Hans-Ole Jochumsen, who retired the last fall as vice chairman of NASDAQ Europe, has joined the advisory board of Concordium Foundation, the Swiss non-profit developing a cryptocurrency with a built-in compliance function.
Revealed exclusively to CoinDesk, Jochumsen will guide Concordium’s compliance efforts, providing expertise in taxation, know-your-customer (KYC) practices, and transaction provenance.
The stock market vet told CoinDesk he was already interested in the blockchain technology while working at NASDAQ and was involved in “multiple activities and projects” related to the tech, for example, blockchain-based electronic voting for the shareholders of NASDAQ’s Estonian branch. He explained that he sees promise in blockchain technology to radically reduce the cost and time of global transactions for the industry he’s worked in for decades.
“Many people forget that what we see with the financial institutions is that you have a very complicated setup, every county has its own approach, and if you need to do something globally, it’s extremely complicated, and even if in the end the task is solved, somebody has to pay for it, and it’s the customer,” Jochumsen told CoinDesk. “In Concordium, there is a great vision for something that financial industry worldwide needs.”
Concordium, founded by former Saxo Bank CEO and founder Lars Seier Christensen, is working on a proof-of-stake blockchain and is planning to launch its testnet “within the next month,” Christensen told CoinDesk.
The project aims to combine a built-in anti-money-laundering (AML) and KYC function with zero-knowledge cryptography and compliance with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The beta launch of the mainnet is scheduled for the third quarter of 2019, and Concordium is expected to go live in 2020, Christensen said.
Despite entering the market late in the game, Concordium’s new cryptocurrency (GTU, or global transactions unit) can still gain traction for its identity-checking feature, Christensen told CoinDesk.
“As a first mover with strong focus and expertise in this area (ID/KYC), we are not late, but really among the first to the real game, one that has not started yet, because early generations of blockchains and cryptocurrencies did not achieve real business use in spite of all the hype,” he said, adding:
“So the next era is beginning now and this will be the time when the real potential of public blockchains will finally begin to unfold.”
Concordium’s research team includes cryptography specialists from Aarhus University in Denmark and just added as cryptography lead Professor Ivan Damgård, a co-inventor of the Merkle–Damgård construction underpinning the principles of hashing algorithms.
From finance to fintech
Jochumsen spent nine years at NASDAQ, including almost three years as a president and a year as a vice chairman for Europe, responsible for the exchange’s European expansion.
Before NASDAQ, he worked as president and CEO of Copenhagen Stock Exchange, leading it when it merged with its counterpart in Stockholm. He also served as president of the Scandinavian exchange OMX before it was acquired by NASDAQ in 2008.
In October 2017 the NASDAQ announced that Jochumsen would retire that year, upon turning 60. NASDAQ’s CEO Adena Friedman called him “a true mentor, partner and friend” in the exchange’s internal memo.
At the same time, Jochumsen told Reuters he was talking to a New York-based fintech firm about an advisory role.
Indeed, soon he started advising Alkymi, a startup aiming to automate the documentation flow of financial services firms.
Now Jochumsen works as chairman of Nordax Bank AB, a non-executive director of Nykredit A/S and senior advisor at Alkymi.
Image of Hans-Ole Jochumsen — courtesy of Concordium.