Money20/20 Europe: Square is Ready For a World Without Payment Cards

Money20/20 Europe kicked-off this morning in Copenhagen with keynotes from major names in global FinTech discussion how the industry is dealing with unprecedented innovation in connectivity, mobility, and commerce. Among the tech celebrities to take the stage was Jack Dorsey, CEO and founder of Square (who also happens to be the CEO of social media platform Twitter).

Dorsey was interviewed by Jordan McKee from 451 Research live on stage, and the conversation covered topics such as the role of artificial intelligence in Square’s business, the open platform strategy driving innovation for the company, and the challenges of expanding to international markets—the FinTech company just landed in the UK recently, where it stand to face tough competition from established players.Money20/20 Europe: Square is Ready For a World Without Payment Cards

But a highlight of the discussion occurred when McKee posed a question about the amorphous Internet of Things and its effects on commerce: “Many in the room are thinking of [IoT] as an opportunity to expand the acceptance network, and as that happens there’s the possibility that the physical part disappears and that it’s just a token, or some sort of digital surrogate, that acts on behalf of the card. Does Square think about a time when the card perhaps disappears, when plastic is no longer? And if so, what does your business look like in that world?”

“I can’t wait for the thing to disappear,” said Dorsey. “I don’t want to carry anything.”

The answer may have come as a shock. Square is a payment acceptance technology designed to enable merchants to accept card-based payments at point of sale using their smartphones or tablets. And to that effect, Dorsey had a lot of praise to lay on the card, even if inevitably physical means of payment go the way of the dinosaur.

“The card was designed in a pretty beautiful way because the whole payments infrastructure gracefully degrades to the least common denominator,” said Dorsey. “And I think that’s really powerful. If you have the technology where you don’t have to carry a piece of plastic, or you can use your voice and you can talk to actually make a transaction—that’s amazing. But if all technology fails you can still rub the number onto carbon paper. It’s just a really beautifully designed system, and it’s all in the spirit of making sure that the seller can always make the sale.”

In the end, Dorsey thinks that ditching cards will be a positive evolution in the retail process, since it takes the focus away from the payment and the transaction, and places it on the object being paid for.

“And that’s where the focus should be,” said Dorsey, “the experience of the coffee, or dinner, or whatever you’re having. That’s where we should put the focus. Not on the transaction.”

Stay posted to Mobile ID World and our sister site FindBiometrics throughout the week as we continue to bring you Money20/20 Europe coverage straight from Copenhagen.