What fuels innovation?
Innovation can come from anywhere. Vision. Inefficiency. Fatigue. Fear. But the two most important things are to be able to identify it and to add momentum. It is less important where an idea comes from. It is more important that you have your eyes open, are able to see it, and help move it forward, every single day.
Do you have a favourite invention?
My espresso machine. It is a thing of beauty. It takes 30 minutes to make a cup of coffee, but it’s Italian and that’s the point. A close second would be the sliding cutter on plastic wrap. The inventor should retire and be minted on a coin.
Where do you see payments heading?
The future will look more like the past. More like 1950 than 2050. We need to make payment so intelligent that it’s woven into the fabric of life. If we do this right, the point of sale will disappear. Payments will become nearly invisible, and transactions will focus on the friendly exchange between the retailer and the consumer.
What drove you to build the Strategic Partnerships team?
Two things: exposure to creative people and VisaNet. You cannot spend time in Silicon Valley and not think about what’s possible. At the same time, we have our own story. Visa is probably the most successful two-sided network on the planet. The difference between what Dee Hock invented 50 years ago and what venture capitalists invest in today? Visa made money on day one.
A lot of people look upward for ideas on what to do next. I like to drill down or look out. People and platforms. Glenn Powell on VisaNet– great guy. He knows every ISO message that drives our business. If he thinks we can pay with a phone or a connected car, it is fine. Tech companies can be competitors or they can be enablers. Our goal is to be the premier payments enabler, regardless of form factor. The ball is in our court in a way. The creation of the Strategic Partnerships team was simply seizing the opportunity to focus on the future of payments full time.
Do you have a favourite place in Singapore?
I love authentic places off the beaten path. The back alleys. They are harder to find, but Singapore is full of them. So much richness, so much history. The other thing I love is a place to sit and think, especially outside. Singapore is a very green city. From our rooftop, I can see the treetops graze the city lights. It is incredible. Staring at horizons, keeping an eye out for what is coming–it is not so different from my day job, I guess.
If you had an unexpected day off, how would you spend it?
I would pick a Sunday morning. I love to cook. I would put together a big brunch for my family. We would eat, laugh and spend some time together. Then I would read, until my wife tapped my newspaper around 1 P.M. and said something like, “Come on, it is time to start the day.”
What could you not live without?
Family. Without them, successes are not fun, and failures would be unbearable. Motivationally, I could not live without change. New places. New projects. New initiatives. But you cannot sustain change without a constant. And family is that constant.
What made you choose this career path?
I don’t really believe in a career path, I believe in career dead-reckoning. As you navigate life, it is imperative that you make decisions based on what you are passionate about. If you do, it will be exciting, enjoyable and you will bring value to what you do.
You used to be a television producer. Does that influence your work today?
More than where I came from is whom I worked for. I worked for an entrepreneur. On my first day, he slid his Rolodex across the table. He said, “These are all of the people that I know. You can call any of them at any time. Don’t embarrass me. Now do something.” It was both intimidating and empowering.
One thing I did learn about working in television was how absolute it is. A TV show is going to air on Monday at 7 P.M. The audience is waiting. The only question is how good it is going to be. Failure to fill the timeslot is not an option.