Matthieu Merlyn – Blockchain developer

Blockchain, virtual reality, speech technology... when I see how much effort KBC puts into IT and technology innovations, I’m absolutely amazed’, says blockchain developer Matthieu. As a bank-insurer you have to be ready for tomorrow’s world and to create new business models. IT has a crucial role to play in that long-term thinking. Discover here how Matthieu contributes to innovation at KBC.  

With a Bachelor’s in Applied Informatics and a Master’s in Multimedia and Information Technology under his belt, Matthieu made a conscious decision in 2006 to work for a large company.  

At that time I didn’t know exactly what I wanted. But I did know that informatics was ‘my thing’. So I hoped that at KBC I would get the opportunity to move around internally and to grow. That’s exactly how it turned out: I’ve worked on various projects and come into contact with lots of different technologies. While I was a student, I learned to program in COBOL and I used that knowledge to start out as a mainframe system manager. I later became a technical designer for mainframe, Windows and Linux. My designs went to developers, who could then transform them into applications. 

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Being part of the IT team means you can help create tomorrow’s bank-insurer.

Matthieu Merlyn

Blockchain

Just under a year ago, I worked on an experimental project devoted to big data. I then focused on Microsoft Dynamics – a CRM package used by staff at bank branches, insurance agencies and at KBC Live. I’ve been working at the Blockchain Solution Lab for three years now. 

Bitcoin is probably the best-known blockchain application. To us, the underlying technology is particularly interesting. We’ve developed a specific blockchain application for authenticating documents. It means that anyone can check whether documents KBC has sent them (such as press releases and annual reports) match the original. The bank wants to use this to increase confidence in digital documents. In the meantime, we’ve launched We Trade in collaboration with eleven other banks. We Trade is a trading platform that allows transactions and the associated financing to be executed faster and more efficiently. To onboard our corporate clients in Belgium faster, we also built the blockchain-based KUBE platform along with Isabel and three other major Belgian banks. And by working with the Fnality company, lastly, we’re also cooperating with 14 other leading banks at global level to create a digital currency to allow P2P payments between banks. 

Speech technology

Speech recognition is another example. People with Google Home, Apple HomePod or Amazon Alexa aren’t doing much more with the technology right now than turning their lights on and off, as it were. We’re working on trials to use speech recognition to call up your bank balance (the most common mobile application), to search for transactions, and so on. Speech technology is set to become more important in the near future and we’ll be ready to respond with all sorts of applications. 

IT as driving force for tomorrow’s KBC

IT will certainly be the driving force behind tomorrow’s bank-insurer. IT could help by using artificial intelligence to advise on insurance claims, for instance. We’re already experimenting with that. Now that Payment Services Directive 2 is in force, banks are obliged to make certain client financial data publicly available. The Googles and Amazons of this world can use it to offer services that were formerly exclusive to the banks. Highly disruptive. So it’s essential for a bank-insurer to know the technology well and to create new business models ourselves. It’s extremely impressive to see how KBC is working on this and how much effort is going into innovation.