Post image for PoF 9 – Realtime Authorization and Messaging

Realtime, consumer-facing authorization of card payment transactions has been available for some time but few of us have it offered to us by our issuers. Today, there’s a number of technology providers selling truly realtime notifications and two-way approval requests based on the live authorization stream. Glenbrook’s Russ Jones takes us through what’s on offer while George gets grumpy over what he’s got today. As more consumers become thorougly alarmed over data and privacy breaches, this could be the time for issuers and independents to offer the “worried” consumer more control and a strong role in fraud management.

Companies mentioned in this episode include:

TSYS Spend Controls for consumers and corporate card administrators

MasterCard InControl

Vantiv MobiMoney

Red Giant Mobile


Post image for A Central Bank Takes on Mobile Payments

Ecuador’s Central Bank has embarked on an ambitious course to launch an affordable and widely available mobile payment scheme.  In fact, it will be the national wallet. With some uncertainty, it appears that Ecuador’s initiative may be the second central bank effort to enter this space. Jordan’s central bank has launched “JoMoPay”, but for those of us who don’t read Arabic, details on the initiative are less than sparse.

But as I return from Quito and the M2Money Andean conference, there are details to share on Ecuador’s effort. The central bank will be both the owner and the operator of the scheme. They chose a proven mobile payment platform that will lend both capability and experience to the new initiative. The vision includes building out an ecosystem that includes P2P, top-up, B2B, cash in and cash out, in-store purchases, and electronic receipts. The plan is to link the mobile payment platform with the banking platform so that mobile accounts can receive funds from and send funds to bank accounts.


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Post image for PoF 8 – Virtual Banking, PayPal, Apple Pay – A conversation with Dan Schatt

Join George Peabody in a conversation with Stockpile’s Dan Schatt on virtual banking, innovation, and the future of PayPal.  Dan is former GM of Financial Innovations at PayPal and the author of Virtual Banking: A Guide to Innovation and Partnering, a new book that includes a chapter on Bitcoin and math-based currencies by Glenbrook’s George Peabody.  We also discuss Stockpile’s innovative approach to equities ownership, a business model that will be fascinating to watch develop.


Post image for ApplePay, NFC, QR (Oh My!) and the New POS

First There is a Mountain, Then There is No Mountain, Then There is…

I’ve been thinking about what the future of the point of sale environment will look like from a consumer perspective. Of course, 10 years ago, we all knew what it was going to look like: consumers tapping their mobile phones to Near Field Communication (NFC) equipped POS terminals, transferring card data that looked a lot like magnetic stripe data. The card issuers loved the vision, the card networks loved it too, and the phone providers (who owned the space on the phone) were dreamy-eyed just thinking about all the new revenue.

Google, and its Android phone operating system (53% U.S. phone share) even signed up — first with an approach that aligned with the original Secure Element based design and later with the Host Card Emulation approach, which wrested NFC from the sole control of the carriers. But Apple (42% U.S. phone share) remained silent.

And our belief in an NFC future waned.

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Post image for PoF 7 – Biometrics, Apple Pay, and Privacy: a Talk with Steve Wilson

Apple Pay’s announcement has brought attention to biometrics and their role in payments security and to the broader, if amorphous, concept of online identity. Steve Wilson of Constellation Research and Glenbrook’s George Peabody discuss local and cloud-based biometrics, identity attributes, and the vexing challenges of privacy.


Post image for The Loosely Woven Threads of Sibos 2014

I’m just back from Boston and the marathon known as Sibos 2014. In a post earlier this week, I shared a couple of observations from the show floor and the conference sessions. Now that the conference has closed, I’m thinking about the themes that spoke to me. And, this year, I didn’t get the sense that there were big new ideas being debated. Don’t get me wrong, there were great conversations and a few interesting products being showcased. But I just didn’t hear or feel a clear consensus on where we are.

With some reflection on the overall experience, however, I do think there are notable threads that create a narrative, albeit loosely woven, on where we are as an industry.

Four key, if loosely woven, threads stand out:

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Post image for Report from Sibos 2014

Time is a vacuum at Sibos. It’s a great time to catch up with old friends and meet new colleagues.  The exhibition floor is overwhelming, even now after banks have scaled back their presence at events like these.  There is a plethora of panels on a broad range of topics to choose from.

It’s a little bit like being at a casino – lots of activity and no clocks.

So, what have I seen so far?  The biggest idea so far has been a demo of a real-time, payment transaction risk-scoring module. You read that correctly: real time, transaction risk-scoring.  This gets to a fundamental problem for banks – what types of activities are my customers up to? Who are they transacting with and what are the implications of those activities for the bank?

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Post image for Out of Africa:  Watching the Evolution of Mobile Money

It turns out you don’t have to be unbanked to like M-Pesa

I had the opportunity earlier this month to visit the mecca of mobile payments, which –with all due respect to the recent accomplishments in Cupertino — remains Nairobi, Kenya.

The “Kenyan miracle” in payments has been well documented, particularly in terms of how Safaricom’s M-Pesa ™ product has brought basic electronic payment capability to millions of formerly unserved consumers in the lower income and geographically remote segments of Kenyan society (the word pesa means “money” in Swahili, so this is literally mobile money, a nice example of the kind of descriptive and explanatory branding we love at Glenbrook).  This is accomplished by adding a prepaid mobile wallet with a cash balance alongside the prepaid value already stored on wireless phones to fund voice and data usage.  The value in the mobile wallet can then be transferred to other wallet holders using a simple set of text-based menu options. m-pesa logo [click to continue…]


Post image for PoF  6 – Russ Jones on Visa Checkout and Checkout Flow

Using a powerful examination of the challenge of online and mobile checkout, Glenbrook’s Russ Jones takes us for a deep dive into Visa Checkout, comparing it to PayPal and other methods of making the ecommerce experience slippery.

At Checkout’s announcement in mid-July, Visa promised to support the initiative with significant advertising. One ad has been viewed by 9 million times on YouTube and anyone with a passing interest in Sunday football has seen spots educating viewers on Checkout’s speed and availability.



Post image for PoF 5 – FinovateFall 2014 Day 2

Come back for Bryan Derman’s wrap-up of FinovateFall 2014. From banking technology vendors to SMB lending and some very interesting security and biometric demonstrations from new and established outfits.  Take a listen to his report here or, via iTunes, just search for Payments on Fire.


Post image for PoF  4 – FinovateFall Day 1

Finovate has become the leading opportunity for new companies and long term players in financial technology to strut their stuff.  But not all of us can attend the conference and not all of us have the long term view that Glenbrook’s Bryan Derman brings to the show.  Take a listen to his take on Day 1 of the event.  And come back tomorrow for his take on Day 2.

Here’s Bryan’s favorite tee shirt from the first day of FinovateFall 2014.



Post image for PoF 3 – Payments in Europe with Elizabeth McQuerry and Manfred Schuck

Want to know more about SEPA and the new SEPA for cards initiative?  Thinking about opportunities in the EU?  Need to understand how payments work in Europe and how they vary country to country?

Well, to get started, take a listen to this podcast conversation between Elizabeth McQuerry, Glenbrook’s international payments maven, and Manfred Schuck of Schuck Consulting from Frankfurt.

Then, if you need more understanding, join them October 9 in Mountain View, CA for their Payments in Europe Insight workshop.

iTunes link here.


Post image for PoF 2 – On Checkout Flow and Apple Pay

In this Payments on Fire podcast, Russ Jones and I discuss last week’s Apple Pay announcement and how it fits with and compares to other checkout approaches.

We begin looking at Apple Pay and Visa Checkout from the perspective of the checkout process because that’s what they are, ways to optimize checkout. We talk about how both will evolve over time.

We then dive into what we know about Apple Pay and discuss and what’s most exciting about Apple Pay (it’s not NFC).

In our next Payments on Fire podcast, Russ takes a deeper dive into Visa Checkout.  So, come back for that next week.

This week’s Glenbrook links of note:


Post image for Apple Pay: It’s Your Life?

These are some personal observations on Apple Pay, after an exciting week of reading announcements from Apple and reactions from bloggers. (If you want a Glenbrook business view on the announcement, read Wednesday’s post by my partner George Peabody.)

For several years we’ve been talking, at Glenbrook, about how mobile payments take a back seat, in terms of importance, to mobile commerce – how it is the “tail that wags the dog.” We’ve been particularly focused on what enables merchants to “sell more”, whether by offering coupons, or loyalty programs, or special-treatment programs (my favorite!). And it is clear, when you look at players like Google, with Google Wallet, or Softcard (previously Isis) or CurrentC (the mobile wallet of MCX) that mobile commerce is the primary driver.

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Post image for Do You Want a Million Dollars?

I was delighted and fascinated to see that the Gates Foundation has issued a “Grand Challenge” on enabling universal acceptance of mobile money payments.  The Foundation’s previous best-known challenges have been in healthcare, notably for toilets and condoms, so this is quite a change!

The Foundation is soliciting two-page proposals on innovative devices, software or business models that can dramatically increase the acceptance of mobile payment solutions by small businesses and service providers “and other members of the ecosystem serving the poor”.  Winning applicants will receive a $100,000 grant, and may potentially receive a follow-up grant worth $1 million.

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