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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 09, 2012 • Issue 12:04:01

Expo meets expectations in atmosphere of change

sellingprepaidPrepaid Expo USA 2012, held March 12 through 14 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, featured keynote addresses on the interrelated topics of innovation and change; panel discussions on new technologies, new markets and new ways of marketing to consumers; and exhibit hall demonstrations of new products and services to reach unbanked consumers worldwide.

The Innovation Keynote address was delivered by Arianna Huffington, President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She related how the success of the Huffington Post as an online news and opinion site grew out of the failure of traditional newspapers to grasp the significance of the Internet.

In 2005, when the HuffPost was founded, newspapers viewed the Internet as an "add on" to the physical newspaper, rather than a new, "transformational" medium, Huffington said. In fact, Huffington believes there would have been "no room for the HuffPost if newspapers took to the Internet faster."

Traditional newspapers are examples of how success breeds complacency, Huffington noted. Businesses that fail to evolve are guilty of failing to "embrace failure," she said, because taking chances and making mistakes are necessary stepping stones to success. She offered the fabled example of the Post-It Note as a "child of complete and utter failure – a glue that wouldn't stick."

A shot across the NFC bow

Prepaid cards and virtual prepaid accounts seem to be at the heart of every new mobile payment scheme that arises. A panel discussion featuring PayPal Inc.'s Don Kingsborough focused on the future of that intersection. Kingsborough, Vice President and General Manager of Retail and Prepaid at PayPal, was lured away from Blackhawk Network, where he was credited with creating the gift card mall concept – considered a key growth driver in the prepaid card market.

Kingsborough is leading PayPal's mobile payment foray into the brick-and-mortar retail world. He believes the future of contactless payments at the POS is cloud- rather than near field communication- (NFC) based. "If NFC is your strategy, get a new strategy," he said.

Kingsborough based his opinion on historical trends in prepaid. The gift certificate evolved into the plastic gift card, which is now transitioning into a virtual, cloud-based card. That same trajectory happened with the mobile wallet, which began as a physical wallet, became a digital wallet and is now becoming a "cloud" wallet, Kingsborough said.

Closing the security triangle

As mobile wallet schemes proliferate, one hurdle is how to secure mobile transactions. Jumio Inc. presented its technology solution, which transforms integrated mobile phone cameras into payment card readers. But the technology does not just record account information off the cards, it also verifies the physical existence of cards, said Sonny Singh, Vice President of Business Development at Jumio.

Thus, Jumio brings card-present security to card-not-present (CNP) online and mobile transactions. Singh said the solution reduces fraud and speeds up the transaction process as it eliminates the tedium of consumers having to manually input card data into order forms.

Singh noted that card scan security is enhanced when it is combined with the two other legs of the security triangle: identification document scanning (driver's license, passport) and facial recognition. He said companies can ramp up security protocols based on dollar value thresholds.

For purchases under $100, Jumio's technology can be optional. But as the dollar value rises (along with the potential for fraud), card scanning can be coupled with ID scanning and then facial scanning for high-dollar transactions, he said. Singh added that greater security on mobile payments could mean a reduction in the fees the card brands charge for high-risk, CNP transactions.

Outside the box, into the bank

At the Innovation Showcase, a new feature of the expo, David Alvarez, Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Nexxo Financial Corp., demonstrated the "Bank in a Box" self-service payment platform. It allows customers to set up accounts that can be accessed via kiosks, POS counters or mobile phones to complete a number of transactions quickly at one time, from paying bills and reloading cards to topping up phone minutes and withdrawing cash.

"Our technology platform that allows you to process all those different types of transactions is powerful," Alvarez said, adding that since the solution is available across multiple channels, it provides additional convenience for unbanked consumers. "I think the real power is in the platform itself, where we're making and creating a customer-centric value proposition so that customer has their profile and all their information available at all of those distribution points," he said.

The expo itself delivered that same variety. end of article

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