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INTERVIEW


“With current regulations, we can’t operate our business the way we want in Jersey, but other jurisdictions are waking up to the changes”


So how did WorldPay come out of that? WorldPay was essentially a development of the e-commerce system that was up and running on the Wine Warehouse site in 1994 – it’s actually the basis of e-commerce. A lot of people may have claimed that they were the first to come up with such a system, but it was working in Jersey in 1994.


And you were at WorldPay for quite a while. What made you move on, and was there much time between jobs? About 12 weeks! There were a number of things that happened. Tragically my eldest son died in October 2002, which was six months after the RBS deal to acquire WorldPay had gone through. Having taken a break, we decided we wanted to carry on what we had been doing before, but look at the next wave, which was clearly what was going to happen in the mobile payment space. I was convinced that mobile would work, and decided to focus on that. And that’s what Voice Commerce Group has been doing for the last nine years.


So, tell us a little about Voice Commerce. We operate in two key areas. VoicePay is a biometric system that allows people to sign for payments using their mobile phone and their voice. And CashFlows is a merchant acquiring


26 businesslife.co February/March 2012


system similar to WorldPay. It’s been an interesting journey because we have faced a number of regulatory challenges since we started. In 2008, we acquired a business called Perpetual Payments together with some previous WorldPay colleagues. That gave us a business base in Cambridge, and from that we could make an application to the UK FSA to be considered as a payment institution. We couldn’t do that from Jersey as it’s not in the EEA and is outside of the European regulations for this. Long story short, we became


principal members of Visa and MasterCard in 2010, and in 2011 we changed our regulatory status from a payments institution to an electronic money institution, which incorporates everything we had before plus the ability to effectively issue electronic money right through the EEA. And we’ve just become a principal member of Swift. While wrangling with the regulators we have constantly been working on R&D to make our products the best we can.


What are the practical applications? Imagine you’re a plumber. You do some work for someone in St Helier: they have to pay you, and you’d like the money but don’t want to do the admin. It’s easier to hand over your iPhone or iPad and they enter their debit-card details for the amount you are charging them and the money goes straight into your account. That is e-money at its simplest. The other option for you is you get your


electricity bill from the JEC. Your bill arrives as a PDF on your smartphone and on the bottom of the bill is a ‘pay this now’ button. If you have a VoicePay account, you click on that and your phone rings and it says ‘You are paying a bill of £93.50 to the JEC, please say your name or enter your PIN’ and you sign your transaction by simply saying ‘Nick Ogden’ or entering your PIN.


So why has this technology not taken off yet? These things always take time. You have to get the technology right, and customers have to feel confident using it. We’ve got more than 1,000 customers accepting VoicePay, and during 2012 a number of developments will enhance that VoicePay experience for people with mobile phones – for instance, we will be adding integrated near-field communication (NFC) capability [see page 64]. Effectively, you’ll be able to load your mobile phone up with cash, and so won’t have to worry about finding an ATM or foreign currency when travelling. With 5.6bn people with mobile handsets, this technology could be huge.


Fact file


Name: Nick Ogden Age: 56


Position: Chairman and Chief Executive, Voice Commerce Group Married: To Jo Children: Four Lives: Jersey, Norfolk and Dubai


Hobbies: “I’m very much into motor sport, and I do track days. I’m also quite into sailing and working, surprisingly.”


Interesting fact: “Some years ago I met Wataru Takeshita, brother of the Japanese Prime Minister. As a consequence, I was invited to Ronald Reagan’s 70th birthday party, but I never went!”


Photographs: Paul Stuart


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