Having worked for the U.K.’s former Chancellor George Osborne to safeguard the Treasury’s billions after the global financial crisis, Gilbert Verdian’s reputation as a cybersecurity expert earned him the support to set up his own business, Quant Network.
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From here he developed Overledger, a tech platform designed to aide mass adoption of blockchain’s ‘tamperproof’ security for businesses by solving the problem of how to interconnect their disparate networks.
The world of business currently uses isolated proprietary technology, the issue being that various networks generally do not connect and interact on technical or regulatory levels. Launched 18 months ago it makes the secure realm of blockchain, a technology that Verdian helped to standardize, accessible to the wider business world in a way that was previously impossible.
Hundreds of European banks and financial institutions have already signed up for Overledger and can connect their networks and blockchain with no additional infrastructure in a matter of minutes.
Like many tech entrepreneurs, Verdian discovered his passion and curiosity for how things work at an early age.
“I started using Unix at the age of six and became fascinated with computers and networks and how they worked,” he says. “I spent years breaking things and putting them back together, most of the time unsuccessfully, to understand the inner workings of the product.”
Early in his career he worked in technical services, providing support to companies with their IT, networks, web, desktops servers etc., and in an ISP working on the internet help desk.
“These were the early days of the commercial internet where dial-up modems were the only way to connect when the web was at its infancy,” he says.
But it was cybersecurity that really captured his interest and he joined BT Looksmart, a search engine during the dotcom era, where he managed the servers, networks and security across the globe.
In 2001 he joined CSC, now DXC following the merger of HP and CSC, as a senior security architect to help establish the security practice, and during this time was working with governments and corporations across the world to test their security controls and systems by breaking into them to find vulnerabilities and holes which malicious actors can abuse.
A decade on, Verdian moved into H.M. Government and worked at H.M. Treasury as deputy CTO and CSO during the financial crisis.
He says: “The role was to transform the way government used IT to a more modern approach. We were in the middle of a crisis and we had to figure out how to do more with less whilst keeping the economy running.”
During this time Verdian also helped set up UK Financial Investments (UKFI) where the U.K. Government took on the bad debts from RBS and Lloyds to shield the economy from further risk.
“We then set out to help stabilize and transform the banks and banking sector to help recover from the crisis,” he says.
Verdian also did some work at the US Federal Reserve in the secure payments taskforce, taking what he’d learned from the U.K. and Europe to help develop policy to improve the U.S. financial system.
Around this time, whilst working with the British Government as CISO for the Department of Health, he put his idea for the tech solution Overledger into practice.
“The idea came from the use case of being able to securely connect sensitive health data across systems and jurisdictions,” he says. “The traditional way was very expensive, difficult, created duplication and not just feasible. I thought if I could create a secure blockchain overlay to sit on top of the different systems I could build a secure trusted channel to bridge the systems and transfer health data.”
Verdian approached University College London (UCL) to do the R&D for his idea and spent a year working with its Centre for Blockchain Technologies, the largest blockchain institution in the world.
“We solved interoperability at scale and filed our patent applications,” says Verdian. “We did our fundraising and put the team together and built the technology.
In 2018 the company raised $11 million from a number of private and corporate investors.
SIA, the European high-tech infrastructure payment services provider is now using Overledger to bring cross-platform interoperability to its clients, including European banks, corporates, and public sector organizations.
Although the biggest Overledger use cases have been in financial services, Verdian is seeing large scale implementations in other sectors, including healthcare, where the technology gives patients secure access to their medical data and allows them to monetize their data, and in supply chain, where parties that don’t or can’t trust each other can safely exchange data and connect in the supply or value chain.
Other applications include safely interconnecting IoT devices using blockchain networks.
The company is on track to turn over $10 million this financial year, and with U.S. expansion plans underway, Quant is embarking on another capital raise for growth and in discussions with strategic partners and institutional investors.
Verdian says: “Our potential to grow is uncapped as we change and transform industries by creating a secure layer between them at speed. Our vision is to build a mass version of what I call ‘an internet of trust, where value can be securely transferred between global partners not relying on defunct internet security but rather that of blockchain.”