LiquidShare: Bringing issuers and investors closer with the blockchain and Google Cloud

About LiquidShare

Founded in 2017 as a joint venture from some of Europe’s key financial institutions, LiquidShare aims to simplify back-office operations in financial markets with distributed ledger technology. Its platform narrows the gap between issuers and investors, facilitating the management of their capital and positions.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: France

LiquidShare uses Google Cloud to streamline back-office operations, empower issuers with greater insights for their shareholder base, and help investors better handle their transactions and positions.

Google Cloud results

  • Makes regulatory compliance simpler by easily spreading workloads over several regions using Virtual Private Cloud
  • Adheres to the highest standards of security with Shielded VMs
  • Drives efficiency gains with Google Kubernetes Engine, enabling developers to build and deploy new environments within hours

Less spent on instances, more resource for development

In the financial industry, back-office processes for typical operations such as fundraising, employee incentive schemes, and security transactions are incredibly complex for both corporates, investors, and their respective intermediaries. “In Europe, the actual transfer and payment of transactions in securities take as long as two days to complete,” says Emilie Rieupeyroux, Interim CEO of LiquidShare. “We want to create a solution that simplifies and speeds up back-office processes. We want to bring issuers and investors closer together and enable companies to get easier exposure in capital markets.”

To make this happen, LiquidShare is bridging innovative technologies with the highest standards of security and resiliency. The company leverages blockchain to process and store all operations on capital, investment positions, and transactions in a single distributed, immutable, and traceable ledger, accessible by any relevant party. This core technological backbone enhances transparency and security across the whole back-office chain, enabling the automation and digitization of core processes while avoiding costly reconciliations.

“We could do what we needed to with our existing infrastructure, but it wasn’t a smooth experience. Google Cloud fits with our goals and our way of working better than any other cloud provider. We saw that we’d get the best services for the best value.”

Emil Kirschner, Lead Architect, LiquidShare

While LiquidShare is a new startup, it has already made waves in the financial industry after two pilots conducted in partnership with some of Europe’s biggest financial institutions, including BNP Paribas, Caisse des Dépôts, Euroclear, Euronext, and Ofi AM, as well as some crypto players. In the second pilot, 20 partners successfully tested the issuance of 700,000 tokenized equity shares, the tokenization of 9.5 million euros, and the processing of more than 40 transactions.

In early summer 2020, LiquidShare went live with its first issuer client, giving it a clear, simple way of managing its shareholder registry. Just a few months later that year, LiquidShare announced its most ambitious project to date: a trial with the Banque de France and 14 other financial institutions on the issuance and processing of Central Bank Digital Currency. This key milestone will enable LiquidShare and the industry to combine the ability to process transactions more efficiently and in real time on LiquidShare blockchain with the security brought by the ability to access and pay in a new form of money, guaranteed by the Central Bank. As interim CEO, Emilie relishes having the opportunity to show off LiquidShare’s capabilities at such a scale.

Driven by its ambition to leverage best-in-class technology for the benefit of startups, investors, financial institutions, and more, as well as its ambition to be able to quickly scale up, LiquidShare has been focused on optimizing its core infrastructure. After evaluating several options, it chose Google Cloud.

“We could do what we needed to with our existing infrastructure, but it wasn’t a smooth experience,” says Emil Kirschner, Lead Architect at LiquidShare. “Google Cloud fits with our goals and our way of working better than any other cloud provider. We saw that we’d get the best services for the best value.”

“The integration of Google Kubernetes Engine in the console is really important for us. We can run, update, or delete instances and manage permissions, all from the console. We don’t have to run anything locally. It’s much, much easier to manage than before.”

Cédric Arnoult, Lead DevOps Engineer, LiquidShare

Harnessing the power of the blockchain

LiquidShare’s platform has three key components: First there is the user interface (UI), which allows market participants to view their digital wallets and any transactions with ease and without fuss. Then, the beating heart of the platform is the blockchain, a private and permissioned platform that acts as a ledger for all the operations and movements of securities initiated by issuers or investors (directly or through their intermediaries). Securities and cash are represented as digital tokens, so transactions are instantaneous on the blockchain as tokens transfer between digital wallets and are recorded in real time on a distributed, immutable, and traceable registry. As a peer-to-peer network, issuers, investors, and intermediaries have access to the very same distributed registry, with role-based access rights and control.

Between the UI and the blockchain is an ecosystem of microservices that takes in data from the outside world, processes it, and submits transactions to the platform. After the blockchain has carried out its tasks, the microservices intercept any new events and update the relevant databases and UI.

LiquidShare chose to build its architecture around Kubernetes, the open source container orchestration system developed at Google. As the company grew, it found that managing Kubernetes clusters on its existing cloud provider was taking up more resources and required extra management and workarounds. In order to scale up quickly for bigger projects and new clients, LiquidShare needed a new infrastructure solution.

The company tried a range of leading cloud providers, but Google Cloud stood out. More than any other platform, Google Cloud handled Kubernetes clusters with ease. “With our previous infrastructure, it felt like trying to put a square peg into a round hole,” says Cédric Arnoult, Lead DevOps Engineer at LiquidShare. “Everything fits together much more naturally with Google Cloud.”

The company was also impressed with the way that the Google Cloud team in France approached its challenges. “Some other providers just gave us a presentation about why their product was the best. The Google Cloud team actually asked us questions and tried to fit the solution to our needs,” explains Emil.

After a pilot in January 2020, LiquidShare completed its migration to Google Cloud within just a few weeks. Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) forms the backbone of the new architecture, helping to simplify and speed up DevOps management with managed services. Container Registry provides an easy way for LiquidShare to store and manage its container images and detect security vulnerabilities in early stages.

“The integration of Google Kubernetes Engine in the console is really important for us,” says Cédric. “We can run, update, or delete instances and manage permissions all from the console. We don’t have to run anything locally. It’s much, much easier to manage than before.”

Regulation and security are absolutely critical for a financial technology startup. LiquidShare keeps its workloads safe with Shielded VMs on Google Cloud. Designed to withstand attacks from advanced threats, Shielded VMs help LiquidShare give its clients an extra layer of protection from malicious actors.

Meanwhile, with Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), LiquidShare can spread its workloads across multiple regions on a single VPC, if some clients need multi-regional workloads for regulatory reasons. “We never had multi-region VPCs before. Before, we had to set up a VPC and repeat all the configurations in each region,” says Emil. “If I had to use two regions, I’d have to effectively double the cost and double the maintenance overhead. With Google VPC, I only have one network to maintain and it’s in both regions at once.”

“Google Cloud has given us a strong foundation, not just in terms of technology but also with the security and regulatory requirements. As we move ahead with our projects and into production, we’re very much looking forward to meeting the challenges of the financial services industry.”

Emilie Rieupeyroux, Interim CEO, LiquidShare

Lower costs, higher productivity with Google Cloud

Within a few months of migrating to Google Cloud, LiquidShare saw benefits. It reduced the cost of running instances by around 20%, which means more resources can be redirected towards building new features and improving the platform. “We’re at a stage where instances make up the majority of our overall costs,“ says Emil. “So that’s a significant saving for us. We can run more instances and get more work done.”

With GKE, LiquidShare has automated more of its infrastructure management and maintenance, which translates to big efficiency gains. Developers have halved the time needed to build new environments from scratch, from a full day to just a few hours. Cédric points out that these gains were made at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led France and much of the world to enforce shelter-in-place measures, restricting the capabilities of many businesses. “We managed to migrate all our environments and keep growing, all while working from home,” he explains.

LiquidShare continues to search for ways to improve its platform, exploring options such as Cloud Run or Cloud Functions to make things run even smoother. Emil is also looking forward to the release of Confidential Computing, virtual machines that can be encrypted by the customer for added security.

“Google Cloud has given us a strong foundation, not just in terms of technology but also with the security and regulatory requirements,” says Emilie. “As we move ahead with our projects and into production, we’re very much looking forward to meeting the challenges of the financial services industry.”

About LiquidShare

Founded in 2017 as a joint venture from some of Europe’s key financial institutions, LiquidShare aims to simplify back-office operations in financial markets with distributed ledger technology. Its platform narrows the gap between issuers and investors, facilitating the management of their capital and positions.

Industries: Financial Services & Insurance
Location: France