ATMIA US Conference 2018: In Vegas, expect the unexpected

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While it is still a way off, I am counting down the days to this year’s ATMIA US Conference in Las Vegas. I have attended several ATMIA events and what strikes me most is that each year’s event is larger than the one that preceded it — a good sign that ATMs still attract a crowd.

Las Vegas always seems to me to be an ideal place to hold any event that deals with money. If there is any place on earth where “Cash is King” more truly than in Vegas, then I don’t know about it.

Wander the casino floors and you’ll soon become acquainted with Bill Breaker — he is everywhere. When the $1,000 bank notes were still in circulation, they were often seen in the hands of high-stakes poker players. And when it comes to the poker machines or slots, I prefer the sound of coins falling into a receptacle to the sight of a counter ticking over.

The real story of Vegas has to be dealing with the unexpected. There’s always something new — a novelty, a show, or a drink.

It is the need to deal with the unexpected that permeates the agenda of this year’s ATMIA US Conference: Securing banking technology in the Internet of Things … Robots for testing ATMs … And my favorite, Disrupt fintechs with concierge services at the ATM.

This last one seems more than appropriate for Vegas, where the concierge service desks at every hotel are pushed to their very limits addressing the unexpected.

And then there is bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies — what is all the fuss about? How could we not be interested to hear even more about the underlying blockchain technology that is about to transform the financial world to a greater extent than the advent of the internet?

“Cryptocurrencies mystify blockchain and blockchain mystifies distributed ledger technology, DLT as we call it. DLT is a much wider concept in which Blockchain is one of the elements, whereas cryptocurrencies are just a use case,” FSS argued in a recent post to an independent HPE NonStop publication, NonStop Insider.

“In the payments space, blockchain can not only replace the existing system, but create a system of its own. In India, for instance, presently there is no system to facilitate peer-to-peer lending and blockchain could improve transparency and trust in the network.”

On the other hand, my colleague Steve Gilde of Paragon Application Systems was quick to point out that, “Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin are more disruptive to the financial services industry, but I believe that these nonfiat currencies are just a fad. In my opinion, we will eventually wind up with cryptodollars, cryptoeuros, etc.”

Just this week, J.P. Morgan Chase CEO, Jamie Dimon, stepped back from earlier comments in which he called bitcoin a fraud. In an interview on Fox Business, Dimon said he regretted making that comment, and added, “The blockchain is real.”

Oh yes, blockchain with its distributed ledger technology is very real and my takeaway from all I have heard in 2017 is that not only is it going to prove disruptive, but also, it’s going to steamroll everyone who doesn’t “get it” in time.

And why? It isn’t just the immutable aspect of the blocks added to the chain — there can be no arguing over what the block contains — but rather, the complete dismantling of intermediaries currently operating in any transaction, no matter the context.

Cryptocurrencies may be grabbing the headlines for now, but for many, that is just a fleeting glimpse of what is yet to come. Whether for cash, a bill of lading, the title to a parcel of land or a medical record, blockchain is going to become the dominant technology we all need to get our heads around. And quickly!

“Blockchain will not only prove as disruptive a technology as industry pundits are predicting but it will open the doors for many in payments solutions to offer more competitive and groundbreaking products to generate new revenue sources,” OmniPayments CEO Yash Kapadia said. “Yes, blockchain will take out many intermediaries, but in so doing will bring FIs and their customers much closer together.”

Expect to see a raft of new products coming from many of the payments solutions vendors.

As for the ATM networks we already have in place and the wealth of experience we have in managing them to deliver a reliable and consistent interface to ATM users globally, they too will be impacted by blockchain.

With a newfound interest in monetizing nonfinancial transactions and providing additional sources of revenue, a colleague said, “This could mean things like mortgage quotes delivered in real time to an ATM, information on stocks or access to other information that a consumer would find valuable and would be willing to pay for!” There really isn’t any limit other than our imagination to what the lowly ATM might become in combination with blockchain.

Yes, Las Vegas is always about the unexpected — few would have imagined seeing driverless shuttles running up and down the strip last week during the Consumer Electronics Show. Vegas is always willing to showcase the unusual as well as the unexpected.

Blockchain is a game-changer with the potential to be as disruptive as the internet itself. As you walk the exhibition hall at the ATMIA US Conference look out to see just who is onboard with blockchain.

And for sure, start thinking about how blockchain adoption can put distance between you and your competition in ways that not only open up new sources of revenue, but also put you a whole lot closer to your customers.


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