Nobody’s perfect – and that’s a good thing when working in a glass house

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In recent weeks we’ve read comments criticising technical problems experienced by a few emerging payments companies.

I’d like to add my comments to the debate. Because I believe that failure is a good thing. In an industry at the forefront of technological innovation, mistakes are inevitable. They are sources of learning. And if you’re never making mistakes, you’re not innovating hard enough.

Personally, I think it is dangerous to throw stones when sitting in a glass house where the foundations may be solid but the next-generation walls are not yet 100% robust.

In a community that depends so much on collaboration, often with people who might previously have been competitors but tomorrow could be clients or partners, I think could be short-sighted, too.

Often, those in our community, including me, have been critical of banks that are ‘too big to fail’. Whether it is RBS or Tesco Bank that experiences ATM downtime, fraud or outages, it’s perhaps cheeky, mischievous or just plain fun to take a pop at them and the failure of their legacy systems. I can probably excuse that from time to time.

But I am less comfortable when we are taking a pop at one of own. It risks attracting the attention of the media and giving the risk-averse institutions we serve an excuse to buy from non-emerging players because, ‘Nobody ever lost their job buying from IBM’.

I encourage our members to continue to push the boundaries of technological innovation. To continue to find new and better ways of serving customers with flexible, lean and cost-effective products and services. To continue to invest in smart and different ways of solving problems.

And to continue to make mistakes.

Sometimes, it won’t quite work as we hoped or planned it would. If you’re in the supermarket or training business, a technical hitch will not be noticed by most people. But in a payments business, it probably will.

But that is not a reason to stop innovating. Rather, it is a time to have empathy with those experiencing the problems. Because if you are innovating as you should and working in a glass house, tomorrow the blushes could be yours.

Tony Craddock

Director General


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