THREE QUESTIONS TO JEAN LANGLOIS-BERTHELOT, SENIOR LECTURER IN FINTECHS AT SCIENCE PO
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Let’s meet today with Jean Langlois-Berthelot, senior lecturer in fintechs at Science Po
- First of all, can you present your background and your interest in tokenization of finance?
I learned ethical hacking quite young and spent a part of my youth in Asia and Middle East. I teach and make conferences on new technologies in France and the UK. Among other conferences, I was asked to make a lecture for the Services of the Presidency of the French Republic on machine learning. Currently I am based in Zug in Switzerland (CryptoValley) where I develop innovative solutions in financial mathematics.
The first time I had to deal with Blockchain and cryptocurrencies was in 2013 during a trip to India. I was very impressed by the depth of technical knowledge of Indian computer scientists. Those I was talking to were quite familiar with the article of Nakamoto and had fun challenging the codes proposed for Bitcoin and trying to propose improvements.
What do I think about tokenization ? Asset management is an evolving field. Individuals and companies are constantly trying to find ways to gain advantage in a highly competitive market. Asset management and investments have always been particularly institutionalized environments, but new technologies are changing the game.The Blockchain makes it possible to segment illiquid assets. Assets that are generally beyond the reach of the investment can become so. Thus, real estate, some precious metals, and raw materials (such as palladium), works of art … can be divided and each share (token) can be sold to an investor. We talk about “tokenization” but in reality, the mechanism used here is particularly classic and well known in finance: it is securitization.
Can you shortly present the fintech programs that you are lecturing in Sciences Po and why students should follow them?
In 2017, SciencesPo offered me the opportunity to teach a course in English on fintech for SciencePo students and double programs with Universities in North America. I was working at the Ministry of the Armed Forces and I often wrote about these subjects. I had the chance to exchange regularly with lawyers specializing in crypto-assets in 2016 and 2017 and for a moment I wanted to offer a course focused on the legal issues of Blockchain and crypto-assets. I realized that this would have been too specialized. After several months of work, I finished the syllabus of a course that deals with the main technical aspects ( with some simple computer science) but also the financial and legal ones. The choice was to avoid giving only a panorama but to offer precise and useful expertise. The course is called “Understanding the Revolution on the move: New Financial Technologies”. Obviously it was impossible to treat all the topics so I focused on the most important: for the technical questions, the proposal was concentrated on anonymization and consensus; for the financial aspects the course deals with the transformation and hybridization of the banking system. When I taught in the fall of 2018, students were quite surprised by the content of the course. They thought it would another introductory course. This course has been used extensively for inspiration by French and British colleagues and several researchers of the London School of Economics contacted me to exchange on the methodology.
What is your view on Libra?
Libra is a virtual currency with little volatility compared to crypto-currencies like Bitcoin, for example, as is backed by a basket of financial assets. In terms of the exchange’s functioning, we are facing a rather ingenious model. The new currency will be able to serve as a method of payment to no less than two billion users with Facebook accounts, which is more than a quarter of the world population. The Facebook company has also indicated that it wants to attract the 1.8 billion people who do not have access to banking services.,