I’ll be honest. When Editor-in-Chief Ali Paterson asked if I wanted to attend a two-day event on ATMs, I started to question my career choices. It sounds like a bit of a snooze-fest, right? I imagined a lot of drab chat about god knows what, and a strong sense of the passing of time. So, with suitably managed expectations, I dragged open my laptop at 6am to tune into the Self Service Banking Asia event 2020.
My preconceptions were completely wrong. It was a solid event. Well put together, unique and insightful. Better than some of the in person industry festivals I’ve attended. Who’d have thought! I learned so much about ATMs, that I now look on them with a kind of fondness. They’re not these tired old 80s things which yawn out cash, outside a Sainsbury’s. They’re surprisingly full of life and potential! I was treated to the history of ATMs, where they are today and the future. And now I feel like a pro! The event also covered a whole range of payment needs and requirements, from branches to bank cards. Two thumbs up from me!
The first thing you notice when you log in, is the seriously snazzy “lobby”. The organisers did a really good job of capturing the kind of vibe you get at these events. Little animated participants wander around the room chatting to each other and visiting rooms.
My only criticism would be that the women all seemed to wear mini-skirts and heels. Don’t get me wrong, as a Valley’s girl, that’s very much my bag. But it felt a bit strange seeing all these leggy ladies fawning over suited men in the virtual lobby. Next year I’m going to keep a beady eye out for some on-trend trouser suits!
Navigating through the lobby and into the different booths and rooms was easy – which my 6am brain really appreciated. The organisers managed to create a feeling of both fun and corporate-ness. Not an easy task, but very nicely done.
In the networking longue, I caught up with Elida Policastro, Regional VP – Cybersecurity Division at Auriga. I asked her more about how she was finding the set-up. “I have really enjoyed the SSBA20 event”, she explained. “Even though it was virtual, and we couldn’t visit great Vietnam, RBR have done an amazing job of reinventing themselves by providing us the possibility of sharing key content of the Fintech ecosystem! Thank you RBR!”
I settled in for around five or six talks. I would have liked to stay for more, but if you saw my soul-destroying list of upcoming deadlines, you’d understand! Luckily, all the talks are available to view later. Plus, there’s a healthy live chat stream which gets straight to the heart of the issues.
Here were my favourite talks:
I got cosy in my sofa, and tuned into a talk called, “Payment Cards: Still a key instrument to build customer engagement”, by Clement Wee, Regional Sales Manager of Evolis. Wee spoke with a passion about something I’d always assumed would be defunct in a few years… the bank card. But after hearing him speak and deliver some punchy stats, I feel differently. I mean … can you imagine not needing to carry a purse or wallet around? There’s something quite unsettling about that idea. And something that’s somehow comforting about having that physical connection with a bank in your purse or back pocket. Wee talked us through the process of instant card issuance, a milestone in banking history. Lots of food for thought!
Another top fav of mine was, “Empowering the next generation through technology”, by Mark Aldred, Head of Sales, Auriga UK. What I loved about this was the completeness. Aldred began with a history of ATMs (surprisingly interesting!), where we are today, and the future. I liked how he rounded that circle, it was neat and easy to follow. What I liked more though, was where his head was at for the future! He spoke of tech-driven “lean branches” which could pop up in our neighbourhoods. The most convenient bank branch imaginable, cost-efficient and instant. It would be like walking inside an ATM, like Doctor Who strolls into the Tardis. While I loved the Sci-Fi ideas, I also thought back to my granddad who visits his local bank branch most weeks, and chats to the cashier. So, although I love the high-tech option, I also hope that the traditional high street brand doesn’t disappear altogether. My favourite quote from adventurous Aldred was “Today we use generalist tools to do a specialist job”. Nice!
Throughout the day, the event was filled with many interesting and insightful talks. I learned about ATM face detection, banking in COVID-19 and hardware upgrades. When I next came face to face with my nearest cash machine, I felt like I knew it’s secrets!
A totally new industry has been born out of the coronavirus lockdown, the virtual event sector. This got me thinking … what are they like to organise? Today’s event planners are pioneers. They’re the very first to set foot on this strange new territory. The Neil Armstrong of events. To glean some insights, I bagged myself a quote from Josh Swarbrick, who’s the Senior Research Analyst at RBR. “Being in charge of our Brazilian primary research. It was great connecting with a range of Brazilian industry players, at what was their midnight – and later”, Swarbrick explained. “I thought the event ran really smoothly with lots of high-quality engagement from delegates, exhibitors and speakers. It was great to see attendees from different countries from various time zones bringing their ideas and perspectives to the event”.
Hats off to the team behind the SSBA2020. Transforming a festival into a virtual event is no easy job, yet they did really well. I look forward to a time in the future when we can all bundle off to Vietnam and thank everyone in person. Until then …cảm ơn bạn!!