Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Outsider ideas in the payment space.... seldom really new..

One week ago Rabobank Nederland announced that it might de-activate the possibility to use their debit-card outside Europe, in an effort to eliminate fraud. And today the Financieele Dagblad has an article in which it becomes clear that an entrepreneur claims that this is actually his idea and not Rabo.

He's written the idea of functional/geographic application controls (including de-activation for certain geography) down as his idea, sent it to the Rabobank. And some time later he even spoke with Rabobank. And now that he discovers that Rabobank will in practice block geographic use, he claims that Rabobank has stolen his idea. It appears that he's in full swing with preparation of a court case.

I think this court case may not be effective. Application and functional controls in the payment area are around since ages. There can be checks and limits on payments via certain channel, with certain amounts, to or from a geographic area, number of times of use, branche-codes and what have you. And we have seen these developing over the years. In a planned talk on this issue in 2004 I already mentioned the user control of these application controls.

In this particular case (blocking a geographic area for card use), it was clear ten years ago that there would come a time that EMV-debit-cards would be blocked for use in countries that hadn't fully migrated to EMV. And that the amount of fraud would essentially determine the timing.

Now I do understand the serendipity-element in this story. It must be frustrating for an outsider to think that he has found the golden idea in payments and observe one bank (that he spoke to) introducing 'his' idea. However, this was certainly not a unique idea, but an inevitable, already foreseen consequence of technology migration and fraud.