I was following Howard down the long long corridor disappearing off into lights and chaos at the horizon. He was urging me on, telling me it was time to go and to be the story, so I followed. I’d already told him that, as his Director of Innovation, I advised against going to breakfast meetings at 7:30 AM but he was insistent.

EMV and Loathing in Las Vegas

It was about this time that we had our first business meeting. Howard said that I should go blend in, but I couldn’t see how. “Come on!” I told him, “think about what you’re saying! I’m a middle-aged overweight balding white guy – I’ll stick out like a sore thumb!”. A better plan was needed, but we were out of time. A woman who looked like she knew what she was doing came up to me.

“I understand that Consult Hyperion has leading-edge expertise in tokenisation and that they have been working for issuers in a number of different countries helping them to develop tokenisation strategies, procure tokenisation infrastructure and launch new products and services for both Secure Element and Host Card Emulation financial applications?” she said.

“Yes, we have” I said. “And to prove it here is a piece of toast with my face on it”.

EMV and Loathing in Las Vegas

I guess this whole business thing isn’t as hard as I’d thought. And the good thing about toast is that you don’t run out of it. The recipe is quite simple.

“Quick” Howard told me, “get your act together man”. He was pointing down the corridor and telling me that guy in the grey jacket works some kind of scheme and that they had launched some cool products for The Money 2020 and that we should check them out, especially the stuff about issuer-authenticated tokens for loading into wearables. So I decided to take things by the scruff and I strolled over to him to find out if he could put tokens in the chip in my toaster. I offered him some of my peace toast as a show of friendship and he took it. Give peace toast a chance, I told him.

EMV and Loathing in Las Vegas

“Gonzo!” Howard was shouting.

“I’m in the kitchen,” I told him, “I’m making toast for peace”.

I went back to the kitchen to make some more toast for peace when I heard a commotion in the room outside. I heard a woman. “No,” she was whimpering. “The madmen, they finally did it. It’s war.”

My blood froze. I didn’t want any part of the The Man’s war, but the terrible coffee coursing through my veins turned my fear into a thrill.

“What? What happened?” I said, wanting to turn and run but fascinated to stay and see. “They did it” she said. “They dropped the bombshell.”

Oh my god, I thought. I’d written about the possibility for a resurgence in three-party schemes before, but I wasn’t sure anyone would really do it. Yet the Generals in the J.P. Morgan Chase war room had gone for a first strike and launched Chase Pay. There was sure to be retaliation. Why? Best I could think of is that deep agents for MCX had been activated.

So what to do?

Then we had the idea. If I was going to be more of the story, then we should use the fact that I stick out like a sore thumb to stick out like a sore thumb. 

“Leave it to me. I know people”, I told him and went downstairs to find my old friend Jonathan Weiner. I slipped the Benjamin in his pocket like the Amazing Randi and reminded him that he owed me for that Danish thing. Like magic I was in the green room and before I knew I was out in front of the conventional conventioneers.

Authentication Panel

Well, that worked out. I just asked a couple of questions that I found scribbled on a napkin at the lectern and these smart dudes on stage talk about it. I tried hard to remember what they said because I thought I might interest Rolling Stone in a thousand words on but as soon as a stepped down and saw the free Haagen Daz my brain kind of scrambled. The Bank of America woman said authentication is a big deal and that they had a million customers who used it for fingerprint login, the FIDO guy said that it was standard, the Samsung Guy said they chose it because standards grow markets, the Payfone guy said that mobile handsets were the best solution for most people and the Oberthur guy said that tamper-resistant hardware made it all secure. Cool.

Afterwards I had another drink and headed off to find some grown-up Vegas relaxation. I saw some kind of massage therapy service and figured hey that’s just what I need right now, so I went in through the discreet door.

EMV and Loathing in Las Vegas

But when I got inside, it was just a bunch of people talking about chips and stuff. The nightclub was advertising a band called Intel, but I couldn’t stay and wait for them to play so I just tried to make friendly with the hep cats hanging down there. I asked this guy why there was such a fuss about putting a Trusted Execution Environment inside a POS terminal but didn’t understand what he told me (something about security, or maybe he was calling security). Then I heard someone behind me order another gin and tonic (I think they got the idea from me) and say something about getting toasted. “Man,” I told him. “I’ve got just the thing”.

EMV and Loathing in Las Vegas

Them I remembered about the party invitation. I wasn’t sure if it was a three-party party or a four-party party, but I was in the mood.

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