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The ATM & Payments Innovation Summit 2019 - Three Very Special Days In Rome

Monday, October 21, 2019

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by Ron Delnevo

I have to say at the outset that the ATM & Payments Innovation Summit 2019, for which I was Master of Ceremonies in Rome last week, was the most satisfying European ATMIA event in which I have been involved.
What I set out to achieve when I started to construct the speaker programme almost 12 months ago can be summed up in one word: QUALITY.
Now, as I review what unfolded just a few days ago, my overriding feeling is one of immense satisfaction that the level of quality I was looking for could be found in every aspect of the event.
The two excellent workshops on Day 1 gave the Summit a very bright start - and the Keynotes which launched the Main Summit on Day 2 took proceedings to the high level that was to be a constant for the remainder of the three day programme.
All three Keynotes were outstanding. Robert Rinaldi from the Bank of Italy, Henk Esselink from the European Central Bank and Natalie Ceeney, Chair of the UK Access to Cash Review, all had a very clear vision of what is required to maintain access to and the acceptance of cash.
It was quickly clear from the positive reaction of an audience of several hundred payments professionals that many of those present bought-in to the vision of the Keynote speakers.
Immediately after the inspiring Keynote addresses, the packed auditorium was treated to a brilliant presentation from Luca Nardi of Poste Italiane.
Luca was introduced by Auriga, who were Gold Sponsors of the Summit. His elaboration of the huge strides the Italian Post Office has taken in modernising and innovating in every aspect of their services surely made a strong case that this organisation, which is part of the fabric of the country's society and economy, sets the standards for Post Offices around Europe.
The UK Post Office would perhaps do well to emulate the example of their Italian counterparts, including in terms of investment in ATMs. A higher percentage of Italy’s Post Offices already have ATMs than is the case in the UK - and the gap between the two nations in this respect is widening.
The theme of innovation continued throughout the Summit, with speaker after speaker highlighting the steps which are being taken to ensure ATMs become even more relevant to the public and businesses than they are today.
I cannot mention every one of the uniformly excellent presentations, so please appreciate that what follows is only a sample of what those present enjoyed.
Whether it was Ioanna Alexandri from National Bank of Greece ( introduced by CIMA S.p.A) talking about the banks new “Instant Cash“ service; Alejandro De Oleza introducing CaixaBank's Facial Recognition technology; or Raiffeisen’s Gerold Aberl highlighting his banks efforts, working with SBS, to fully integrate contactless and mobile technology with ATM services, all the presentations had one thing in common - they evidenced that the pace of ATM and payments innovation is increasing dramatically.
Next up was ATMIA CEO and elected President of the ATM Security Association, Mike Lee. Mike continued the positivity surrounding innovation by briefing the Summit on developments in the ground-breaking NextGen ATM Project, which Mike leads for the ATMIA. 2020 could well be a vital 12 month period for this project, with the potential for NextGen products to be certified and launched before the year is out.
Another highlight in the first afternoon session was Jaques Rosenzvaig, the CEO of Brazilian ATM operator TechBan, explaining how his very progressive company is meeting the challenges of the Brazilian market. Significantly improved customer service and costs per transaction lowered by more than 40% provide proof that the hard work of everyone at TecBan is reaping substantial benefits.
And so on to the third and final day of the event - and more presentations underlining just how much resource is being devoted to ATM innovation around the planet.
Standard Bank of Africa led the way, with Darryl Poonan, Head of ATM Channel for the banks African Regions, focusing on how the skills and devotion of his team has brought about huge improvement in ATM availability.
Following Darryl, Valeriu Stratan from Moldova’s JSCB Moldindconbank, was rightly proud to tell everyone about his bank's international award -winning ATM digital innovation. His presentation received very loud applause from a highly appreciative audience.
Another highlight of the final morning was a presentation by Brett Scott, a prominent journalist and author. Brett focused, in a very entertaining and thought-provoking style, on how the ATM and cash industries must refuse to allow anti-cash vested interests to continue to both set the framework of thinking and control the lexicon of messaging, in the growing debate on the future of cash. Brett elaborated on this theme by demonstrating that “cashless” and  “cost of cash” are two prime examples of story lines deliberately constructed in an attempt to show cash in an unfavourable light. He believes that those supporting cash, whilst carefully avoiding giving such stories credence, should concentrate on switching the focus of public and media attention to the “public good” aspects of the payment method. In addition, Brett sees value in developing the theme that banks which accept deposits from their customers must surely have an obligation to return the money deposited in ways that best meet the needs and preferences of those customers.
Brett Scott demonstrated once again that he is a truly original thinker and his inspirational words were very well received by a very attentive audience.
Brett certainly seems to support Payment Choice for all, with cash remaining permanently on the menu of options. Most fair-minded people will surely agree with his stance, which puts the public interest ahead of corporate revenue-maximising ambitions.

There is so much more than could be written about the Summit agenda, notably the excellent security session, Chaired by the Karina Zambrano, which addressed many issues currently of concern to the ATM, cash and payment industries.
All that - and a sparkling Trade Exhibition - ensured three days of the highest quality!
A word now about the audience for this great event. Over 100 bankers attended, including representatives of every Italian bank. They were joined by ATMIA members from Europe and beyond, along with many non-members, some attending an ATMIA event for the first time.  
On the subject of ATMIA members, it has to be said that those based in Italy were as one in their massive enthusiasm for the Summit.
Auriga, Cima, Gruppo Battistolli, MIB, Sigma and TAS Group were all sponsors, exhibitors or speakers - and some were all three!
On behalf of ATMIA Europe, I thank each and every one of these excellent Italian companies for their unstinting support, which greatly contributed to the success of the event.
Sincere thanks also to Gold Sponsors Evry, and to Hyosung who were Silver Sponsors - indeed, thanks to all the sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and attendees, who came from far and wide to be with us in Rome. Each added something special of their own, increasing the value of the three days for everyone involved.
My last comment on our wonderful Rome Summit concerns the ATMIA team. I would like to thank all of those who helped and, in particular, Mary Lawrence, Reena Kaur and Debbie Smyth from our European team, the three of whom worked tirelessly both before and during the event. My admiration for all three is boundless!
Finally, though of course happy and vivid memories of Rome will last forever, my thoughts are now turning towards the next edition of our ATM & Payments Innovation Summit, which will be staged in Berlin next year (October 19 - 21, 2020.)
Please put those dates on your calendar. No one who cares about ATMs, cash and payments will want to miss three very special days in the magnificent capital of Germany!


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