By Phil Cantor,
Chief Marketing Officer,
iGTB | Polaris Financial Technology Limited
Bill Gates (the one who founded Microsoft, not the one who’s Head of Alliances at SmartStream, of course) came on stage to a rapturous welcome from 3,000 people plus more standing at the back, in appreciation of his having ruined their lives with the blue screen, the three-fingered salute (Ctrl/Alt/Del) and the infamous “Registry”. Bill is applauded because of his insight and foresight, eg., in declaring that 640k was as much storage as anyone would ever need and so inflicting the most vulnerable operating system on us all, just after application protection was made pretty good in OS/360 and taken to a new level with segmentation in ICL’s VME. Still, at least he has a Delete Key (not to mention Page Up and Down, Home, End etc), unlike that Jobs chap.
But he has redeemed himself, with the Bill and Melinda Foundation. At first thought to be a bit of an attempt at gaining popularity, he has unquestionably become one of the most serious and thoughtful philanthropists on the planet. And in his talk, he faced hard bitten bankers with the insight that to alleviate poverty requires the rollout not just of aid and essentials but of access to financial services. Financial services just jumped down one huge level of the Maslow hierarchy! No, really. He made it so clear that alleviating the problems of the poor is bedeviled by distribution of aid: subsidies are regressive benefitting the rich more even if they reach the poor, direct grants tend to be usurped by intermediaries, thieves, the “man in the village” and so on. So the premium is on simple digital approaches to e-identity and to simple payments.
Puts Access to Accounts in the Payment Services Directive II into perspective, doesn’t it?
He went on to show his own version of the “customer experience”, a video of people in a small tribal village market buying vegetables using a simple electronic device that checks identities etc. Also doing family finances for (for example) borrowing for school costs, and paying each other. One of the key points made was made as follows: the interviewer asked us all to take out our mobile phones and look at them. “These are some of the most sophisticated computers, per ounce, on the planet.” She went on, “but that’s not what these people will use. They will use some old $20.00 Nokia phone. How do we do these things on that. Bill explained various ways they could use even small screens and the power in even small old phones.
So that was the first Sibos closing speech in history that had 3,000+ people queuing to get in half an hour before.
Last day. Tired and emotional. No, I mean it literally, not drunk, just tired, very tired – partly because of standing up pretty much all day, tired from being “on stage” for hours on end, tired from constantly scanning with your eyes for people you are trying to get to see. Emotional because of the number of plaudits about our booth, emotional because of the net effect of working intimately closely with a crazy team of colleagues solidly (including cramming into cars with the luggage), emotional especially because of it being the last day, this island, this home for four long days, this royal throne of demos, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars bars,
This core of Sibos, demi-paradise,
This offering built by us for our clients
Towards their profit and the hand of competition,
This happy breed of men and women, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver carpet,
Which serves it in the office of an open door,
Or as an entrance open to a house,
To the envy of less happier vendors,—
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this iGTB.
Nothing like destroying a good bit of iambic pentameter, eh?
On which topic, and as a digression, last night at the Volante party we all ended up singing “Volante – oooh oh,…..Volante – oh oh oh oh…”. No, not stunning words, but put it to the tune of “Volare”, and no-one knows any of the other words, except for “something something oh Pinto Del Blu…”. So I couldn’t be having this, and after a bit of thought, came up with that famous tune from West Side Story: “iGTB in America! iGTB in America! iGTB in America! iGTB in Americaaaaaa!”. Again, not the most wide ranging use of words. And Manish came up with, to the tune of “YMCA” the stunning lyric “iGTB”. We’ll teach you the hand actions later.
Thursday is the quiet day. Tell that to the birds. Veni, vidi, vendi.
I kept trying to get us all together to share any learning points before people left for early flights, but 3.00 meetings, 4.00 meetings put this back again and again. And just at the end, up popped one bank again saying “aha, you saw the transaction people earlier…we’re the trade people!”. Also I went to see someone on an African bank booth and as we were chatting he asked me what I thought the theme of Sibos was this year. I paused and said: “Come with me – I’ll SHOW you!” and “Bring your camera” and led him to our stand, where I showed him our 8m graphic.
I explained it – he loved it!
Anyway, this is me, Phil, singing off.
Oh nearly forgot, two final photos:
Until Singapore next year.