as Shine, highlights not just the inability of traditional banking to compete with them, but even to understand the most basic implications of the phenomenon. The banks’ problem is not competing with these types of companies, or at least, not for now. We talking here about vastly different magnitudes, of scale: a service with strong growth like Revolut, for example, expects to reach three million customers by next month, which is nothing to Santander’s more than 113 million customers in more than ten countries worldwide. The idea that fintech companies represent some kind of threat seems absurd, seen in the context of size. Obviously, this does not mean that the traditional banks should ignore the phenomenon — and they aren’t. Ignoring change and hoping that size will continue to matter is risky. The big banks are aware that the growth of the fintech phenomenon is mainly due to their own shortcomings, to the strong tendency towards industry isomorphism, ...
Read More
What Can Traditional Banks Learn From Fintech?

 

Share