In order to determine the impact on its business, Caisse des Dépôts launched several initiatives under the Blockchain Programs banner led by Nadia Filali. One of the latest operations to date: a partnership signed for 3 years with SystemX Institute for Technological Research (IRT).
With talk of disruption and even ‘unuberization’, there is no shortage of sensational predictions about what blockchain will lead to. “At this stage however”, says the Caisse des Dépôts‘ Blockchain Programmes director, Nadia Filali, “blockchain is still an immature technology. For our customers to transition their products and services from prototype to reality, a number of aspects remain to be explored and verified, particularly the assurance that everything is perfectly secure and interoperable with the real world”. This is the reasoning behind the CDC’s Blockchain Programmes, notably through the LaBChain innovation laboratory, the first of its kind in Europe, started by the CDC with thirty other stakeholders from the banking and insurance world. The initiative was launched in parallel with the BLoCDChain programme dedicated to the CDC Group’s own internal activities; also through partnerships with Banque de France and Finance Participative Française, and the launch of Liquidshare, making it possible to experiment with the different technologies and real-world applications.
The partnership with IRT SystemX will take things to the next level. Its purpose is to characterize the technical, economic and legal conditions required to implement blockchain and to test and verify compliance with security requirements. The first step will be to analyse a use case on the creation of a marketplace for green bonds. To this end, the Caisse des Dépôts and the IRT set about modelling a business process before selecting a technology and developing an initial prototype to be presented at the Paris Fintech Forum on 31 January. “We addressed this in workshops organized by the IRT SystemX teams with people from the financial division’s medium and long-term issuance department, the financial transactions execution department (DEOF), the CDC middle-office and BpiFrance, as well as CDC IT people”, explains Nadia Filali.
An unprecedented partnership
For SystemX, “our contribution is primarily scientific and technological. Once the business and societal issues have been properly formalized, we define a system architecture, depending on the use case analysed. We are able to identify a number of technical and scientific challenges to be resolved – obstacles if you like. For example, that related to data privacy, which is paramount in the banking world but seems to contradict blockchain’s inherent logic of transparency. This is even one of the main obstacles”, explains Charles Kremer, head of the IRT SystemX Smart Territories program.
This partnership is “a first in France – I am not aware of a partnership at this level for R&D relating to blockchain”, he notes. It must be said that the IRTs are exceptional institutions, based on an open innovation model, true development and technology transfer accelerators and a permanent feature of the French innovation landscape. There are currently eight in France, covering the scientific and technological issues faced by the major industrial sectors, and they all share the same objective: “to bridge the research and manufacturing/business worlds”, says Claude Girard, who is responsible for knowledge transfer at the Secrétariat Général pour l’Investissement (SGPI, formerly Commissariat Général à l’Investissement (CGI)). Indeed, one of the major advantages of the IRTs is their ability to bring together scientists, researchers, manufacturers and businesses to work on concrete use cases. For SystemX, the transformation brought by digital technologies – like blockchain and artificial intelligence – is at the heart of its R&D activities, particularly in the transport and mobility, energy, digital security and communications sectors.
At the Caisse des Dépôts: “We started work in mid-2017,” says Charles Kremer. “In other words, there is still a lot to do. In order to enrich the partnership, Nadia Filali would like to involve “key players from the financial and insurance sector” in the project. For Charles Kremer, it would also make sense to “open it up to startups, because large manufacturers create the use cases but startups and SMEs create the technological solutions they use”. France has first-rate scientific and technological resources and this cooperation is an excellent opportunity to take advantage of this very rich environment, which is a major asset in the bid to be at the forefront in this technology”, concludes Nadia Filali.