Meet The Team: Humphrey Polanen

July 13, 2021 inMeet The Team, Teamby Findora

“Regulatory compliance and cyber risk governance, as well as optimal client experience: Findora offers the potential to positively impact those areas of friction.”

In today’s issue of Meet The Team we feature Humphrey Polanen, an advisor to Discreet Labs who brings a wealth of expertise to the role, for a profile piece and discussion about his experiences, and his perspectives on blockchain and financial services: past, present and future.

Humphrey Polanen is the second advisor to have been featured on ‘Meet The Team’. He follows our senior advisor Young Yu who was the first on the advisory board to have been one of our subjects. His role is to offer “strategic advice on technology based solutions for banks and financial institutions. Institutional advocacy with global policy makers”.

“DeFi is potentially as large as the banking and financial services market itself. My experience with early banking and transaction processing networks (Tandem), data security products incorporating cryptography (Sun Micro) and bank board governance and compliance (Heritage Bank) is a an unusual combination enabling me to contribute to Findora “

All of our advisors have a shared vision for a future of finance, financial services and products in common. This is a future where confidential self-sovereign data, identity and assets can be communicated with full auditability – on the Findora public blockchain – whilst retaining privacy via selective disclosure and zero knowledge proofs, among other cutting edge solutions.

We speak to Humphrey about his experiences, and his perspectives on blockchain and financial services: past, present and future.

A Global Perspective 

Humphrey Polanen has more than earned his reputation as a highly respected figure in several industry sectors and niches. He possesses “a global perspective from working and living in London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong and Latin America” in part due to a career whose highlights include “over twenty years” as “a bank board director.”

His strengths include the strategic leadership of global financial operations – in addition establishing and managing strong strategic relationships with internal and external stakeholders. His international background has contributed to proficiency in communications including a strong awareness of both local and globalized cultural requirements.

He is also multilingual in English, Spanish and Dutch.

“I was born in Suriname (“the greenest country on earth”) and grew up there and in Puerto Rico and Minnesota.”

Humphrey has curated an impressive and expansive profile of accomplishments from residency, job roles and professional operations located across the globe and yet, Humphrey Polanen isn’t the complacent type, nor is he one to rest on his laurels. Looking at Humphrey’s work profile shows that he actively contributes to seven different projects in a diverse range of sectors and niches: from banking, to emerging technologies like blockchain and cryptography, financial services, and philanthropic organizations.

As such, his attention is clearly valuable and we feel privileged that he has chosen to dedicate a significant amount of time towards Findora and Discreet Labs.

“I have three criteria when I’m considering joining an organization as advisor or board member: market opportunity, my potential impact based on my experience and fundamental innovation potential of the technology and business model.

“Findora checks the box on all three.”

Findora Checks The Boxes

The experience which Humphrey shares with us spans financial services, banking. cyber security, technology, and encryption. Starting as a lawyer and later being recruited to a leadership role at Sun Microsystems, Humphrey has worked his way up earning promotions and other achievements in various positions from investor, to co-founder and board member of a Silicon Valley bank, and other executive level positions.

“Learning about leadership and strategy from some of Silicon Valley’s best was great preparation for coaching early stage teams.”

Some more of Humphrey’s accomplishments include:

  • Represented the Software Industry Alliance and testified to the US Congress about the importance of encryption technologies to trust in Internet based transactions.
  • Spoke on the aforementioned subject to the World Economic Forum and the World Bank Annual Meeting.

Much like how computers and internet technology inspired a digital revolution in many areas, blockchain and cryptocurrencies have reached a stage where, along with other key emerging technologies, are entering all areas of life as a result of the creation of new sectors as well as adoption by pre-existing institutions. Humphrey sees his advisory role at Findora as a chance for him to help improve the financial services industry using this technology. 

Humprey Polanen envisions blockchain and “cryptographic innovation” to solve the problem of building solutions with both privacy and transparency at their core – and carefully balancing the prioritization of them.

“I view this as an opportunity to change the largest industry extant— financial services— by bringing together Blockchain and cryptographic innovation and applying them to hard business problems such as balancing privacy and transparency for clients and regulators, as well as for banks and other capital markets participants.”

Along with layer-one protocols – DeFi and peer-to-peer financial services, and the blockchains built to support them have advanced to a stage where they are being noticed by new entrants to the ‘crypto space’ by way of mainstream media, word of mouth and marketing / advertising. 

Over all, Humphrey’s background has contributed to a particular focus on the relationship between blockchain and financial institutions as he sees them as a major catalyst for growth:

“Awareness of blockchain technology by large enterprises has moved from the embryonic stage to various degrees of broader adoption. In short, the time is right for acceleration “

Closing Statement on Privacy and Blockchain

Closing off, Humphrey offers his perspective on the importance of building privacy into the core of financial blockchain solutions…

“Privacy on a public blockchain may initially seem to be an oxymoron  but in the context of DeFi and financial transactions more generally it actually strengthens the zero knowledge paradigm.

“By selecting the privacy option for certain proprietary data such as account numbers and customer names can lead a bank or other counterparty to be more comfortable with a decentralized consensus

“In the context of Findora and this example access to the private information could still be made available to those with a need to know such as auditors and regulators.”

Quick Facts

What is your hometown?

“I was born in Suriname, South America (“the greenest country on earth”) and grew up there and in Puerto Rico and Minnesota but by now I’ve lived here in the Bay Area most of my life.”

What is your favorite food?

“You’d have to force me to choose between Italian and Chinese. Italy is my favorite vacation destination and I’ve lived and worked in Hong Kong. And, oh yes, let’s not forget Mexican.”

What is your favorite hobby?

“Music (I produced a jazz album) and being in nature (the rainforest of Suriname and the California coast).”

Most admired tech entrepreneur / company / product / brand?

“Eric Schmidt for his thoughtful approach to leadership. Apple products blow me away, but gene editing tool CRISPR will be considered the most important innovation of our time.”