This week in Salt Lake City, the Smart Card Alliance Payment Summit saw record attendance from industry players over previous years. As a past attendee, it wasn’t surprising that attendance would be up this year – conversations around EMV in the U.S. and mobile payment are heating up. Issuers including MasterCard and Visa have both announced roadmap guidelines (summaries here and here, respectively) for payment innovation in the U.S., with a focus on shifting liability and incentives for merchants to get on board.
If you were looking for the EMV chatter of past Payments Summits – “will it or won’t it?” – you probably came up empty handed. Instead the message was clear: EMV is coming to the U.S. Oh and by the way, so is mobile payment. If you signed up for any of the pre-conference workshops, like Act Canada’s EMV Universe, you benefited from an EMV 101 download, but presenters and panelists wasted little time catching merchants, banks and industry partners up to speed. Instead, speakers focused on implementation choices, lessons learned from previous implementations of EMV, and a rally call to set a firm migration roadmap. Despite the EMV endorsement, the audience was provided a firm warning for the bumpy conversion road ahead.
Speaking of that bumpy road, Day 1 key notes set the stage for three separate tracks to follow on Thursday – EMV, Contactless and Transport. To be fair, as human beings we love order and structure, so there had to be some kind of functional conference agenda, yet every single key note presentation addressed the need for a converged plan – a bit ironic. Undoubtedly as banks and merchants roll out their plans for EMV, it won’t be without consideration for contactless, mobile, transport or a host of other applications and services like couponing.
But is the need really for a converged payment roadmap in the U.S., or a look beyond payment innovation and toward reinventing commerce and the customer experience? Presenter PayPal would argue the latter, as they gave an aggressive look beyond payment and into integrated application, shopping and payment experiences. Isis, also in attendance, emphasized its creation of a platform for the customer experience – not the ability to deliver a mobile wallet service. These payment innovators would probably agree that next year’s conference theme will be forced to go beyond convergence and truly address the transformation of the customer purchasing experience.
Perhaps eCommerce 2.0 would be an appropriate theme for the event in 2013?