2015: The Major Payments News Stories with an Epic Twist

Its New Years Eve and like many people I’m looking back and pondering on 2015. There are some pretty cool and intelligent fintech and payments news reviews of 2015 (see sources at the end of this post), and so i thought i would offer my own (unique) perspective. In this recap of the top payments news stories of 2015 i have opted to marry payments news stories with an appropriate film. Let’s see if you agree with my associations. If not, feel free to offer your news story and movie match up in the comments…

1. January 2015 – Payments News

Back To The Future – Financial Inclusion

This is fitting because within the movie Back to the Future II, Marty goes from 1985 to 2015 – and many commentators have been reflecting on the predictions the film got right and wrong.

Anyway, from a payments perspective i have highlighted this because January was the month in which The Gates Foundation released their 2015 annual letter revealing their 5 big bets for the next 15 years. Financial inclusion is an area close to my heart. Its not about efficiency or taking the “friction” out of payments, it is about enabling an entire unbanked population. The Gates Letter helps to put the spotlight on issues of global importance and is helping to drive incredible innovation in many developing countries.

2. February 2015 – Payments News

Sliding Doors  – Bank Branches versus Digital

Its a thought provoking film, and interesting since it plots 2 potential paths. One where the star of the film misses her train and the other where she catches the train. The film follows through the outcome of both decisions.

Similarly in February, we started to learn about the 2 paths that banks are taking. One investing in digital, and the other continuing to invest in legacy systems and bank branches. This is a topic that continued to run throughout 2015

3. March 2015 – Payments News

Trading Places – FinTech Investment

The movie is about the trials and tribulations of a rookie investor and a traditional executive. In March, we started to learn about the true extent of fintech investment – according to CB Insights the investment spiked to $12 billion in 2014.

The investment statistics, the energy of the start ups combined with the perceived ‘disruption’ to incumbents started to snowball and remained a recurring theme in 2015. We also recognised that the UK was a major fintech centre, and sought to become a world fintech leader. Maybe the movie should be Toy Story, with the tag line “To infinity and beyond”..!?!?

4. April 2015 – Payments News

The Bourne Identity – Cyber-security and Start up companies

This is the story of a man who suffers from memory loss and against the odds has to discover who he really is. A one man band, who is relentless, innovative, global in his mission and single minded in his objective. Jason Bourne manages through the course of the movies to “find” himself.

For me this highlights the power of the newcomer, who armed with an innovative mindset and a unrelenting passion to win can achieve the unexpected. This trait is prevalent in many fintech start up companies. From an espionage point of view, the cybersecurity threats started to increase with numerous high profile data breaches. Again, this is something that has continued to happen in 2015. Banks such as JP Morgan and BBVA made public their views on Silicon Valley.

5. May 2015 – Payments News

Good Will Hunting – Contactless Payments

Good Will Hunting is a story about a chap with an incredible talent but needs the right formula to unlock it. Along come a love interest and Robin Williams. For me this was a movie that changes your perception about the the world around you.

Contactless payments or mobile payments are changing the way in which we do things – Kenya is a prime example. CB Insights (sorry to keep mentioning them, but their analysis is pretty top notch) highlight the growth of mobile fintech investment and in this blog i have posted on contactless payments in Europe, the importance of financial inclusion and in a tongue in cheek post on 10 reasons why i hate cashless payments.

6. June 2015 – Payments News

300 – Greece

300 is a movie about 300 Greek soldiers from Sparta who fight against the odds with a humongous Persian army in 480 B.C.

June was all about Greece and the Eurozone Crisis, will Greece stay in the European Union or will they break off…? There was a recurring “will they” or “won’t they” question mark over Greece and its ability to pay debts by the indicated deadline, and whether they would remain in or out of the European Union. Maybe the movie should be Groundhog Day..?

7. July 2015 – Payments News

The Matrix – Mobile Payments & Blockchain

The Matrix for me was a film about how we see the world. Is what we see around us the real world, is it a virtual reality, are we blinded by our 9-5 existence and missing our true purpose in this life…?

So from that deep philosophical conundrum i will (somehow) link back to payments and blockchain! Apple Pay launched in the UK, and Samsung Pay was hooking up with various partners around the world and numerous banks were getting excited about blockchain. The link with the Matirx is that we are now truly questioning and reconsidering the way in which we make payments (look at contactless, biometrics technology) and the potential for blockchain technology is causing global tremors in a variety of industries.

8. August 2015 – Payments News

Frozen – Contactless Payments

In August I went on holiday to Disney World in Florida and the overwhelming theme at Disney was Frozen. I must admit, it was pretty cool….!

The thing that impressed me most, was the use of technology – especially wearable tech – to make the whole “Disney experience” as frictionless as possible. And of course, contactless payments – via wearable tech – was at the heart of the Disney experience.

9. September 2015 – Payments News

James Bond – Cyber Security, Mobile Payments and Blockchain

Ok, so James Bond is a British institution, a fictional Secret Service agent (MI6) created by Ian Fleming. The reason for picking James Bond, cyber-security, mobile payments and blockchain is because they have been exciting, recurring themes throughout 2015. And I’m sure will be making a stamp on 2016. We can’t get enough of them!!!

Throughout the year these themes have hit the headlines. From a cyber security perspective we saw breach after breach, from a mobile payments perspective we saw Apple Pay implementations in multiple countries and banks congregating on blockchain.

10. October 2015 – Payments News

Rocky & PSD2 – Payments Services Directive 2

Rocky is an iconic boxing character who represents the underdog. Time after time, Rocky Balboa has fought against various formidable champions and against the odds defeated them.

Similarly, there is a belief in the financial and technology world that the PSD2 Regulation will shake things up and lead to newcomers occupying niche areas in banking and payments. How will the incumbents react….? Oh, i also need to mention Sibos, one of my favourite “virtual” (I wasn’t there) sessions was from Piyush Gupta.

11. November 2015 – Payments News

Enter The Dragon – Disruption

Enter the Dragon is all about Bruce Lee, to coin a phrase “a square peg in a round hole”. Bruce Lee showcases his amazing martial arts skills to devastating effect and totally changes the way in which an entire population viewed his talent, art and philosophy. For me, Bruce Lee depicts passion, innovation and self belief.

In November, the disruptive themes in finance continued. We saw the Square IPO, various innovation related reports and the thought provoking Anthony Jenkins Uber moment speech. As we approached the end of the year the true scale of the fintech revolution started to hit home, and industry insiders started to wonder – is it a bubble, and if not, what is in store for 2016…..

12. December 2015 – Payments News

Star Wars – May The Force Be With YOU…

Let’s face it, its an old storyline that is being rebranded for a new generation. There are new threats in store…..

….Just like payments and fintech! The finance industry has been reinventing itself for hundreds of years, and now we are on the verge of a new innovative period. In December, we await Christmas, the New Year and the prospects that it may bring. We recognise that change is happening, but at the same time know that it is not universal and will take time to reach a critical mass. Yet, it is an exciting period and we look forward to seeing how the “disruption” unfolds in 2016.

Thanks for stopping by – Take a look around…!!

Happy New Year, Folks!

If you’re still reading, I would like to THANK YOU for your support and enthusiasm for this blog – without which, I would not be writing this post. I wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous 2016. Thanks again!




  • Forbes – The Top 15 Most Important Fintech Stories of 2015
  • Finextra – That was the year that was

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