Where Will We See You Again?

When the leaves start falling, it usually means one thing for Celent analysts – the conference season is getting into full swing and it’s time for us to hit the road big time.

The team is already busy at SIBOS this week, with BAI and AFP coming in a few weeks. Personally, I am looking forward to speaking on customer authentication at Mobey Day in Barcelona on October 5-6, as well as attending Money20/20 in Las Vegas on October 23-27.

Such high profile events are always great places for catching up with our clients and other industry experts. They are also perfect for getting up to speed with the latest developments in the industry, or, as my colleague Dan Latimore says, “soaking up the zeitgeist”. Dan will also be joining me at Money 20/20.

This year, we will be keeping an eye on (amongst many other things):

  • Which of the latest initiatives look most promising to (re-)invigorate mobile payments? Will it be Apple Pay and Android Pay on a browser, the networks’ partnerships with PayPal, 'Merchant' Pay, or something new that will get announced at the events?
  • Adoption of and developments in payments security technologies, from EMV to biometrics, and from 3DS to tokenization.
  • Innovations that drive commerce and help merchants, from bots to APIs that enable deep integration of payments into the merchant’s proposition. Also, creative application of analytics, whether to help merchants increase conversation rates, extend a loan, or deliver the most relevant and timely offer to the customer.
  • Where will blockchain fit into payments world? Ripple continues to gather momentum with cross-border payments, the UK is exploring the use of distributed ledger technologies as backbone for a domestic payments system, while IBM is partnering with China's Union Pay around loyalty. What other payments-related innovations can we expect from the blockchain community?

What will you be looking for? If you’ll be in Barcelona, Orlando, Chicago or Vegas, we look forward to seeing you. If you haven't registered, now's the time. And because of your relationship with Celent, you are entitled to an additional $250 discount off the Money20/20 registration fee. Combined with the Fall Final special you save a total of $725. Simply enter promocode Celen250 when you register here.

Money20/20 Europe – a new addition to the circuit

One of the key parts of being an analyst is attending conferences. At first it may seem like an ideal job, swanning around the world attending them (and to be frank, we’re not complaining!). In reality, they’re a very busy and critical part of our job, and choosing the right one is key. Firstly, we get to meet people. With global coverage, we spend much of our time talking to people on the phone. Yet nothing beats meeting people face to face still. Conferences then are as much about who you meet as anything. Secondly, the content. Our job is making sure we have the finger on the pulse of what is happening, and what matters. To be truthful, we often don’t get chance to attend many sessions as we’d like, but the conversations, whether formal or the casual catch-up in the corridors are just as vital to us. With so many conferences to choose from, it’s vital that we pick the right ones to attend. It could be a full time job just visiting them all, and every year at least one conference clashes with another. One recent conference that seems to have almost instantly established itself on the circuit is Money20/20. Celent analysts have attended the first three in Las Vegas, and seen it grow rapidly. It’s therefore no surprise that we’re watching the inaugural European version with interest. Cunningly titled Money20/20 Europe, it takes place in Copenhagen April 4-7. As with any event, it’ll take a little while to settle into its on rhythm but already the agenda is attracting some well known names from the banking industry. We suspect that this will become one of the mainstays of the European banking calendar. If you plan to attend but haven’t registered yet, feel free to use our Celent discount code CEL200, worth €200 off of your ticket. We hope to see you there!

As conference season rolls on, here’s what I’ll be looking for at Money20/20

We’re smack in the middle of conference season and the team has been traveling all over the world. We’ve been busy with Sibos and BAI (unfortunately held at exactly the same time), AFP, and next week, Money20/20.  In only its fourth year this new conference had to move to a new venue so that it could avoid running afoul of the fire marshal. Given the excitement around the payments ecosystem, we think it will be an exhausting whirlwind of a week. What will Zil Bareisis and I be looking for? Three main topics top the list:
  • What’s the view on blockchain? There was a lot of discussion at Sibos on the corporate side (we don’t think retail will be leading), but we’d like to find out if there’s heat behind the light.
  • What sort of value added services around the payment are in production or on the drawing board?
  • Is the apparent stall in mobile payments adoption temporary, and what can be done by ecosystem participants to jump-start it?
There will, of course, be many other payments topics covered, and we’re looking forward to plunging in to soak up the zeitgeist. What will you be looking for? If you’ll be in Vegas next week, we look forward to seeing you. If you still haven’t registered, you can get $250 off your ticket by using the code celen250.

Busy Few Weeks in the Payments World

It has been busy few weeks in the payments world. Not surprisingly, reaction to Apple Pay’s announcement is the hottest topic in payments. It even manages to dominate European conferences with no specific agenda items dedicated to Apple. We at Celent added our own voice to the debate by publishing a new report on Apple’s entry into payments, in which we describe Apple Pay and assess its prospects. Celent clients can download the report here, and all are welcome to join me at the webinar next Monday, October 20th. By then, Apple Pay should be up and running – the iOS upgrade which would launch Apple Pay is expected over the weekend. In the meantime, PayPal announced that it would separate from eBay and its core auction business, and would get a new CEO, Dan Schulman, a seasoned payments executive from American Express. Arguably, both companies will be able to better focus and compete as stand-alone businesses. However, it’s difficult not to think that the separation also makes them both more “in play” in the industry consolidation. Immediately, rumours started swirling around who might buy/ merge with PayPal; some of the loudest noises concentrate around Square, although so far those rumours have been denied by Jack Dorsey via Twitter. Autumn is traditionally a conference season, and this year again, many of us are attending the leading events from Sibos and EFMA to Money2020, AFP, and BAI. My colleague Stephen and I were last week at Mobey Day in Barcelona, as usual an excellent event; many thanks to Mobey Forum for their cordial invitations! As a sign of its growing presence and influence, Mobey Day became two days this year. It focused on two major themes – Host Card Emulation (HCE) and biometrics. While the latter was brought to the forefront by Apple Pay, the former can certainly be an alternative strategy for banks looking to deploy NFC solutions for Android devices. Dan Latimore and I will soon be attending Money 2020, and are very much looking forward to spend a few days immersed in payments innovation and meeting our clients. Our diaries are filling up fast, but if you are going to be there and would like to meet, let us know or reach out to your Celent account manager. However, as much as we all get excited about innovation in payments, we can’t afford to forget what makes it all work in the back office. We have been conducting extensive research this year into card management and transaction processing (CMTP) market and the vendors that serve that market. Our report offering “a dozen observations” on the market trends has been out for a couple of weeks now and I will be hosting a webinar on this topic next week on October 22nd – join us if you can.

Top Five Themes at Money2020

I am finally starting to catch up on things back after the intense week at Money2020. Congratulations to the Money2020 team for pulling off another impressive event! With 4,000 people attending, the energy and excitement was palpable. With opportunities to network and so many sessions going in parallel, I only got a chance to attend a fraction of what was on offer. Having had a bit of time to reflect, here are my personal top 5 takeaways: 1. Digital wallets are starting to come of age. With interesting announcements from PayPal, Isis and a number of other players, it is clear that now everyone agrees that it’s not about the underlying technology (e.g. NFC vs QR codes), but about customer and merchant adoption, which requires clear benefits, simplicity, and ubiquity. My view is that of the leading contenders (PayPal, Isis, Google, scheme wallets), PayPal is showing the most promise today. It’s concept of checking-in is simple to understand, the check-out does not depend on a specific technology (the code can be scanned or entered) and last year’s deal with Discover gives PayPal ubiquity, at least in the US. 2. MCX is more real than many people think. The panel of merchants representing the MCX initiative received a mixed reception from the attendees. However, they did say more than they have ever done in the past and where they didn’t say too much, it was possible “to read between the lines.” Two of the most common questions to MCX are 1) how will they attract consumers? and 2) are they building a new payments network? For #1, MCX is looking to leverage the relationships they already have with millions of customers through their loyalty programs and private label cards. And if the offer is compelling, who is to say the customer won’t be tempted to download the app and give it a try? Those same private label cards will also be a starting point as a funding source, although MCX are also believed to be in discussions with banks to connect directly to the bank accounts, and through FIS they have a technology partner capable of helping them navigate the technical complexities. As Wal-Mart representative concluded, “do not confuse the lack of announcements [from MCX] with a lack of progress.” 3. Tokenization is going to be a big topic over the coming years. On October 1, Visa, MasterCard and American Express introduced “a proposed framework for a new global standard to enhance the security of digital payments and simplify the purchasing experience when shopping on a mobile phone, tablet, personal computer or other smart device.” A card number would be replaced by a token, which would be used instead for shopping online or on a mobile. The US banks have already started a similar effort via The Clearing House, and in my view, the announcement from the three networks is a direct response to those efforts and an attempt to influence the developments. Despite multiple panel discussions at Money2020, not many details are available at this stage how all this will work, but it’s obvious that it is a trend to watch. 4. Card-linked offers remain exciting while entering the next stage of development. Events like Money2020 are great at bringing the entire ecosystem together: issuers, payment providers, merchants, investors, analysts and others. Card-linked offers and transaction-driven marketing continue to excite different parties with their promise and the event had a number of intelligent panel discussions, acknowledging the fact that no one party has full access to the necessary data and recognizing the need to collaborate creatively while respecting customer privacy. I had the privilege of moderating one such panel discussion among the representatives from Affinity Solutions, Home Depot, Speedeon and Vantiv – thank you to all my panelists and to the organizers for giving us the opportunity. As a further sign of maturity, Cardlinx Association announced at Money2020 brings together companies such as Microsoft, Bank of America, Discover, Facebook and First Data in addition to most of the main platform players to tackle industry-wide issues such as stacked offers (e.g. multiple offers presented through different channels), product returns and others. 5. The emphasis in ‘m-POS’ is shifting from ‘m-‘ to ‘POS.’ Square and others have pioneered the m-POS concept where a mobile device and a ‘dongle’ are acting as a payment terminal to accept the card. However, the development of digital technologies has paved the way for providers of new breed of POS systems, which are aimed at replacing traditional stationary cash registers/ POS systems. The new systems, such as Clover announced by First Data at Money2020, are cloud-based open platforms enabling to tap into the developer community for a wide range of apps that can help merchants manage their inventory, reconcile books or engage with customers. Combined with sleek hardware, they offer much more than simple payments acceptance and are likely to appeal to a broad range of merchants. I am sure I haven’t mentioned everything that was worth mentioning (for example, Peter Diamandis’ opening keynote was truly inspiring). If you attended the event and would like to add your observations, please leave a comment to this post.

The Conference Season Is Now In Full Swing

It’s that time of the year when many of us are on the road. September to November is usually a very busy time with conferences and industry events. Of course, it’s a great way to meet our clients and prospects, other industry experts, and learn from attending the sessions and presentations. Usually, someone from Celent is at all the major events – for example, a few of my colleagues have attended SIBOS and wrote about it on this blog. In this post, I wanted to discuss the events that are keeping me busy over the next month of so. Last week I was at EFMA Retail Payments Week. As always, it was a great event and I wanted to extend my thanks to the organizers for inviting me again to speak. I presented my research on lessons from launching NFC payment solutions, which judging from comments and discussions after the presentation was well received by the audience. NFC payments was an important theme throughout the conference. While NFC is really struggling to take off in the US, there still seems to be a significant level of activity and interest in Europe. However, I was actually somewhat surprised at how strongly a clear message was coming through many conference presentations – even in Europe, banks are starting to lose patience with MNOs and are beginning to give up on the idea of collaborating. Instead, they are launching contactless cards (the good old plastic), and are exploring alternative approaches to mobile payments (secure element in the cloud, payments directly from the bank account, etc.) I am convinced that we will see NFC-based mobile payments in Europe in due course, but I suspect most of the solutions will be driven by mobile operators, with very selective participation from banks. I am getting on the plane tomorrow to go to Money2020, which again promises to be a very interesting show. I will be moderating a panel discussion titled The World of Payments Meets the World of Marketing, continuing the debate around how payments transaction data can be used effectively to the benefits of consumers, merchants and financial institutions. I will also be presenting at the ATM, Debit and Prepaid Forum, where I will be asking the question whether the retailers can ignite mobile at the POS. Given that NFC models haven’t taken hold, and open wallets such as Google Wallet continue to struggle, I will be arguing that retailer apps might actually be the ones that spark adoption of mobile payments. On the morning of October 17th, we are hosting a Banking Roundtable discussion in London on The Future of the Bank Account. It is a confidential, bank-only forum, with an emphasis on idea exchange. We already have a strong roster of registered participants, but there are still a few places available. If you work for a bank and would like to find out more, please contact Todd Carter (tcarter@celent.com) or Chris Williams (cwilliams@celent.com). Finally, most of the Celent’s Banking team will be at BAI Retail Delivery in Denver. So, if you are going to any of these events, don’t hesitate to drop us a line so that we could arrange to meet. Look forward to seeing you!

Money2020: It’s All About Managing Expectations

Back in September I wrote a blog post about the start of the conference season. I am pleased to say that the extensive travel is nearing the end – four major events down, one more to go, as I am off to CARTES in Paris next week. Just last week I came back from a multi-stop trip to the US. I first went to Las Vegas, to check out Money2020, the “new kid on the block” of the conference circuit. From there, I flew to Phoenix, AZ to join the ATM, Debit, and Prepaid Forum, where I moderated a panel discussion on merchant-funded rewards. Once again, thank you to my panelists from Affinity Solutions, Cardlytics, FreeMonee and Linkable Networks! It’s such a pity that the timing of these two events overlapped considerably this year. As I’ve written in the past, ATM, Debit and Prepaid Forum in recent years has become a “must-go” event for anyone with interest in cards and retail payments. The introduction of Money2020 that same week presented a dilemma for many, and I know I wasn’t alone in trying to juggle and attend both. I knew the Forum would be good, but Money2020 also promised to be good, very good indeed. The marketing machine of Money2020 dazzled us for 6 months or so coming up to the event with promises of outstanding keynote presentations, networking parties, and many other delights. So, how was it in the end? Well, it certainly had a wow factor. Its 2,000 attendees or so seemed to represent the “who is who” of the payments industry, although clearly with a bias towards alternative payments. You could almost touch the energy, excitement and buzz in the air. After all, it even had its own Money2020 theme song! However, in the end I couldn’t help but feel somewhat disappointed. The big announcement from Google was that “there will be an announcement next month”; the keynote address from MCX turned out to be a merchant panel moderated by MCX itself, after which many of us still left the room wondering what MCX is or is hoping to be. Of course, we all understand that players don’t want to reveal their cards before they are ready and the realities of life are such that even the best planned announcements occassionally get delayed. However, the favoured conference format outside of the keynote speeches seemed to be panels, where many speakers appeared to be reluctant to go beyond re-stating the obvious or promotion of their own solutions. Don’t get me wrong, Money2020 was a good event and the organisers deserve a lot of credit for it. I did meet people and I did learn – two of my objectives for any conference. My relative disappointment only comes from measuring it against my expectations, overly inflated by the event’s marketing machine. My old consulting mentor’s advice to “underpromise and overdeliver” seems applicable to the event organisers as well. The next year’s dates have been announced and I was pleased to see that I would be able to give my full attention to both ATM, Debit and Prepaid Forum and Money 2020. Or even “Money 2020 v2.0”, as the marketeers are already calling it.