Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Revolutionary Convergence Highlighted at Forums & Expo

Annual Conference TAWPI a Boston Success Story
By Dan Bolita, ICP

In a demonstration of the convergence of transaction processing
technologies, the TAWPI 2007 Forums & Expo in Boston highlighted
the growing demand for industry information, education and solutions. Attracting a robust 20 percent increase in attendance and a highly knowledgeable attendee base, the three day conference delivered lively education sessions, round table discussions
and networking opportunities. TAWPI billed its 2007 Forums & Expo as revolutionary and took a number of steps to diversify the content, attract new exhibitors and increase attendance. The results of these steps were

• The numbers of full forum registrations for this year’s event were
up 20 percent compared to last year – placing them at the highest
level in five years—and the number of companies in this
year’s expo hall was up over 10 percent.
• Approximately 25 percent of this year’s full-forum registrants
were new to TAWPI, demonstrating the interest in transactional
process content.
• The demographic mix of this year’s full-forum attendees showed
a higher representation of senior management and treasury management

“TAWPI is extremely excited about the opportunities that lie
ahead,” said TAWPI President Frank Moran. “We recognize the
convergence of these technologies, yet our attendees were given
three separate forums each with specialized content—that formula
worked well.”

In an increased effort to facilitate industry-specific peer-to-peer
interaction, the Forums offered a number of vertically focused
round-table and networking events. Facilitated by a moderator,
these were some of the most compelling interactions, as professionals
met face-to-face. Payment processors from governmental taxing authorities and state departments of revenue shared candid experiences with process automation. Similarly, in healthcare transaction processing, insurance, banking and utility discussions,
attendees were able to share their experiences in an open and vendor-neutral environment.

A number of times, these discussions were able to offer specific tips or advice that processors could apply to their own operations. A recurring sentiment was the disconnect between promised expectations of benefit and actual results. Nonetheless, most operations professionals agreed that rewards from the deployment of current technology far outweigh the risk of waiting.

Keynote Presentations

In a well attended and entertaining presentation, James Cunha, Senior VP of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston made a humorous,
yet highly relevant analogy between the changing nature of payments and the historical changes in refrigeration. Comparing check processing to the robust demand for ice in the mid nineteenth century—and the sudden decline in ice-harvesting—Cunha found many parallels. In the 1800s, ice harvesting was the largest non-agricultural industry. However, due to the advent of mechanical refrigeration, the industry was fundamentally changed. Similarly, the development of alternate payment methods has dramatically impacted paper check processes. Cunha noted that the demand for the cooling power brought by ice never went away, similarly the ability to pay obligations has not diminished despite the fact that using checks for the purpose is in steep decline. Cunha effectively drove home the point that industries in transition offer remarkable opportunities, sometimes not recognized until years later. Continuing the analogy, he noted the new opportunities of fresh foods brought by at-home refrigeration, as well as the development of air conditioning.

In the payments space, the decline of paper checks has brought a range of technology opportunities including multiple payment choices, faster access to funds, and a hastened deployment of
image-based tools.

In a separate address by US Postal Service Deputy Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe, attendees heard of the renewed emphasis that the US Postal Service has placed on its remittance business. Donahoe also noted the decline in paper volume, outlining steps the USPS is taking to offset a decline in remittance postage revenue.

By all counts, the TAWPI 2007 Forums was a measurable success. The exhibit floor remained active throughout the three days, and sessions were well-attended right up to the closing session. Perhaps the best indicator is the fact that nearly all of the
exhibitors have already reserved their spots for the TAWPI 2008 Annual Forums scheduled for August 24 - 27th, in Orlando, Florida.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Warning to Vendors: Your Customers are Getting Smarter

Of the many things that impressed me at the recent TAWPI Forums & Expo in Boston—and there were many: the quality of the speakers; the cohesive nature of the solutions; the networking opportunities; the performance of the Red Sox—what was perhaps most noticeable was the sophistication of the Forum attendees. Long-time TAWPI
members, and a marked increase in fresh faces demonstrated a keen awareness of the industry, the business problems they faced, and the historic shortcomings of some of the available solutions. By and large, our members are getting smarter. While this is a good sign for TAWPI, and is in some small measure a testimony to the value of the education the Association provides, it poses challenges to the vendor community. An educated constituency asks tough questions, demands more mature solutions, and expects more from its suppliers.

The knowledge our members have gained has not come cheaply. While the cost to attend TAWPI’s annual forum, the regional conferences or Web events is a relative bargain, it’s the price paid investing in solutions that weren't a good fit, weren't ready for prime time, or just didn’t work, that has cost the most. “Learning the hard way” may not be the best lesson, but these are the lessons not soon forgotten. These sadder-but-wiser constituents now demand tangible demonstrations of a solution’s effectiveness. Not only do data extraction tools need to work in the demo booth with perfectly prepared samples, they need to work in production using real world forms. The advantages of Remote Deposit Capture are many, but woe to the vendor that neglects to address such issues as training, maintenance and customer service. Today’s customers understand scalability, reliability and usability. They are asking about regulatory compliance, document retention, image quality and total cost of ownership. They expect their suppliers to not only understand the technology, but its appropriateness for the specific application or industry where it will be applied. In the industry roundtable discussions (a new, and highly successful feature at this year’s Forums) as well as in interactions on the Expo floor, the attendees were savvy about the technology, understood the terminology, and were more interested in how solutions would fit with their existing business process than they were with bells or whistles. And to our vendors’ credit, they seemed to welcome the challenge. Having successfully survived the mergers, acquisitions, and technology changes of the past several years,
the solution providers on display in Boston were likewise well-informed, candid and eager to show how far the industry has come. While there may always be a disconnect between the promise of technology and the
need it’s intended to fulfill, that gap is closing–in no small part thanks to the demands of an informed market.

Dan Bolita, ICP
TODAY Editor

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

CEO View: Distributed Capture Trends, Opportunities and Threats

TAWPI Theatre, Exhibit Hall, Second Level, Hynes Convention Center, Boston

Panelists: Danne Buchanan, CEO, NetDeposit

Brian Geisel, President, Alogent

Bala Balasubramanian, President & CEO, J & B Software

additional panelists to be announced

Moderator: Doug Hartsema, Senior Vice President, JPMorgan Chase

This interactive panel discussion features insight and advice from prominent solutions providers. During the session, attendees will gain a better understanding of the latest technologies and strategies for distributed capture, payments automation and receivables management. The main focus of the discussion will be to detail the most important technologies shaping the capture market and the key trends and innovations that are changing the way information is captured, processed, managed and delivered.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Fiserv to Aquire Checkfree

“CheckFree’s industry-leading payment and Internet banking capabilities will significantly accelerate our strategic transformation, extending our service platform to the largest financial institutions,”said Jeffery Yabuki, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fiserv. “This combination allows us to deliver the best available solutions to all of our clients to enhance growth today, and into the future. An important objective of the transaction is to tightly integrate electronic bill payment and settlement capabilities with our core account processing and risk management solutions to create a unique value proposition unrivaled in the marketplace today.”

“By joining our complementary technology and capabilities with Fiserv and its unparalleled footprint, this new combined entity will broaden Fiserv’s offerings to customers worldwide,” said Pete Kight, CheckFree Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “In particular, it will significantly accelerate the delivery of next-generation services to financial institutions and their customers. CheckFree’s broad range of offerings will also enable Fiserv to round out its ability to deliver solutions that address the challenges of an evolving U.S. payments landscape and help facilitate the growth of the managed accounts industry.” In conjunction with the closing of the transaction, Kight will be employed by Fiserv and appointed to its board of directors.
“Pete’s demonstrated results in building one of the world’s leading payment and transaction
processing companies are a testament to his energy, vision and strategic leadership,” said Donald F. Dillon, Fiserv Chairman. “We will be thrilled to have him on our board.”

Fiserv expects to realize more than $100 million in annualized cost savings and more than $125 million in annualized revenue synergies. For 2008, the transaction is expected to be accretive to Fiserv’s underlying cash earnings per share.
The transaction is expected to be completed by December 31, 2007, subject to regulatory approvals, approval by the CheckFree shareholders and customary closing conditions. After closing, the combined company will have pro-forma revenue of about $6 billion, employ more than 27,000 associates world-wide and be the leading provider of technology processing solutions to banks and financial institutions. “We are impressed by the people of CheckFree. Their cultural commitment to clients is consistent with how we do business and this combination will create significant growth opportunities for all of our people,” said Yabuki.