Commerce Signals Launches databridge

Press Release

I’m excited to announce the launch of our first product, databridgeTM. It’s no secret that banks, retailers and mobile operators have great data. The challenge for these companies has been in how they let their data “play” in a privacy-centric model that controls both WHO can use the data and HOW the data is used (see Data Leakage). This is the core of databridge, with an initial focus on enabling transaction data to measure marketing effectiveness. Continue reading “Commerce Signals Launches databridge”

The New Economy: Small Wins

I’m more passionate about this topic than anything I’ve ever written about. As an eternal optimist I don’t see a world dominated by Google, Amazon, Chase and Walmart…. But rather a new economy where millions of small businesses thrive. Where every person can employ their creative talent in collaboration focused on value creation. A world where capital flows to great ideas across geographic boundaries lifting the stifling poverty of most emerging markets. Continue reading “The New Economy: Small Wins”

The Ledger.. and a new SWIFT Killer?

Money 2020 was a little short on big announcements. My #1? Visa/Chain announcement. Chain will open its entire platform (software core) to developers enabling distributed innovation (ie investment) by hundreds of start-ups and bespoke networks looking to connect.  My #1 bet is that the first focus area for Visa/Chain will be in replacing SWIFT.  For those not familiar with the intricacies of global commercial money transfer via SWIFT see my youtube video.

SWIFT is a global messaging network that enables all member banks to communicate in common language, it handles no funds, nor does it manage settlement. Swift sends standard messages to banks to settle funds. In the SWIFT model the instruction is normally sent by the originator of the payment to a beneficiary. Originating banks can determine which set of correspondent banks to use (think routing control).

Visa and Mastercard are also messaging networks (see Structural Changes in Payment, and Real Time Payments). The short summary of these blogs:

  • Real time gross settlement (RTGS) is only possible if all parties have funds in a common settlement entity.
  • Fedwire, NYSE, ..have real time settlement as all “members” have funded accounts for a net settlement (think daily margin calls)..  but all other US payment networks are messaging only, with settlement handled as a (daily) back end process.

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The idea of Blockchain “replacing” SWIFT is not new, Ripple has been working with Santander, Bank of America and others (see Finextra). Ripple is both messaging, and real-time gross settlement system (RTGS in XRPs). Ripple’s messaging is called the Ripple Transaction Protocol (RTXP) or Ripple protocol, it is built upon a distributed open source Internet protocol, consensus ledger and native currency called XRP (ripples). Think of Ripples as a private bitcoin. One of the most common criticisms of Ripple is that Of the 100 billion XRPs created, 20 billion XRP were retained by the creators, who were also the founders of Ripple Labs.

Chain on the other hand is blockchain infrastructure (great WSJ article) open for innovation. Chain powers distributed ledger(s) for multiple uses. Think of Chain as enabling each bank to have a local copy of a indisputable record… an incorruptible and infallible accounting ledger. Fund transfer certainly needs such a record, but for “accounting” to be effective there must be trust and settlement. Note that Ripple handles this settlement problem (XRP ownership ledger) trust, but has issuess in conversion to the “common XRP currency”.

Trust among financial intuitions is historically managed by networks and operating rules. For example there are operating rule for NACHA, Visa, Mastercard, … etc. Operating rules also are governed by laws and regulation (ex WHO can transact, how are transactions reversed, how are participants certified).  I would argue that a payment network’s greatest asset is Trust among parties (and devices, form factors), with each participant governed by complex sets of rules, terms, certifications, operations, standards.

Important to note that Blockchain doesn’t require trust to properly record transaction, but rather rules to take action upon the ledger’s data. In other words, it is technically feasible to give a copy of the transaction ledger to every participant (who owes what to whom every day). However it is very hard for banks to take action on the ledger’s data (Transferring money – ex net settlement) without a trust/settlement network. The common ledger is a must improved messaging approach, that still requires a operating rules (Trust) and a Settlement Approach.

Mastercard’s acquisition of Vocalink (the UK’s Settlement network) enables them to lead in commercial (and debit) transactions for both UK and US. This is a brilliant move, but certainly much more of a traditional technology/architecture approach. The challenge with Vocalink is that innovation is constrained by existing customers and services.

Chain/Visa has the opportunity to disrupt the commercial payment landscape, particularly when viewed in combination with Visa’s existing card network and a new settlement system. For example, most Visa transactions were settled at end of day through JPM Chase (every Visa member had settlement account).  For cross border transactions, Visa’s settlement “hubs” have correspondent relationships.

If Visa created a new Chain settlement infrastructure, or had member Bank support to leverage current infrastructure, it could quickly replace SWIFT with a far superior product which would offer transaction clearing times in 24 hrs (vs the 2-7 days with Swift). The biggest unknown is what part of Visa’s current operating rules could be leveraged to create this new settlement infrastructure. For the economic opportunity see this Fed Study

Money 2020 – What to expect

Each year, I make predictions about what to expect during the Money20/20 Conference in October. This year, I expect to see innovation in the following areas:

  • New merchant value propositions
  • Delivering value beyond the payment transaction
  • More collaboration
  • Payment in the OS
  • Transformation of commercial networks

My blog was upgraded to recode today.. see link below

http://www.recode.net/2016/10/13/13243500/mobile-payments-ecommerce-money2020-zelle

Short Blog – Paypal / Vodafone

News today

Vodafone-PayPal Payments Go Mobile in The UK

My summary view

  1. Vodafone is linking all cards in Google like “Proxy model” w/ card issued by  R. Raphael & Sons plc
  2. Vodafone is able to see all transaction data and deliver rewards/loyalty separate from card issuer.
  3. Paypal is virtual card (?Mastercard) at POS
  4. Vodafone has enabled a contactless SIM that can operate separately from the VodafonePay application with one default card (see Vodafone Smart Pass)
  5. TFL/Oyster accepts various external networks (see list). Paypal operates as a virtual V or MA in this circumstance.
  6. Revenue for PP is 30/40 bps less Vodafone and program manager costs.

The Vodafone Pay Terms give most of the meat

“For each funding source you wish to use with Vodafone Pay, we’ll issue you a prepaid virtual card (which we will store securely on your SIM card). By ‘funding source’, we mean a UK sterling denominated debit or credit card that was issued to you by a UK-authorised bank or an account
that you hold with a UK-authorised bank or your PayPal e-wallet. You can link up to 5 funding sources via the Add a Card feature. The virtual card expires when your funding source does. […]

Because the payment goes from your funding source to your virtual card before it is completed, you may not get the same benefits (like loyalty points, discounts and card protection) as you get when paying directly with your funding source. The funds loaded onto your virtual card will not earn any interest”[…]

We, the issuer or your virtual card, are R. Raphael & Sons plc (Company Registration No. 1288938) with our head office and registered office at 19-21 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 7ED.”

PayPal to Tokenize and Eliminate Steering

Looks like I was wrong… I’m now 80% confident that Paypal has struck deal with at least one network to tokenize. Congrats to the Paypal team for reducing risk and creating opportunity to compete at parity with Apple, Google, FB and others.

What to expect Thursday? Paypal will tokenize, commit to no steering and share transaction data.

PayPal Win

  • Elimination of the staged Digital wallet fee (or equiv circa MA 2012)
  • Ability to benefit from 3DS 2.0 (Shift liability, and Reduced Interchange)
  • Reduced risk and certainty in Network/Bank relationships

Paypal Loss

  • Transaction Economics/Take Rate as consumers will chose default payment option
  • Each issuer can decide to tokenize per VDEP/MDES. If no issuers take part there is not 3DS 2.0 benefit

Network Win

  • Consumer Choice in Payment (Increased Volume)
  • Reduced Risks from Cards on File
  • Standardization of Tokens

Network Loss

  • Competition to Network Wallets at Parity (Visa Checkout/Masterpass)

Issuer Win

  • Consumer Choice/Volume (Card vs ACH)
  • Control over tokenization/rate to Paypal
  • Ability to structure bilateral deals with PayPal (risk and rate)
  • Reduced ACH

Issuer Loss

  • Issuer branded wallets

Summary

My guess is that Paypal moved earnings call to articulate the take rate implications to steering elimination. Paypal must give up steering and transaction economics in the hope that Issuers will agree to tokenize. This puts Paypal at Parity with others like Google. Whereas Apple has been able to extract 15 bps from issuers to gain the privilege of being in ApplePay, Google continues to work to convince issuers such as Chase to be part of Android Pay. JPMC actually asked google for payment to tokenize.

Summary here is that issuers have a new control point in pricing with Paypal. My guess is that Paypal will come out with at least one major bank supporting them. Given JPMC is Paypal’s acquirer I would expect a deal here.

PIN Debit at the POS

Most of you have read that Walmart, Home Depot and Kroger have launched new litigation against Visa for “PIN” and Debit.  This issue is so complex it makes my head spin… For those unfamiliar with some of the basics see this article, my prior blog on PIN debit consolidation,  AT Kearney, Digital Transactions: PIN Debit Claw Back and Pinless PIN Debit. Continue reading “PIN Debit at the POS”

Acceptance – Part 1

I haven’t written much on acceptance over my 9 yr blogging career for one simple reason.. I was never “in” that side of the business. Given how much is going on in here I can’t leave it out any longer. Acceptance at the POS is a big topic, I see the following areas: Continue reading “Acceptance – Part 1”