HPS Worldwide’s PowerCARD 2017: no fintech firm is an island
Morocco-based payments firm HPS Worldwide is setting its sights on growth through the use of APIs and extensive collaboration with start-ups.
At its PowerCARD Users Meeting 2017, held 5-7 April, in the lively city of Marrakesh – about 400 people from over 50 countries listened to presentations from the company and its partners.
The message from HPS was clear – it will work with others and isolation is not an option.
Delegates were also able to see the winners of the HPS hackathon – demonstrating that Morocco has some interesting start-up talent on offer.
Early proceedings saw Mohamed Horani, CEO of HPS, discussing his dream of a cashless society and how the payments market is in “full reconfiguration”. The firm is keen to stress its innovative intentions and Horani says every year 12% of its annual revenue is invested in R&D. He also made it clear blockchain has “great potential but is still in the experimental stage”.
There was also a new face as Angelo Letimier, president of the PowerCARD Users Club, stepped down to make way for the new president – Gary Ceaplen, head of cards at Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait.
Like many firms in our fintech world, going alone in a quest for success is not a common choice.
Sebastien Slim, head of marketing and innovation at HPS, highlighted the importance of tokenisation – especially in light of the internet of things (IoT) and wearables – and why it’s keen on open innovation. No fintech firm is an island it seems.
He says “you have to work with multiple players”; and quoted the famous maxim from Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems: “Because not all the smart people work for you”.
To achieve this goal of collaboration, HPS unveiled its plan for an open API system. Philippe Vigand, deputy MD – HPS (France), says this September it will launch a beta version of a connect community portal for APIs. This will allow it to work with multiple players for development. Vigand adds that version 1 will become available in January 2018.
APIs have become a popular trend amongst fintech firms, but in a presentation by John Chaplin, chairman of Helios Investment Partners, he pointed out that these companies “have been slow to adapt” to them. He cited Twitter and Google Maps as being way ahead with their use.
Chaplin adds: “APIs are not just technology, they are a business strategy… manage them like a product.”
On the final day, the Hackathon Awards were held – and it was good to see start-ups from within Morocco.
HPS says there were 84 participants and from these it selected 15 to come to the show at the Hotel du Golf Marrakech for the final selection. They then went through an intense 48-hour hackathon. All their ideas are at the concept level and HPS says user experience (UX) was the most important factor when deciding the winners.
There were three runners-up, who shared $6,000 between them. These include Eye Payment Systems – which offers payments with biometrics. Its presentation was delivered by a young man… aged 16. MyBills – which lets users pay all bills through one app. Fill Me Up – which provides a mobile payment service for motor vehicles – and its app includes a gas/petrol station search.
The overall winner was Pic & Pay, which received $10,000. It offers a neat solution – take a picture of a product and find it online, and then buy it quickly and conveniently. Ecommerce in action.
All these start-ups used APIs from HPS, IBM Watson and Google. And these young Moroccan firms are also all worth watching out for in the future.
The same can be said for HPS. The event went well and the company made its plans logical, clear and interesting. Its next PowerCARD Users Meeting will be in 2019 – and the same location of Marrakesh.