I’m on my way home from a speaking engagement at the BAI Payments Connect Conference. I spoke on the Business Case of Mobile Photo Bill Pay (where you can enroll a biller into your bank bill payment service, or pay the bill itself, simply by snapping a picture of the bill with your mobile device). Joining me was the executive responsible for digital channels at BBVA Compass Bank, an innovative bank headquartered in the southeast and owned by Spanish banking giant BBVA. A couple observations that might be interesting to those of you who might not be in the payments world:
- A research project testing the preferences of the millenials (basically 18-33 year olds) found that banks were at the top of the list for perceived threat of disruption. Specifically, 73% of the respondents stated that they would be “more excited” about a new offering in financial services from Google, Amazon, Apple, Paypal, or Square than they would from a nationwide bank. See other millennial perceptions on the right from the same report.
- Get this: In the past 30 days, more Americans paid a bill using their mobile device than smoked a cigarette. I don’t know why, but that statistic really tells us something about how the world is changing, however I must point out that after my time in Las Vegas I suspect most of the smokers are currently walking around inside casinos.
- We will be seeing a big battle as banks and billers duke it out to get your attention so that you pay your bills through them instead of the other guy. Watch for innovative technologies and applications to be offered by both to win your affection. I wrote about this on our corporate blog here.
Last week, I participated in two panel discussions at the All Payments conference which was tragically held at the the exact same hotel/casino as this week’s show, leading me to observe that the only thing worse than going to Las Vegas two weeks in a row is to go two weeks in a row and stay in the same place. One of the panels was on partnerships in the technology space (something I’ve written on a few times in this blog, such as here and here). Key points:
- The panel agreed that goal congruence between the parties is vital. It is one of the easiest things to say and one of the hardest things to do. A way to get goal congruence (e.g. being on the same page) is to ask hard questions early.
- How can small companies be a great partner to an “elephant” (a huge company)? “Be real” about the level of mindshare your company is really going to receive, and approach the elephant with something compelling beyond “we’d be great together” or “we’d like you to sell our software”.
- How can elephants be a great partner to a “mouse” (a small company)? Elephants tend to crush mice at the negotiating table, which causes the mouse to cut back on the resources required to make the partnership actually work. “Winning” a negotiation often leads to a mutual loss for all involved. Read Stephen Covey for additional details.
I also participated on a panel concerning venture investing. It was a great discussion and demonstrated that there is a LOT of money chasing new business opportunities.
Next week I’ll be at Harvard University taking part in The Innovation Project 2014, sponsored by pymnts.com. I’ll be speaking with a number of others on how the B2B payments landscape is ripe for innovation.
Finishing up with a few random thoughts:
- A quote I recently read that I like: “Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty” (Thomas Jefferson). There’s probably a corollary here for how people approach their careers….
- What I’m reading right now: Paris To The Moon (Adam Gopnik)
- What I just finished reading: Javatrekker (Dean Cycon)