1 September 2015

The Confusion in Payments


I usually tell new employees at Handpoint that it takes about six months to understand payments and that they shouldn’t be overwhelmed by all the acronyms and abbreviations. That is a lie actually, as it takes forever to understand payments. In fact, I have not yet met a person who fully understands payments (down to the the nitty gritty details) – I certainly don’t after over a decade in the payments business (yes, I’m that thick). Every month I’m learning something new; from the current infrastructure, ecosystem as well as new solutions coming to market and I’m fascinated about it all (sad, I know).

When people pay with their credit or debit card (or their phone) they’re not particularly interested in what happens behind the scenes, and why should they be! People just want the process to be quick and end with “Accepted” instead of “Declined”. We, payment professionals, however are fascinated about the process behind it, and it is really amazing that one can pay for goods and services anywhere in the world and instantly pull out money in any currency from ATM. It might be an old system, but it sure works.

It’s been a hobby of mine to understand both the payment ecosystem as well as the technical process behind it, in details. I’ve been asking payment professionals from within all aspects of the ecosystem to explain it to me (and I meet a lot of people in the industry), but so far I haven’t come across a single person who can explain it to me in details. Yes, of course they know the highlights but not the full details from A to Z. Scary, isn’t it!

There is so much happening in #fintech and payments today but there is a lot of confusion and miscommunication about it all. We see start-ups fail (and many more will), as they don’t understand the technology, as well as billion dollar companies blunder tons of money because they don’t understand the ecosystem. And yet, in all of the mess, there is this hope that something big, something revolutionary will come out of it. Some even (wrongly) predict the end of banks. Whether a payments geek or not, that has to be interesting enough to pay attention to; better still, to make a bet and have a stake in the game.

About the author

Davíð Guðjónsson

I grew up with computers (Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore64 and Amiga) but only got my first mobile phone and internet access once I was at the University of Iceland (1996). From that moment the path was clear and I co-founded an internet company in '97 building one of world's first CMS's (sold in '99, good timing!). Then co-founded a "smartphone" company in 1999 that built handheld software and mobile POS solutions for airlines (PalmOS, WinCE), pioneered mobile POS with chip&PIN payments for UK retailers and built Handpoint to power Next Generation POS.

#NextGenPos, #MobilePOS, #MobilePayments, #EMV (Chip&PIN), #NFC, #Public Speaking, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Motivation, Getting things done

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