[Exclusive Interview] Meet Chiel Ruiter, CEO & Co-Founder of Florence Finance

Today, we have the pleasure of having Chiel Ruiter with us. Chiel is the CEO and co-founder of Florence Finance, a new crypto platform that’s changing the way we think about real-world assets. We’ll be talking today about what Florence Finance is, what is the team’s background, their long-term vision, why real-world assets matter in crypto, and much more. So without further ado, let’s dive in!

Florence is a Web3 platform that allows users to seamlessly integrate real-world yield into their cryptocurrency portfolio. Source: Florence.Finance

[SurferInvestor] Could you please summarise briefly what Florence Finance is about?

[Chiel Ruiter] Florence is a Web3 platform that allows users to seamlessly integrate real-world yield into their cryptocurrency portfolio in the most transparent and sustainable way possible by connecting real-world lending to decentralized finance (DeFi)

[SurferInvestor] Could you please introduce the founding team? What is their background and what makes them the right team to run Florence Finance?

[Chiel Ruiter] We are multiple co-founders within Florence Finance. I am the one with the most operative role. I was a Financial Institutions banker in The Netherlands for a large part of my investment banking career – here is my Linkedin for those who want to go deeper in their diligence.

An alternative source of funding for SME lenders whilst providing a positive real-world yield alternative for stablecoin holders Source: Florence.Finance

Another Co-Founder, Leo Greve (senior advisor & growth coach) has also spent most of his career advising and financing financial institutions with more of a capital markets focus. So, to say that we think we know a thing or two about banking & finance would be an understatement. Besides that, we have a deep bench of non-executive founders with a wealth of experience in cyber security, accounting, control & tax matters, business formation, and DeFi, through the lobster king himself @ivangbi_.

[SurferInvestor] How did the idea of Florence Finance come to life?

[Chiel Ruiter] The idea of Florence came from the team seeing the great gap in funding for SMEs in Europe, as SMEs are the backbone of most economies. We thought such a funding gap and neglect from the banks was a real problem for society. While being fans of bitcoin and the revolutions it brought to the world an idea emerges: Why not take this technological revolution and use it to help disadvantaged borrowers? And at the same time, we provide an alternative for savers and holders. It all comes down to one magic word: “real-world yield”. The kind of outcome is unavailable in TradFi or even DeFi to date. Two birds, one stone.

[SurferInvestor] Why “Florence” Finance?

[Chiel Ruiter] It comes from the Medici family in Florence. They were the inventors/revolutionaries of finance in their time. Therefore, we thought it was fitting to build ourselves around the brand of bringing new innovation to finance akin to how the Medicis did in Florence.

The House of Medici was an Italian banking family and political dynasty that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de’ Medici, in the Republic of Florence during the first half of the 15th century. Source: Wikipedia

[SurferInvestor] What item in the roadmap gets you the most excited?

[Chiel Ruiter] One thing we are most excited about at Florence is the idea that RWA could be one of the catalysts to bring mass adoption to crypto as we could onboard all the neglected savers who don’t get the interest they deserve on their hard-earned money, while at the same time plugging the funding gap for SME’s in Europe.

[SurferInvestor] Many people are talking about RWA assets at the moment, what makes you different? For example Maker or Centrifuge?

[Chiel Ruiter] The main differentiator between Florence and MakerDAO is that at the moment Maker is only dealing with the registered side of the RWA market such as US government bonds, while at Florence we are aiming for the other end of the spectrum and we want to tackle the unregistered side through lending to SME’s. Similar to how Goldfinch services emerging markets with their real-world loans.

[SurferInvestor] Could you define what you mean by “funding gap in SME” and why is there one from your POV? Why is crypto the right place to fill this “funding gap”?

[Chiel Ruiter] The funding gap in SMEs is the amount of money that SMEs need in loans against what the banks are actually willing to offer them. This gap arises from the banks in Europe neglecting the SMEs and providing fewer loans to them, in 2021 there was a funding gap of 400 billion euros for SMEs in Europe. We believe that crypto could plug this hole due to the lack of stable yield opportunities in crypto, at Florence we can offer a stable yield for users’ crypto that could otherwise be sat idle.

Bridging the gap between DeFi and SME funding. Source: Florence.Finance

[SurferInvestor] I see you have two tokens, the FLR (Florin) and MDC (Medici). Could you please briefly comment on their respective usages?

[Chiel Ruiter] Sure – so we have two tokens the FLR and MDC.

  • The Florin Token (FLR) is the base currency of the Florence protocol. FLR’s correspond in number to the principle amount of loans outstanding on the platform plus accrued interest. To engage with the protocol, users must convert/exchange stablecoins for FLR.
  • The Medici Token (MDC) is the Florence protocol native governance & utility token. Users can earn MDC by staking FLR in the FLR Staking Pool.

We also have a buyback and burn model for the MDC token. Meaning that a portion of the real world yield from the loans will be used to buy back and burn the MDC token. So the more loans we write the more interest we receive and therefore the more MDC that is burned.

[SurferInvestor] How many people are on the team?

[Chiel Ruiter] In the team, we have 5 full-time members and multiple co-founders who help us out by providing access to their networks and resources.

[SurferInvestor] In an ideal world, how would Florence Finance look in 5 years?

[Chiel Ruiter] The beauty of Florence tackling the RWA space is that lending is only a small part of the multi-trillion dollar pie, in 5 years there is no telling what other sectors Florence will have expanded into and what other real-world assets we will bring on-chain. One thing we can hope for though is that Florence will be one of the leading RWA platforms in the space and that we will help in getting mass adoption of crypto.

[SurferInvestor] For people who wanna jump in, how to get started?

[Chiel Ruiter]For people who want to find out more follow us on Twitter Finance.Florence to keep up to date with our upcoming announcements and head over to our website where you can find out more information

We would like to thank Chiel Ruiter for taking the time to share his vision about Florence Finance to bring RWA’s yield onto crypto while filling the SME’s funding gap. The banking & crypto expertise of the team gives them a very strong advantage in the execution. We wish them the very best as they continue to make progress and we encourage everyone to keep a close eye on their development and look forward to the great things they will do in the future.

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