Google’s “Bank” Plans

THE most bank friendly partner offering that will enable any bank to compete at parity with the NeoBanks.

Summary – Google is not becoming a bank, but rather enabling:

  1. New integrated tools that will provide the BEST mobile bank experience
  2. Instant account opening
  3. Consumer incentives that will unlock the power of data (w/ consumer’s consent)
  4. New predictive analytics, recommendations, alerts, reminders, coupons, offers and engagement

Public PR

Over last 6 months or so we have seen several Press Releases relating to Google’s bank partnerships:

“We had confirmed earlier that we are exploring how we can partner with banks and credit unions in the U.S. to offer digital bank accounts through Google Pay, helping their customers benefit from useful insights and budgeting tools, while keeping their money in an FDIC or NCUA-insured account,” stated the release.

Smart, according to Google, because it will provide its checking accountholders with money management tips to optimize and manage the funds in those accounts – funds linked to payments and identity credentials that consumers can use to buy things, pay bills and send money to others in and outside the Google ecosystem.

Continue reading “Google’s “Bank” Plans”

Quick Take – Apple/Mobeewave and Acceptance

My belief is that Mobeewave will be the equivalent of a NFC/EMV certified “toll collector”

Turns out my rumor was well founded as Bloomberg verified this weekend. As such I thought I would give my view on what Apple will do with the asset.

The broad theme.. Specialized Hardware ALWAYS gives way to software.

Quick Take

  • Apple will make accepting cards as easy as using a card. They are likely to take on the role of a platform for acceptance. Acceptance requires tightly controlled and certified software and hardware. Thus it is also likely Apple will develop an app ecosystem for acceptance that expands on the “controlled” app with many 3rd party applications, and will also enable a physical acceptance device (ie dongle) to support acceptance of any card.
  • To enable card acceptance on mobile devices, the acceptance infrastructure must work within Secure Enclave (iOS) or the Secure Element (Andriod).
  • Apple does not publish, support or enable any third party operation in the enclave. Thus any card acceptance platform must be “inside the tent” with Apple’s software infrastructure. This is why Mobeewave was focused on Android and Samsung (openness).  
  • For card acceptance on IOS, in addition to enclave integration, the acceptance platform must be certified by both networks (V, MA, Amex, CUP, …) AND the acquirers (FIS, FISV, GPN, …etc). See Trust Networks.
  • My belief is that Mobeewave will be the equivalent of a NFC/EMV certified “toll collector” for interaction with the enclave. Apple will enable MANY 3rd party applications to build around their platform. This approach directly attack’s square’s vision of merchant ecosystem centered around their hardware.
  • Apple currently takes 15bps of all Apple Pay transactions (in US) per issuer agreement. It is likely to also seek a similar transaction fee from acquirers for acceptance. Note: processor take is 20-30bps vs 220 bps for issuer.
  • Apple’s goal is to create great customer experiences, particularly for device to device payment (see blog). Enabling 100s of “app creators” to build value from this central service could be a $50-100B revenue opportunity if Apple is able to capture 10% of US market. The likely initial focus is small business.
  • Key hurdles are on areas outside of Apple’s control: 1) Device/Software certification, 2) Acquirer/Processor automation of new merchant accounts.
  • Estimated timeline? Testing in 5-9 months, Certification in 12-18mo, Rollout in 18-24mo
  • Impacts
    • Positive. Visa/MA merchant network expansion + Cash Replacement. Acquirers/Processors, new platform provider (with TBD cost). Other Fintech’s in this space: Poynt, Toast, MagicCube.
    • Negative. Square.

Example – Stripe or Shopify expansion into the POS. Apple’s approach here would enable Stripe or Shopify to deliver omni channel and expand into the POS game with minimal additional investment. Either would be able to deliver integrated payment acceptance through IOS devices and create apps that are centered around their own unique platforms. Apple’s value? Solve device certification and merchant account creation – globally.

A more detailed blog on topic will be coming out next week. I’m a tad slammed today.

Rumor: Apple buys Mobeewave

Rumor only. Apple has entered the POS game with purchase of Mobeewave.

This is just a rumor.. but when you hear it often I give it a tad more credence.

It would seem Apple is entering the POS game.. Over the last 5 years they have looked at Stripe, Square and others.. but couldn’t make sense of the “hands on” merchant relationships.. perhaps they don’t want to add a sales team or manage payment ops. If that is the case Mobeewave is an amazing company with a solution that makes any phone a POS with just an App. Rather than getting an issuers permission to add a card to your wallet, it would require a merchant bank to create an account to allow for acceptance (I’m sure all acquirers will be calling Apple today).

Apple’s services revenue hit another record in yesterday’s earnings.. merchant acquiring would be new area for growth.. The opportunity: enabling acquirer to add merchants as easily as issuers add consumers. Small merchants would seem to be the best path for attack.

Who is impacted? This is a short blog, so here is my short list

  1. Square. Wow… now competing against Apple.
  2. Samsung. An investor in Mobeewave.. now without an outlet for making Samsung phones the next POS
  3. SMB acquirers. Making payment acceptance an app on an existing device may be the closest thing to creating an “alipay” in the US. If Apple can make pricing simple, and merchant banks can accelerate underwriting, they can make this a fantastic growth service.
  4. Fintech, specialty acceptance. The remaining players (ex Toast and Poynt) will now be in play.
  5. V/MA. They should love this.. it helps anyone become a merchant.. and adds volume to the network.

My firm belief is that Apple is best positioned to create GREAT experiences. This is much more than payment acceptance. Just as Paypal recognizes the need for QR code to transmit more than just payment information (yesterday’s earnings call), Apple can bring Mobeewave into the tent (within the secure enclave) to process identity, loyalty, rebates, rewards and coupons. Remember that Apple chose NOT to enable contactless on their Apple Card.. they want consumer behavior to be device to devices.. this is a very logical step for them (see previous blog on Brokering Identity).

I’m not going to waste much more time on this rumor.. but this is a monster with important implications. For my long time readers.. remember I was almost 2 years off in my estimate for ApplePay launch.. so it may take a little time.

For me… I’m busy buying some more Apple stock. This is genius.

Libra – Case Study in How to Build a Trust Network

Given yesterday’s blog on Open Banking, Open Payments and Trust Networks I can’t resist writing on what I believe was the greatest, most innovative, trust network in the last 20 years: Libra.  David Marcus’ design of Libra is brilliant, and will stand as THE REFERENCE MODEL for creating a trust network (apart from a market). 

Continue reading “Libra – Case Study in How to Build a Trust Network”

Open Banking, Open Payments and Trust Networks

A blog to my bank friends. Sorry for typos.. feedback appreciated!

Thought for the day

Open systems garner greater participation, but margins are held either by orchestrator or proprietary components that offer unique performance or capabilities. Payments and Banking are trust networks, trust requires not only enforceable and auditable assessment of counterparty operations, but a shared business case for investment.  

Trust networks revolve around a shared and enforceable definition of roles, standards, counterparty identity, trust and risk. Trust network attributes and operating model drive scale and participant investment. In all cases, networks require participation of both consumer and merchant. A trust network of known participants operating within a defined set of operations and economics stands in stark contrast to the open, anonymous and distributed internet (see Transformation of Commercial Networks). 

Today we will take a look at Open Banking and Open Payments. If you are looking for the summary, here it is: 

  1. The “golden geese are safe”.  Data clearly shows network effects taking hold for Visa and Mastercard, as card issuance, acceptance and frequency of use all drive GDV growth in the mid 20s (see blog). As one top US bank CEO said of V/MA “there is no scheme we can define together that will result in improved economics… why on earth would we want to spend our time assessing one”? 
  2. Open is a terrible business model, but a fantastic technical one. Tip toe into any “open” effort as a form of intelligence gathering. Standardizing messages will enable merchants (and banks) to deliver new forms of payments within embedded processes and systems. 
  3. There can be no shared investment without a well defined and enforceable operating model
Continue reading “Open Banking, Open Payments and Trust Networks”

EPI – Quick Take

16 banks in Europe just announced the European Payment Initiative (EPI) to tackle retail payments.

In November 2019 the Eurosystem relaunched its retail payments strategy, calling for increased collaboration between European stakeholders to provide payment services that meet the needs of European customers and strengthen the autonomy of the European retail payments market

European Central Bank, PR July 2 2020

What are the drivers? The ECB asked banks to do it… thats just about it.

Continue reading “EPI – Quick Take”

Finicity, Plaid, Tokens and Network of Networks

Summary

  • Primary driver of finicity/Plaid deals is not open banking, but in support of the “network of networks” strategy.
  • The owner of the consumer directory, will rule payments. Tokens are the central battle field for trust networks (and payment network) consolidation as well as new services. 
  • MA lost out on the Plaid purchase, but is likely to end up far better off for it. 
  • The Visa/Plaid deal is likely to fall through as the retain consumer credentials for 5yr (claimed by class action).
  • V/MA will likely own the payment token directory 
    • Visa is leading – 1B tokens issued by Visa (acquisition of BellID/Rambus)
    • Mastercard Track  successfully leads the market in global B2B Least Cost Routing
  • V/MA have substantial hurdles in expanding the directory beyond payments
    • Few direct consumer or merchant relationships
    • Bank and Apple/Google leadership in Customer Identity/Trust
    • Trust is the core of bank risk management (and Bank margin)
    • Network effects decrease transaction costs for established services and increase value (acceptance). However they have the reverse effect on new services.
    • Value/Margin is migrating to the ends of the network and many new networks are forming. 
    • The energy to manage participation in multiple networks is dropping (with Mobile). Enabling specialized networks that cater more finely to precise needs of each node. 
    • V/MA will see substantial growth in core payment volume with continued network effects and the breakdown of Payment silos.
Continue reading “Finicity, Plaid, Tokens and Network of Networks”

PayPal Threats – 2020

I’m a big fan of PayPal, but as they approach 100x earnings I’m on the look out for risks. While PayPal is BEST positioned as the ONLY company to solely focus on eCommerce payments AND A UNIQUE ability to “own the rules”as a 3 party network, they are not without significant risk. 2020 has 2 major threats that can hit them very very quickly.

#1 Apple Pay in Browser

I’ve been writing about this for 5 years and it is finally here. While I was certainly off in my projected 2016 timing, I was not off in the user experience. Take 2 minutes to do the following

Continue reading “PayPal Threats – 2020”

EU probe of Apple Pay

17 Jun 2020

Short Blog today. Before jumping in.. I’ve been working on 2 significant blog series

  1. Consolidation in Financial Services. Given convergence of several forces, we are in the midst of a consolidation of networks, and services. The pandemic has placed new strains on sub scale players, which will provide the basis for significant M&A. My involvement in the deal flow has slowed the writing down.  
  2. Big Tech, Neo Banks and Financial Services. Looking to give the “inside baseball” look at what is really happening.

I’ve got over 100 pages of material… hope to get it out in bite size chunks in a few weeks.

EU and Apple Pay

From today’s WSJ and also on Forbes, the EU announced 2 investigations:

Continue reading “EU probe of Apple Pay”

Payments in the Pandemic – Paypal

Paypal is very well positioned to capture new volume both short term and long term growth

First off, best wishes to you and your family during these challenging times. I had intended to get this out last week, but found the need to invest in family. My family is doing fine, I’m fortunate to have all of my children, grandchildren and parents within 10 miles of Davidson North Carolina. We are like the rest of you, navigating needs for family support and volunteering in our community.. All of which has changed up our schedules. My hope is that we all find some way to create good out of this terrible event. 

In this Blog

  1. Massive disruption in Commerce has created fundamental changes in payments and consumer behavior. 
    • Discretionary and T+E spend is dropping 40-80%. Visa and Mastercard have both revised growth from mid teens to low single digits. Paypal has maintained low end guidance. 
    • eCommerce is clear winner right now, estimate that Paypal’s core eCommerce TPV could be 40-60% above average 
    • Consumer behavior changes driven by the pandemic will rapidly accelerate the move away from physical retail (See 1 April WSJ).
  2. Paypal is very well positioned to capture new volume both short term and long term growth.
Continue reading “Payments in the Pandemic – Paypal”