Payments International 2015 – Day 3 report #PayInt15

Today was the final day of the Payments International 2015 conference. Here are my notes. Again I apologise for any brevity, grammatical abominations and spelling errors – this post is a case of publishing speed versus comprehensiveness.


Smart companies and dumb companies - according to Mark Stevenson
Smart companies and dumb companies – according to Mark Stevenson

Mark Stevenson was the keynote speech. Mark is clearly a Marmite presenter – people either like or dislike him. Personally I liked his approach, and during the session started following him immediately at @optimistontour.

His keynote on “Why Infrastructure We Have Now Can’t Survive” began with describing how core infrastructure and business models are soon going to be unfit for purpose.

He gave the example of insurers insure drivers not cars, so driverless cars pose problem for insurers as an alien business model (I started thinking that all other forms of transport insurance – ship, aeroplane or even bicycle – insure the means of transport not the captain or driver, but let’s forget that for a moment).

Stevenson is clearly passionate about energy, and quoted Swanson’s Law of the cost of solar power – where the cost of solar power will become so cheap that we won’t even consider fossil fuels in the future. He said there will be an energy revolution in the next twenty years where we’ll be using renewable energy, probably created at home.

He talked about Organovo, a company which “3D prints” human organs using human cells, and then discussed other types of 3D printing.

All this will mean a difference in wealth management in the next 20 years. If wealth management is based on influence, influence will change from assets to social influence.

“Most infrastructures are rubbish.”

Stevenson gave us fifteen minutes from his socialist soapbox. He described how politics hasn’t changed very much, isn’t interactive, and is fundamentally broken (his proof was how Paxman and Russet Brand both don’t vote). And how an ambulance driver earns £30,000 a year, compared to Sir James Crosby who earns over £500,000 from his pension.

Steveson said the key revolutions we are facing are:

  • Energy
  • Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Education
  • Lack of employee engagement.
Dead companies and who's next
Dead companies and who’s next

Stevenson put Digital, ICL and Wang as IT companies which have shared the same fate as Kodak and Blockbusters. He illustrated how new startups rarely come from existing industries:

  • Skype from outside of the Telco industry
  • PayPal from outside payments
  • Netflix from outside of broadcaster.

Stevenson illustrated trilemmas which industries previously thought were impossible but then a new startup comes along and solves them.

He described how even the pharmaceutical industry is now competing with a new concept: the Open Source Drug Discovery.

He described how “Trusted 3rd parties will be replaced by networks of trust: Understanding how to curate the crowd is the new skill.”

Coinify – Lasse Birk Olesen

Lasse started by presenting by the major technology innovations in the last few decades: PCs, The Internet and Bitcoin. Personally I’d have added mobile telecommunications to the list but hey, it was his presentation.

The World Bank says that 50% of the world’s adult population do not have a bank account – they are the “unbanked” as the presenters at this conference called them. Apparently Bitcoin can help the unbanked.

Lasse went through a use case on how these unbanked adults can create a company, with shares and dividends, with Bitcoin.

Lasse went through some of the Bitcoin fundamentals which I thought was important for the audience.

Lasse demonstrated that the volatility of the value of Bitcoin is similar to other commodities when they first launched, such as petrol.

Afternoon keynote

One of the best presentations of the day was the afternoon keynote from Mark Governor at Redmonk.

Redmonk are a research company, targeted mainly at developers, or engineers as the US calls them. Well, apparently developers don’t like filling in many surveys, so Mark’s company use a lot of social media and sentiment analysis to work out what developers like and dislike. From my perspective, developers are a cynical bunch and I can’t imagine how Redmonk’s filter handle engineer-grade sarcasm.

According to Mark, developers the new kingmakers.

The number of tools which are available to developers has risen over the last few years (I completely agree – it has become a very complex and fragmented landscape). Mark said that the regular procurement departments can’t handle these product buying decisions.

He then described Unicorns + Decacorns – which I hadn’t heard of before. Unicorns are startups worth $1bn and Decacorns are worth $10 billion.

One thing I completely agreed with is that Mark is firmly APl focussed, and he described some API companies that are doing particularly well in terms of revenue at the moment.

Mark then talked about Context and Pervasive Payability. This is what we (at Endava) call Invisible Payments where the context of a device such as location, accelerometer, facial recognition and/or health data is enough to make the payment. Think of Uber – at no point does the user confirm payment with a PIN or OK button.

Mark said that just like we currently eat every 10m (that’s metres and minutes), soon it will be like that with payments – we’ll constantly be buying small things. I liked this approach, and I may well write a blog post about this at a later stage.

He had some interesting observations which tied into Ben Hammersley’s keynote from Day 2 about disruptors often come from outside the industry:

  • Apple from a mobile phone maker to a Payments Network
  • Facebook from a social network to a Payments Network
  • Google from a search engine to Payments Network
  • Uber from transport service to a Payments Network
  • Stripe from a Payments Service to a payment Network

Mark was one of the only presenters to explain how digital transformation projects often delight the customer. These types of services and apps are a joy to use. This is really important, and is often one of the most successful hallmarks of a modern digital service.

Endava presentation

Following the afternoon keynote, Nick Telford-Reed from Worldpay and I spoke on stage. I’ll cover this in a separate post soon.

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