Maarten Ectors is a man of many parts, mostly disruptive. He has worked in general insurance but sees the benefits that decentralized insurance can offer customers.
“Insurance must find new ways to become relevant and engage with its customers. Disrupting means making things easier for customers, automating claims, and using smart contracts to fulfil obligations without lengthy manual interventions for example.”
Modern insurance is often seen as a grudge necessity, it’s a win lose relationship according to Ectors.
“If the insurer pays, then the customer wins and if the insurer doesn’t pay, they win but the customer loses. This model does not allow for a win win resolution – so as a software engineer that’s where I focus.
Ectors is fascinated by blockchain and the new ways of looking at processes. He was presenting at DEVCON1 in 2016 where he first heard about blockchain, Ethereum, drones and DAOs.
“I met some amazing people, including the founders of Slock.it who set up the Ethereum DAO. This was in 2016 and everything was very new but what interested me was that they turned down VC money. They knew they could raise their own money and they did it to the tune of $150 million – and lost $50 million of that to a hacker which was the biggest crypto hack in history at the time.”
Disruption, Ethereum and tokenisaton. The last was a natural diversion for Ectors as he looked to police the somewhat shady and emerging world of carbon offsetting.
“We all know carbon offsetting is a good thing, but can we trust the chain of command? How do we know that projects in emerging countries are doing what is claimed? Where are the trackers and truth keepers? For that we have tokenisation – on the blockchain.”
Finally there is one other area of interest to our man of many parts – NFTs and metaverses.
“We are witnessing Web2 companies looking to use tokens to connect with their customers. It’s a token solution looking for a problem if you will. Brands will create content, licences it and then put it into a game, into a metaverse and off the billboards. NFTs will facilitate this.”
And so we finally get to Pollen and the why Ectors found this project so interesting. He joined in October just after the initial founders put the project together. It’s all about the money, follow the money.
“Take a step back,” Ectors advises. “Ten years ago if you had money it was relatively easy to invest through a broker or asset manager. Then Warren Buffet came along and burst the bubble pointing out that most of the managers never beat the market. So the next opportunity was indexed funds which were expected to go up – continually. Except that is not sustainable so where can money go now?
“So, why not create an index token that gets invested in such a way to beat the market. But if the market goes down, then you go short. If the market goes up, you go long. And what if we can make something that the investors pay gas fees to rebalance their assets? And that last part is the key to Pollen.”
Pollen has divided the problem of how to invest money into two parts, the second part being copied from traditional finance, namely copy trading. They have set up leader boards so successful traders are easily seen – and copied. These successful players make a percentage from their followers once they are successful. Pollen calls it copying the influencer model on YouTube.
But even a successful trader will hit a bum note, so Pollen takes the top say 50 traders and combines their collective intelligence – a format which has proven to be on the more successful approach.
“So on one hand you have people following experts to see what they will do collectively – and that delivers data. Then on the other side, we have an index that takes that data and invests – and users can just buy the index token based on the data.
“We’re not building an index, we are building an index factory.”
Pollen can also make very specific indexes to keep people interested and reward niche information.
“Having a virtual league also allows people to set up mini leagues which might be Oxford versus Cambridge for example, or family and friends could set up their own particular leagues.”
The more people polled on what the market will do, any market, the more accurate the results.
“If you are an investor in ECO tokens, you could ask the top 50 ECO traders their advice daily, which tokens should you hold and which would you sell. It’s why we call it the Hive mind. Pollen is more of an ecosystem than a product with room for DeFi investors, ECO investors, collectible investors – you name it.”
Pollen also offers the concepts of vaults where unused tokens could be held in yield generating vaults – swapping the tokens in and out like Lego pieces – and can facilitate the presence of regulated custodians or third parties in a regulated environment or an open-source free foundation.
This is why Ectors is so interested in Pollen – it has the potential to grow in many different directions.
“I like to start with something small that can change the world – a small startup that might address a $10 trillion index fund market. And it can because it is transparent.”
Right now, people can go to the Pollen app at app.pollen.id and play a virtual trading game – and discover if they have what it takes to go up the leaderboard without risking any money.
“It’s a chance to see if you can specialise in one niche area or set up a rival league with friends.
“Are you the good, the bad or the ugly trader?”