Last Monday (23rd) was Day 1 of the Annual EBUG conference held in London's famous Institute of Civil Engineers. In a way it made me wonder if anyone will be able to Engineer the future of Cards & Payments after the influence of such auspicious surroundings.
After presentations from the CIO of IBM and a representative of Intel it became clear (to me) that the pace of change and innovation within the Cards & Payments industry is massively outstripped by other technology-based industries. Why is this? What are
the barriers or restrictions?
Regulation and Compliance has been highlighted as a potential candidate. However, in my opinion, I do not think this is solely responsible in isolation - there are surely more contributing factors. Are the customers another factor?
There seems to be an almost unquenchable thirst for all things mobile in the under-30's, indeed Mobile (and Technology) literacy seems to be the driving factor for adoption. Why, then, have we not seen huge demonstrations demanding that telco's, banks and
handset manufacturers bury their differences and begin a golden era of cooperation and cohesive thinking? Too much to ask for?
Cost could be another consideration. Much technological innovation is driven by divisions like the Open Source community and small Tech Startups. Financial Institution often have strained Strategic Investment budgets (and usually have a backlog of projects
and programmes to throw it at) - they do not necessarily have the required resources to perform speculative Research & Development.
Another era was in the back of my mind - during the dawn of the Industrial Revolution there were a group of traditionalists (luddites) that wanted to maintain the old methods. I wondered if there are any luddites within our industry - and I suppose to an
extent - the obsession with staying close to good old ISO8583 (old = reliable/known/trusted?) would suggest that it may be more widespread than I had first considered(!).
Do the end users care about the underlying technology? I would argue not - they simply want to make (or take) a payment reliably, consistently, ubiquitously, and most importantly: Globally.