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Debate at the intersection of business, technology and culture in the world of digital money, both commercial and government, a blog born from the Digital Money Forum in London and sponsored by Consult Hyperion



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60 posts categorized "Digital Money Forum"


By Dave Birch posted Mar 13 2010 at 9:58 PM

[Dave Birch] Wow. The feedback that I've been getting about the Consult Hyperion Digital Money Forum is fantastic. I'd like to claim all the credit, but I just can't. So for those of you who weren't able to join us, I thought I'd try and explain why it worked so well and to give credit where it is due.


I'm always very clear and honest about our motives for running the Forum. Consult Hyperion is a consultancy, not a conference company. We run it as a not-for-profit event (which this year supported BUFFER, Action Medical Research, Jubilee Action and the Prostate Cancer charity) to reinforce this point. As a consultancy, we have a reputation for helping our customers -- who range from Transport for London and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Barclaycard and First Data -- to deliver new products and services using new technology for secure electronic transactions. We can't generate all of these new ideas ourselves, so we use the Forum to explore, to question, to connect, to understand and to play with the boundary between new technology and business, and I think we succeed in doing all of these things and having fun at the same time. But why was it so good?

First of all, it's the sponsors. Visa Europe have been supporters of the Forum for some years and they share our commitment to genuine discussion and debate, genuine learning about the future. They're not interested in a bunch of marketing slides any more than we are, and as the main sponsor they provided not only money but encouragement and ideas. I can't thank them enough. Our supporting sponsors, ACI Worldwide (who paid for the entertaining pub quiz, drinks and prizes) and Olswang (who paid for the speakers' dinner and the books we gave out) were fantastic and enthusiastic. ACI Worldwide have been with us for many years and their forward-looking attitude is much appreciated. Our content partner CGAP not only suggested some speakers and panelists who delivered outstanding input but helped us to develop an important part of our thinking about the role of electronic payments in attacked financial (and therefore social) exclusion. Thanks to all of them: their support gave the event a head start.

Secondly, it's the speakers and panelists. I try very hard to choose people that I personally respect and I also try very hard to bring together people who can help to make us all think by their combination or juxtaposition in order to exploit the nature of the event. Since it is always limited to a hundred people, there is plenty of scope for interaction and discussion once the speakers have set the tone.

Sometimes, though, even I am surprised by how well this works. I'll give you two examples from this year.

The kick-off session that was a launchpad for the event so good that people were still talking to me about it two days later. It made us at look like geniuses for the brilliant juxtaposition of Tom Levenson and James Allan, but the truth of the matter is that James was due to present at last year's Forum after I'd blogged about him back in 2008 but was unfortunately ill on the day, which was why he was speaking this year instead! However it happened, though, it was an outstanding session. Novelist Martin Baker as chair and two speakers, with no Powerpoint, keeping an audience engrossed, entertained and stimulated for 90 minutes.


Tom told the wonderful story that I touched on back in January, laden with resonance for these troubled times, of the collapse of England's medium of exchange and the subsequent revolution at the Mint under Sir Isaac Newton, a short period in our history where the framework for today was laid down: the industrial Mint and the Bank of England. Commerce was crippled because there was no cash, but by the time Newton died the City was on incredible trajectory. James Allan's decision to try and live in London with no cash, using electronic payments only, was voluntary but no less illuminating. Personally, I found the most surprising part of his story was that fact that one transaction in two years that he was forced to conduct in cash was not the desperate purchase of £1 bottle of water at a pop concert or the fiver to a desperate mate but the UKP2,000 deposit for apartment rental to landlords who didn't trust e-banking (so they said: many in the audience voiced the suspicion that this was all about tax evasion).

The second example was the expert panel on innovating out of poverty: with CGAP's help I had brought together DD Dedo, the largest branchless banking agent network in Columbia, easypaisa in Pakistan, Ghana's main mobile operator, a key regulator from the Philippines and (again by utter chance) an expert researching London's migrant communities. Together they provided such a comprehensive, fascinating and inspirational perspective on the incredible impact of new technology on financial services for the poor that you really could have heard a pin drop while they were talking and the questions could have gone on for days. Again, it was the different perspectives that made the session.

I won't go through the entire programme, suffice to say that I, along with many other attendees, came away with a raft of new ideas to think about from smart banknotes through mobile-owned banks to energy-based currencies. Joe Di Vanna's helicopter view of the impact of digital money, Ignacio Mas' passionate exposition of the Financial Services for the Poor programme, Michael Salmony's defence of cash all played their part. Enough from me: here's what other people actually said about it:

  • "Thank you so much for the absolutely wonderful two day experience of the Digital Money Forum 2010."
  • "A huge thank you for including me in the forum, I met some really interesting people."
  • "An eclectic mix of speakers ensured there was no room for boredom and it was a really thought provoking and enjoyable day."
  • "Your fantastic Digital Money Forum."

The final piece of the jigsaw was everyone who came along. We have a very well-informed audience from a very wide spectrum of interests and they played their part too: if you scan the delegate list you'll see banks, telcos, non-bank payment organisations, business people, charities and NGOs, inventors, entrepreneurs, lawyers, consultancies and even the IMF. It's this mix that generates the energy clearly visible in the room and makes the coffee, lunch, tea and drinks breaks so pleasant. I'm passionate about the potential from cross-fertilization and I'm convinced to provides a direct benefit to our customers.

I've already been asked if there will be a 14th Forum next year and the answer is, of course, yes.

Continue reading "Talent" »

Showcase for new payment ideas

By Dave Birch posted Jan 18 2010 at 8:26 AM

[Dave Birch] As part of the 13th annual Digital Money Forum in London on 10th-11th March 2010, we're going to have a some fun with "The Dragon's Factor's Got Talent". We're inviting new companies in the payment space to come along and showcase their ideas in the form of a competition: they will each get to make a 10 "elevator pitch" to the audience (with no slides or visual aids). At the end of the Forum they will then be "judged" by an expert panel who will award a prize to the pitch they think most likely to succeed as a business. So we'll have fun, we'll see some new ideas and perhaps see a new business get international attention. We've already shortlisted a couple of companies, and we're looking for more.

If you're going to be in London on 10th-11th March 2009 and you'd like to present your idea for a new retail e-payment product or service to a great audience and distinguished panel, get your "application" to me as soon as possible and we'll choose a somewhere in the region of six to eight shortlisted pitches. If you're chosen for the shortlist, youll get a free delegate place at the Forum and we'll even cover a room for the night at the conference hotel so that you can stay and join in the fun.

Continue reading "Showcase for new payment ideas" »

Calling payment startups who want a bit of attention

By Dave Birch posted Dec 23 2009 at 10:27 AM

[Dave Birch] You know we like to try something new every year at the Digital Money Forum. As part of the 13th Forum in London on 10th-11th March 2010, we're going to have a kind of talent show for entrepreneurs and inventors with new ideas in the retail electronic payments field. It will be called "The Dragon's Factor's Got Talent" and will involve a number of people making "elevator pitches" of 10 minutes each with no slides, sprinkled throughout the two days. At the end of the Forum they will then be "judged" by a panel comprising an entrepreneur, a VC, a business person and a payment expert. The panel will award a prize to the pitch they think most likely to succeed as a business, the audience will award a prize for the best pitch. The attraction, (I hope) for the contestants is that if their ideas are any good, they will get attention from people who can make them happen. So we'll have fun, we'll see some new ideas and perhaps see a new business launched.

We've already had our first contestant confirm, and that was after a mere mention of the idea in passing, so I think we may end up having too many contestants. Hence, if you're going to be in London on 11th March 2009 and you'd like to present your idea for a new retail e-payment product or service to a distinguished panel, get your "application" to me as soon as possible and we'll choose a somewhere in the region of six to eight shortlisted pitches. If you're chosen for the shortlist, we'll even cover a room for the night at the conference hotel so that you can stay and join in the fun.

Continue reading "Calling payment startups who want a bit of attention" »

Professor Lawrence H. White to kick-off the 2009 Digital Money Forum

By Dave Birch posted Jan 27 2009 at 6:05 PM

[Dave Birch] Lawrence White is the F. A. Hayek Professor of Economic History and the University of Missouri–St. Louis and the author of, amongst other things, “Currency and Competition” and “Free Banking in Britain 1800-1845”, books that changed my view of both the history and future of payments, so I am utterly delighted to be able to announce that Larry will be in London to give the kick-off talk at this year's 12th annual Digital Money Forum on 31st March and 1st April 2009. You can view the full agenda online over at the Digital Money Forum or you can download it here (248.3K).

The Forum is now in its twelfth year, and once again promises the combination of discussion and debate, learning and fun, that has earned it the reputation as the place to be for people interested in the future of retail electronic payments. It continues to be a unique event, where interaction and invention replace product announcements and “death by Powerpoint” sales pitches. This year we are moving the agenda forwards again to look at some of the issues and drivers around the evolution of technology the electronic payments world.

As you may know, this is a not-for-profit event that supports a variety of charities. This year we are supporting BUFFER (which provides specialist diagnostic equipment for breast cancer), Action Medical Research and Jubilee Action which helps children worldwide. This years Forum is made possible by the kindness of our sponsors Visa Europe, Monetise, WebMoney and VoicePay with support from our charity tournament sponsor ACI Worldwide.

Once again we have decided to structure the Forum around four sessions followed by a variety of expert panels.

  • Session one recognises that the future of payments is linked to the future of money. if cash goes away, the cost of new entrants falls. What might they be? Private or public? Commodity or community?
  • Session two looks at the specific issue of security to see if biometrics and other technologies might be moving into position to make a significant impact on the payments world in the coming year.
  • Session three examines how successful payment schemes change societies and marketplaces, and takes an ethnographic perspective to help us to learn more about introducing new payment systems.
  • Session four looks at innovation in different ways: new processes, new technology and new frameworks. How can the payments sector take all of these imminent changes on board and make real innovation work.

Some come and join our experts from the World Bank, Financial Services Authority, The Economist, European Payments Council, Transport for London, Nationwide, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sidley & Austin, O2, The Guardian, Innovaro, Masabi, EAT, ABI, Finextra, Disruptive Analysis and the Free University of Brussels at the 12th annual Digital Money Forum in London on 31st March and 1st April at the Guoman Charing Cross hotel and come away with the kinds of new concepts, new friends and new business ideas that many of you have come to expect from this unique event. All delegates will receive a copy of our popular Digital Money Blook (the most interesting posts from this blog over the last year) along with "The Nudge Factor".

Continue reading "Professor Lawrence H. White to kick-off the 2009 Digital Money Forum" »

Topical suggestions

By Dave Birch posted Oct 16 2008 at 8:17 AM

[Dave Birch] Well, I'm in the process of putting together the agenda for next year's 12th annual Digital Money Forum which will be held at the Guoman Hotel (the same venue as last year -- the hotel above Charing Cross Station which we liked so much that we're going back) on 31st March and 1st April 2009. Fortunately, as payments seems to be the only part of the banking business that is bringing in any money, we've already had a few people say that they're looking forward to coming along and we already have sponsors who have committed to support us. This will all be announced properly next week. Meanwhile... As you know, over the years the Forum has built up a reputation as the place to go to discuss the future of retail electronic payments with people who are a little ahead of the curve and the delegates appreciate that we always try to move the agenda on to reflect the shifting leading edge of thinking on the future of money. I've already got a few ideas for key themes, but would appreciate some help from Digital Money Denizens before finalising the agenda, as I've been sidetracked by the recent nationalisation of the banking industry, imploding world economy and impending recession.

Continue reading "Topical suggestions" »

Be there or be square: the 11th annual Digital Money Forum

By Dave Birch posted Feb 11 2008 at 3:30 PM

[Dave Birch] The programme for the 11th annual Digital Money Forum to be held in London on 23rd and 24th April 2008 -- sponsored by Visa Europe and Webmoney with support from ACI Worldwide -- is coming together over at www.digitalmoneyforum.com and already features speakers and panellists including Giles Andrews of Zopa, Charles Cohen from Probability, Jim Wadsworth from J.P. Morgan, Mike Jackson of Shaping Tomorrow, Ronnie O'Toole of National Irish Bank, Sandra Alzetta from Visa Europe, economist and author Diane Coyle, Donal Rice from the National Disability Authority in Ireland, Colin Swain from Barclays, Peter Jones from Payment Systems Europe, Jerry Dischler from Google, Anne Caffrey from RBS, Oliver Kelly from Vodafone, David Boyle fron New Economics, Jof Walters from Shopcreator, Julian Wilson from Mobbits, Charles Bryant from the European Banking Association, David Hunter from Click 'n Buy and Europe's most informed commentator on the economics of cash replacement, Leo van Hove from the Free University of Brussels.

They, and the delegates, will be discussing all of the major trends in the sector and what the next trends might be. Contactless payments, NFC in mobile phones, Internet payments, remittances, cash replacement and public policy, the often-forgotten needs of the disabled, the nature of innovation in payments. All of the speakers and all of the panellists have been invited because they have something interesting and worthwhile to contribute: you won't find yourself sitting watching product marketing presentations, you'll find yourself engaging and learning.

There will be a special "Meet the Bloggers" panel where you will be able to question in person some of people you turn to first on the net everyday for perspectives on the retail electronic payments sector; Chris Skinner from FinanSer (UK), Colin Henderson from Bankwatch (Canada), Scott Loftesness from Payments New (USA) and Aneace Haddad (Singapore).

Continue reading "Be there or be square: the 11th annual Digital Money Forum" »

68 episode 3: Mabel's Story

By Dave Birch posted Jan 30 2008 at 8:31 AM

[Steve Taylor] The blovel "68" takes the form of a series of ‘first hand reports’, people from the future talking in their own voices about their work, their lives and their relationship with communications. We continue with Episode 3, Mabel's Story.

Continue reading "68 episode 3: Mabel's Story" »

Criminals in Reading are thicker than criminals elsewhere

By davebirch posted Jan 8 2008 at 11:23 PM
[Dave Birch corrected] Well, this is what this old story seems to imply. Apparently criminals in Reading never rob people for cash, which can't be traced, but will rob people for contactless payment cards that can be used for under ten pound transactions without a PIN (like cash) but can be traced (unlike cash). The report says that Reading town centre inspector John Relph thinks that shoppers’ convenience (from contactless cards) could lead to increased fraud. He says
I can’t believe banks are making fraud this easy. Without a PIN number there will be no identification verification process, therefore making it easy for the criminal to use. It will make our job in the town centre harder because there’s a strong probability that fraud will be increased.
Well, if contactless cards do cause an increase in fraud, the police will know where to look for the perps. Steve Wilmott, Head of the Economic Crime Unit for the City of London Police, says that one of the key trends in financial fraud is that a decade ago a tenth of fraud cases involved a bank insider whereas its' now 40%.

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68 episode 2: Carly's Story

By davebirch posted Jan 8 2008 at 8:42 AM
[Steve Taylor] The blovel "68" takes the form of a series of ‘first hand reports’, people from the future talking in their own voices about their work, their lives and their relationship with communications. We continue with Episode 2, Carly's Story.

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Season's Greetings

By davebirch posted Dec 24 2007 at 9:19 AM
[Dave Birch] Season's greetings to one and all and best wishes for 2008. We end a fantastic 2007 as the 60th most influential business blog in the world and in American Banker's blogwatch. Thanks to everyone for their comments, suggestions and constructive criticism. Have a great break and I'll see you all in the New Year -- don't forget to pencil in 23rd/24th April in London for the 11th annual Digital Money Forum sponsored by Visa Europe and Webmoney.

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