Fayçal Tazi (EMBA 2017) joins board of new venture specialising in commodity trade finance blockchain solutions.
Halfway through his time on the Cambridge Executive MBA (EMBA) programme, Commodity Finance Director Fayçal Tazi participated in the formation of a brand-new venture.
Komgo is a joint venture focused on utilising blockchain technology to solve inherent issues in commodity trade finance.
Formed as a consortium of industry professionals from some of the world’s largest financial institutions and corporate organisations in oil and gas, chemical manufacturing, and auditing and certification, the consortium members investing in Komgo will be its first customers and beneficiaries of the solution it develops.
Impetus for the venture
“Commodity trade finance is a century-old industry that is still being governed by manual and paper-based processes prone to fraud and human error. What’s more, these processes require heavy middle- and back-office intervention to execute transactions,” says Fayçal, a native of Casablanca, Morocco, now based in London.
“Coupled with inefficiencies, time-consuming operations and increased regulation, the consortium joined forces to develop a solution that will have positive impacts on industry participants’ margins.”
Based on their shared drive to solve said inefficiencies, the consortium is exploring the potential held by blockchain technology.
“In 2017, a few banks operated two fully digitised ‘proof of concept’ transactions using blockchain technology, the successes of which further increased industry interest in the solution” says Fayçal on the impetus for the venture. “This led to the formation of Komgo in August of 2018.”
Less than a year after its inception, Komgo has built a decentralised network infrastructure, enabling participants to access blockchain-enabled digital financial products.
A focus on security
According to Fayçal, the company has lofty ambitions that they hope will lead to a full shake-up in the commodity trade finance industry.
“Komgo will provide a fully digitised open financing platform powered by blockchain, leading to massive improvements in security, fraud reduction and operational efficiently.”
So, how does it achieve this? Komgo’s blockchain ledger transmits peer-to-peer transactions in a secure environment. This provides full visibility to both parties but stores only essential reference data in the network, accessibly only on a need-to-know basis.
“The average document requires 41 ‘touch points’ during the trade financing process,” continues Fayçal. “Despite this, as much as 95 per cent of data transmitted in a single commodity trade cycle adds no value or revenue to the transaction. We propose simplification to drive efficiency, whilst also improving security.”
Non-executive director: a completely new experience
Fayçal works as a Director of Commodity Finance at financial services company Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG). His involvement with Komgo is the first time he has had the opportunity to sit in a non-executive director role.
“This is a completely new experience for me; it’s very different from an executive role. I am focused on the long-term strategy of the company, making decisions with regards to funding, and contributing to the customer acquisition strategy.”
“It’s fascinating to be involved in the development of strategy for Komgo, as I truly believe this will be transformational for the commodity trading industry as a whole,” says Fayçal. “On a personal level, I also see this as an important asset for my learning and eventually career progression.”
Influenced by Cambridge
Fayçal graduated from Cambridge Judge Business School’s Executive MBA programme in 2019, having previously studied in Brazil and France. During his time on the programme, he built a strong, supportive network and developed a wide range of skills.
“Evolving and studying with both successful executive managers and entrepreneurs inspired me to nurture new ideas and perspectives and cultivate my entrepreneurial spirit. I’m showing more flexibility in my management style now and displaying higher levels of empathy in my professional interactions – something I was keen to get out of the programme.”
“The opportunity to invest in Komgo came along at the perfect time for me as I was able to speak with my cohort about the potential of blockchain technologies. This helped me develop a passionate interest in the subject and continues to drive the company’s decisions.”
Advice for future cohorts
“Make the most of your time while In Cambridge,” says Fayçal. “Being part of an Executive MBA cohort at Cambridge is a unique opportunity. You will meet amazing and inspiring individuals that will (hopefully) be friends for life, so invest in networking.”