The Digital Catapult Centre is something altogether different - a national centre to help advance the UK's best digital ideas.
We sent Nick to check it all out and report back on his findings.
'A Digital Catapult Centre Brighton Tester Session'. Try saying that whilst munching on a digestive biscuit. This was the billing of the Digital Catapult event organised by Wired Sussex hosted by ClearLeft, just a short stroll from our own office.
They'd invited the CTO from American Express to share his thoughts on Amex as a technology company and their digital aspirations.
'A digital what now?'
The Digital Catapult Centre is a national initiative to help UK businesses unlock new value from sharing proprietary data in faster, better and more trusted ways.
Regional centres are opening around the country and the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton (DCCB) will; “focus specifically on projects that encourage innovation and value from real-time and location-based data – known as the Internet of Place.”
The centre will help; "create links between universities and business that enable cutting edge, pre-commercial R&D findings in the Digital Catapult challenge areas to be converted into commercial market opportunities which can be prototyped and piloted by start-ups and SMEs.”
Brighton - digital hub
Phil Jones, Managing Director of Wired Sussex, welcomed us to the first event from the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton and painted a picture of tech growth in the city.
Next up: Nik Sathe, Amex CTO.
Via PayPal & Google (where he led efforts for the Google Wallet), Nick finally ended up at Amex but it all started in software engineering, a skill he tries to maintain.
Nik described four trends that have been transforming the payment industry. He pinpointed a recurring theme that payments technology is not so much about transferring money, but about transferring value; connecting buyers and sellers
Amex is transforming, from a provider of payments to an enabler of commerce. From a proprietary system to an open Commerce Platform allowing others to compete in the ecosystem.
Amex are looking to future innovation, expanding what's possible. For instance a mechanism for further opening up API to merchants e.g. Uber integration in 16 days .
They are also working on Integration with Jawbone fitness band, something which would never have happened in the past Jawbone AmEx payments .
And of course - The Internet of Things (IoT) - All areas of your life/digital life become commerce aware (e.g. oft quoted example of your fridge ordering your food!)
Increasing the power of the network
Amex wants to provide the platform to power IoT commerce
Trust issues - sharing information to other providers - a value exchange, giving up private/personal information in exchange for convenience (e.g. Siri). Consumer should know what they are doing/sharing and have a clear mechanism for undoing it.
I found it interesting that Amex see themselves as transforming the Payment Industry rather than disrupting it. Although they are a technically progressive company, I wonder whether their focus on driving adoption of their own Commerce Platform is a blind spot and they will, themselves, be disrupted by newer players.
There are many candidates, but two possible challengers come to mind, Stripe and GoCardless who between them are creating alternative payment models and platforms and who might remove the need for an Amex Card altogether!
“Stripe is the best way to accept payments online and in mobile apps. We handle billions of dollars every year for forward-thinking businesses around the world. a company that provides a way for individuals and businesses to accept payments over the Internet.”
“Stripe’s bold bid to make money as easy to send as email” (http://www.wired.com/2015/04/john-and-patrick-collison/)
A UK online Direct Debit provider founded in Jan 2011 trying to fix the broken DD system in the UK.
“Bringing Direct Debit into the 21st century - GoCardless allows individuals and businesses to benefit from the great fees and low failure rates of Direct Debit, without the operational complexity associated with traditional providers.”
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