Roman and blockchain
Roman Stammes is an expert in blockchain. In this interview, he explains how he uses his knowledge at the Bank and what else keeps him busy professionally.
Roman, you are currently a project manager for Commerzbank’s collaborative venture with the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, where you are working together on banking applications for distributed ledger technology (DLT), the basis for blockchain. How did you become an expert in this rather abstract field?
Roman Stammes: I became interested in new banking technologies early on, during my training as a bank clerk. I’m just fascinated by the idea that transactions can be processed completely digitally. In other words, in real time, from the order to the delivery of the goods or services through to payment. And all of it fraud-proof, transparent at any time for all parties involved and virtually without any higher-level control entity. I wanted to understand the technology behind the whole process. I also experimented on my own and programmed my own cryptocurrency while living working abroad in Shanghai in 2018.
As a non-expert, the topic seems rather “eerie” to me because it only exists in the virtual world and is not “tangible”. What actually happens to all the customer and bank data, and why is DLT fraud-proof?
Roman: All details of a transaction are laid down in “smart contracts”, the individual steps along the value chain build on one another and are transparent for all participants at all timesany time. But only for them, because all data is encrypted.
Can you give an example of how this works?
Roman: You can think of blockchain technology like the children’s game “I packed my bag”. Each player names an item to take with them on their journey, and each subsequent player repeats the others’ items in the correct order. When someone makes a mistake, the other players notice it immediately and point out the error.
That makes sense. Is this how you explain blockchain to our customers?!
Roman: Yes, something like that! (laughs) I even talked to interested customers about DLT while I was still in training. I was then also asked to give presentations and the whole thing grew from there (see photo). I would like to take this opportunity to thank my supervisor at the time, Michael Schramm, head of the Corporate Clients Centre in Düsseldorf, who made it possible for me to start giving blockchain presentations at the Bank. Currently, I am also a board member of the Blockchain e.V. association in North Rhine-Westphalia. We are organised under the German Blockchain Association and advise businesses and policymakers on the topic.
What is DLT capable of doing in banking and what are you currently working on with Fraunhofer?
Roman: The application possibilities are manifold. For example, networked machines exchange data with each other in the context of Industry 4.0. Commerzbank has already carried out several blockchain-based transactions with the Bank’s customers; the spectrum ranges from sensor-based shipment tracking and fully automated refuelling and payment vehicles to digital securities transactions.
At Fraunhofer, we are currently collaborating with a waste disposal company. Data bins are equipped with sensors to measure the filling quantity and report when they need to be emptied. If they are empty, a payment is automatically generated. This is efficient and sustainable because it eliminates unnecessary emptying and allows the company to conserve resources.
Commerzbank also sent you to the Global Young Faculty in 2019. What’s that all about?
Roman: It’s an interdisciplinary group of doctoral students and professors from the Mercator Foundation at the University of Duisburg. We worked in groups to address a variety of digital topics. My group and I made a podcast on digital identities. The main incubator had worked on this topic for their “Lissi” project and I had the opportunity to support them (see side box).
What do you have planned for the near future?
Roman: I am currently writing my thesis at the University of Dortmund and Siegen on the “Strategic realignment of companies through distributed ledger technology”. That will keep me busy for the next few years, besides my work for Commerzbank. So I'm sticking with the topic of DLT. My goal would be to become the chief digital officer of a company one day.
Roman, thank you very much for the interview and good luck in your professional future.
Business expert FK-TB, CL Trade Finance
Having completed his master’s in digital business management, Roman is currently working on his doctorate in the field of blockchain at the University of Dortmund and Siegen. He is chairman of the board of the local group of the German Blockchain Association in North Rhine-Westphalia, representing blockchain-based systems vis-à-vis business and policymakers. Roman is currently conducting research into the digital supply chains of the future for Commerzbank as a project manager at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics, working with various partner companies. Roman lives in Düsseldorf and in his spare time enjoys Crossfit, a combination of strength and endurance training.
Enterprise Lab at the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow & Logistics
In the Enterprise Lab, applied scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics (IML) work with trade finance specialists from Commerzbank and its main incubator research and development unit on various solutions in relevant future technologies.
To the website
Website main incubator