Marcel Harmann is the Head of the SEBAversity, a non-profit educational platform in the field of blockchain technology, digital assets, and cryptocurrencies through online and offline content, at SEBA Bank in Switzerland, an Entrepreneur and Ph.D. Researcher in Computer Science. He has ten years of experience in the business field.
Interview Date :13th May 2020
The Blockchain Course in Lucerne
In the bachelor’s degree within the IT department, we go deeply into the mechanics of how blockchain or consensus algorithms work, and everything else that comes with decentralization, distributed ledgers, and computation. This is not the only university teaching such material, other universities started implementing such courses as well a couple of years ago. They look at this subject more from a business perspective.
We have 4 modules. We start with blockchain technology at the beginning where we deep dive into the technology, so the participants understand the fundamentals. Then we go into blockchain platforms and practices, so we look at like Ethereum, hyper ledgers, Tezos and other such big platforms, and show how blockchain project should be best practiced. The third module is the blockchain business models. In the past, we had divided this section into industries, so it was more like we looked at business models in the medical industry, or government, finance, etc. However, since this course is very focused and the field has expanded, we have to change a lot constantly as the finance industry is very fast-paced, so we have to update it very quickly and teach what we believe is relevant and good for the ecosystem.
The last part of the module is legal & compliance. This to teach the participants about the regulatory systems in global hubs like Singapore, New York, Europe, and also Japan.
Crypto Influencers on the Internet
I like the books of Andreas Antonopoulos. He is very famous for internet money and mastering bitcoin. He is one of the people you should know about as it is almost essential for creating your knowledge base in this industry. Another book that I would recommend would be The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology by William Mougayar. There are quite a few other books out there now that are interesting to read as well so one should always keep one’s eyes open.
I do listen to podcasts and Youtubers. I would advise everyone who would like to be on top of this dynamic industry, to listen to different types of podcasts and YouTubers. At the moment, I like listening to the YouTubers Ivan on Tech, and Carl The Moon. These are guys who do analyze the market and are interesting if you are interested in trading and investments. But there many more out there. Aside from Youtube, there are also different TED talks about blockchain and crypto that are worth watching. Furthermore, there is a podcast named “What Bitcoin Did” by Peter McCormack which I listen to now and then now and then while I am cooking or running errands around the house. Lastly, Twitter is a good place to find different people with a lot of information from different perspectives.
Don’t Want To Pay Millions of Dollars for a Pizza
I think that digital currencies would be a great payment method, but I am not sure if bitcoin would be this currency as I see it more as a store of value and less as a currency. I see the potential raise that bitcoin goes higher a lot so therefore you wouldn’t want to buy a Pizza for a million dollars. When it comes to major big payments, like if you would buy a house etc. then I would think it would be a good payment method, but not a good instrument to buy a pack of chewing gum. But I do see the blockchain technology in itself as a potential possibility to create a decentralized world where you give back the power to the people. Thus, no government would be able to just print money indefinitely creating a scenario where the normal you and I wouldn’t even benefit from it because we don’t dare to invest in anything as we know it to be an empty bubble. I would love to see the world going in a more decentralized direction for sure.
Cash is Still King
The most popular payment method is still cash. There are studies around it that have shown cash is still king. We still have the 1000 Swiss Franc note, whereas in Euro the biggest note is 500 Euro. But cash is most popular followed by payment systems using bank cards. It is probably a generation’s drive. Younger generations do hardly use any cash whereas the older generation only trusts cash.
2 Full-Fledged Digital Banking Licensees Awarded
The FINMA (Financial Authority) in Switzerland created regulation and released guidelines on how to treat different kinds of tokens very early on. The Finma was very advanced and open-minded which I think is very good from a state. This gives the ground for the industry, especially the banking industry, to officially start looking into the technology. As you know that there are guidelines and rules out there backed up by the governments, there is less fear. In Switzerland, 2 full-fledged digital banking licenses were awarded to 2 newly founded banks that focused solely on digital assets and cryptocurrency; Sygnum Bank AG and SEBA Bank AG. Those two banks are closely watched by every other bank. The big players that do not offer digital currency systems as of yet like UBS Group, Credit Suisse Group, EFG International, etc, are working on things and testing out new strategies behind closed doors. They understand now that they have to understand the technology. Other banks, like Julius Baer Bank with roughly 4000 employees, are a little bit more open to new ideas. Julius Baer Bank entered a partnership with SEBA and now offers digital assets like BTC and ETH to their clients through SEBA. So there are different kinds of effort that we see from different private banks and retail banks. I believe in the next 12 months to 2 years, we will see a shift where more and more banks are going forward with this technology.
Interviewer , Editor : Lina Kamada
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