MPC 2019 put spotlight on end user, global themes
The thirteenth annual Mobile Payments Conference, held Aug. 26 to 28, 2019 at Chicago’s Swissotel, showcased mobile technologies’ evolution and growth. Industry leaders and subject-matter experts discussed security, technology, communications and the global app marketplace. The event provided a diversity of presentations, resources and networking opportunities.
“This year, the Mobile Payments Conference sharply focused on the future and brought a range of experts to speak on very timely topics for both strategists and payments veterans,” said Katherine McClure, partner, business development at PPRO. “Of particular interest to me were the themes of customer experience and international payments. Both of these topics are very important to the industry and to me in my role at PPRO.”
Greg Wilfahrt, chief mobility and marketing officer at AP Technology, agreed customer experience was a recurrent conference theme. “As its name suggests, this event is focused on all things related to payments made via mobile devices,” he said. “Of course, as anywhere-anyplace devices become ‘smarter,’ and the things [mobile technology] can do increases, so too do the range of topics at the conference.”
The newly forged alliance of FIDO, EMVCo and W3C reflects the industry’s need for open source, interoperable platforms. The three global bodies agreed to work together to eliminate passwords and bespoke integrations and create seamless, frictionless commerce.
Thad Peterson, senior analyst at Aite Group, called the collective goal of creating a unified, consistent, secure card-not-present (CNP) transaction flow, “a really big deal.” This sentiment was shared by Will Graylin, CEO at OV Loop, who presented the OV Loop channel/device-agnostic platform at the conference and volunteered to use the alliance’s solution when available.
Christina Hulka, executive director and COO at FIDO, added, “Partnering and talking to each other enables us to get together and share information about how each of our areas fit PSD2 and other critical industry initiatives.”
Peterson observed that throughout the venue simplicity, transparency and a consistent user experience were top of mind among presenters and attendees. Peterson, who presented Aite Group’s Digital Wallet Innovation Awards, praised contestants for uniqueness and innovation. Winners across five categories are as follows:
- Customer experience: Airfox
- Merchant experience: PayPal
- Product design: CoolBitX
- Value-added services: ACI Worldwide
- Market adoption: Cassava Smartech and Comviva
“We are delighted to recognize and celebrate innovation achieved by leading digital wallet providers,” Peterson said. “Digital wallets are leading an explosion of innovation in the payment ecosystem, and it’s great to have an opportunity to recognize the leaders of this revolution.”
MagicCube Inc. received the MPC Visionary Award, for its Software Trusted Execution Environment platform. The new award series, sponsored by The Green Sheet, honors “game-changers” that push the payments industry forward. In accepting the award, co-founder Sam Shawki said, “Our EMV-certified platform is disrupting the world of traditional payment acceptance devices and can be deployed on almost any device in the retail system."
Security best practices
As mobile-centric loyalty, rewards programs and payments schemes gain widespread adoption, the need to securely authenticate transactions is critical. Keynote speakers and panelists explored ways to balance security best practices with simplicity to maintain a consistent user experience. Following are some examples:
- Secure mobile commerce: Rich Stuppy, chief customer experience officer at Kount, explained how to implement best practices to protect digital innovations from evolving fraud trends. Stuppy further explored this theme in a keynote address and panel discussions.
- Improved authentication: Moderator Sean Sposito, senior industry analyst, security at Javelin Research & Strategy explored how the latest authentication techniques secure mobile transactions with panelists Ian Campbell, vice president, product management, Feedzai; Michele Dupré, group vice president, Verizon Business Group; and Sam Shawki, founder and CEO, MagicCube.
- Thwarting friendly fraud: Conlen Pritchett, channel account manager at Ethoca, presented the latest industry statistics on friendly fraud, offering advice on how to mitigate related costs and poor customer experience of this huge and growing problem.
- Rock-solid customer experience: Steve Durney, senior vice president of strategy at Ethoca, demonstrated how to make payments integral to a customer experience strategy, with new solutions designed to remove friction and enhance the shopping experience and personalized offers delivered via online bank statements.
Enhanced consumer experience
“Nearly every session, whether it was on security, the future of cash, or real-time payments, kept to the themes of customer experience and international commerce,” PPRO’s McClure said. “Cross-border commerce is growing by leaps and bounds, and the importance of thinking about the consumer as more than an account number is not going away.” Following are several examples:
- Merchant mobile wallets: LISNR founder Rodney Williams reimagined the future of checkout and the role mobile wallets will play. He explained how LISNR technology, powered by sound, can improve the customer experience and reduce transaction fees for merchants.
- Bill payments: Russ Barenboym, vice president, product development & innovation, North America, Mastercard, shared how ecosystem partners are leveraging new technologies to create a best-in-class, digital bill pay experience.
- Real-time payments: Elizabeth McQuerry, partner, Glenbrook Partners, moderated a panel on real-time payments with Peter Gordon, head of growth, Payfi; Steve Ledford, RTP Network product executive at The Clearing House; Kassi Quimby, vice president, Faster Payments Strategy, Federal Reserve System; and Rene Schuurman, global head of product development channels at Citibank.
- Inspired shopping: Bill Watkins, U.S. head of partnerships, Pinterest, provided insights on how retailers can enhance every stage of the consumer purchase journey while building great brands and empowering shoppers to discover new products and take action.
- Consumer preferences: Alisa Ellis, vice president, digital and emerging products, Discover Global Network, presented the impact of mobile tech on the gig economy, demonstrating how ride sharing and in-app food ordering are shifting consumer behavior to smartphone payments.
- Global commerce: Kevin Brown, vice president, strategic partnerships, Wirecard North America, made a case for unified commerce, demonstrating how merging physical and digital customer experience enables businesses to meet shopper needs.
- Network edge: Cliff Duffey, founder, board director and president at Cybera, moderated a panel on network edge requirements in the age of IoT and AI. Panelists included Ashley Applegarth, senior director, NA at Doddle; Jamie Park, connectivity segment architect, Shell Downstream Inc.; and Kevin Struthers, senior consultant, W. Capra Consulting.
Blockchain, the realization of distributed ledger technology, is changing views about asset ownership and reinventing fundamental business interactions, MPC organizers stated. Nitin Gaur, director at IBM Worldwide Digital Asset Labs explored distributed ledger concepts with panelists Angela Angelovska-Wilson, founding partner, DLx; Sean Bennett, co-founder and CTO, Stronghold; and Zac Cheah, CEO, Pundi X.
Additional emerging market topic discussions included the following:
- Cannabis solutions: Dale Laszig, senior staff writer at The Green Sheet moderated a panel comprising Dustin Eide, CEO at CanPay; Thomas Gavin IV, vice chairman and CEO at CannaTrac; and Brianna Moriarty, partner development manager at Star Micronics. Panelists reflected on the ways in which cannabis industry digital-first solutions are delighting consumers and helping merchants stay current with evolving regulatory trends.
- Financial wellness, inclusion: Andrew B. Morris, founder and CEO, The Fintech Agenda, pointed out that 57 percent of American adults, representing about 138 million people, are struggling financially. Morris led a panel that included Armando Guzman, CEO, Cualix; Justin Hoffmann, executive vice president, Airfox; and John Thompson, chief program officer, Financial Health Network. They explored how mobile payments and other fintech innovations are solving financial wellness problems in America.
- Financial literacy:Johnson Cook, co-founder and president, Greenlight Financial Technology, shared how Greenlight launched a product designed to put children on the path toward financial independence.
- Evolving partnership models: Khali Henderson, senior partner at BuzzTheory Strategies and MPC event program manager, led a spirited panel discussion on evolving B2B sales force models. Panelists included Marcia Dempster, cloud platform executive team lead at CDW; Kevin Kent, director, channel development, ScanSource; Jeffery Ponts, founder and COO, Datatel Solutions Inc.; and Bruce Renard, executive director, The National ATM Council.
Toward a seamless, 5G future
Additional presentations and panel discussions explored the probable future, questioning if cash will remain a payments option and how technology will drive digital transformation. Following are some examples:
- Cashless Society: Moderator Larry Berlin, founder and CEO of MSI Consulting, led a panel on the current state of cash in the U.S. economy and its prospects for future usage. Panelists included Elliott Goldenberg, vice president, product specialist, digital payments & labs, products & innovation, Mastercard; Katherine McClure, partner development manager, PPRO; and Bruce Renard, executive director, The National ATM Council.
- Cash, credit, crypto: Tony Diaz, senior product manager, NCR Silver, shared how hundreds of payment schemes make it challenging for small businesses to keep up with customers’ preferred payments methods.
- Future mobile payments landscape: Scott Harkey, global head of financial services and payment at Levvel explored the future mobile payments landscape with panelists Matt de Ganon, managing director, Accenture Interactive; John Piazza, head of digital innovations, MB Financial Bank; and Mehmet Sezgin, CEO, myGini Inc.
- Make payments disappear: Andrew Radlow, chief marketing officer, Grabango, discussed how he envisions future payments to be automatic, invisible and instant, without users having to do anything.
- Engage beyond payments: Jack Connors, head of commerce partnerships and marketing, Google, explored numerous ways in which mobile wallets can deepen customer relationships beyond payments and increase brand value.
- Next-gen tech: Jordan McKee, research director, 451 Research, moderated a panel on the digital transformation of payments and what comes next. Panelists included Soumya Dev Chakrabarty, director, global payments innovation, Discover Global Network; Donna Embry, senior vice president, global payment strategies at Evolve Bank & Trust; and Alexandre Pinto, director of innovation, ActMinds.
- 5G network: Noting that mobile payments have always been about anywhere, anytime transactions, Wilfahrt moderated a panel that included Jim Ciortan, general manager, global strategic sales, Braintree, PayPal; Michelle Evans, head of digital consumer, Euromonitor International; and Richard Love, CEO, AP Technology. Panelists examined QR codes, biometrics and other emerging technologies and considered their impact on transaction speed, costs, security, capabilities and interoperability.
“We loosely defined 5G as being the next generation of cellular service that is being slowly rolled out in 2019,” Wilfahrt said. “Actual use nationwide is not expected until 2022. In terms of speed, it takes about 20 minutes to download a full movie over a 4G network. With 5G, that same download is expected to take less than 20 seconds.”
Richard Love added, "With the propagation of 5G, 'buffer' will no longer be a word used to describe the mobile experience. The real-time, on-device 5G experience will provide new opportunities for robotic surgeries, autonomous vehicles, mobile payments, entertainment streaming and so much more.”
Additional information about the Mobile Payments Conference and a full copy of the agenda can be found at mobilepaymentconference.com/conference-agenda/
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