Last week, I was delighted to sit on a panel session at this year’s European Women Payments Network in Amsterdam. The annual conference brought together more than 250 women for two days of interactive panels, networking and plenary sessions. Its aim? To promote diversity in payments and Fintech, debate the hot topics, and celebrate the women pushing payments to the next level.
With women from across the industry in attendance, debates were lively, engaging and insightful. Here’s a few of the most inspiring and interesting ideas that stuck with me.
Who do you think you are? The digital identity crisis
In the age of connected devices, AI and big data, defining and protecting our identities is an increasingly important challenge. The topic was central to a number of sessions, looking not only at the financial ecosystem, but more broadly at how we understand the concept of identity. Will machines need an identity? Do robots need passports?
A great quote that stuck out to me was from ‘male ally’, David Birch:
“Making doors is easy, making locks is hard…”
Everyday we’re opening the door to new services, devices and institutions, trading off a little bit of ‘us’ for greater convenience. But who’s making the locks? Who’s behind the doors? And how are we storing the keys?
We ‘exist’ in several forms, from passports to social media accounts. And we’re also all now much more aware of how much data we’re sharing (thanks to the deluge of GDPR emails!). But to really survive in the digital age, Birch argued, a new, decentralized identity system that’s consistent, smart and (crucially) controlled by the individual will be essential.
PSD2 & GDPR: Regulatory tears or triumph?
The regulatory benefits and respective challenges of PSD2 and GDPR were also a big focus. Open banking will undoubtedly deliver better services and choice to consumers, but with a flurry of additional PINs, dongles and passwords to access new services, how can we stop this from simply generating more points of friction?
The challenge of enabling better consumer services and securing access to this data brings us back to the whole door / lock dilemma. Biometrics – a balance of better security and convenience – was a consistent feature of these discussions and is quickly forming a central part of most banks’ secure customer authentication (SCA) strategy.
Despite the complexities they pose, these regulations were widely accepted as legislation to be proud of; driving competition and consumer-first services, while ensuring privacy and data security.
In short, more triumphs than tears, then. Or, as Ann Börestam from ECB neatly put it:
“If all market players are somewhat unhappy you’ve reached your goal because legislation is about compromise.”
Forget 2020 – how will payments look come 2030?
This question was posed to the panel I was part of, five women with diverse expertise across blockchain, biometrics, banking and Fintech.
Unsurprisingly, digital currencies were a big part of our discussion. Which cryptocurrency – or even who’s (Kim Kardashian coin anyone?) – will become the most mainstream is still yet to be determined, as is how the traditional ecosystem responds. We’ve already been a part of securing a cryptocurrency card for Unikeys, indicating the future will see traditional form factors working in harmony with the new.
We also debated the death of PINs and passwords. Consumers have grown to trust biometrics as smartphone security that doesn’t compromise usability, but it has the power to extend across the payments industry. Whether that’s biometrics on-card, mobile, or even online; biometrics has the scope to offer a unifying SCA UX across form factors and environments.
One thing’s for sure, however we pay and wherever we pay in the future, increasing diversity in the industry will only add value. Thank you, EWPN, it’s been inspiring and exciting, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Learn more about how our biometric tech is shaping the future of payments here.