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.

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”

Payments 2020 – MVP Continued Domination?

What is the top performing industry group? MVP outperformed FAANG over last 4 yrs by 34 points.. will this trend continue?

I’m back to blogging after a 5 year hiatus… The CEO thing is rather all consuming. Glad to have an exit so I can get back to my fellow payment geeks. 

What to blog about first? Given we are in new decade I thought about writing some grand predictions.  But rather than look forward, we must spend a little time in the past, as the past 10 years have been JUST AMAZING in payments. I’m calling this blog series “payment growth vectors” where I hope to recap what has transpired in payments (history) to provide a trajectory for evaluation of the future course.  

Continue reading “Payments 2020 – MVP Continued Domination?”

Token update – TCH + 2 Big Banks and Paypal

I’ve been writing about this token stuff for over 5 yrs. Wow.. This is an update to my June 2013 blog – Tokens: any volunteers ,  SRC- W3C and Tokens and the Trojan Horse.

First my bias.. I may be naive.. but as I stated in Tokens and the Trojan Horse

Visa and Mastercard provide a level playing field for Issuers and Merchants (with few exceptions). Per my blog Payments Civil War, V/MA are a fantastic creation that have experienced profound success (and growth). As I outlined in the Changing Economics of Payments, the beauty of the V/MA model is that it creates incentives for millions of businesses to invest billions of dollars. For investors, the attraction of V/MA is that it is scale free.. with minimal effort required to add volume. While there are MANY more logical ways to deliver payments.. there are none with more profitable incentives for investment.

Tokens are an enormously powerful control point for the payment networks. 9 years ago the banks were working to “build a new Visa” within an initiative launched by The Clearing House. The idea was to create a new scheme that “wrapped” account numbers with another number (token) and avoid network routing (see wrapping). The networks smartly came down and issued clear guidance, if you wrap my card number with another number …. It is still a Mastercard/Visa.

TCH has been seeking a partner for tokenization since Paul Gallant led the 27 bank consortium 8 yrs ago.  Can you imagine the sales pitch (as I reviewed in the Trojan horse) “give me all of your customer information, I will lock it up.. and give you one of my keys for you to access it”. Google, Apple and Amazon have all smartly said no. What is the remaining “big” eCommerce Cards on File (COF) home? You guessed it PayPal.

While I’m not 100% sure about this.. it is the only group left AND two of these banks told me this week “Paypal is the only one that can move merchants effectively”. I was shocked … paypal can move merchants more than Google? They responded “Google has the best technology, but they just can’t sell merchant more than adwords”.. wow.

Thus my best guess is that 2 of the top banks are working with Paypal as the processor/gateway  to move “W3C” in the direction of the TCH tokenization service. The head of the W3C WG wrote me on twitter

Quite frankly my head is spinning. W3C is a browser standard.. how can Paypal get their TCH tokens in? I haven’t figured this out yet, but what I do know is that the complexity is enormous. We have 3 different token services

  • Visa VTS/MA MDES (Apple is primary customer)
  • Google (see Blog) – had no choice but to develop a new custom “standard” by which the encrypted FPAN flows to the merchant acquirer
  • TCH – Paypal + ??

And also multiple new eCom standards

To read what is happening you must therefore take a matrix view.  Obviously Google is moving with their own token service and W3C. Paypal seems to be moving with TCH and W3C.  Apple with network tokenization and ApplePay.

My head is spinning. I must say I did buy Paypal stock this week. I’m just floored that top tier issuers are innovating with Paypal.. focus, partnerships and execution are moving them into the bank friendly category.

Payment Data.. Banks are NOT the problem

Loss of Anonymity in Payments and the threats to Banking, Retail and Consumers

Compelling WSJ article yesterday on Facebook and Bank data. This article doesn’t begin to touch the extent of the problem. When it comes to data, there 2 very very distinct camps. Those that care about consumer data and their role in managing it, and those that don’t. 

Banks and payment networks care and are “squeaky clean” compared to the rampant data sharing going on within marketing (retailers directly to the big ad publishers). While Cambridge Analytica brought about changes to 3rd party data sharing the entire ad industry has DRAMATICALLY increased direct first party data sharing. In other words many large retailers are sending their real time SKU level purchase data (for all customers) directly into the big Ad Platforms.

  1. Google Offline Conversions API
  2. Facebook Offline Conversion API
  3. Agency Example
  4. Gartner CDP Magic Quadrant

What enables retailers to identify consumers and send this data to Ad Platforms? Historically, only retailers with loyalty card schemes could do this, but recently Payment cards have transformed to become the virtual loyalty card used to accurately identify consumers (without Bank/Network permission). This is shocking, as Payment cards have a solid track record for protecting consumer identity (ie anonymity in payment), with payment anonymity a core “feature”. Within the 4 party network schemes only issuers could identify the consumer, enabling issuing Banks maintain the critical role of Identity broker (see blog). As former banker this makes my head spin, as the Payment Card Industry (PCI) has invested BILLIONS to protect transaction data.. Only to have it pour out from a hole.

Example

Today, when a consumer uses their V/MA card to purchase the retailer creates an “anonymized ID” and stores the transaction set internally (at ~50% of the top 10 retailers) with the entire inventory of items purchased. There are few rule or privacy issues here (IMHO), as general trends and loyalty are measured.  However, retailers are voluntarily sending this transaction data (mapped to consumer ID not PAN) directly to the big Ad Platforms. The ad platforms then map this activity to the “anonymized ID” customer behavior it maintains (ex preference for soccer and CNN.com). Issues with this model:

  • Replacing the PAN with another Anonymized ID SHOULD NOT cause it to run under a different “rule set”. If ANY card information was used in the mapping, it should run under network rules
  • Neither the issuers, the networks nor the consumers have permissioned this data sharing.
  • Banks will never have a data business if data plays in this way
  • Retailers are giving away enormous consumer insight and strengthening the pricing power of Google/FB
  • The value of the “raw data” will diminish. Once reliable predictive models and preferences are established (ex Tennis player that likes Lacoste) I no longer need the raw data
  • Data is the “new uranium” we must work to control dissemination or it will destroy those touching it.

Obviously data is following the path of least resistance to centralization points that can act on it efficiently (covered in my blog Equifax, FB and Dangers of Data Centralization). However the ABILITY to act on data is different than the rules which data should act within. Transaction data was developed with VERY thoughtful rules and controls. For example, when a party submits a transaction or request the counterparty is known as is the legal agreement under which the “transaction” operates. Trust developed as a result. Trusted data must be managed.

Russ Schrader (Commerce Signals GC/CPO and Executive Director of the National Cyber Security Alliance) put together these 3 simple rules of thumb when thinking about data use:

  • Right to have the data
  • Right to use the data
  • Right to share the data

To be clear my goal is NOT to create a government imposed GDPR in the US. Rather I want Banks and Retailers to have a data business, and create great new consumer experiences.

Yes I have a bias here, it is what I built my company around (see Federated Data®). Data centralization is the v1.0 architecture of data science. Sure you can learn great things if all the data is mashed together but the value of data is based upon use. If you can’t control use… you can’t control the unique value that is unlocked (or the rights) within a given use.

Bank/Network Actions

Let me be clear.. banks must have a role in data! The economics of payments are changing. Banks must protect their ability to deliver value beyond the transaction. Banking is a commerce function and Alipay has shown what the future holds for “commerce orchestrators” .. payments allow them to become banking orchestrators as well (see WSJ and Ant Financial).  There are both offensive and defensive actions that must be taken. 

  1. Defense. Change the rules to protect your data ensure every party “in the network” is operating on your data with permissions. Your data is playing in the market today.. and you don’t even know it. Banks have permissioned and distributed their data to marketing, loyalty, and shared market insight vendors. While individual transaction data may not be distributed by your partners, consumer level models are built and shared (see Banks as a Data Business). Typical network rules allow for merchants to use card information for the purpose of “loyalty and marketing” these rules need to be tightened up as the rights to share this data with many parties was never part of the original intent.
  2. Retailers are not big enough to force change within the ad world. You are..  Ensure that all data operates within the simple rules above.
  3. Banks must collaborate in data. As a top 3 bank told me “… we have learned some very hard lessons in data, no one bank is big enough to go it alone. What we should have remembered is the success with V/MA. Even though we compete with [Banks] a common network allowed millions of businesses and consumers to work with us consistently….” and another “ The real threat to banks is the Alipay. We need a common data network with common rules. Banks have a role to play in creating great consumer experiences however there are only a very few of them we are poised to lead”.  
  4. Take on the roles of transparency and consumer champion.
Retailer Actions

Retailers have a right to payment data. While big data can create great new insights if we centralized and analyzed all conversations, there is a downside. Digitally, every interaction you have with a consumer is a conversation. Brands must manage who gets to take part in these conversations and build insight from them. If your downstream data “partners” mis-use your data your customers will go to Amazon (which doesn’t share data with Google and FB).  You must create great consumer experiences, but you must balance against consumer privacy and your rights to the data.

  1. Maintain control of your data supply chain. Both WHO is using your data and HOW it is being used. Create a mission control that allows you to see what data is shared with Whom, for which Use under which legal agreement (a shameless plug for our service)
  2. Rather than sending out raw transactional data that improves pricing leverage of Goog/FB build a CDP and enable your own targeting. Make partners bring their insights to you, or ask you to append a propensity score for a specific campaign.. not raw data for all of your customers. This is what Commerce Signals enables. 
  3. Hold all marketing partners accountable to performance against a common benchmark. This does not mean a measuring against a panel of 8M location based “presence” participants. But leverage your transaction data to measure performance consistently. This means Google and FB must be measured against your metrics.. Not report their own. Mark Pritchard of P&G is the most vocal advocate of this approach

For more information, please see my previous blogs

Rewiring – Part 2: Walmart+Goog, Amazon+Whole Foods, …

I’m taking a rather abbreviated approach to blogging today.. as most of my key points have more detail in my other posts. I’ll just link to my old posts and focus on a few new thoughts. Continue reading “Rewiring – Part 2: Walmart+Goog, Amazon+Whole Foods, …”

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

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”