Crys Nguyen of Zestif

The Dutch government in 2016 set up a dedicated sub-committee in charge of establishing a research program and piloting blockchain technology.

Later, the government organized a competition on blockchain usage to serve government agencies. 

Thirty-five pilot projects using blockchain technology were successfully developed by startups. One of them used blockchain to manage medical records in hospitals, developed by Zestif and partners together with the Ministry of Health.

The 2016-2017 period was the time when blockchain meant cryptocurrencies and cheating to many people. However, Crys Nguyen and his co-workers dispelled that preconception in a civilized way. Technology is just an instrument. The important feature is how the instrument is used. Like a knife, its functions differ when it is in the hands of a chef and in the hands of a robber.

“The government invests in startups to sow and water young plants. Later, the plants will become strong and grow themselves. Startups have money and a sandbox environment with real clients and orders, and there is no need to fear mistakes. This is a very important way to treat new technologies,” Crys recalled.

Zestif’s project, after the successful trial, was expanded to a larger blockchain platform that stores medical information and helps patients manage their medical records and allows hospitals to share information confidentially and privately.

At that time, in 2017, Zestif and Crys Nguyen were unfamiliar names to many people. The Vietnamese man studied for a long time in the Netherlands at the University of Amsterdam, majoring in Arts and Technology.

He had a special passion for new technologies. He tried all technologies and trends, including making mobile apps in 2012, e-commerce in 2014, and blockchain and AI.

He began having stronger attachment to blockchain when he developed fintech apps for a company in the Netherlands. He was given the nickname ‘Crypto Crys’ as he injected all the money he had into cryptocurrency (bitcoin) to have more money for research on blockchain.

He said that workers in blockchain technology like new things and look at new technologies with positive perspectives, and proceed as pioneers. 

In addition to the project related to healthcare data management, Zestif worked on other projects of the government, organizations, and enterprises, using blockchain technology.

These included a project on blockchain managing personal information of all citizens, implemented in coordination with the Dutch Department of Justice and Amsterdam government (it is similar to VNeID in Vietnam); and a the project on tracing the origin of products in agricultural production. Consumers scan bar codes to find information about materials, origin and standards of products.

They also worked on a project on managing supply chains. Blockchain allows the parties of the supply chain to enter and monitor information and data related to plastic boxes, buckets, and things easily lost, thus minimizing enterprises’ losses and protecting the environment.

Zestif also uses blockchain to create a passport for construction works, storing all information about works, such as materials, electric wires and accessories. Each element of the works has a history of use.

Most recently, Zestif joined forces with a securities company in the Netherlands to set up a platform to issue bonds under tokens on blockchain.

After gaining success overseas, Crys began thinking about developing blockchain in Vietnam.

Zestif decided to cooperate with OITI (Open Innovation & Technopreneur Institute) belonging to the Ministry of Science and Technology to build an environment for new technologies as well as digital transformation.

“Most enterprises, organizations and even government agencies in Vietnam need to digitize first. After they understand technology and digital transformation in general, they will experience new technologies,” he said.

“I hope the success in the Netherlands can also bring success in Vietnam,” he said. Many other international firms have been doing work in Vietnam, but Zestif believes in its advantage: it is a Vietnamese firm and understands the Vietnamese people. 

Binh Minh