This past week I had the pleasure of attending Cartes Secure Connexions 2014 in Paris. Billed as “the global event for the digital security industry dedicated to secure solutions for payment, identification and mobility” and spread over three days at Parc de Expositions north of the city, the conference and exhibition is one of the preeminent payment trade shows in Europe. According to the event’s organizers, 2014 alone brought together 450 exhibitors and over 20,000 visitors from 140 countries.
From the moment I walked into the conference I was taken aback by its scale. A vast exhibition hall was divided into sections by type of exhibitor—hardware, materials and equipment, software solutions and services, and payment processing and other emerging payment technologies. A second conference hall housed a large number of presentations and workshops led by industry experts on the event’s themes of increased mobility, new payment technologies, and importance of security and privacy in the evolving electronic payments space.
Walking through the various sections of the exhibit hall and in discussions with stakeholders from various exhibitors, I found a few common threads quickly emerged. The first was the importance of Near Field Communications (NFC) and the technology’s use in contactless payment card transactions and for mobile payments in the near future. In every discussion, the importance of Apple’s shift into payments was raised by the persons I spoke with. However, caution was also raised, and many of these representatives of companies participating in this market space believe that alternatives to Apple Pay will have the opportunity to gain significant market share.
The second common thread was the growing importance of fraud and identity solutions in the marketplace. This should not come as a surprise, given that payment fraud not only is growing globally (largely because of the rising number of card-not-present transactions for e-commerce) but also has gained media attention and provoked consumer concern because of recent high-profile cybercrimes. Dozens of exhibitors were profiling new, state-of-the-art identity and fraud prevention products designed to ensure that consumers, businesses, and financial institutions are able to transact in a safe and secure environment across a wide range of popular platforms, including the increasingly popular mobile.
Yet another common thread highlighted by many exhibitors was the importance of the impending U.S. migration to EMV. In addition to the security benefits of EMV standards, many suggested that the migration opens significant opportunities for European payment service providers, given the industry’s decade or more experience with EMV in Europe.
Overall, Cartes Secure Connexions is not only an excellent venue for networking but one of the premier conferences on the calendar (especially in Europe) for the digital payments industry to highlight new products and services destined to make an impact on the industry in Europe and globally in the coming years.