14 November 2014
#ThePointNZ finished on Wednesday evening, after a big day of local and international speakers, and plenary streams focusing on Australia and the Digital World.
First up, Simon Pomeroy from Westpac took us through the digital advances being made by New Zealand’s red bank, including their bespoke digital wallet.
A challenge came from conference MC Nadine Chalmers-Ross when she asked why they were pursuing their own product when solutions like Semble were due to come to market. Simon didn’t rule out working with Semble later, but said Westpac was for now chasing what he called its “destiny”. What was key, he said, was that the customer always came first, and the technology always came second.
Robert Walls from Visa echoed Simon on customer focus and embedded “frictionless” as the word of the day – taking over from day one’s “data”.
Robert told us that Visa transactions are experiencing 36% year on year growth in the Asia Pacific region, and pointed to the internet of things – especially wearable tech – as the focus for Visa as they worked on new methods of improving the customer experience. Like Westpac, Visa wants to make more of those transactions frictionless with the help of that new technology. Both presenters mentioned the advances in frictionless payments made popular by Uber.
Robert also touched on geofencing and new retail technologies that allowed merchants to tailor experiences direct to customers based on the information they carried around with them all the time – in their smartphones. In his view, the “customer of tomorrow” will take it as a given that retailers can shape an offer especially for them.
Leading nicely into the next presentation, he finished with a quote that hinted to an inevitability about digital currency – from Dee Hock, Visa’s founder, in 1960: “Digital money will be a universally accepted global currency”.
The TSB Bank keynote speaker was Chris Skinner, head of the UK’s Financial Services Club. His presentation on the transformation of banks to digital focused on the proliferation of “insects” who were after the “big gorillas”. He was referring of course to attacks on the big banks by new and nimble financial service and payments technologies – including new currencies.
While they may not topple the big guys, he suggested they’d be looking to “take a bite out of the fat”.
He went into more detail about this transformation after his speech, when he spoke to Fairfax.
Chris Hamilton, from the Australian Payments Clearing Association, followed by Paul Lahiff of Australia’s New Payments Platform, updated us on what’s happening across the Tasman. Chris said he would skip his “everything is scary” slides as Chris Skinner had already covered it, but he was more challenging about the role of emerging technologies.
He said when it comes to “disruption”, change in the way banks interact with customers doesn’t represent real system change. Digital currency, as an example, does. But – his argument went – payments systems are networks and their value depends on the number of nodes on that network.
With so many new currencies flooding the market, and early adopters spreading their portfolios, he felt the value was diminished.
This view was later challenged in a panel stacked with our international guests, but first, digital advocates from Orwell Group, Arria NLG and SWIFT all had a chance to say their piece.
The delegation was wowed by the power of Arria NLG’s data crunching capacity, as well as the revelation by charismatic presenter Matt Gould that the earliest human construction on record is a trading post – 4,000 years before the pyramids, man was finding ways to pay for the stuff he wanted to buy.
The final panel was extremely lively. Chris Hamilton asked why new currencies were the “bit that needed to be solved”. He accepted that expense, interoperability and security were all very valid concerns, but thought there would be new ways of attacking that within the existing system.
The energy and enthusiasm of our international guests led #ThePointNZ to a strong finish.
We want to thank all our delegates, speakers, and especially our sponsors. #ThePointNZ was a fantastic event and we hope you all enjoyed it. We will have speaker presentations on our website from Monday, for those of you who want any detail not covered by our wrap ups.