Charles D’Haussy has joined ConsenSys as director of strategic initiatives, with a view to supporting and expanding the Ethereum-based blockchain firm’s activities in Asia, including financial services.
D’Haussy joined ConsenSys this month after having led fintech promotion for over two years at InvestHK, the marketing arm of the Hong Kong government.
ConsenSys styles itself as an organization different from a traditional corporation. Backed by one of the co-creators of the Ethereum blockchain protocol, Joe Lubin, the firm invests in over 50 projects.
Given these are all based on use cases for decentralized computing, primarily on the Ethereum protocol, ConsenSys is itself run in a fairly decentralized manner; the organization refers to its combined activities as “the mesh”. Similarly, D’Haussy’s reporting lines are not neatly defined; he says he coordinates with various project leaders referred to as “circles”. Everything is run on a cutting-edge tech stack.
Before serving in government, D’Haussy was an entrepreneur, setting up companies in consumer electronics and lighting, one of which he got listed on the Paris Stock Exchange, an experience that sparked his interest in financial services. While at InvestHK, he says he engaged with about 450 fintech companies worldwide.
D’Haussy says this new role at ConsenSys was created to bring a level of coordination to these activities in Hong Kong.
“The company is growing very fast, so there are bandwidth issues,” he said, noting there are now about 300,000 Ethereum developers worldwide. He sees his role as helping existing projects with a Hong Kong arm get the people or other resources they might require to reach deployment stage, or to help developers with big-picture commercial decisions.
There are bandwidth issues
Charles D'Haussy, ConsenSys
“We’re creating a Hong Kong hub, with a team and a platform for all verticals...a platform in Hong Kong for hiring, business development, and marketing,” he said.
This includes building out ConsenSys Solutions in Hong Kong, the organization’s venture arm for blockchain products and companies; as well as community outreach.
Although ConsenSys’s various projects, or “spokes” as the firm calls them, span industries, finance remains the most prominent sector.
D’Haussy says new projects in the region will be announced in the second quarter of 2019.
Current announced fintech projects in Asia include:
- In Hong Kong, ConsenSys is working with Nippon Wealth to develop decentralized applications for financial services. Nippon Wealth has a restricted banking license in Hong Kong (i.e., investment banking and capital markets, not deposits); its CEO is Tsutomu Nakajima. Nippon Wealth announced a partnership with ConsenSys in November 2018, along with Tribay Capital and Japan’s Shinsei Bank. Shinsei owns 50% of Nippon Wealth via a BVI-domiciled structure, while Tribay, a private-equity fund founded by Kiyoshi Miura, is a minority shareholder. No details of the scope of the dApp projects have been disclosed.
- In Singapore, ConsenSys has partnered with CapBridge, an investment firm run by CEO Johnson Chen, to launch a private exchange to be called 1X. The idea is to facilitate exit options for shareholders of private companies, and create a new market for secondaries. Blockchain applications are meant to make more efficient tasks such as recordkeeping, reconciliation and compliance. CapBridge’s shareholders include Singapore Exchange and U.S. venture capitalist Tim Draper.
- In the Philippines, ConsenSys is working with UnionBank on a project called i2i, an Ethereum-based payment network that uses a tokenized peso to connect hundreds of local community banks to the national and global payment systems. The partners say the pilot program has been concluded and UnionBank has received clearance from the central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, to deploy i2i. So far, 130 rural banks are registered on the platform, and the partners hope to add the remaining 346 banks over the course of 2019 – and then to scale it internationally.