On the occasion of ICT Spring Europe 2015, one of the most influential conferences on the European agenda, taking place on 19 & 20 May at the New Conference Center of Luxembourg-Kirchberg, more than 1,200 professionals attended the Networking Cocktail and 600 of them took part in the European ICT Awards Dinner, on the first evening of the convention. The winners of the European ICT Awards were announced during the Dinner. These awards aim at rewarding the best practices in the ICT field. 5 awards were attributed by the jury: European CIO of the Year (Carlos Gonçalves), European Digital Leader of the Year (Nicolas Cary), European ICT innovation of the Year (Yapital), European startup of the Year (Slashe) and European Fintech Project of the Year (Kantox).


Carlos Gonçalves, European CIO of the Year

Carlos Gonçalves, Global CIO of Société Générale GBIS, is a Portuguese national and a graduate of Nova University in Lisbon (UNL). Prior to joining Société Générale, he worked for Portugal Telecom in the Research and Development teams.


"Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!"

In January 1993, Carlos Gonçalves joined SG CIB’s Equities Derivatives IT department in France, where he participated in the conception and development of a large number of SG CIB’s systems, responsible for products and architecture. In 2007, he was appointed Global Head of Technology for the Equities Derivatives business and led major IT programmes which contributed to position SG CIB as the world leader in terms of production innovation and profitability leading to SG CIB being awarded the "Best Equity Derivatives House of the year" by Risk Magazine for 20 years in a row. Mr Gonçalves was subsequently appointed Deputy Global Chief Information Officer for SG CIB in 2009 and then Global Chief Information Officer for SG CIB in July 2011.


In 2013, in addition to Corporate and Investment businesses, Carlos Gonçalves took over the supervision of all IT for Private Banking, Asset Management and Securities Services. In total, he has under his direct supervision ca. 7,500 staff across 20 different locations (London, New York, Hong Kong, Bangalore, Luxembourg, Paris, etc.). The personal motto of Carlos Gonçalves is a quote from Oscar Wilde: "Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars!" 


An agile and efficient Information System in risk controlled environment

Since 2010, the teams at GBIS have sustained a very aggressive IS Transformation strategy to upgrade the Information System for all business lines, putting the emphasis on electronic trading capabilities and the streamlining of the back office and risk management processes and establishing the basis for adapting the platform in delivering IT as the Web Giants do and capitalizing on their know how as "Build" house. They have also layered the ground in opening up the Information System to innovation and integrating technology rapidly. Practically they have put in place a comprehensive and fully TOGAFF compliant enterprise architecture framework.


IT is a game changer in a digital world

Moreover this is leading Carlos Gonçalves's teams to redefine within the banking industry what IT is to the business, a game changer in a digital world. They have partnered at the highest level of the bank and the business to make SG the Digital Relationship Bank of reference. Mr Gonçalves is personally convinced, as Charles Darwin stated, that "it is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change".


Ilona Simpson (Group Head of IT at Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd) and Oliver Bussmann (Group CIO at UBS UBS) were also nominated for the 2015 European CIO of the Year Award.


Nicolas Cary, European Digital Leader of the Year

Nicolas Cary brings inspired insight and a unique skill set of creative passion and ethical, pragmatic, thought leadership to his role at Blockchain.


An advocate for Bitcoin

Nicolas has a love for the outdoors and traveling; he attributes much of his entrepreneurial insight to his personal journeys around the world. He holds degrees in Business with an emphasis in Leadership Studies and International Political Economy from the University of Puget Sound. He’s taught English and conducted poverty reduction assessments in rural India prior to spending the past decade growing startups. A lifelong technologist and serial entrepreneur, he’s trilingual, and has a deep passion for positive digital disruption. In 2013 he Co-Founded Blockchain and became the first CEO of the company.


Nicolas accumulated over 300,000 miles last year doing Bitcoin advocacy, keynoting conferences, and attending grass roots meet ups across the Europe and around the world.


As important as the printing press

"Bitcoin and block chain technology will be as important to the internet as the printing press was to publishing", said Nicolas Cary. "This innovation is still widely misunderstood and has been in desperate need of thoughtful and public leadership. When I joined Blockchain in the fall of 2013, Bitcoin was still in its infancy and it was my firm belief that we needed to pivot our company to being more than just early tech adopters. We rebranded, defined our core values and mission statement, and started building our incredible team. Since then, we have been engaged in the management of a hyper-growth company rocketing from 200,000 to 3.3 million users in just 20 months".


Nicolas Cary's company, Blockchain, is the world's leading Bitcoin Software Company. Blockchain has over 3.3 million users, they run the most widely trusted block explorer, and manage the most widely used developer platform in the Bitcoin eco-system. In 2014, Blockchain raised the largest first outside capital round in industry history announcing over $30.5 million closed from leading venture capital firms.


The two other nominees for the 2015 European CIO of the Year Award were Richard Menneveux (founder & CEO of Frenchweb) and Gilles Babinet (Digital Champion of France, Digital Agenda for Europe).


Yapital, European ICT Innovation of the Year

Yapital is a cashless cross-channel payment solution that operates across all channels: in-store, mobile, online and by invoice.


Creativity, commitment and motivation of the staff

At Yapital there are no boundaries when it comes to innovation. The company initiates consumer studies and keeps a close eye on market trends in order to pool relevant information into internal tools (intranet, wikis, and team work spaces) that are available to all their staff. Yapital's Product Development, Integration, Marketing, Design and Communication teams regularly exchange information and discuss innovation ideas that are entered into the innovation pipeline following a review, feasibility study and prioritization. Employees are encouraged to share their ideas and have a reward system in place to recognize the best ones. As a start-up, Yapital relies heavily on the creativity, commitment and motivation of their staff to continue fine-tuning their solution to the best it can be on the market.


Improving UX

Yapital is testing new technologies to improve user experience. For instance, the company has introduced Europe’s first application of BLE (Bluetooth low energy) technology for mobile payment, thus solving the dead-zone problem at the Point of Sales (POS). Besides that, they are testing fingerprint scanning to replace PIN entry, and are also investigating ultrasound technology. In the near future, the Yapital app will include couponing and loyalty programs, allowing users to benefit easily from personalised offers and allowing retailers to build deeper customer relationships.


Yapital is also developing a fundraising feature that gives users the possibility to donate money with just a few clicks, which could be a massive facilitator for charities to get the funds they need.


Slashe, European startup of the Year

Slashe was founded by Lenka Galinié, a former journalist and director having worked with technologies and transmedia projects. Quickly, she studies how people are more and more multitaskers and how it affects progressively their usages online. More than that, she observes how brands struggle to maintain a direct link with the new generation, inclined to seek everything at once on one single spot. Seeking a solution to it, she develops the idea of a technology using sound recognition to make your videos interactive and provide more in one single spot. While people would be watching contents, they would have the possibility to get in real time on their second screen (mobile, tablet, etc.) information, geolocation and ecommerce. Once the technology ready, Lenka managed to raise €1 million to start her agency which has since then grown up to 13 people working and develops new ideas and technologies, hoping to be tomorrow the first platform in Europe for video contents.


A startup composed of Millennials …

Slashe is specialized in audio visual production to write through an interactive know how in storytelling, innovative video scripts. The agency can enrich scenarios and create immersive experiences for various brands and production companies. To create a real sustainability, Slashe later created its own platform called Slashtag, combining an online TV and a social network through the use of the technology. The platform aiming at Millennials, 75% of the global workforce in 2025, would satisfy the needs of this new generation for video consumption as well as the connection to social networks all while simplifying their everyday through technology. In addition, the startup has developed a headset to film contents in 360 and implement interactivity onto types of videos to revolutionize video contents.


… aspiring to bring a better answer to Millennials' everyday needs

Slashe's main focus is the opening in 2016 of Slashtag for a worldwide launch. It will be dedicated to 3 main zones: America (North and South), Europe and Asia-Pacific to produce local and international contents. On the long-term, the platform would like to develop into 3 other zones, reuniting 66% of Millennials in 2050: China, India and Africa. In parallel, the agency keeps providing B2B solutions for partners such as building interactive websites, mobile apps and videos in white label for brands. Able to give out solutions on digital strategies as well as add interactivity on events, Slashe agency is able to speak more to professionals all while communicating on Slashtag to future users. The startup therefore provides solutions for B2B as well as B2C all while adapting its recommendations at an international scale.

Kantox, European Fintech Project of the Year

Kantox is a foreign exchange marketplace for businesses, offering SMEs and mid-cap companies a comprehensive solution to their foreign exchange needs, based on transparency.         


"We strongly believe in what we do and that our platform is unrivalled for innovation in the FX sector", said Philippe Gelis, CEO of Kantox. "The P2P matching engine in particular offers companies a service that was previously unavailable - mid-market rates for SMEs and mid-cap companies through disintermediation of the bank or broker middleman - and the closest thing to it before we launched was made available to only the largest of multinational corporations".


The Kantox team constantly searches for ways to upgrade their product, platform, and API. Additionally, they respond to client needs through the currencies they offer (recently adding Chinese yuan to the platform), the systems they use to improve the processes (implementation of SWIFT and FIX in 2014) and the human resources needed to move forward and address sticking points (50 employees from all over Europe for the Tech, Marketing, Sales and Finance teams).


Technology as a selling point

The people at Kantox are committed to the advancement of FinTech as a finance subsector, and to new technological innovation to improve the finance sector as a whole. They have ideas for the continuing evolution of their product and for how banking is set to change with the imminent arrival of FinTech banks, probably within 3 to 5 years from now.


"The two biggest challenges that we continue to face are confronting banks, who are so powerful financially, and that, in order to win clients, there must be a paradigm shift away from doing your foreign exchange with a bank, which is of course no easy feat", said Philippe Gelis. "The traditional banking sector, which has for so long monopolised the FX market, with no real competition, has so much financial might. In order to compete, we have to act differently. Our technology is our selling point, and it is through our technology platform that we win business from banks and brokers".


"In the beginning it is normal to be wary of considering an FX provider that is neither a bank nor a broker, as banks and brokers have been the only channel through which to conduct FX transactions in the history of foreign exchange. It can take a while for people to fully realise that we are legitimate, and we offer a very competitive alternative to the status quo", he added.


For further information, please visit ICT Spring Europe's web site.


Publié le 20 mai 2015