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As of April 1 Joris Cramwinckel will start his PhD research at the Finance Group at the University of Amsterdam. His PhD project will focus on blockchain applications for pensions. The interdisciplinary research will involve both Finance and Computer Science, contributing to the feasibility of disintermediated pension plans.

Prof. Marc Francke (UvA) will be his principal supervisor and Dr Andreas Peter (UTwente) and Dr Maarten Everts (UTwente) will be the co-supervisors. In addition, Prof. Jaco van de Pol (UTwente) will fulfill an advisory role.

Joris studied Business Analytics at the VU University Amsterdam, where he graduated in High Performance Computing (HPC) Techniques for financial applications. During his research on HPC in 2014 he was unexpectedly approached several times by system administrators regarding whether the GPUs in their cloud were not mining cryptocurrencies. Although they were used for research purposes – crunching financial Monte Carlo methods on a large scale – this incentivized Joris to further explore the blockchain domain.

Combining finance and computer science

As a quantitative developer and researcher in software technologies, Joris gained several years of experience at Ortec Finance, where he was responsible for many technical innovations. His experience in both Finance and Computer Science will make him a great fit for this project. Joris will combine his PhD research with his work as a Technologist for Tech Labs at Ortec Finance.

Pension systems running on blockchain could be useful in economies suffering from a lack of institutionalized trust. They can potentially offer retirement solutions to anyone with (mobile) internet access. In addition, due to the potential cost effectiveness, autonomous pension systems can act as a disruptive pension vehicle across all old-age income pillars in both developed and developing countries (in the form of micro pensions).

Blockchain pension plans

Together with APG and PGGM, Ortec Finance Tech Labs is already prototyping blockchain based pension plans. This prior hands on applied research demonstrate above all that, while blockchain technology has the possibility to disrupt large sectors in the financial world, a lot of work still needs to be done to pave the way for a smooth implementation in the current pension system.

Joris’ research will include actuarial studies on peer to peer sharing of longevity and actuarial  risk in blockchain based agreements. Furthermore, the pension application will act as a use case to pin point the more fundamental aspects of hosting autonomous systems on blockchain technologies. Governance, security and sustainability of autonomous financial systems will be subject of his research.