Exclusive interview with David Birch on womens role in fintech and identity

Monday 8 October 2018 09:23 CET | Interview

The Paypers sits with David Birch to find out more about his role within the European Women Payments Network (EWPN) and his takes on identity verification.

David Birch will be a keynote speaker at the upcoming European Women in Payments Network Annual Event, the only Pan - European Conference specifically focused on championing for diversity (gender/cultural/age/race etc.) in FinTech & Payments. EWPN will be hosting the 2nd Annual Conference & Awards on 15th -16th October 2018, in Amsterdam, featuring interactive panels, deep-dive workshops, and plenary sessions with industry female leaders.

Congratulations for joining the European Women Payments Network (EWPN). Could you please share with our readers the idea behind your decision?

Selfish. In my experience, diversity in a team has always improved my own work. When it comes the specific example of gender diversity, it has been my experience in the payments industry that working together, men and women produce better results. I want women to fulfil their potential in the payments sector because it will improve the sector.

What role do women play in the fintech world? What challenges do women face within the payment industry and how are they currently perceived?

I’m not an idiot - I realise that women face challenges that I do not - ranging from social media to work/life balance - but I have been in this business and I think I have expertise and experience that will be helpful. Even when it comes to basic strategies around establishing “brand”, I would like to think I have already been helpful. And I believe I have encouraged more than one women to grasp an opportunity that she might otherwise have missed.

Now going back to your valuable expertise in digital identity – Ajay Bhalla, Chief Enterprise Security Solutions Officer for Mastercard, said that “Verified digital identities will get rid of the need for bank cards and passwords”. How should digital identity systems be constructed to serve different needs?

The subject for a book not a short answer in an online interview! Let me just say that I think we need both a better model of digital identity to facilitate conversation between stakeholders and a better narrative for digital identity in the mass market. But, speaking very generally, in Western European markets, we need forms of digital identity that can deliver both security and privacy.

Could you please explain how can the concept of verified digital identities be brought to life and be truly operational?

Well, it should mean that when I visit a web site and I am asked who I am, I should be presented with a menu: Dave Birch at home, David G.W. Birch at work, SecretDave for commenting on newspaper websites. And whichever I choose, the web site should see only the personal data attributes relevant to transactions (eg, that I am over 18, not what my date of birth is). And they should be able to trust these attributes because they have been verified by (eg) my bank.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of these initiatives/platforms?

The platforms that we are around us, such as IDIN and itsme, are steps in the right direction but in my option they are not sophisticated enough to support the always-on, interconnected economy we are creating.

Is there another way to look at identity verification?

Yes I think we can begin to look away from traditional hierarchical views of identity and towards new visions that are based on relationships and reputations. Perhaps we are almost there: if you want to decide whether to give me a credit card or not, my LinkedIn profile is a pretty good indicator of whether or not I will be a profitable customer!

About David Birch

David G.W Birch is an author, advisor and commentator on digital financial services. He is a Global Ambassador at Consult Hyperion (the secure electronic transactions consultancy that he helped to found), Technology Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (the London-based think tank), a Visiting Professor at the University of Surrey Business School and holds a number of board-level advisory roles. Before helping to found Consult Hyperion (one of the very first companies on the Surrey University Business Park) in 1986, he spent several years working as a consultant in Europe, the Far East and North America.

About Consult Hyperion

Consult Hyperion is an independent strategic and technical consultancy, based in the UK and US, specialising in secure electronic transactions. We help organisations around the world exploit new technologies to secure electronic payments and identity transaction services. From mobile payments and chip & PIN, to contactless ticketing and smart identity cards, we deliver value to our clients by supporting them in delivering their strategy. We define, develop, design and deliver.


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Keywords: David Birch, Consult Hyperion, European Women Payments Network (EWPN), fintech, identity verification, digital identity, Ajay Bhalla, iDIN, interconnected economy
Countries: World

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