Tokens and the Trojan Horse

I can’t believe I’ve been writing about this stuff for almost 10 yrs. If any of you have suffered through my 20 blogs (on tokens) I certainly don’t want to rehash anything.. just bring everyone up to speed on what I see as major issues on the horizon for V/MA, Issuers and Merchants.trojan-horse-small

Headline: Visa and Mastercard have made it easy for millions of businesses and billions of consumers to work together consistently. V/MA are a thing of beauty, creating incentives for multiple parties to invest in payments (and grow network). Continue reading “Tokens and the Trojan Horse”

PayPal surpasses Amex in Market Cap

WSJ Friday – Paypal Passes Amex in Market Cap

Paypal’s stock has been on an absolute tear this year up over 70% and pushing their market cap over $80B, with 55x P/E (compared to Visa’ 40x and Mastercard’s 36x)paypal-stock

eCommerce and payments are both hot sectors…. PayPal combines both. Most would tell you that the “real progress” for PayPal’s stock started July of last year with the V/MA peace treaties (blog).

Paypal’s biggest advantage is focus… they are 100% focused on payments. This gives them advantage in both innovation and execution, particularly when they are not dependent on getting the “permission” of anyone else. Venmo’s massive success is a great example of speed and finding a niche that no one else saw.

I tell Dan that I see 2 primary vectors for further growth: long tail (small retailers) and international (particularly small merchant acquiring). Wirecard sees the later as well given they just purchased Citi’s acquiring business in Asia.

Paypal’s competitive environment, the bundling of payments, and tech (new authentication/payment in OS ) creates a very challenging environment for growth. Their ability to focus and execute is what will differentiate them as a new tech standard is meaningless if no one uses it. Example is Apple Pay in store continues to be a flop.. where as apple pay in-app is a crushing success.

What most impresses me this week? Paypal’s partnerships (see Dan present on this topic – CNBC). Parnterships are a HUGE driver of volume (look at eBay’s impact). Consumers just want the easiest/default payment approach.

Congrats to Bill, Dan and team.. making this progress while REMAKING a technical infrastructure in a highly competitive environment is tough!

CORRECTION
In a post entitled “What to expect from Money in 2020” posted on October 5, 2017, I stated that Bank of America had “pulled out of their relationship with Cardlytics”. Cardlytics has informed me that this is false and that there is no change in the relationships with Bank of America or Citi. I
apologize and regret this error.

I look forward to getting another update on the CLO space from both banks this quarter.  It sure is nice that someone reads page 3 of a blog on Money 2020 to notice this stuff. I’m always open to correcting errors or omissions.

 

Chase Net 2017

Its tough to find time to Blog as a CEO…. Most of you my blogs are sometimes snarky and tactless (making NOT offending someone a new consideration).

I was taking a look at JPMC’s latest investor presentation and noticed that ChaseNet is gone.. Why? I’ve written on JPMC and ChaseNet a number of times over last 6 yrs. Today I’ll cover my views on the latest developments and my views on JPMC’s ChaseNet strategy. Lets recap first: Continue reading “Chase Net 2017”

Trust – Part 1

No one reads my long blogs.. so my 2017 resolution is to break them up into smaller thought “chunks”.

I can’t believe its been 2.5 yrs since I wrote Brokering Identity. The central element of that blog, and today is to take a “trust” view of Network and Platform strategies. The rules, standards and processes by which trust is managed are critical to the success of networked businesses and markets from eBay to Visa/MA to the NYSE. Continue reading “Trust – Part 1”

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 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.

0201_cio_ledg_g_20160201185005

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