The Big Interview

GBX’s Kurt Looyens: ‘Moving into the blockchain space has been invigorating’

Coin Rivet catches up with Kurt Looyens, the recently appointed CEO of the Gibraltar Blockchain Exchange (GBX), a subsidiary of the Gibraltar Stock Exchange

Looyens joined the GBX from ABN AMRO Bank Spain, where he served as Country Executive. Here, he talks to Coin Rivet about his career to date, Gibraltar’s success in the blockchain space and how the GBX is working to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto finance.

Coin Rivet: Tell us about yourself and your move from traditional banking to cryptofinance.

KL: Having spent over 20 years in the traditional banking sector, I arrived at a crossroads in my career. in 2018 I was faced with two options, to continue in an industry I knew well, or to transition into the blockchain space, and work with an emerging technology that promised to have a significant impact on business and finance.

There are many bridges to build between traditional finance and crypto finance. Moving into this new sphere has been invigorating, as I’ve been able to deploy the experience I accrued over my career with the new learnings and challenges that blockchain brings with it.

Coin Rivet: How has the GBX been faring in 2019? What have been the highlights thus far?

KL: The GBX has been performing well in 2019, with a series of listings and announcements; a trend that we intend to see continue throughout the year. We announced the listings of 13 coins on the GBX Digital Asset Exchange (GBX-DAX), including XLM, TRON, XLM, ICNQ, EOS,and DAI, among others.

The focus has shifted to user adoption, with enhanced attention to customer onboarding and trading. The wider GSX Group has also had key achievements, such as the demo bond issuance launch, which enables the listing of digital securities and brings GSX closer to facilitating the issuance, trading, and clearing of digital securities on the blockchain.

“An increasing number of institutional players and large enterprises have demonstrated their support for blockchain and crypto in the past year, proving that we have come a long way as an industry. The formation of supportive regulation, informed by the needs of industry and strong education, will contribute to a greater understanding and acceptance of DLT”

Coin Rivet: What are the main drivers behind Gibraltar’s success in the blockchain space?

KL: Direct and comprehensive action by regulators and the government in Gibraltar has helped the jurisdiction emerge as a supportive jurisdiction for emerging technologies, with a strong focus on nurturing excellent conditions for blockchain companies to thrive.

When Gibraltar introduced a purpose built distributed ledger technology (DLT) regulatory framework, it opened the doors to ambitious blockchain projects, providing them with a clear road to market. This has led to the jurisdiction earning its status as a true driver of innovation in the sector.

Coin Rivet: The blockchain/crypto space has many supporters, but also its fair share of critics. The latter argue that it is all hype, no substance, and that too many scammers etc are muddying the waters. How do you respond to that?

KL: It is important to remember that although there are examples of projects which have taken advantage of the hype around blockchain, many have legitimate use cases and strong teams behind them. While new technologies often face waves of scepticism, this should also embolden legitimate projects to show their worth.

An increasing number of institutional players and large enterprises have demonstrated their support for blockchain and crypto in the past year, proving that we have come a long way as an industry. The formation of supportive regulation, informed by the needs of industry and strong education, will contribute to a greater understanding and acceptance of DLT.

Coin Rivet: What can you tell us about GBX’s plans for the coming months?

KL: The GBX will maintain the positive momentum of the busy initial months of 2019, as we continue to bridge the gap between traditional and crypto finance. We also look forward to strengthening our community of users, announcing further listings to the GBX-DAX. As part of the wider GSX Group, we aim to implement strong practices for the growth of the blockchain ecosystem in Gibraltar, and on an international level.

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