The Birdback Payments hackathon took place last weekend with ‘hostilities’ starting on Friday the 17th and ending with crowning the winning teams on Sunday afternoon. After initial talks by Birdback, Datacash, Braintree and Anil Aggarwal from Money 2020, 60 developers headed to the comfort of the Google Campus cafe and assembled into 12 teams.
A sleepless night for some, a bit more restful for others but Saturday was a sprint for all. Creativity was at its peak, driven by coffee, Red Bull cans and some energising talks with sponsoring payments companies and featured APIs from: Birdback, Braintree, Datacash and Twilio.
A panel of judges was formed including Jonathan Galore (Wonga CTO), Michael Rolph (The Anthemis Group), Darren Oddie (AgileCI CEO) and Thomas Helddroff (head of innovation at Datacash). A combination of Passbook and Birdback card-linking API won third place with none other than the one-man team “Passforce”. Second were “Chippin” with their NFC powered charity box. Victory fell upon the team from Barclays with their gamified loyalty solution for merchants, “Credcog”, and took home the 3D printer. “Team-X” from Paypal won the award for best hack, using the Braintree API, the award was given by Juan Benitez (Braintree CTO).
It was a great networking weekend, a tiring work-heavy couple of days and a fruitful event for all.
Register your payment card and get an instant mobile loyalty card in Apple Passbook.
Our friends from PassForce provides a platform for deployment of Passbook apps. PassForce helps businesses adopt Passbook by offering tools to design, host, and deliver retail coupons, loyalty cards, event tickets, boarding passes etc.
Today they are announcing their Card-Linked Loyalty for Passbook using the Birdback API.
It works like this: register your credit/debit card and get an instant mobile loyalty card in Passbook.
- location-based alert so you know where you can use it; the card is one swipe away so you know which credit card to use.
- real-time notification of rewards (points but could be anything).
- show recent transactions history
- push relevant offers directly to users phone (offers can also have location-based alert)
Take a look here: http://loyalty.passforce.com and feel free to play with it.
Last week we were delighted to talk payments at the Startup Career Launchpad with Paymill CEO, Mark Henkel.
The idea for this blog spurred during a discussion with a colleague here at Birdback. It is quite amazing how objects in some languages, like French, German and Arabic, are sexuated while they aren’t in some others, like English. For a bilingual person, it is quite disturbing to look at a piece of paper and think of it in two languages for it’s a ‘female’ in Arabic but a ‘male’ in French.
Slowly the discussion converged towards the fact that stuff might finally have their say in this and that in the age of tweeting plants, our piece of paper could finally speak up about about its sexual preferences ! Artist Terry Border, creator of “the secret life of stuff”, might be one of the rare few sharing our excitement.
But maybe we’re not that few… If Kickstarter is any indication of upcoming trends, projects related to the internet of things have been extremely popular. And as one thinks about these “talking objects”, it quickly becomes obvious they share a dialect. One that actually grew to become a study subject of its own: The infamous BIG data.
A mind-bubbling subject for some, BIG data might be made easier to grasp if one considers what is enables: The Internet of things precisely!
Data is coming
Pebble, basis, the Google car, the Google shoe, Moo’s NFC business card, 23&me, Birdback’s connected payment card … should I go on ? Be it your genes or your cards or your watch, more and more of your objects are now generating data. Emitting data if you will. Connecting to the global playground the Internet has become.
And parallely, another growing trend is making sure objects not only emit data but are also able to receive and understand data. This is quite obvious as your smartphone’s been doing feats of it but what is to come is much more. Think of it this way: We’ve given ears to the Internet, look at Shazam.
Soon, we’ll give it eyes! Google glass will record and decode the world around us, Google maps is showing machines more than we will ever see and companies such as Vicarious are teaching computers to understand what they see like we do.
Data is talking
We’re turning objects into emitters and receivers of data. And this might sound mundane: “My PC does that”. It does. But your genes don’t. Not yet. Your genes can now ‘emit’ data thanks to services like 23&me. One day, they might be able to ‘receive’ data too but more interestingly is that the second they’re connected to the rest of that ecosystem thanks to that common dialect, a universe of possibilities opens up. Puzzled ?
2016: You go into a store to buy milk. But the payment won’t go through. You’re surprised. You’re pretty sure your account is ‘green’. You receive a notification on your Google glasses. ‘Open’. Your card is telling you it blocked the payment because you tried to buy milk and forgot to buy the lactose free variety. You remember linking 23&me to your payment card last week and enabling basket level access. Knowing you’re lactose intolerant, the gene sequencing service suggested to block your payment. You sigh in relief and go to replace your item.
Emergence requires a complex system. A complex system requires feedback. Feedback requires the system entities to be emitters and receivers of information. Data is coming. And now data is talking. Internet of things APIs are blooming. Birdback, 23&me, Pebble, Contiki, Thingsquare, Smartthings … Makes me wonder how far-fetched that 2016 scenario really is…
Data is working
Some might be feeling a bit scared by now. Objects are talking. The Internet has human senses. It’s taking decisions. Singularity doom scenarios pop up. We are not alone any more ! Well unfortunately we are :)
For this whole trend is very remote from anything related to Artificial Intelligence. It navigates on another level. Not as much AI as IA: Intelligence Augmented. When our objects become smarter and our (let me put that in bold : our) algorithms become far-reaching, touching every aspect of our reality, we are actually improving our decision-making process. Our health, our mind and body, our purchase behaviours, scientific protocols, political choices… can only move upwards when objects are connected in such a way to make available at the right time and in the right way all the elements of information we need.
We’ve created a language for our objects (data), and a space where they can communicate seamlessly (the web). And the more one looks at what this new ground is spurring, the more it seems an OS for our lives is emerging: A meta-life. One where ticking some boxes is enough to automate your saving based on economic news, your spending and a friend’s upcoming birthday. We’re looking froward !!!
The Birdback hackathon is approaching fast and we are inviting all developers, payments lovers, startup fellows, creatives, partners and friends to join us for a weekend of hacking payments!
For more information and to register visit http://trans-hacktion.co
See you there!
Google Campus, London - May 17-19
Last month we took the stage at the eDeals Summit to talk card linked offers in Europe with our friends from Adyen and First Data
Money2020 is the largest gathering of innovators in Emerging Payments & Financial Services, globally and this month we have been featured on their blog post “Card-linked offers and European opportunity”.
“In a prior post, we discussed Card-Linked Offers and why they were getting such attention in North America. Merchants are looking for more effective marketing methods and to drive foot traffic. Card issuers are looking for ways to deliver more value to consumers and build incremental revenue streams after increased regulatory constraints. Consumers are looking for ways to be able to stretch their spend and get access to better deals. Card-Linked offers have seen growth because they deliver value to each of these three key stakeholders. If all three do not see the appropriate value, the model falls apart.
In Europe, Card-Linked Offers are just beginning to gain traction. Birdback, a UK-based company, has seen increasing interest in their platform for Card-Linked Offers. It should be no surprise that one of the requirements for a vibrant Card-Linked Offer market is a large number of cards in market. In terms of total volume as well as per-customer usage, the UK represents a potentially fertile market. After the UK, Germany, France and Italy appear to be the next most likely markets to generate interest in Card-Linked Offers.
In the UK, the concept of card-linked loyalty has been around for many years. In fact, loyalty marketers in the US used to look towards UK programs such as Tesco and Nectar for innovative ideas. Historically, loyalty marketers around the world have focused on their most-valuable customer for marketing programs. Partially driven by the global recession, customers are less rooted in their loyalty, and merchants see an increased need in competing beyond their loyal customers. According to Halim Madi, from Birdback, these ‘swing’ customers represent at least 20% of the market.
As with other Card-Linked Offers platforms, the value is only as good as the coverage. Birdback has been building card coverage through partnerships with issuers and processors, while building their catalog of offers both proactively and reactively from merchants. Current market expectations are that Cardlytics, only available in the US at this time, will begin expanding internationally by launching in the UK this year.
With the growing success of Card-Linked Offers in the US, we can anticipate that Birdback’s growth and Cardlytic’s plans are not the last of what we will hear about the European and global expansion of this category.”
The invisible long-term
“We are prepared to be misunderstood for many years, because we know we’re building a long-term, high-value company” — Jeff Bezos at Amazon
This pervades through all of Bezos’ initiatives. Be it the 10,000 year clock or the Bezos expeditions. If one looks at the “selected investments” section of the latter, there is a clear sentiment and a common pattern across all companies : They’re there to stay. Maybe not in their current form but the purpose they accomplish is of such importance and their piece to the puzzle of such necessity that their presence is simply essential.
But that’s the thing about long-term initiatives and their subsequent pay-outs : They’re invisible. We’re a short-term thinking species. Procrastination is, by definition, a skewed preference of immediate rewards compared to long term benefits. And who’s to blame. Vision is our most important sense and long-term is nowhere to be seen when we need it.
Software and payments
When I look at payments today I see M-POS and NFC in one out of every 4 articles and round-tables. And each time I remember Andreesen’s “Why Software is eating the world”. Why the lattice of the modern world must be a subtle weave of invisible connections between relevant parties.
The beauty of software lies in its seamless-ness : Its ability to sit on top of existing systems and make them talk. We keep talking about the internet of things. Software is the original internet of things.
It is a constant reminder that actual innovation piggybacks on what is already there. Established ground. It does with what it has. Software is what turns phones into computers obviously. Thinking about it, hardware is the one who caught up with software in smartphones’ case.
And when it comes to payments, at the end of the day, however you promote NFC and M-POS, you have a card and a reader. That’s it. So you either wait until the entire planet adopts a new technology or you do with what you have.
Passbook is amazing in many ways. It is a bridge between your phone and the outside world. You can’t pay yet with passbook but at least you can push some of what your phone contains (i.e. the web) to it and unto the real world and the retailers you interact with. And that is where richness lies. It is not in reinventing a whole new system upon which one can build entirely new features for businesses.
The features are there and the system waiting to be leveraged. All you need is an inviting platform. In other terms, something for you to push the whole web unto your payment means and hold it in them and for web companies to link their applications to your payment means. Whatever your the latter are. You need something that works whether mobile payments catch up or not. Offers, loyalty, purchase-related applications and payments need to work offline, and regardless of whether you’re out of battery or not !
Invisible gap, invisible bridge
There is a gap between the web and your card and by extension, between the web and the transaction. It needs to be bridged. And the bridge doesn’t need to be garish. On the contrary, it should be a powerful yet discrete, reliable yet invisible. And though it might seem building an invisible bridge isn’t a rewarding prospect, the thrill of paying with my card and finally triggering a flurry of attached features, offers and applications is enough to make it all worthwhile.
At MPE we highlighted the importance of card-linked offers in closing the online to offline gap and the redemption loop.
Our CTO’s best effort to cover the card’s pin number from the camera.