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Some of you may remember Nimit Sawhney from his recent win of the Vantiv challenge at the Money 20/20 hackathon in 2016. Nimit is the founder of the next generation voting platform, Voatz, built using blockchain technology. This past weekend, engineers from Vantiv, and Voatz teamed up to win 3rd place in the Distributed Markets Blockchain Hackathon!

 

The inspiration for this hackathon project came to us from an interview with a Central American coffee grower who complained that FairTrade coffee movement was not working for him, and only benefited the middle men.  With blockchain technology, it is possible to level the playing field between farmers, the supply chain ecosystem, and even enable the consumer to invest in the future of his or her favorite products!

 

By using blockchain technology we created a proof of concept decentralized supply chain for coffee allowing for complete transparency into the movement of coffee beans from grower all the way to consumer, and then created an opportunity for the consumer to directly invest in the future crops of the coffee grower.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-02 at 10.58.26 AM.pngOur consumer portal   http://choffee.co

 

Our proof of concept was built on top of the Linux Foundations Hyperledger Fabric blockchain implementation.  We created an SMS interface that allowed the farmer to enter his beans into the supply chain blockchain, and receive alerts as his beans moved through the supply chain.

 

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We also created an iOS app, that allowed the consumer to scan a QR code on a cup of coffee, and find out the origin of the beans and also make an investment in the future crops.

 

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Coffee Chain

Decentralized Trading & Finance Network built on Hyperledger Fabric

Creating efficient commodity markets and opportunities for direct investment in future production

 

Farmers benefit:

  • Getting better price on crops
  • Tracking product every step of the way through the supply chain
  • Receive investment in future crops from participants in the network including consumers

 

Consumer benefit:

  • Visibility into origin of products
  • Opportunity to invest

 

Check out our post for this project on devpost

Check out this tweet announcing the prize

 

 

About the team

 

Nimit Sawhney

Co-Founder of the company Voatz, and winner of the Vantiv Challenge at Money 20/20 Hackathon 2016

 

Lynx Rose

Founder of the Terra Nova High School Coding Club

 

Tony Rose

Years at Vantiv: 2

Roles at Vantiv: Product Development, Emerging Technologies

Technical Skills (programming language): Linux administration, Perl, HTML, pseudocode, small amounts of Node, Javascript, Java, C, C++, objective C, Swift

Interest in Blockchain: Love being at the forefront of new technological innovations, exploring use cases, business models, and team building

How you think Blockchain is/will be important to Vantiv: Within 10 years it will be an integral part of business operations

Reason for participating in hackathon: To work with a team to explore possibilities and better understand the potential and timeline of this new technology

 

Dan Ourada

Years at Vantiv: ~12

Roles at Vantiv: software dev, product, technology evangelist

Technical Skills (programming language): foundation in Microsoft technologies, but also love to branch out into the unknown!

Interest in Blockchain: I enjoy the social experiment aspect of Blockchain and the holistic view, there's something in Blockchain for everyone: economists, cryptographers, computer scientists, statisticians, sociologists.  It's a grand mashup of people and technology and the initial chapters are still in progress.

How you think Blockchain is/will be important to Vantiv: Too early to tell.  One day I feel Blockchain is going to take over the world and the next I feel it's all hype.  The only way to know for sure is to take a deep dive, understand the technology and how it might fit into the Vantiv ecosystem.

Reason for participating in hackathon: Connect with other like-minded souls for a deep immersion into Blockchain....and fun!

 

Josh Mather

Years at Vantiv: 1

Role at Vantiv: Technology Evangelist

Technical Skills (programming language): Node.js, Python, PHP, some GO and lots of old legacy languages

Interest in Blocchain: Love It! I truly believe this is going to revolutionize parts of the world and so I follow this closely.

How you think Blockchain is/will be important to Vantiv: At some point, financial services will be just software and Blockchain technology is going to automate things that institutions and people handle today. For that reason, I want to help Vantiv be a fast follower.

Reason for participating in hackathon: I love to code on new technologies and I have great interest in how blockchain can change the future of society and how Vantiv can help shape that future

 

Andrew Harris

Years at Vantiv: 5

Roles at Vantiv: Inbound Customer Support, Technical Support, Developer Integrations, Software, UX for Product Development

Technical Skills (programming language): Dinks daily - HTML, CSS, ~JS, understands limits of particular programs and platforms, dabbles on occasion in PHP, Obj-C, AngularJS, C#, while actively learning, Node.js Vue.js,. Ember.js, and animating SVG polygons.

User Experience and User Interface Design: Drinks daily - Strategy/Content, Wireframing/Prototyping, Visual Design, Metrics/Analytics

Interest in blockchain: Grew up with EDI, dislike XML, so I am interested in understanding more about MDLs (mutual distributed ledgers) – from an app perspective diving into no UI and common patterns using asynchronous messaging (text bots) to work with blockchain keeps me up at night. Information is growing exponentially and attention is limited by human factors. Will blockchain help solve?

How you think blockchain is/will be important to Vantiv: A Vantiv blockchain could potentially be an awesome way to manage partner relationships, or provide insight into the merchants data. It could replace old-school standards for security and help thwart fraud. Not just at the cash register, but in the back office.

Reason for participating in hackathon: Anything to further propel payments and be a part of the future, It is always a thrill to be around smart people and learn something new.

 

 

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Arriving at the Hackathon Saturday morning, fresh and ready to hack!

 

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Getting excited to win a bunch of bitcoins!

 

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This is Sunday at 6 AM, still hacking away!

 

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Taking a late night break with some fellow hackers

 

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BEN, the Blockchain Education Network, show up in astronaut outfits

Anyone interested in playing with Fabric composer and Fabric at the distributed Markets Hackathon? I have a small budget and just looking for 1-2 team members to come have some fun with me and 1-2 others already on board! E-mail me if interested!  tony.rose@vantiv.com  ... All you need is some experience with Javascript and/or Node.js and a desire to learn about the latest in Blockchain and have some fun!

 

More info:

Hackathon Details: Distributed: Markets Blockchain Hacakthon | Devpost

General information about Blockchain: Linux Foundation - Hyperledger HackFest 2/2/2017 w/ Demos!

Blockchain demo apps to play with: IBM BlueMix Blockchain Demos at bottom of this post!! Check them out!

Fabric Composer Overview: Fabric Composer - Construct 2017

Fabric: GitHub - hyperledger/fabric: Read-only mirror of https://gerrit.hyperledger.org/r/#/admin/projects/fabric

Stay tuned at the end of this article for links to 3 Blockchain demos I have running on IBM Bluemix that will let you play around with the core concepts of Blockchain!  While you are reading this post, please enjoy my latest house mix... Live at Monroe...

 

Before we get to the hackfest update, in case you missed it, the Vantiv Developer Tracker this month featured an interview with Brian Behlendorf, the executive director of the Linux Foundations Hyperledger project.  You can read the interview here and learn more about Brian and the plans for the Hyperledger project: Building Up Blockchain | PYMNTS.com

 

For this blog post, I want to share what I learned and experienced today at the Linux Foundation Hyperledger HackFest at their headquarters in the lovely Presidio district of San Francisco.  There were many invigorating discussions and presentations by leading developers of Hyperledger projects. For more information about the Linux Foundation, and why they are the leader of the open source movement, please check out this link:

 

About The Linux Foundation

 

Before going much further, if you would like to read a really good overview of what Blockchain is, I highly recommend this overview provided by the IBM Fabric project:  Overview of Blockchain and key terms

 

Hyperledger has several Blockchain projects under it's stewardship:

 

  • Fabric Composer: This is a NEW!! tool to allow for rapid prototyping of Blockchain networks with business rules Fabric Composer - Construct 2017
  • BlockChain Explorer: UI on top of Fabric Blockchain implementation
  • Cello: Blockchain as a service
  • Fabric: Blockchain implementation initially started by IBM
  • Iroha: Blockchain implementation meant to be lightweight with new consensus algorithms
  • Sawtooth Lake: Blockchain implementation designed for versatility and scaleability
  • Corda: R3 consortium provided their Blockahin implementation to Hyperledger

 

For a more detailed overview of each of these projects, check out this link:

https://www.hyperledger.org/community/projects

 

One of the more fascinating topics of the HackFest was the architecture working groups discussion about what the target architecture should be for all of the Blockchain implementations under the Hyperledger umbrella.  The goal of a target architecture would be that each of the implementations would use a pluggable components that are interchangeable with each other, so that, depending on the specifics of the desired solution, components from each of the implementations could be chosen and solutions built for specific requirements.  For example, you could use the identity module from Fabric with the consensus algorithm from Iroha.

 

The architectural layers that the architecture working group is coming together to reach agreement around are:

  • Communication
  • Consensus
  • Smart contract
  • Data store abstraction
  • Crypto abstraction
  • Identity services
  • Event services

 

One of the interesting startups that I met at the HackFest was Gem,  check them out.. http://gem.co . Gem is building technology for inter-operating between different Blockchains.  Think about the use case that you have just bought a car and your title has been transferred to you via a title Blockchain, but now you want to purchase insurance on an insurance Blockchain.  The dealership could use Gem as a coordinating layer to transfer the proof-of-title from the title Blockchain, into the insurance Blockchain utilizing Gem as glue, to then transfer your title and insurance assets to your digital wallet.

 

Another very interesting topic that was discussed is around the concept of identity.  Identity within Blockchains is a core concept, because in order to transact on a Blockchain identity and rights of each identity must be well understood and defined.  There is a larger concept of "Self-Sovereign Identity" (SSI) being advocated for by organizations such as Sovrin ( Sovrin - http://sovrin.org ). Sovrin defines Self-Sovereign Identity as an identity that is 100% owned and controlled by an individual or organization.  Sovrin is itself an application of Blockchain, but is also solving hard problems about how to think about identity philosophically, and also technically manage identity in a flexible fashion. While the entire technical and philosophical underpinnings of SSI do not all pertain to Blockchain, there is overlap in how Blockchain can think about and solve for problems in the space of identity that Sovrin and Hyperledger may be able to work on together.  Stay tuned for more news about this exciting area!

 

Other groups that are pursuing work in the area of identity were discussed:

Blockstack - The New Decentralized Internet

let me know of others in the comments below...

 

Just came across the most recent episode of Around The Coin has a fascinating discussion about identity and payments...  Episode 125: Interview with the Oracle of Payments & Identity: David Birch – Around the Coin

 

So, here are the demos that I promised... I look forward to your feedback, questions, and comments! Enjoy!

 

(these demos may not work on corporate networks - can not connect to blockchain network - please try on a personal computer / network)

 

Trading Marbles Demo:  This marbles trading example demonstrates key concepts of Blockchain technology. Create marbles with different attributes, assign an owner to them and then create the marble.  Once it is created, it is recorded on the Blockchain. As you create marbles and then trade marbles between the two parties you can observe how the Blockchain distributed ledger is updated with the current state.

 

 

Auto Lease Demo: This application is designed to demonstrate how assets can be modeled on the Blockchain using a car leasing scenario. The application is designed to allow participants to interact with the vehicle assets creating, updating and transferring them as their permissions allow. The demonstration allows a view of the ledger that stores all the interactions that the above participants have had with their assets. The ledger view shows the regulator every transaction that has occurred showing who tried to to what at what time and to which vehicle. The ledger view also allows the user to see transactions that they were involved with as well as showing the interactions with the assets they own before they owned them e.g. they can see when it was created. For more details on how this demo works, please read the full overview here: IBM-Blockchain/car-lease-demo - github

 

 

Commercial Paper Demo:  This application is a demonstration of how a commercial paper trading network might be implemented on IBM Blockchain. The components of the demo are:

  • An interface for creating new users on the network.
  • An interface for creating new commercial papers to trade.
  • A Trade Center for buying and selling existing trades.
  • A special interface just for auditors of the network to examine trades

 

Using the Demo:

  1. Register some users using the registration form on the login page.
  2. Save the credentials that are created for the users you register. They appear just above the registration form.
  3. Use the credentials to log in to the application. The UI you see will be determined by the role that was assigned to each user.
  4. Open the 'CREATE' tab to create new trades.
  5. Open the 'TRADE' tab to participate in your commercial paper trading network.
  6. Open the 'AUDIT' tab to view all of the trades on the network.

 

 

For further details on the commercial paper trading demo, README: A demonstration of a commercial paper trading application on IBM Blockchain.

 

As a special bonus to all those that made it to the bottom of this post, it's the 40th anniversary of Fleetwood Mac Rumours album release! and I give you... Fleetmac Wood Volume 4 by FleetmacWood enjoy!

While you read this blog post, please enjoy these mixes by the Mayan Warrior art car, one of the most impressive sound, light and laser projects I have ever seen.  I like to think of art cars in the same way as technology innovations such as Blockchain.  The Mayan Warrior has taken the concept of the art car and borrowed from the best early implementations such as Robot Heart and the Bump Bed, and then improved upon it.  In the same way, Sawtooth Lake has borrowed from Bitcoin, Ethereum and other blockchain implementations, improved upon it and added their own innovations on top.

 

This is the how the power of open source and the sharing economy can be used to super charge innovation.

 

Mayan Warrior | Free Listening on SoundCloud

 

Dan Ourada and I went and had a nice visit with the team at the Linux Foundation over the holidays.  Blockchain technology, also referred to as "DLT" or "Distributed Ledger Technology" is very interesting to us and we're interested in exploring more and learning if there are use cases that may be of use to Vantiv.  These are very early days for blockchain technology but it seems clear to me that the future of financial transactions between collections of parties will, at a foundation level, be enabled by some flavor of blockchain technology 5-10 years in the future.  The idea of blockchain, or DLT is foundational technology to transactions between parties much as DNS, Apache, Linux, and SMTP are the foundational layers of the Internet we all know and love.

 

Sawtooth Lake is a recent entrance into an implementation of the blockchain concept.  This is an interesting read because they talk about the reasons they've embarked on a new implementation of the blockchain concept which sheds a lot of light into the state of the science for blockchain technology and the current implementations that are in place today.

 

For example, if you read the link below, you will learn about the different type of "consensus algorithms" that researchers are experimenting with.  Also, Sawtooth Lake is exploring different architectural approaches to "smart contracts" than what the creators of Ethereum have implemented.

 

I hope you enjoy!

 

https://www.hyperledger.org/blog/2016/11/02/meet-sawtooth-lake

 

R3, eight banks successfully test Intel blockchain platform for bond trading| Reuters

 

Open Music Initiative Adds Intel Technology to Help Simplify How Creators Are Identified, Paid | Billboard

Google has released two new case studies demonstrating the power of Android Pay for In-App and Mobile Web purchasing to drive shopping cart abandonment rates down, and conversation rates up.  Check out the case studies of Fancy and LUXE below.

 

Fancy Teams up with Android Pay to Solve Cart Abandonment

LUXE Teams up with Android Pay to Simplify the User Experience

 

Recently launched markets - blog post announcements:

Ireland - launched Dec 7th

Poland -  launched Nov 17th

New Zealand - launched Nov 30th

Japan - launched Dec 12th

 

Android Pay is now live in all markets listed below:

USA, United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Poland, New ZealandIreland and Japan

 

Product news:

Android Pay is now available on all devices running KitKat 4.4 or higher - and we've removed the qualifier that the device must have NFC capability. So, users can now utilize Android Pay on more devices for eCommerce transactions.

 

Mobile Web Payments - Reminder that Android Pay is now available for merchants on the Mobile Web as well as InApp payments. Information links on the Mobile Web PaymentRequest initiative are listed for reference below.

 

PaymentRequest Mobile Web - main information site for Mobile Web Initiative "PaymentRequest"

 

W3C Web Payments initiative - main W3C site for effort to standardize web payments across the industry

 

Android Pay in PaymentRequest API - Android Pay within Mobile Web Payment Request API described here

 

Request form for Mobile Web API for partners - Mobile Web Android Pay merchant sign up link

 

 

Important reference sites - Android Pay

 

http://www.android.com/pay/ - Consumer web site for Android Pay

 

https://developers.google.com/android-pay/ - Android Pay In-App developers site

 

https://android-pay-toolkit.withgoogle.com/ - Android Pay branding guidelines site

It's coming...  leaving these here for now... discussion in the comments after you have a chance to read and watch these videos...

 

Amazon powered ChatBots...

Amazon launches Amazon AI to bring its machine learning smarts to developers | TechCrunch

 

On Facebook...

Artificial intelligence, revealed | Engineering Blog | Facebook Code | Facebook

 

Used to order and pay for your pizza...

https://www.facebook.com/messenger_platform/payments_requestaccess

This is a starting place for Android Pay Mobile Web

 

Main Payment Request API Site

Bringing Easy and Fast Checkout with Payment Request API  |  Web  |  Google Developers

 

Integrating Android Pay into Mobile Web with Payment Request API

Integrating Android Pay into Payment Request  |  Web  |  Google Developers

 

Sign up form for Android Pay Mobile Web, to register with Google

Android Pay Web Beta

In keeping with my theme of listening to inspiring music while blogging, here's a classic album I have listened to many times, from Miguel Migs, founder of the seminal San Francisco based deep house record label "Naked Music", circa 1999.  Much like deep house, mobile wallet payments have been simmering in the background for years.  2016 has been a banner year for deep house, perhaps 2017 will be the year mobile wallet payments finally sees it's full potential.

 

This is a smooth and jazzy mix. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years.

 

Naked Music Recordings Classics Mix by Rob Webster / RobJamWeb | Mixcloud

 

We recently completed a study of 800 consumers and their attitudes towards mobile wallets.  Read the study here A Tale Of Two Wallets - Vantiv , and my reaction to some questions posed about the study below.

 

What was the most surprising result of the study?

I am a bit surprised that the older demographic (55+) is not interested in more convenient and secure ways to pay and confused about the options. Overall, the results of the study are not very surprising today, but, if you would have shown me these results as a forecast of where we would be with in-store mobile wallet payments two years ago, I would have told you that you are wrong for a variety of reasons.  It has been over two years since the launch of Apple Pay.  The technology architecture that Apple used to create Apple Pay was innovative in digital payments because it uses traditional credit card rails for acceptance and did not require significant technology enablement in the merchant, acquirer, and card network ecosystem.  For this reason it was deemed revolutionary when compared to other attempts to bring digital payments to the in-store experience.  Many of us in the industry thought that because EMV would introduce friction at the POS, this would drive rapid consumer adoption of this new flavor of mobile wallet.  For a variety of reasons, this bullish outlook has not come to fruition as quickly as we may have thought.

 

How much does a lack of pain around existing payment methods impact the adoption of mobile payments?

To answer this question, you really need to look at the different use cases for mobile wallet payment acceptance. We break this into 4 areas for the purposes of this discussion:

 

In-Store

In-Store payments consumers are accustomed to pulling out their credit card and swiping.  This is such a force of habit, to break this pattern is going to take significant perceived or real benefit to the consumer.  If the experience of tapping and paying worked seamlessly everywhere you shopped, and EMV card transactions were universally mandated, you might see people shifting to tap-and-pay because it is so much quicker and easier.  The reality of the situation is that tap-and-pay is anything but uniformly deployed.  The "false-start" penalty, or the fear of it not working keeps people from using this as their preferred payment method.

 

Loyalty, rewards, coupons and offers are an area where the wallets can provide real consumer benefit and convenience in areas that they care about.  Apple Pay and Android Pay have new technology that allows merchant loyalty and rewards programs to be hosted in the respective wallets.  Apple calls their technology "VAS Protocol" (Value Added Services), and Google calls their technology "Smart-Tap".  Both of these technologies address real pain points at the In-Store POS.  The key uses cases these address are 1) Enrollment into the merchant loyalty/rewards/coupons/offers program, 2) Insertion of the program into the mobile wallet 3) Auto-presentment at the point of sale.  With this technology you can enroll into the program, have the program credentials automatically stored in the mobile wallet, and then when you use your mobile wallet to pay, the program is automatically presented to the merchant without any additional steps required from the consumer.

 

For In-Store transactions, merchants will need to have consistent user experiences, knowledgeable staff, and offer an integrated mobile wallet loyalty, rewards, coupons or offers program in order to create a value proposition strong enough to get consumers over the barrier of it's just easy enough to swipe or insert my card.

 

In-App

For a merchant developing an iOS or Android App and they want to accept payments, it is far easier to leverage Apple Pay and Android Pay for payments than it is to expect a consumer to manually enter in payment credentials into the app.

 

Desktop eCommerce

With the launch of Apple Pay on the web, it is now possible on you Apple desktop to authenticate an eCommerce transaction using your Apple Pay wallet payment credentials and touch-id.  This is really a slick user experience but there is not a whole lot of pain around desktop based eCommerce today.  Most consumers are habituated with their favorite online retailers, already have cards on file stored, or have their payment credentials loaded into their auto-fill. Additionally, we've all become pretty accustomed to adding a credit card to a new online retailer when we want to buy something on our desktop.  With that said, Iove the Apple Pay on the web experience, I just don't see that there is a whole lot of existing pain for this use case.

 

Mobile-web eCommerce

This is where I am the most excited about the potential for new use cases and solving real customer pain. I have read that 70% of all web browsing happens on a mobile device.  Shopping cart abandonment averages around 80% for eCommerce as a whole.  The consumer experience of making a purchase on a mobile web browser is terrible.  It's very challenging with the small screen and keyboard to fill out all those form elements and most likely you are not sitting at your desk with a convenient place to pull out your credit card and load it in.  You are probably on a bus, waiting for a friend or doing something "mobile".

 

With Apple Pay on the web, and Android Pay Mobile-Web launching this year, there is a significant opportunity for retailers to re-invent the shopping cart paradigm.  It is now possible to have a buy-button on the product page.  The customer is able to make a 1-click purchase, anonymously, without any requirement that they have an account with the merchant.  The payment credentials, billing and shipping details are provided to the merchant automatically and securely.

 

Many people are fully aware of mobile payments, yet they remain hesitant to experiment with mobile payments. What’s the biggest barrier standing in the way?

The largest barrier is merchant adoption, clear and consistent user experiences and staff training.  If it was a more friendly experience to try, more people would give it a shot because it is really cool when it works properly.

 

What can payments players do today to positively impact mobile payments adoption tomorrow?

We really need to focus on a consistent user experience at the POS.  This means signage, awareness, technical implementations, and staff training.

 

How do you see the state of mobile payments adoption changing over the next five years?

I see adoption will be on the rise as the mobile wallet players make investments in merchant awareness programs, and merchants make it through all the EMV pain, and start to look for more ways to differentiate the experience of shopping at their stores.  Integration of rewards and loyalty programs into digital wallets will be a key way that merchants attract saavy young shoppers who are aware of the additional benefits of security, and convenience, blended with additional benefits and convenience of adopting and participating in loyalty and rewards programs.

 

We are also going to see really cool new OmniChannel use cases come out that were never before possible.  We already see some merchants experimenting with ideas such as allowing the customer to scan items with their phone as they are shopping, and then simply pay with their mobile wallet and walk out the door.

The inspirational music for today's post is going to come from Jeff Mills, I encourage you to watch the video as well and observe a Dj's legend in action!

 

Exhibitionist Mix (Complete) - Jeff Mills / Exhibitionist DVD - YouTube

 

Jeff Mills truly is one of the original godfathers of techno.  Jeff was part of the core group of music producers that invented techno in Detroit in the late 80's.  House music was invented in Chicago around the same time, and in 1998 both house and techno spread to the UK in what was dubbed as the "Second Summer of Love". From there the movement went to Europe which led to the explosion of electronica worldwide as house and techno styles started to blend and merge and new styles emerge.

 

Jeff does collaborative work with jazz musicians and symphony orchestras.  We can learn from these experiments and collaborations about what happens when humans come together to innovate while collaboratively experimenting with old ways of doing things (symphonies / legacy banking systems), new ways of doing things (techno music / emerging technology like AI & Blockchain), and methods that are inherently designed to achieve interesting and new outcomes (Jazz music / Hackathons).

 

For more background on Jeff Mills, check out his Bio on RA: Jeff Mills

 

Ok so, with that as the backdrop... let's take a look at what happened at Money 2020 this year!  Vantiv sponsored the hackathon and we brought a whole bunch of really cool stuff, and a very big challenge!

 

Vantiv Developers on Periscope: "Money2020 Hackathon Pitch"

 

Challenge

Vantiv values passion—not only for payments, but for technology, commerce and improving life. Just as we challenge ourselves in those areas, we challenge you to solve one of the world’s grandest challenges—global warming, food growth/distribution, space travel, medicine, education, inclusion, sustainability etc. You choose your grand challenge and then build an app that helps solve that challenge utilizing Vantiv O.N.E. (One Network Experience). As part of this challenge we are going to bring some hardware to trigger your creativity:

 

Amazon Echo — simplify payments using your brainwaves to solve challenges rather than type commands.

Nao robot — robots will obviously be a useful tool in solving any grand challenge.

Sphero— what can you do to change the world with a simple, programmable, ball?

Cubelets— if spheres are not your cup of tea what about stackable, programmable blocks to conquer a difficult

challenge?

Verifone Carbon -- We are partnering with Verifone to offer a first look at their new Verifone Carbon product.  Drive commerce through new apps and grow the global economy!

 

Vantiv was able to recruit 8 teams to hack on our API's and create clever new use cases that solved our challenge.

 

One team used augmented reality and AI/Machine learning to re-invent the experience of being a waiter in a restaurant.  The waiter could see hovering above (using augmented reality) the customers head all the types of food that he would be most likely enjoy off of their menu (using big data analytics & machine learning).

 

Another team (our second place team) used augmented reality to show you the types of skills you could purchase for your robot.  For example, if you wanted your robot to teach you tai chi, you could see an augmented view of the robot doing tai chi, and if you wanted to purchase that skill for your robot, using Vantiv payments API's, then the robot would download that skill and then your robot would be able to teach you how to do tai chi!

 

Our finalist built an iOS app that connected to blue tooth robots as they wander around a crowded room.  Each robot would be promoting different charitable organizations, and as you approached the robot you had the opportunity to donate to that cause using the vantiv Apple Pay API. He even imagined that in a future version using blockchain and smart contracts (Etherium) you could donate $100 for a kid to go to school, and the $100 would only be released once the principle signed off using the smart contract that the kid actually attended school.

 

The grand prize winner built a hack on top of Alexa that would provide business analytics and financial advice to SMB's.  You can see the demo that took away over $40,000 in cash prizes here: Voice-powered Clever crowned winner at Money 20/20 Hackathon  » PaymentEye

 

My favorite idea was called share my credit.  It used the concept of the tokenized credit card using the Visa API's so that I could give someone $10 worth of credit on their phone.  This has so many use cases as I have previously discussed on this blog post: D-Coupled Tokenization or... let my kid p(l)ay!

 

For more fun photos from the hackathon check out this awesome blog post and overview written by our very own Mark Cafiero: Money2020 Hackathon

 

The vantiv booth really was amazing, we had demos from many of our products, some of the highlights for me were the fireside chats.  Matt Ozvat was having a great time chatting with Karen Webster, check it out here: Vantiv Developers on Periscope: "Fireside chat with Karen Webster from Points. Com"   I had a lot of fun interviewing Steve Klebe from Google about the future of Android Pay: Vantiv Developers on Periscope: "Fireside chat with Google on mobile technologies"

 

A few of the announcements that caught my attention this year were these ones: Visa announces B2B payments using blockchain | PYMNTS.com and Android Pay partners with Visa and Mastercard to bring simple checkout to more places online.

 

Major themes that I picked up on:

- Blockchain  (I like this open source project https://www.hyperledger.org/  by the Linux foundation)

- Mobile payments

- AI and machine learning is making it's way into more and more production products

- Voice enabled commerce is getting real

- Big data and analytics

- Virtual reality and augmented reality are still very experimental in commerce use cases

 

An update on the current state of each of these large areas could be the subject of many more blog posts.

 

Briefly, If you are interested in learning more about blockchain, I highly recommend these fun podcasts put out by Breaking Banks!

Breaking Down Blockchain: Episode 1/5 - Breaking Banks

Breaking Down Blockchain: The Smarter Ledger; part 2/5 - Breaking Banks

Breaking Down Blockchain: Smart Assets; part 3/5 - Breaking Banks

Breaking Down Blockchain: Cool Apps and Pushback; part 4/5 - Breaking Banks

Breaking Down Blockchain: Identity & Security; part 5/5 - Breaking Banks

 

Well, that amazing mix by Jeff Mills really kept me motivated and cranking away at this post and it just finished, so,  that's all the time I have for today, stay tuned to this page for next time!  If you are still feeling the Jeff Mills mood, check out this other amazing mix video he put together.

 

Jeff Mills - (Purpose Maker) Complete Film Mix - YouTube

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The guest Dj mix for today's post is from some friends of mine that Dj together under the name "Acid Boyz".  I'm listening to this set while I build this post, and I hope you will enjoy it while you are reading it!

 

Closing Out Burning Man 2015 Sunday Night @ The Kazbah (acid boyz style) by Acid Boyz | Free Listening on SoundCloud

 

The Acid Boyz are part of a Burning Man camp that I am very inspired by, called "The Kazbah".  The story of the Kazbah gives us a powerful lesson in innovation and execution.  The dream Kazbah had was to bring the biggest laser to Burning Man, this laser would shine up into the night and be a guiding post to find your way to the Kazbah, and also to help the Kazbanians find their way home after a long night wandering the playa. It was this initial idea, this dream that took flight, that has created a community of people who have come together in order to bring this vision into reality.  Year after year the idea transforms, the laser gets bigger, the pyramid taller, the guest Dj's more world renowned.  This is the power of innovation and flawless execution, on the playa you become recognized as an example and a leader, your camp grows, more people want to help and contribute.  In the real (or "default world" as burners like to say) world you win customers, dominate markets, and increase the value of the company.

 

We will get to execution second but without innovation, much of what is executed upon - no matter how well executed, will mean less.  What is innovation? What inspires innovation?  What is the value of innovation?  More importantly, how can a corporation foster a culture where innovation is truly a core competency rather than being bantered around on slides for investor presentations?  Innovation in a corporation is a powerful tool, it's a too that's used to create and take market share, create more barriers to entry, to continually be in front of and surprising the competition, and wowing customers!  It's the power to completely re-imagine a product or market in a way that's never been done before, with the result being to shift the market in the companies favor through sheer imagination combined with flawless execution.

 

What is so interesting about the Kazbah project, as with so many successful projects, is that the motivation, inspiration, passion, and innovation are divorced from personal financial gain.  We can observe that the reasons people get so passionate about these projects is that as humans, we value community, self-expression, recognition of work, and being a part of making something that is much bigger than any one person could accomplish on their own. The opportunity to be a part of a team and create something new and fresh, larger than any one person could do alone is very exciting.  This is exactly the reason that I love working at Vantiv.

 

As a product owner, I know that it can get complicated working with cross functional engineering teams, going through intake request processes and supporting a variety of technology stacks. It took me about a year of accomplishing (seemingly) very little until I realized that it was up to me to take the reigns, take the initiative, and push forward my vision.   These teams welcomed me with mentor-ship, respect, and most importantly; genuine support of colleagues.  I cannot emphasize enough of the importance of talking with others to get their help. I can truly say that at Vantiv we have a culture that fosters innovation, and encourages creative thinking outside the box. 

 

My background has been almost entirely in start-ups as a founder, co-founder, early employee on the engineering team, working with or as a part of small engineering teams always with lofty goals to change the world.  In most cases things did not pan out.  However, you learn so many things along the path as an entrepreneur and participant in the start-up scene in the Silicon Valley.  One thing that I am so grateful for at Vantiv is to be part of a larger, more mature organization, that is still able to be nimble.  Because of our scale, the possibility that I can personally impact the US economy in my role at Vantiv is real!  The teams I am surrounded by inspire and encourage me to dream big and bring my passions and innovative ideas to the table.  I know I am not alone because of the people I work with - many of us feel this way!

 

Ok... some how this post has turned into a cheerleading exercise for the HR department of Vantiv...

 

In payments today, there is nothing more important to a company like Vantiv than fostering and executing on innovation in payments.  We at Vantiv are a large and entrenched legacy player and because of these facts, we are especially targeted by those that would innovate around us, nibble away at market share, and look for ways to dis-intermediate our position in the various value chains where we are a participant.  For this reason, innovation as a practice is something we invest in, I encourage you to take a look at our Money 2020 Hackathon page, this is really exciting and we sure do put our money where our mouth is!

 

THE VANTIV MONEY 2020 HACKATHON PAGE!!

 

So, my inspiration for starting to write up this blog post to begin with was that I was driving to and from the Apple HQ today for some meetings about what Vantiv and Apple are working on together to bring mobile payments to more consumer experiences, and I had a little time to listen to some of my favorite payments podcasts.  I wanted to share a few thoughts and encourage you to check them out.

 

Cardmaggeddon - Breaking Banks

 

Cardmaggeddon.... I love Brett King's Breaking Banks podcast.  These guys spend a lot of time joking around and sometimes I wonder if I'm just wasting my time listening to their inside jokes.  One day, they'll have me on the show and I can really raise the bar on humor in payments, because, these guys have set it really low!  On this episode it was awesome because as guests they had Faisal Kahn and Brian Roemmele from another of my favorite podcasts, "Around the Coin" as guests.  What was so fascinating about this episode is that they had a variety of guests from around the world talking about when plastic cards would disappear.  I learned so much about the culture of payments and how different it is in places like the UK, Germany, France, Pakistan and more.  For example, I had no idea that eCommerce transactions in Germany are almost all pay upon receipt!  That means that you get your goods, and then you have an invoice you pay to the company, there is very little online credit card processing - fascinating!

 

This episode is also what inspired me to start thinking about the pace of innovation, and to start thinking that as the technology from other regions of the world make it's way into the US market, we need to be on the lookout and be quick adopters of the coming innovations, because we are uniquely positioned to facilitate integration of new payment technology into the specifics of the US ecosystem.

 

Speaking of specifics of the US ecosystem... let's talk about ACH...

 

Episode 113: Interview with Jordan Lampe of Dwolla on Same Day ACH – Around the Coin

 

As mentioned... this is one of my favorites, the guys from Around the Coin rarely fail in delivering a fun and educational podcast.  When they have me on, we can talk about my rarely comment lol ... so... Until I listened to this episode, I had no idea why bank to bank payments take 3 days. It seems completely insane!  Well, looks like we've made a breakthrough and the US finally has same day ACH.  To the payment geeks in the house, and let's be honest... who else has really made it to the end of this blog post... rejoice!  But... the question remains, when will the US catch up and make real time payments a reality? Let's put our innovators hats on and start working on building our own Kazbah!

 

For more music from the Kazbah family, check out their soundcloud here:

The Kazbah | Free Listening on SoundCloud

Hi -

 

Thank you for your visit!  I hope to engage with you on the Vantiv ONE community. Let's make this work together. My blog has a house music theme ... why? Because I love house music ... The link below, is one of my favorite Dj sets this year. I have listened to this Dj set time and time again, in so many contexts...

 

Please join me in appreciating this mix while you read, and more importantly - consider - this blog post!

 

SOHO HOUSE MUSIC // 013: JUSTIN MARTIN by Soho House | Mixcloud

 

Justin Martin is part of a music production collective from San Francisco, called "Dirty Bird" who, over the course of the past 10 years, have become recognized globally as an innovator in the specialized field of house music.  A field of music dominated by producers and labels out of Detroit, Chicago, London, and Berlin... and, for the first time (this statement will be controversial) ... San Francisco is on the map not as a follower, but as an innovator.  Why is this?  If you listen to the music of Dirty Bird in cultural context, what you realize is this... they are not afraid to take risks and try new things!  Their music is unapologetic in it's creativity, humor, and best of all, you can tell that these guys are having a great time contributing to an industry that they love! And look at this ... Best American Dj of the year 2016 ... Dirty Bird Founder ... Claude Von Stroke!

 

http://www.youredm.com/2016/09/07/claude-vonstroke-voted-america-best-dj/

 

This story of Dirty Bird, and house music innovation, reminds me a lot of the payments industry, and the opportunity to innovate that is in front of Vantiv today ...

 

Innovation in this space is happening around us at every corner ...  Bitcoin, smart contracts, digital wallets on their first, second, and third iterations are getting better and potentially more threatening to the Vantiv value proposition we offer our merchants. Do these innovator entrants have strategies? Of course they do!  Are they trying to dis-intermediate Vantiv ... come on, you know that's a rhetorical question! ... Status quo is death.

 

The questions I hear from the bleachers and from some of my colleagues is this ... "but what do they do for us" ... "how do we make money" ... let me ask you a rhetorical question in response ... "are you serious?" ... merchants are DEMANDING emerging payments technology ... have you not seen the hashtag #paymentfails ... seriously ... when was the last time you were WOWED with a payment experience? Oh, nevermind, I know when... the last time you took an UBER, or tried Google Hands Free ... but ... I digress ... My point is this, we do care about enabling emerging payment experiences and WOWING our customers, versus, standing guard at the old school and watching the ship slowly sink as transaction volume is siphoned away first by tiny leaks of WOW experiences and then finally by major blows to the hull caused by lack of innovation... Vantiv is not a blockbuster video and we are NOT one of the other failed emergentalists of yesteryear... (yes, I made that word up). We can do better, we are doing better, and we are innovating ... in fact... as future posts will expose, we are already way ahead of the curve - let's stay there!

 

Back to this blog post... --> I am a passionate technologist and despite the fact that when I took the job with Vantiv, I believed it was going to be the boring, yet, stable choice... I have been proven wrong!  Payments are everywhere, and payments are exciting! In no other time that I can see, is payments more exciting than it is now, nor is there more opportunity to innovate the consumer payment experience then there is now.  I am having so much fun, Vantiv is exciting - we are so well positioned and there is so much potential and opportunity ... So much is happening in this space, not only in payments, but in the broader "FinTech" revolution, and we are privileged to be able to play a role in the invention of the future!

 

Here is where I want to take this... Thoughtful blog posts take time to put together... I've been brainstorming... Where can I start? What stories can I tell?  What themes can I pick up on?  Will anyone actually read, and more importantly, engage in ideas, stories, concepts, and thoughts that I share? I really don't know... this is an experiment, so... here... we... go!

 

Montell Jordan - This Is How We Do It - YouTube

 

Rather than pick one idea and work on it, I've decided to share a few ideas for blog posts that may be of interest to my colleagues on Vantiv ONE - Vantiv employees, as well as industry colleagues we've invited to participate in the community.  And while I am on that point, let's be clear... Vantiv ONE is meant to be a community of Vantiv insiders, outsiders, and everyone in between... this is a place to work towards making a better experience for anyone that works with Vantiv... I look forward to hearing from our partners, customers, third parties, and even competitors!

 

With that said... I'd love to hear your thoughts about the blog post ideas below, and especially, if any of the topics below resonate with you and we could collaborate and create a larger story that we could both share and create a singular post that was more encompassing - I welcome the opportunity to have some phone calls and collaborate!  Please do not hesitate to reach out!  Best way to reach me is via text: +1 650 504 5154

 

=== IDEAS FOR FUTURE BLOG POSTS ===

 

Entrepreneurship / Product Management 101: See the big Picture, Perserverence - My first startup Astrocards.com ,  I built one of the first eCommerce, credit card processing web sites on the Internet in 1996, but thought it was a failure because no one bought any Christmas cards from our web site. Stories from early adopting Linux, Apache.

 

Entrepreneurship / Product Management 101 : Don't fall in love with your product - Don't become your product, don't over identify with your product: How keeping emotional separation is critical to maintaining objectivity. Using examples and storytelling from my second startup Technostate.com , fun times in Audio Alley 1996-2000. Stories from early adopting streaming technology.

 

Leadership 101 : Do it right or not at all. Examples and discussion of deciding to engage or not, how and why it's so important to make these decisions with intention.  And when making that critical decision to engage, going in 110% or not at all.

 

Customer Support 101: My first actual tech job, technical support Mobileway.com ... Introducing ringtones, wallpapers and other premium mobile content to the US market. Front line customer support and how it relates to dealing with customers today wanting to adopt emerging payments technologies. What's next?  Platform opportunities...

 

Entrepreneurship / Product Management 102: Contracts, intellectual property, the cost of litigation : 5-year adventure where as founder and CEO of Drop In Media.com went on to hire 20 full time employees, generate $6M/year in revenues by licensing technology to Verizon, T-mobile and other wireless carriers, become entangled in litigation and learned some hard lessons.

 

I look forward to your feedback and engagement... More to come!

 

Tony

Bank Of America's Digital Payments Focus | PYMNTS.com

 

As for now, the priority for Bank of America is focused on two things: “New forms of authentication,” Gopalkrishnan said, and getting to top of wallet. Regardless of what type of wallet that is.

Mobile Payments Successes And Failures | PYMNTS.com

 

This is a somewhat obvious analysis that before mobile wallets get consumer adoption, they need critical mass of merchant acceptance.  What's interesting about this article is it does a decent job of summarizing all the existing mobile wallet players, merchant wallets, and also potential entrants such as Facebook and Amazon.

 

Android Pay Focuses On Boosting Adoption | PYMNTS.com

 

Good summary of what Google unveiled at Google i/o 2016

 

https://letstalkpayments.com/wells-fargo-to-launch-its-own-wallet-services/

 

  • NFC tap-and-pay at merchants and withdraw cash at ATM's
  • 2.8 M Wells Fargo customers use Android Pay or Apple Pay today
  • Purchases protected by zero liability
  • Only on Android phones because iOS does not allow 3rd party access to the secure element
  • With Android Pay opening up their API to bank apps, we could see a resurgence of banking branded mobile wallets

 

https://letstalkpayments.com/the-latest-blockchain-pilots-across-industries/

 

Real life pilots of blockchain technology