31 August 2022
Interview with Matías Nso, CEO of Kuorum
Democracy Technologies: What does Kuorum do?
Matías Nso: We provide two types of services, online citizen engagement platforms for governments and legally valid online voting systems for all kinds of organisations. That covers elections, shareholder meetings for corporations, but also elections in sports clubs or consultations of local governments.
DT: Why did you start this company?
Nso: My father came to Europe from Equatorial Guinea which is a country where the vote has no value at all, because nobody trusts in it. But the vote is the currency of democracy. If you lose trust in the Euro, the economy goes down and if you lose trust in the vote, then democracy goes down.
DT: Who are typical clients for your services?
Nso: We work with small and big city councils in several countries, mostly in Spain, but also in the US. Barcelona city council is a client of ours for example. They use the tool to promote consultations, participatory budgets, surveys, debates with the citizens. Here in Spain and in other European countries public consultations are not binding, but politicians use them to better understand the opinions of citizens on issues related to local politics.
DT: Please describe an example of your work that you are proud of …
Nso: A good example is our work with the government of the island of Menorca and their engagement process. They wanted to fight residential exclusion because Menorca is a very touristic place where rental prices for houses go up in the summer. Many people don’t want to rent their houses in winter because they get more money in three months during summer than when they rent their house the whole year. So, a lot of people don’t have access to housing. The government decided to use our tool to do a participatory process where we involved experts, citizens, beneficiaries of the economic support for renting, hospitality businesses, owners, and so on to develop new public policies.
DT: What is the main value of your services for governments and citizens?
Nso: First of all, our mission is to build more participatory societies. And as technology providers, our main focus is to guarantee that city councils can reduce the time and money they invest in their decision-making process with citizens or other groups by using our technology. So, we specialise in reducing the costs of participatory processes by using technology. There are three pillars for citizen engagement. First, it’s getting feedback from citizens. The second pillar is participation training. The third is managing expectations. One of the first things that we tell our clients is that technology is not a solution by itself. They need to combine offline and online processes to get feedback.
DT: What is your regional scope?
Nso: We are a global company. Clients pay a yearly fee and get the use of the software and can do that from wherever they are. If a citizen engagement department in one small town in Australia wants to buy the product right now, they can do it. But in terms of growth efforts, we are focusing on Spain right now. In the future, the next step will be Europe and Latin America.
DT: In which fields do you think that national or international institutions should support the DemTech industry?
Nso: Financial support is a good help. Another way they can support the sector is through regulation. Easing the entrance of new technologies in the legal framework would be helpful. I think regulations at the European level are flexible enough to let in new technologies.
“The vote is the currency of democracy. If you lose trust in the Euro, the economy goes down and if you lose trust in the vote, then democracy goes down.”Matías Nso, CEO of Kuorum