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Payments Association Insights – Why it’s smart to act like an ant

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Most of the payments predictions I’ve read for 2018 say, ‘This year we’ll see more collaboration in payments’. A glib statement, but not so easy in practice. No app can do it for you. You can’t go to Collaboration College. You just have to Keep Calm and Collaborate.

But it can be done, and we can learn how from … ants. In Empire of the Ants, the one and only David Attenborough recently introduced me (and nine million other viewers) to a huge empire of ants living beneath the Jura in France in a vast network of tunnels and chambers. It is believed to be one of the largest animal societies in the world, where over half a billion ants from rival colonies live in peace.

But this super-network of 1,000 nests goes beyond co-existing, to collaborating to their collective benefit. The Wood Ants have learnt that collaboration promotes and protects the individual nests, the individual ants and the super-colony too.

So what is their secret? I’m not going to spoil your chance to enjoy the programme, but I’ll give you the headlines: selfless collaboration; government by consensus, to ensure everyone is ready for the mating flights each June; engagement and exchange of information about opportunities and threats.

The result is the free movement of ants along trails between the nests, the expansion of the colony into new territories, access to valuable resources and a low level of disease.

So does the Payments Association community have the potential to be a network of interconnected PayTech nests, exchanging information and providing mutual support for others? A complex but highly organised community with the males and females getting together in a single meadow at least once each year? (See 38.02 minutes into the show for a close analogy with the Payments Association Awards.)

Well that’s my ambition for 2018. For us to collaborate by exchanging information openly and willingly; to support each other and to live complex but interconnected communal lives, by following the example of the Jura Forest Wood Ants.

Tony Craddock, Director General, The Payments Association

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