Episode One Hundred and Seventy Nine: It’s The Money

by danhon

0.0 Sitrep

Monday October 27, 8:23pm at the Delta Sky Lounge at LAX before a 15 hour flight to Sydney for Web Directions South[1]. I’m speaking at the end of the first day after what’ll probably be a mind-bending opening keynote by Matt Webb and just after an intriguingly titled talk from Tom Armitage.

Again, it’s been a week since I’ve written anything. I was going to say: “I’m not sure how I feel about that”, but I don’t think that’s true. I do know how I feel about that – and it’s not great. Every day has been another day not writing, and I’ve kind of been okay with it whilst at the same time not being okay with it. The only thing – the big thing – that’s changed is that I’ve made a decision to stop writing in the evening. Before, if I hadn’t managed to write during the day, then I’d write after dinner – but now, something’s flipped in my head and the evening is family time. It might have something to do with my son growing up – he’s stringing words together now, knows his own name and is racing around like a crazy thing during the day, shrieking “PUDDLE!” at puddles and then splashing through them with unrestrained delight.

And, of course, the new job. I am sponging – absorbing, translating, rotating, rephrasing, trying to distill what we mean from the things that we say. Trying to work out what we *really* mean and then working out the best way to say it. And where. And how. And all of that, a whole new bunch of working relationships with new people.

[1] Web Directions South

1.0 It’s The Money

Nothing other than the simple observation – that others have made already – that the ostensible difference between Apple Pay[1] and the MCX’s[2] CurrentC and the kerfuffle that’s happening in the US is that Apple Pay is trying to make things easier (for certain values of easy) for people, and that CurrentC isn’t – it’s trying to make things easier for “merchants”.

I mean, here’s the copy that’s on MCX’s website:

“Merchant Customer Exchange is the only merchant-owned mobile commerce network built to streamline the customer shopping experience across all major retail verticals.”
Here’s the thing: the story that’s being told right now is that MCX isn’t even an attempted end-run round the credit card operators (whose ~2% cut of transactions in fees is significant when you’re a retailer like Walmart) but that it’s just an attempt to make Visa and their ilk *hurt*[3]. From that last footnote:
At last year’s BAI Retail Delivery conference, I hosted a meeting of CMOs from large FIs, which featured Lee Scott, the former CEO of Walmart (who is a member of MCX). I asked Mr. Scott why, in the face of so many failed consortia before it, would MCX succeed?
He said: “I don’t know that it will, and I don’t care. As long as Visa suffers.”
I mean, this is the setting up and rolling out of technology and payment as a *negotiating tactic*.

So yes: empathy for users, solving user needs (I can see that you probably need to dig a bit to see the user need for Apple Pay, but you need to dig a bit further, and potentially break into a mains water line to see the need for CurrentC) – all of that stuff. It still keeps happening. It will keep happening. It has always been happening.

[1] Apple Pay
[2] MCX / CurrentC
[3] Failed CurrentC

Now it’s 12:30pm on Wednesday October 29 in Sydney. A 15 hour flight from LAX to SYD and, in the words of a friend, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve been incepted. In any event, a reasonable amount of sleep.

This isn’t as long as I wanted. But: open beats closed, so I’m hitting send. I’m going to try and get back into the groove.

Dan