So we’re fresh on the train after the Vendorcom Thought Leadership event on payments in Brighton. And our hearts are sinking a little we must admit.
We’ve just come from the Vendorcom event at the lovely home of Brighton and Hove Albion FC, fresh from a series of presentations that suggested that the leading lights of the payments industry aren’t quite on board with where their customers are trying to go. We heard lengthy talks on pre-paid cards from Visa, diatribes on how the regulators are going to stop the innovation in the payments space in its tracks and all sorts of other marginally worrying stuff.
In contrast we also heard some great perspectives on where payments are going from Consult Hyperion and Core Three on how to unravel the payments, ePOS and e-commerce mess and the opportunities when we all manage to do this.
Our perspective is simple. When we started the e-commerce ball rolling in earnest we forgot about the retailers and ran off at pace in all sorts of directions. We forgot about the existing software retail was relying on, mostly ePOS, and introduced the systems we thought they needed. And God love them they thanked us at the time, but isn’t it all just coming back to bite our collective arses now. Lack of integration, lack of visibility, distance from the end consumer. Like all bad designers we didn’t collaborate on closing the loops. And the wires got tangled.
Are we now going to do the same with payment? The Joint Venture under the banner of EE is unlikely to care what small retailers or start-ups in particular are doing in the market. With the nod from the regulators in their back pockets they’ll build mobile payment in their own image. And if it goes the wrong way we’ll have another disconnection, another wire that ends in the wrong place to add to our interweaved ball of pain.
Or we could all look to the cloud. Payments are secure data, and the cloud likes secure data. E commerce, ePOS, payments and all of the other data can make its way there if we wish. It can be interoperable and meshed, making it massively valuable.
When the US are already thinking about the value of the data behind the payments as opposed to the payments themselves we get a rancid sniff of just how far we are behind.
Poignantly our taxi back to the train station offered the ability to pay by card. We decided to do so. The poor taxi driver took the card, typed in every digit (this took five minutes) and pressed the button. If the transaction failed, he’d have to do it all again. And it failed regularly. Also if he left the Brighton area, he wasn’t able to use the machine at all and would have to predict costs for fares that started in Brighton and finished outside, often costing him money.
We asked if he had a mobile phone. Turns out he had two….