Top 10 insights from The Point 2016

10 Nov 2016

The Point 2016 is a wrap.

Delegates spent two busy days attending conference sessions focusing on today’s most important payments issues. The presentations and discussions generated hundreds of insights and hours of fascinating discussion. Here, we’ve extracted ten standout conclusions from the conference, in no particular order:

1. Now is the best time to be in payments – Banks, fintechs and other organisations are competing, collaborating and innovating to help people worldwide send and receive payments. Payments channels are converging, millennials are embracing mobile money management, and startups are creatively solving everyday consumer problems. Traditional banks and the network that supports them have moved from driving evolution in the sector, to working hard to keep up.

2. Simplicity is power – The way the payments sector operates is changing to meet consumers’ demands for simplicity. Whether its Visa ‘unbundling the internet’, Australia’s New Payments Platform having a limited initial scope or W3C trying to make e-commerce easier, the easier things are for end users the better. All our Fintech Innovation Challenge finalists were leveraging the power of simplicity in new and different ways, which is something the wider payments sector can learn from.

3. Don’t wait for customers to ask for it – We’ve heard that consumers all around the world want faster payments. Although Kiwis aren’t necessarily knocking down the doors for real-time transactions we shouldn’t be waiting for them to ask – immediate payments will soon be an expected part of Kiwis digital lifestyle.

4. Collaboration can overcome ‘no go areas’ – Financial institutions in Australia are now discussing open APIs in a way that was not possible a year ago. In the UK, meanwhile, the Open Data Institute is promoting partnerships that allow data sharing. New Zealand is famous for its collaborative approach to business; this will need to continue if it is to build its reputation as a fintech hub.

5. Regulators need to be agile – Entrepreneurs and regulators need to work together if we are going to build a payments system that is innovative and safe. Grant Spencer of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand spoke to delegates about the importance of maintaining a resilient payments system in the face of sector-wide disruption. The powerful position of regulators means they are well-placed to enable innovation in the payments sector.

6. Identity is the new money – According to thought-leader David Birch, banks will increasingly be left out of transactions and will have to become custodians of identity to survive. With cyber criminals targeting data as well as money, and even ‘frictionless’ blockchain payments requiring authentication at some stage in the transaction process, it’s no wonder that our delegates predicted ‘digital identity’ would be the focus of The Point 2018.

7. The Hackers are coming – New Zealand is currently relatively low on cyber criminals’ radar, but we need to work hard now to make sure vulnerabilities aren’t exploited in the future. Otherwise, there’s a risk defensive action will put friction back into payments.

8. (almost) Time to open up – While the Open Data Institute is working hard in the UK to implement government recommendations for financial institutions to share data, here in New Zealand we’ve yet to see such sustained pressure. However, it’s clear that ‘Big Data’ is becoming ‘Open Data’, and we need to collaborate during this transition.

9. Take a platform approach – Organisations involved in payments need to take a ‘platform approach’ to business, by enabling others to transact and maximising value creation for as many participants as possible. Companies like Uber and Airbnb have done this to great effect. Given that the whole payments space could be described as a ‘platform’, we need to put this concept front-of-mind.

10. More diversity needed – The payments sector is becoming more diverse. About 30% of delegates at The Point 2016 were women, compared with 22% two years ago. Other measures of diversity are also improving. However, more needs to be done to make the sector more inclusive, and realise the substantial benefits this brings to organisations.

On a final note, a massive thanks to Cam Calkoen, who inspired and entertained delegates at the Gala Dinner. He was the embodiment of ‘Awesome’, and encouraged us all to be the same.