[Dave Birch] When we had our second annual NYPAY / Consult Hyperion Tomorrow’s Transactions Unconference at Google in New York we were surprised and delighted to see the event full and with a full waiting list yet again. A big, big thank you to everyone who made this possible: NYPAY for organising, Google for getting behind us once again and providing such excellent facilities, Discover for supporting the Unconference series and providing books for the delegates and, of course, the 100+ people who came along.

Max Occupany

We had a terrific kick-off from Brett King, who got everyone thinking about topics for the day. Brett stayed for an onstage Q&A led by Dylan Love from Business Insider and got a fair variety of questions right off the bat. While the Q&A was underway, we were encouraging people to start filling making notes about what they wanted to talk about and passing them down the rows to us so that we could start grouping them.

Brett King Q&A

We try to experiment with the format each time, and this time one of the experiments that, I think, worked rather well was to put the sessions into streams to theme and organise them slightly. As a first cut, we decided to try streams themed around Technology, Business and Society. Then we added a special “Stream X” for hot topics. When all the post-its were in, we ended up with an agenda that was really, really good. After a minor amount of bullying of old friends to get the right chairpeople in place for each session, we were ready to rumble.

Session Technology Stream Business Stream Social Stream Stream X
One EMV in the USA
Chair: David True
Barriers to Mobile Payments
Chair: Howard Hall
Financial Inclusion
Chair: Dave Birch
Future of Banking
Chair: Brett King
Two NFC vs. QR vs. BLE
Chair: David True)
Payments Disruption
Chair: Lanny Byers
Regulatory Suggestions
Chair: Christine Genaro
Chair: Leon Perlman
Three The Next Big Thing
Chair: David Schropfer
Merchant Requirements
Chair: Steve Mott
Future of Money
Chair: Dave Birch
ID and Authentication
Chair: Howard Hall

We then reorganised the desks in the room to form three discussion areas for the streams and Google very kindly arranged a breakout room for us to host Stream X. After coffee we invited then delegates to choose their sessions and get going. The buzz was terrific, I’m happy to say. The delegates were comfortable with interacting right away and the learning and sharing got going immediately.


Here’s Consult Hyperion’s Lanny Byers leading the group discussing the trajectory of EMV in the USA, which did not, if this group is anything to go by, seem anything like as smooth as it did last year when we were discussing a similar topic.


In fact at the end of the discussion, which included people from the issuing, acquiring and merchant communities, the group seemed almost evenly split around whether EMV would ever happen at all (!) with a good fraction of the well-informed debaters of the opinion that having taken so long to set foot in the USA, the rapid pace of development in mobile payments, wallets, tokenisation, identity management and wireless interfaces of all kinds would overrun it.

The core messages that I brought back for our clients were around the three best attended sessions. These were the sessions on Financial Inclusion, NFC vs QR vs BLE and Merchant Requirements and each of these left me with some great ideas to feed back in to our projects. But here I think it is interesting to reflect on why it was that these were the top sessions. A “conventional” conference agenda set six months might have had a guess that Merchant Requirements would be hot because of MCX, but probably wouldn’t have guessed that the more technology focussed interface shootout would have attracted so many people and certainly wouldn’t have guessed that Financial Inclusion would be so hot.

In the latter case, I’m pretty sure that it is a combination of factors: Amex’s recent announcements about going after the unbanked at Money2020. By common acclaim, theirs was the best of keynotes in Las Vegas and they are making a big play for the “near bank” market.

Starting this fall, Serve clients can add cash at 14,000 CVS stores and many participating 7/Eleven stores free of charge. Serve has also launched a reserve account for savings and 36% of customers are not moving money into the reserve account on a regular basis. The account costs $1 a month, free if the customer does direct deposit or deposits $500 or more.

[From American Express aims to serve unbanked and underbanked » Banking Technology]

All in all, I have to say — given the comments that we received from the delegates — the Unconference format worked really, really well and I am glad to see that the popularity of the format is growing in our sector. We got some great feedback and some suggestions for changing the schedule slightly which we are going to try out and are always to keen to hear more from attendees: we will shamelessly plunder new ideas from anywhere. And, once again, sincere thanks to Google for being such excellent hosts and such firm supporters of the Tomorrow’s Transactions Unconference series. Next stop is Toronto on December 11th so I look forward to seeing you all there!

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

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