Giovanni Everduin of CBI on Why Decentralized and Traditional Finance Will Inevitably Merge

In collaboration with ZexPR, Henzelene Heally interviewed Giovanni Everduin, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Commercial Bank International (CBI) at DIFC Fintech Summit in Dubai. The discussion centered around its strategic partnership with RAK DAO (RAK Digital Assets Oasis) to revolutionize banking in the emirate.

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Everduin also heads up CBI’s ventures arm, in addition to managing two different departments. “We are very close to Ras Al Khaimah and care deeply about its economic development, in line with His Highness Sheikh Saud’s vision. When discussions about RAK DAO began, we were supportive early on, especially since we have personal experience in Web3. Dr. Samir and his team are doing an amazing job. One major issue for fintechs and Web3 companies in the region is access to banking services, which is very complicated.”

To streamline this, a strategic partnership was formed with RAK DAO to align compliance teams. This alignment means that companies licensed by RAK DAO already meet CBI’s regulatory requirements, making it significantly easier for companies to get a bank account with us. “Our goal is to help innovation-focused companies set up and get to market quickly without worrying about banking,” said Everduin.

However, other banks blocking transactions involving virtual assets is a complex issue. “To be fair, other banks face real challenges. There is often a lack of understanding as to what Web3 is, beyond just crypto. Compliance has become increasingly crucial, and dealing with digital assets is risky without clear understanding and infrastructure,” said Everduin.

“We are trying to understand these technologies because the world is changing rapidly. My approach is that you cannot expand on what you do not understand. So, we find use cases, understand ecosystems, identify risks, and build mitigations. My view is that DeFi, TradFi, Web2, and Web3 will merge eventually, combining the best of both worlds.”

At present, only offer core banking services are offered. “We are closely monitoring other opportunities, like client money accounts, custodial services, wallets for crypto trading, and using stablecoins for remittances. The key question is what we should be doing and what our customers need today, considering our maturity and infrastructure,” said Everduin.

As to why he thinks think DeFi and TradFi will merge, Everduin’s answer is emphatic: “They have to. Traditional finance has not evolved significantly, while a shadow economic system is being built through DeFi. Traditional finance can learn from DeFi protocols and infrastructure. Partnerships like Visa with Solana show that TradFi is starting to leverage DeFi technologies. Onboarding the masses to DeFi will likely come through TradFi embracing DeFi.”

In terms of integrating with the regulatory environment, Everduin said the UAE has a very progressive approach, with entities like ADGM, VARA, and RAK DAO. The government’s vision, combined with a proactive regulator, creates a great environment for innovation. The central bank has also enabled banks to participate more actively in this space. All these elements drive the ecosystem forward and promote adoption.

Interview by Henzelene Heally

Giovanni Everduin of CBI on Why Decentralized and Traditional Finance Will Inevitably Merge

Henzelene Healley is a common law qualified lawyer living in Dubai and services clients globally. Healley founded her first legal consultancy in 2019, evolving into The Counsel Services (TCS). She is qualified with an LLB with Honors in New Zealand and was admitted as a Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand in 2014. Healley started her journey in Web3.0/Blockchain and digital assets in 2017 when setting up a crypto exchange in the UAE. In 2021 she was the legal counsel of a crypto mining company in the UAE and a virtual asset VC fund with USD100m in AUM. With over five years of hands-on experience in the startup industry, Henzie and her team of lawyers have played a pivotal role in the growth and success of many companies in the Middle East region by providing legal guidance and support from seed, inception, to series rounds and IPO or exit.

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