Giovanni Van De Velde interview new belgian Royal Mint CEO
- November 24, 2022
In the summer of 2022, Mr. Giovanni Van De Velde was appointed Commissioner of Mints, following the retirement of his predecessor, Mrs. Van Herzele. He is therefore the new CEO of the Royal Belgian Mint. NUMISMAG took advantage of his recent appointment to discuss with him how he perceives his new position, a few weeks after his appointment.
NUMISMAG: Mr. Van De Velde, what is your academic background?
Giovanni Van De Velde: I obtained my Master’s degree in Business Sciences at the HUB in Brussels (now KU Leuven) where I chose the specialization Finance & Risk Management. This gave me an overview of financial instruments, analysis, management accounting, portfolio management and (financial) risk management.
The subject of my thesis was to determine the economic impact of the Tour of Flanders bicycle race.
NUMISMAG: What was your professional background before joining the Royal Belgian Mint?
Giovanni Van De Velde: After my studies, I started working as an investment and insurance consultant for a bank. After six good years, I moved from the private sector to the public sector. In the Treasury, one of the General Administrations of the FPS Finance, I became the accountant of the Monetary Fund. The mission of the Monetary Fund was to finance and guarantee the issued coins (including the management of the counter value of the coins in circulation) and to finance the Royal Belgian Mint (RBM).
NUMISMAG: Why did you choose to work for the RBM?
Giovanni Van De Velde: Due to the planned reorganization of the Royal Belgian Mint, in which the Monetary Fund was abolished and its functions integrated into the MRB as of 2018, I joined the MRB in 2017 as management support to the Commissioner of Mints, Mrs. Van Herzele, in addition to the management of the Monetary Fund.
RBM team, from left to right: Mr. Nathan Boes (management support), Mr. Van De Velde, Mrs. Ingrid Van Herzele (former Mint Commissioner) and Mr. Peter Vanhove (lab manager)
NUMISMAG: How did the tasks you were in charge of evolve within the MRB?
Giovanni Van De Velde: Initially, I co-managed the integration of the Monetary Fund into the MRB. From 2018, I was responsible for coordinating the execution of the specifications for minting, marketing and destruction of the coins. In addition, I was a member of some European working groups to represent the MRB or the Belgian Treasury, and I am in close contact with the National Bank of Belgium. The negotiation of bilateral contracts for the exchange of coins with other countries of the euro zone was also part of my duties.
In addition, support for the Mint Commissioner has also grown over the years.
In 2021, the National Bank of Belgium created the National Retail Payments Committee, in which I participate with regard to the cash files. For the coin subgroup, I am the chairman. The working group gives the opportunity to discuss important topics with many stakeholders and to improve cooperation and mutual contacts.
Since 08/01/2022, I work as a Mint Commissioner and I am in charge of the daily management of the whole MRB department, including the Belgian NACC and the Guarantee Office. The presence in the (international) working groups of which my predecessor was a member, has been taken over.
Giovanni Van De Velde, new Belgian Mint CEO since August 2022
NUMISMAG: Were you involved in the selection of the KNM for the minting of collector and circulation coins? What were the criteria that guided your choice at the time?
Giovanni Van De Velde: In support of the public procurement department, I collaborated in the drafting of specifications for the outsourcing of minting, production and marketing of collector coins and the destruction of coins unfit for circulation for the benefit and under the supervision of the Royal Mint of Belgium.
The fact that the Royal Netherlands Mint was finally awarded the contract was the result of an objective process in which bidders were allowed to submit their offers. There was therefore no room to indicate or include their own wishes and preferences.
NUMISMAG: Luc LUYCX has just retired. What is your view on an engraver who is considered by many collectors as the “father of the euro”?
Giovanni Van De Velde: I have always had a good contact with Luc Luycx since I joined the MRB. We often discussed the designs he made since the production was outsourced. He gave me the technical information needed to make the designs, but also to produce the punches and the production process. I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Luc and I am happy to have been able to work with him for several more years. He also always said that he felt he was practicing his hobby every day during working hours. And you could tell by the passion with which he threw himself into the projects. For your information, the design of my punch is also by Luc. It is his latest creation that he delivered this year.
The new mark of the Belgian Mint CEO
NUMISMAG: He is replaced by Iris BRUIJNS, a young Belgian artist. Will she be in charge of the entire design of the Belgian circulation and collector coins? Will part of the program be outsourced to independent engravers outside the MRB?
Giovanni Van De Velde: It is planned that Iris Bruijns will be the Royal Belgian Mint’s designer for all future RBM designs. Specific design competitions are not currently envisaged.
NUMISMAG: France has changed the design of its €1 and €2 coins in 2022. In Belgium, the design changes made correspond to a change of sovereign. In the near future, do you plan to change the design of the national sides of the annual circulating divisional series?
Giovanni Van De Velde: There are no plans to change the design of our euro coins.
NUMISMAG: Have you already completed the Belgian numismatic program 2023? Can you indicate one or two themes of this program (with a visual)?
Giovanni Van De Velde: The themes for the year 2023 have been submitted to the Minister of Finance for approval. We are currently preparing the royal decree that will authorize the issuance of these coins. The objective is to have it signed and published in the Belgian Official Gazette in the second half of January. From then on, we will also communicate on the 2023 annual program.
NUMISMAG: Can you tell us the circulation of coins by face value for the years 2020-2021 and 2022?
Giovanni Van De Velde: The circulation of the coins issued in 2020/2021/2022 are as follows:
NUMISMAG: Do you believe in a cashless society?
Giovanni Van De Velde: Personally, I am convinced that our society will increasingly function with electronic payments. The huge increase in various electronic payment options and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our payment system already show that we are heading towards a society with much less cash. However, cash will always have its place. This is also clearly visible in Sweden, where the use of cash has been reduced to a bare minimum, but where there is now a counter-movement where efforts are being made to maintain access to cash.
Sweden’s largest banks are required to provide certain cash services throughout Sweden as of January 1, 2021. The goal is to ensure a certain minimum level of access to cash services for consumers and businesses. Banks must provide basic payment accounts with basic functions to consumers and are obliged to provide places for cash withdrawals.
Sources: Royal Belgian Mint and NUMISMAG