KAS Lab recently celebrated its 1-year anniversary and we look back at a successful first year. At the beginning of this year, the Lab started several initiatives. Some initiatives were eventually discontinued, while other initiatives are at the brink of being launched. The trick is to recognize what projects do not fit the strategy and be audacious enough to stop them on time. On the other hand, it is a skill to timely recognize interesting innovations and to provide them with the right resources to realize their development. KAS Lab’s first two innovations are in full development and will be launched in early 2019.
21 Dec 2018
TOKAS: invest in unlisted funds
The first initiative of KAS Lab, called TOKAS, is in an advanced stage of development. Menno Wielhouwer, Team Lead TOKAS, provides us with insights on the initiative.
What does TOKAS stand for?
TOKAS stands for Tokenized Assets and makes the process of investing in unlisted funds more efficient, for both fund houses and investors. The product is initially aimed at fund houses situated in the Netherlands and uses block chain technology. Currently, the lead time for investing in unlisted funds is over 7 days. TOKAS settles investments in real time at the set Net Asset Value (NAV). In addition, TOKAS saves 50%-70% on the costs related to making investments in unlisted funds, i.e. by merging a system of several affiliated administrations into one platform using block chain technology.
What is the current status of this innovative product?
Earlier this year we developed a Proof of Concept of the product. After this was completed, we worked with a launching customer on the product launch of an application. Currently, we are in the final phase of development and are on schedule to complete the IT development before the end of this year.
What makes TOKAS innovative?
The TOKAS application contains several innovative solutions, such as biometric verification, so-called 'multisignature' protocols and it is of course integrated with the public Ethereum network (block chain technology).
What do you want to achieve with TOKAS?
Our goal is to create a financial system that is equally accessible to everyone, so that everyone has access to the benefits of financial services. TOKAS brings funds and investors together safely and directly, increasing speed, and working with fewer parties reduces costs - leading to optimal returns.
When do you expect to be able to serve the first customers?
Onboarding the first clients is planned for Q1 2019. At this moment it looks like we will make that deadline.
What is currently your biggest challenge?
My focus is currently on managing all stakeholders in this project and managing the development of the application. A start-up’s world changes every day, which is no different for corporate start-ups like these. It takes a lot of effort to keep the first client, the development team and all other stakeholders aligned on topics such as planning, budget and open actions.
Is there interest in the TOKAS application?
Yes, we are enthusiastic about the increasing interest in this application. Over the past period we spoke to several interested financial institutions. On short term we have meetings planned with 5 clients, including two of the three largest funds in the Netherlands.
What are the first reactions?
We get positive reactions from potential customers and other business partners. TOKAS can save a lot of costs for investors. Despite the challenges of modernising a 'conservative industry' with an innovative solution, we notice that we are looked at as one of the players that will determine the playing field of the future.
What are the plans for 2019?
The product launch is scheduled in the first quarter of 2019. We look forward to that and will not let the launch go by unnoticed. Due to the increasing interest, we also expect that we will soon be able to welcome more funds and investors on our platform.
What are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of the team I work in. I have never been part of a multidisciplinary team with this level of problem solving, collaboration and productivity. That is very inspiring and motivating!
Visit www.tokas.nl (website is in English) for more information.
KASPER: online dashboard for index investments
The second innovative initiative of KAS Lab is called KASPER. This is an online product for index investing. Martijn Blokzeijl, Team Lead KASPER, explains the initiative.
What is KASPER?
With the help of an online dashboard, investors can invest in a simple way in index funds (index tracking). Investment can be done in the MSCI world index, for example, but also in certain business sectors. KASPER ensures that international investments are made at minimum dividend tax and maximum tax recovery and is therefore substantially different from other initiatives for index investing.
What makes KASPER different from other index trackers?
KASPER follows stock indices and offers the following advantages:
1) Customise investment mandate as desired;
2) Receive full tax revenues and tax refunds;
3) Get a discretionary mandate with full transparency (costs & income).
What is the current status of the development?
The technical validation is done. We are now ready for the next step, to enter KAS BANK’s product approval process (PARP). In this process, the product is tested against a number of (regulatory) requirements and to see whether the product can get approved for market launch.
Is there interest in KASPER?
Yes, in the past few months we have spoken to more than 20 potential customers that closely follow the developments. After the approval process we will demonstrate a live demo to parties interested, and we expect to be able to onboard the first customers in the first quarter of 2019.
What is your biggest challenge at this moment?
The transition of the product from the Lab to KAS BANK's daily business is an interesting challenge. This is because this process is new to both organisations and therefore requires extra effort and the necessary expertise. KASPER will be the first initiative to leave KAS Lab. We are currently working with the Legal, Compliance and Operational/Financial Risk departments to obtain formal approval to bring KASPER to market.
What are the reactions on KASPER so far?
Very positive! Especially institutional investors find KASPER an interesting development and are interested to know when it will be available.
What are you most proud of so far?
I am most proud of running a successful index tracking pilot.