"This new phase of technology will be global, open, and interconnected. This is the same spirit we see in Luxembourg,"
At this year’s Fintech Awards Luxembourg we recognised leading Fintech startups from around the world. In an effort to get to know these startups and their representatives better, we asked them a few questions as a part of our series of interviews: The Innovators.
This time we caught up with Mike Kane, CEO and Founder of Hydrogen who took home the top prize (€50,000 in start-up money, free LHoFT membership +3 months hosting, and 10 hours’ free consulting from KPMG) for their global financial platform
Mike Kane, Co-Founder of Hydrogen, with the Luxembourg Fintech Awards 2018 first prize
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your company?
I’m Mike, the Co-Founder of Hydrogen. My brother Matt and I have dedicated the last decade of our lives to solving fundamental problems with the global financial system, and Hydrogen is our newest venture. Hydrogen’s mission is simple, to become the global financial platform of the Web 3.0. It is a robust platform with APIs, protocols, libraries, apps, and dApps that seeks to bring financial innovation to all corners of the globe, including the 2 billion unbanked who don’t have access to the fintech revolution. Developers, from small or large companies, can leverage the platform to quickly and inexpensively run sophisticated financial applications.
Hydrogen's 'Hydro' Blockchain platform
You operate in a much-talked-about field of technology, is it a struggle to cut through that hype when explaining your proposition to clients?
The key word there is hype. We believe the financial world is grounded in reality and not hype, thus, by focusing on building real products that help people to solve huge problems, it is very easy for us to stand out. Product innovation and adoption will always win over hype.
Over a fairly short period of time you have built an ambitious range of products in an industry that typically moves quite slowly. What was the key to that speed?
Most fintech firms are unfortunately structured more fin than tech, while we are built more like the latter. There is an old tech startup saying - “ready, fire, aim” - something we like to adopt when we are pushing the boundaries on innovation and product development. Part of our success has been showing more traditional firms the power of mirroring this startup mindset. It’s ok to fail...if you fail fast.
The Hydrogen team
What are some of the most interesting applications of your Hydro (blockchain) and Ion (machine learning) solutions?
Hydro is built so that any financial application globally can instantly reap the benefits of the pubic blockchain, the most powerful technology created in the last decade. Imagine being able to leverage millions of computers around the world to secure client data, prevent identity theft, and maintain client privacy. Ion can offer similar benefits, by instantly making applications more intelligent. This is extremely powerful when the two elements are combined - for example, a client and their financial institution can be instantly alerted of a potential credit card breach, before it happens, not after some thief has purchased that designer handbag.
You are also building a passionate community of developers around Hydrogen, how do you go about differentiating yourselves to that particular audience?
I firmly believe that humans admire and are attracted to authenticity. Our company is built around authenticity. We bring a refreshing approach to the industry, no hype, no empty promises, and complete transparency. If you ask the nearly 10,000 strong community we have built from scratch, with no marketing dollars, this fresh approach is what brought them to the platform more than anything else.
Mike Kane (second from left) with the Fintech Awards Luxembourg 2018 cohort and H.E. PIerre Gramegna, Luxembourg Finance Minister (center) [Delano]
What motivated you to apply to the Fintech Awards Luxembourg?
Hydrogen is being built to be the standard financial platform for the Web 3.0. This new phase of technology will be global, open, and interconnected. This is the same spirit we see in Luxembourg, a financial center that can help millions of people in Europe and globally live more financially free.
What do you find attractive about Luxembourg as a potential destination for Fintech companies in Europe ?
It is really refreshing to see high levels of the government so actively involved in pushing for financial innovation from upstart firms. To build a tech ecosystem, startups must view entrenched institutions as being a partner rather than an antagonist. In many other western markets this is not the case.
Thank you for taking part!