Financial IT catches up with David Putts, Chairman of Billon at impact'17 to talk about industry trends, the mission of Billon and the changes brought by it.
Financial IT: What is special about impact'17 this year and what will you be showcasing?
David Putts: For Billon, the promise of distributed ledger technology (e.g., blockchain) is now a reality. We attack the $2.3 trillon world of Alternative Payments – such as pre-paid cards, vouchers, and ‘cash-like’ wallets – with a digital engagement solution where corporations can make thousands of small incentive payments more efficiently, with more control, and where the end users ‘engage with the corporate’. We will showcase the Pilot we recently completed with a Fortune 500 company in Poland. We will also announce our progress within the regulatory sandbox in the UK.
Financial IT: What is Billon’s key strategy and how different is it from other providers?
David: We solve the intractible cost and user experience problems with the ‘last mile’ - we simplify on-boarding (by improving authentication so that a user can ‘sign up’ with the hassle of registering a pre-existing bank account), we make it possible for companies to make payments without anything more than a user name or email address, and we connect users to all major banks, ATM, and thousands of cash-out points.
We compete mainly with traditional companies, such Sodexo and Edenred in the pre-paid card world, and the hundreds of providers of vouchers.
In comparison to blockchain companies, we don’t require the use of third party economic agents, i.e., miners or 3rd party exchanges. Our proprietary solution is based on the principle of indisputable ownership, which simplifies and clarifies control to the extent that we are acceptable to regulators and banks for managing everyday government currenecy.
Financial IT: What is the impact of digitalization on financial services industry?
David: Every process – whether backoffice or customer-facing – generates costs which the customer must ultimately pay for. The trend in digitization started over 30 years ago, with credit cards for payment, and ATMs to move people from branches to self-service. Innovation these days feel light-years ahead, as we talk about using biometrics for identity authentication, distributed ledger for payments, machine learning for risk analysis, and customers who will never use a branch in their lifetimes.
Financial IT: How does Billon address those trends and challenges?
David: It is early days for distributed ledger, and Billon’s technology helps banks to participate and accelerate innovation. We hope banks will use our technology to address the long-tail of customers who can only be served profitably if a new technology is able to lower cost by 90%. While we focus today on corporate payouts, we have eMerchant solutions and financial inclusion solutions which banks can use to create a full ecosystem of opportunity creation.
David, a three time bank CEO, has years of banking experience across Europe. He also worked for 10 years at McKinsey in the US. David is responsible for Billon’s international development and partnerships.