Field Report from NACHA’s Payments 2008 Conference

by Allen Weinberg on May 19, 2008

in ACH, Allen Weinberg, Conferences & Meetings, NACHA

Glenbrook’s Allen Weinberg is attending this week’s Payments 2008 conference in Las Vegas. Here’s Allen’s first report from today’s sessions.

This year’s NACHA Payment conference offered an incredible array of sessions, making the choices difficult indeed. In fact, most time slots offered 12, yes 12, concurrent sessions, of which at least 4 or 5 were highly appealing to me. The conference is already 2 and a half days, and I have to wonder if people would stay for a week if they could get to attend more sessions.

Ah, well. So what are some of the themes and interesting points I gleaned from Day 1? Well, some of the more interesting things I heard came from the “non-bankers”.

There was what seemed to be a widely held view that innovation sure isn’t coming from within the banks anymore, but rather from “third parties” – primarily start ups. Sure, the payment “system” providers such as MasterCard, Visa, NACHA, and others play a role new product development, but that role was not particularly acknowledged by the non-bankers, nor the bankers for that matter.

Ryan Gilbert of PropertyBridge urged banks to keep their lawyers from running the company and to “let their marketers run free”. One non-banker panelist who was quite sour on big banks (other than ING) noted that banks have a huge recruiting problem – specifically mentioning there is no decent, innovative engineer who would even consider working for a bank due to the complete lack of a coolness factor.

In fact, I heard many frequent mentions of ING and to a lesser extent, HSBC. Bankers fearful of their success and non-bankers heaping praise and admiration. Credit unions were also widely admired for their success in garnering trust – earned through years of genuinely caring about their customers and successful relationship cross selling.

I got a great response to a question I posed to a panel of “payment outsiders” – the question related to what “next big things” will the bankers miss? Ryan Gilbert of PropertyBridge speculated that banks could very well lose out on the mobile payments market should it ever come to fruition. Specifically, he painted a scenario of what might happen if the carriers and other non-traditional parties got together and created a mobile payments service that went totally around the banks, or just relegated the banks to lower margin funding activities.

In another “outsider” response, the CMO of noted that “30% (I believe that was the figure he quoted) of the youth segment have Facebook accounts – enough said”. Jason Knight of Wesabe mentioned that the banks are totally missing community involvement as a “next big thing”.

Anyway, only a day and a half left to go – stay tuned for more!


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