Electronic Engineering at University of Twente
Principal Consultant and Technology Lead, what does that mean?
I’m helping Innopay to strengthen our consultancy services by improving our technical capabilities. Partially through bringing my own expertise but also by making sure we attract people with the right skills and by setting up partnerships with technology providers. In order to be relevant and competitive in innovation programmes for our customers, we have to innovate ourselves too.
Innopay has an excellent track record in innovation programmes. We are specialised in digital transactions, and combine a deep understanding of the business with knowledge of technology and regulations. These three are increasingly overlapping and innovations can only be successful by combining the same level of understanding of all of them.
I am building an experience lab at Innopay for this reason, modelling the world of our clients for future scenario development and increasing our skills and knowledge along the way. We can increase our understanding of technology and its implications, abilities and disabilities by gaining hands on experience in the lab. Also, In today’s agile development world, it seriously helps to have a realistic working model of the digital transaction world to provide deep and early insight. Ideas can be quickly validated in such a model and, once finalised, more easily implemented by all players in the ecosystem. Our clients benefit from improved development and validation skills and a smooth handover from the development to the implementation phase.
What kind of projects are you involved with?
At the moment the majority of my time is spent setting up the experience lab and the associated partnership network. Aside from that I’m involved in several Blockchain projects and projects related to open, API based, business models. Openness is a hot topic right now in the payments industry. In 2018 the PSD2 (Payment Service Directive 2) is coming into force. This directive is intended to increase innovation and competition in the payments industry. For example the directive says that from 2018 onwards banks have to give third party service providers access to your transaction details. This could for example be a Google application or Facebook. Think of having important transactions displayed in your Facebook newsfeed for example. Or logging into your mobile banking app and having transactions of more than one bank displayed with suggestions for your personal financial management. The technology behind this is the Application Program Interface, or API, that allows banks to offer lower level services to third parties. But If you open up your service, how do you keep it secure? Next to PSD2, we’ll shortly see the introduction of the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the AMLD4 (Anti Money Laundering Directive 4). All these new regulations combined raises many questions around business models, user experience, security and privacy. I am preparing to use our technology lab in many projects around these topics.
Why did you pursue this career?
My study had a strong technical focus but I wanted to be on the applied side of technology once I started my career. That’s why throughout my career I have been on the verge of business and technology and in practice gradually lost touch with the details as I developed a broader profile. Technology still fascinates me however and after I did a project in which I had to take a very deep dive into technology again I realised that I could maximise my added value by combining a deep understanding of technology with a broad understanding of the business, because the same technologies empower many business these days.
I have been active in innovation management and business development and always felt a great drive to improve services and experiences enabled by new technologies. I worked mainly in the telecom and media sectors and there was always a lot to improve. Security and privacy were always a part of that, but I would primarily focus on functionality and usability and leave the security and privacy stuff to others. I must admit I sometimes felt it was a bit old fashioned to be focussed on that too much. I wanted to break the mould. But now that the mould has been broken without a doubt, I feel an urge to more evenly balance all factors. Do we really want all our data to be everywhere? Do we have enough control over our personal things? Is it ok for others to monitor me without my permission?
The urge to keep contributing to innovations, while balancing this more with security and privacy made me decide to cross over to the financial industry. In this industry security and privacy have always been important topics and we really have to take these aspects very seriously from the get-go. At the same time we need to innovate. Fortunately, with the latest technologies like biometrics it doesn’t always have to be a trade-off anymore. Functionality and security can and must really go hand in hand now.
Can you name a milestone in your career?
I have worked on dozens of new internet and mobile services and I’m proud of many of them. At Planet Internet for example I set up the first Music on Demand, Streaming Games and Video on Demand services in the Netherlands, and later I played a role in the development of many media sites and apps, connected TV and -Audio and the NS mobile travel planner. A lot of these projects have changed the world a little in their own way. Now I’m involved in Blockchain and open banking projects, which I’m sure are going to do the same.
How will your industry or job in particular change over the next few years? How do you keep up?
There is a lot going on in the world of digital business and the financial sector is no exception. Banks will be required to open up their business to others under the European Payment Service Directive 2, starting with access to the account. When banks aren’t the only ones who can service the end-user with financial services but any third party can do so, this will lead to a focus on the core competences and the introduction of new microservices. So opening up in a controlled and secure way is a big theme at the moment. Also seamlessness, being able to pay anywhere, anytime in any way, effortlessly and still secure is becoming an increasingly important theme. And when Blockchain and Machine Learning really break through, we can’t even begin to imagine the potential impact on this industry.
There is so much going on that it’s almost impossible to keep track of everything on your own. It requires a lot of time to stay up to date. Fortunately we have a team of knowledgeable colleagues, with experts from various disciplines and we are a very open organisation geared towards knowledge sharing. An internal network is a good starting point but it’s also important to connect outside your own organisation. Innopay has a great network that includes knowledge institutes, peer consultancy firms and start-ups throughout Europe. And I have grown a personal network that enables me to quickly find the right people to catch up on things. You don’t have to know everything yourself as long as you know where to find answers. Aside from that, the internet is of course a major source of information. If you look at the amount of information that is available now compared to 20-30 years ago, it’s astonishing. Everybody can find and share knowledge at any time.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming talent?
My tip would be to stay true to yourself. Choose a profession that you are fascinated by and that motivates you. If that happens to be cybersecurity then congratulations; there is going to be a lot of demand for that. If you are motivated by innovation, take security into account in an early stage. It’s important.