We all know what they are experts on, but we want to know what makes our speakers tick. In this series, we sit down with some of our key speakers for 60 seconds to find out a bit more about them before we see them on stage at the All Payments Expo in New Orleans, 21-23 March 2016.
60 Seconds with…
WIRED Magazine Editor-at-Large and Hammersley Futures Principal
1. What is your personal philosophy?
It’s so tempting here to drop a truism and move on to the next question. You know the sort of thing: To Always Strive For The Best or something inspirational/out of a fortune cookie. And to be honest, when I’m tired I kinda wish I had one of those slogans to run decisions against without having to think about it. But no. I’ve just read a lot of books on Zen, try to make decisions that will lead to new and interesting possibilities, and to never drink bad coffee.
2. What’s the weirdest job you’ve ever had?
It’s a tie between teaching English to the children of local Party officials in China in the late 90s, which ended after a year with a drinking contest with the commanding officer of a neighbourhood police station on the Tibetan border and a case of typhoid – I won the contest, and I’ll call the typhoid a draw – and with a job I had working on campaigns for haute couture labels in Milan and Paris. That ended when I unconsciously doodled a resignation letter during a meeting, and took my own hint. It was quite weird, yes. Educational, though.
3. If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
If I knew it was going to be just one day, I don’t think I’d change anything. It’d be heartbreaking. And thinking about it, all the things I want to do appeal to me partly because of the training. So I wouldn’t want to skip that either. Pass. Next question.
4. Disruption is always on the tip of everyone’s tongue. In your opinion, what is going to be the ultimate game-changer for the payments industry?
Let’s reverse the usual view on this. The ultimate game-changer for the payments industry, viz Disruption, is that most people can’t see Disruption even when it’s on top of them. The game-changer is that, for most people, technologies we’ve been talking about for 20 years (the web) or 10 years (smart phones) are still future threats, and not clear and present dangers we’ve had a decade to prepare for. If “the internet is going to be big” is news to you, then there’s your ultimate game-changer. It’s passed you by.
5. What are you most looking forward to at the All Payments Expo 2016 in New Orleans?
Arguing with people about Bitcoin through a cloud of beignet dust.
Ben Hammersley will be presenting a special address If software is eating the world, what are Apple, Amazon & Google going to do to payments? on Day 2 of the All Payments Expo in New Orleans, 21st – 23rd March 2016.