Wired Money 2015: ‘Visa Is Interested in Blockchain Technology,’ Says Jonathan Vaux

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by Polina Chernykh · 3 min read
Wired Money 2015: ‘Visa Is Interested in Blockchain Technology,’ Says Jonathan Vaux
Photo: Carsten Windhorst/Wired

Executive director at Visa Europe, Jonathan Vaux, considers emerging startups should collaborate more closely with industry giants like Visa.

Jonathan Vaux, executive director at Visa Europe, said that instead of competing, large companies should work together with emerging startups. Speaking at WIRED Money 2015 event on Tuesday, Vaux noted that such leaders as Visa are becoming more open to new companies entering the market.

“Other than the sponsor I’m the only incumbent talking today at WIRED Money but I come in peace… By working together we will succeed together,” he said, according to the Wired.

“I think that the innovation that the startups bring is fantastic and that the scale the incumbents – the banks, the Visas of the world – can bring is really really valuable,” he added.

Established in 1958, Visa has become the leading company in the payments sector with more than 2,000 transactions each second. In 2014, the company’s total cash volume totaled $7.3 trillion dollars and about 65 billion transactions were processed.

Vaux gave his speech in the Making Payments Friction-Free session, alongside Stefan Thomas, CTO of Ripple Labs, Roelan Prins, Chief Commerce Officer at Ayden, and Mangopay founder Celine Lazorthes.

The event also featured such speaker as expert Andreas Antonopoulos and Blockchain CEO Peter Smith, who were part of the ‘Beyond Bitcoin – unleashing the potential of the blockchain’ session.

Comparing bitcoin with punk rock, Antonopoulos focused on the potential of digital currency to change the financial system. Bitcoin, he said, could enable traditional banking to solve the problem of identity theft. Meanwhile, Smith discussed that bitcoin could be used by people to prove their identities and will help them to directly transact with each other.

According to Vaux, the startups have to trust the incumbents’ businesses before working together. Besides, they must be sure that the products or services are designed to the needs of bigger companies.

“You want my brand, you want my money, you want my distribution. What I have no sense of is what is in it for me as the provider of that service,” he said.

Vaux noted the incumbents are beginning to collaborate with new industry players. At Visa, he is focused on finding ways for startups to work more closely with the company.

The problem that bothers Vaux is that many startups are not targeted at achieving a sustainable business model, but only aimed at millenial customers, who have not been the most successful customers for Visa. Moreover, he added that startups that are eager to collaborate with the company should have a clear understanding of how their businesses will work together in the future.

Meantime, large companies have to think about the potential of startups they invest in and how they can merge into a company.

During his speech, Vaux noted that Visa recognizes the potential of the blockchain technology and is looking to learn from bitcoin.

Vaux’s main message to the audience was that they want to work together with new startups. However, that doesn’t mean the company is ready to collaborate with everyone.

“You have to adapt, you have to learn, the biggest risk is not recognising where you can uniquely bring value. Identification, device fraud, cloud-based payments, digital receipts, those are the sorts of services we think will be valuable to customers,” he stated.

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