M1PC has hosted and facilitated a Coder DoJo relating to payments and payments technology. The Project provides teenage participants with different skills, including coding, project management, and digital communication (graphics, video & social media). To date, the Dojo-ers have created a website, bit.ly/DigitalPaymentsInfo , that examines the future of Payments and how young people will interact with financial services firms/payments in the future. Their next project will be a Payments App.
Jobseekers who have the right technical skills and are keen to work away from the capital should keep a close eye on developments in the northeast over the next few years.
If the M1 Payments Corridor, as the region comprising counties Louth, Cavan, Meath and Monaghan has been dubbed, takes off, then up to 600 highly skilled positions in the digital payments sector could open up within the next four years.
The region, which is home to Vesta, PayPal and State Street, was handed a jobs boost last month when the epayments company YapStone announced it would take on 200 new staff over the next five years.
YapStone started its Irish operation in 2012 with 10 employees in the Mill, Drogheda’s enterprise hub, and expanded quickly. This latest jobs news related to a €41m investment by YapStone, supported by IDA Ireland.
It was the first big announcement since the launch of the M1 Payments Corridor. Organisers hope it is just the beginning.
The region also has indigenous fintech companies including Aphix Software, Gecko Governance, Semper Security and Intact Software. Aphix employs 15 people at its base in the Mill, and announced this year it would be taking on another 25 before 2020 — most of them skilled developer roles. The company is already recruiting.
Breanndán Casey, the Mill’s business development manager, says the idea of a payments corridor in the northeast arose two years ago, with the recognition that getting towns in the area to co-operate rather than compete would reap greater rewards.
“In the past there was a lot of competition between, say, Navan, Drogheda, Dundalk and Cavan. We recognised that we could work together,” says Casey. “This is not about any one town, it’s a regional push.”
It soon became clear that the industry most likely to put the region on the map would be digital payments. One of the inspirations for the initiative was the so-called Transaction Alley, in the American state of Georgia.
“It’s a 60km zone around Atlanta and 70% of payments go through there — but it was once a small operation,” says Casey, who believes the northeast is well positioned to become an epayments hub.
“There are 1.8m people within 50km of Drogheda. We also have the M1 connecting us up to Belfast, which is strong on blockchain technology.”
Using Atlanta as a model, Casey and others hope the northeast will also become a centre for digital payments outside this country.
“We are not just focused on Ireland,” says Peter Rowan, Yapstone’s executive vice-president of international operations. “We have a multilingual centre here covering seven languages, and we have had no issues hiring multilingual employees within striking distance of Drogheda.”
To make the corridor work, collaboration between every player involved will be essential. Such help comes from the National Epayments Conference, which was first held two years ago and is an opportunity for stakeholders to find out about the future of digital payments in Ireland and abroad.
“The fintech sector is ripe for collaboration between smaller companies and larger, FDI companies,” Casey says.
The M1 Payments Corridor initiative has a strong steering group behind it, made up of representatives from Vesta, PayPal, State Street, Aphix, YapStone and Coca-Cola International Services. The group also includes representatives from the economic development agencies, as well as Dublin City University and Dundalk IT, who will provide R&D support to the industry in the region.
The need for an educational element is clear, because any new roles that come on stream will be highly skilled. The group has already organised specialist training programmes with IT Governance, a UK company. A fintech audit is being conducted in the region to assess skill sets and identify any gaps.
“That started three months ago. The results will give a strong indication of what skills are needed,” says Casey.
Drogheda Chamber has applied for funding from Skillnets, which, if successful, would involve a significant element of fintech training. “We want to move away from customer service to more technical skills,” says Casey.
The M1 Payments Corridor’s recent funding application to Skillnets was unsuccessful, but Casey is confident that the region will continue to build on its successes in the area of epayments.
One key attraction of the area for potential employees will be that they can avoid the expense and congestion of the capital, according to Casey. At present, 55% of YapStone staff live within 15 minutes of the office.
If everything goes to plan, employees here will be able to move between companies while staying in the same region and sector.
“It’s important that we get a range of companies in the region so people can move around. There needs to be a critical mass here,” says Casey.
The new roles at Aphix are in areas including customer success, software engineering and development. The company is recruiting for technology positions including software and app developers, says Mark Reilly, the company’s chief technical officer.
“Driving investment into the region is a key focus for us, providing a significant boost to employment and benefiting the local economy,” he says.
YapStone, which provides online and mobile payments products for companies including property sites HomeAway and VRBO, moved out of the Mill when it grew to 40 employees. Within two years that number increased to 126. Now the company is recruiting for the first of 200 more, to be hired before 2022.
With most of YapStone’s staff working in customer service roles, the company is looking for development engineers, lead software engineers and voice over internet protocol network architects.
Rowan is confident that the skills needed by his company are available in or around the region. “We did some research even before we announced the roles and, based on that, we believe the talent pool is here, which was part of the reason behind our decision,” he says.
The M1 Payments Corridor concept will bring together the players in the sector, according to Rowan.
“It’s about creating jobs and building R&D capacity. We’re trying to mirror the Atlanta payments corridor — this could be the European international payments corridor,” he says.
Today, the firm announced plans to add more than 200 engineering and technology positions between 2018 and 2023 in order to cater to its rapid expansion.
“We have hired tremendous talent in Ireland, and they have played a major role in YapStone’s success and international expansion,” said YapStone co-founder and CEO Tom Villante, Co-Founder and CEO of YapStone. “It was a natural decision for us to expand our investment in Irish talent into technology.”
IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan described the move as a “significant expansion” for YapStone and Drogheda and said it would serve as an “excellent reference site for IDA in marketing this key regional location”.
Tánaiste and Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Frances Fitzgerald said the announcement would be “a great boost for the town” which tallied with the Government’s desire to drive “job creation in locations which are away from the bigger cities”.
Some 600 jobs could be created if the area surrounding Dundalk and Drogheda if the area is recognised as a cluster for e-payments companies, says a local industry group.
According to M1 Payments Corridor, the indigenous jobs could be created by 2021 if their bid to build the northeast into an internationally recognised cluster is successful.
With that goal in mind, the group has applied for €4 million in funding from Enterprise Ireland to help develop the brand and win out over other counties with established e-payment companies including Cork and Kerry.
Areas around Dundalk and Drogheda have attracted multinational payments companies in the past number of years including PayPal, State Street and Coca-Cola International Services. Following this, an enterprise hub in Drogheda saw an opportunity to brand the north-east as a digital payments zone.
“We examined three or four different sectors and the payments one jumped out,” said Breanndán Casey, business development manager at The Mill – Drogheda’s enterprise hub.
“In the past Drogheda and Dundalk would have been competing with each other, but now there’s a recognition that they need to work together,” he said.
The Mill, itself established only three years ago, “was recognition that we needed somewhere to help start-ups and develop businesses”, according to Mr Casey.
Government agency grants and philanthropic donations from companies operating in the region led to the foundation of The Mill. The hub has been successful in its mission to incubate companies with one such enterprise, Yapstone, now employing over 130 people in Drogheda having started in The Mill with 10 employees.
Another company hoping to “graduate” from The Mill next year is fintech start up Aphix Software. Graham O’Rourke, the company’s chief executive, said The Mill was “formative” in building his company and that without the M1 Payments Corridor, Aphix’s growth would have been slower.
“There’s no way without collaboration from the M1 Payments Corridor that we would have got Enterprise Ireland support,” he said.
“There were other fintech companies in the region that we partnered with early on and that gave us access to their UK customer base which helped us grow a lot faster.”
Mr O’Rourke’s software company currently employs 15 people based out of The Mill.
In addition to creating new jobs in the northeast, the M1 Payments Corridor hopes to use any funding to grow pre-incubator programmes, training programmes and collaboration opportunities between small and medium enterprises and multinationals that have invested in Ireland.
Bitcoin recently surged past $7,000 to hit a new record high. Why exactly are bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies on the rise? How secure are they?
It has been a year of unprecedented growth for the largely unregulated market, with dozens of new currencies appearing every month in “Initial Coin Offerings” or ICOs. There have been at least three dozen heists of cryptocurrency exchanges since 2011. More than 980,000 bitcoins have been stolen, which today would be worth about $4bn.
Refresh Boyne and the M1 Payments Corridor are delighted to welcome Jack Nagle to discuss the growth of cryptocurrencies, explain what exactly they are, and look at some of the potential security issues.
This will be an opportunity for informed debate on the merits and risks of cryptocurrency, and some prediction on it’ future.
Jack Nagle is Head of Business Development at DCU’s Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce (IC4). A thirty year veteran of the IT Industry, with over 20 years in the area of Security and Compliance in a career that has spanned start-ups, consulting for the European Commission, implementation of major international projects, and positions with companies as varied as Baltimore Technologies, Cybertrust, McAfee and Verizon.
The Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce (IC4) is multi-institutional research centre located at Dublin City University. The vision for the Cloud Computing Technology Centre is to be an internationally recognised industry-led centre of excellence for innovation and applied research, that accelerates the development and adoption of Cloud technology and show cases Ireland’s capabilities in this field.
Refresh Boyne is a community of designers and developers working to refresh the creative, technical, and professional culture of the New Media industry in the Boyne region. Refresh Boyne hold events that promote design, technology, usability and standards and is part of, and inspired, by the Refreshing Cities movement.
Over 120 people attended the second National ePayments conference at CityNorth hotel on Friday, September 2nd, to hear about the future of the Payments sector, globally and in Ireland. The keynote speaker, Chris Skinner, described as “as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News” gave a fascinating insight into how the increase in global population, and the growth of mobile payments and digital identification, will influence how we buy and sell to each other. Chris highlighted how “over 50% of the global population do not have access to financial systems, and Payment firms will have to successfully address how people will ‘connect globally in real time’ to stay relevant in the future”.
Other contributors include Michael Wasserfuhr, CFO of Vesta, and Board member of the Atlanta Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC), who described how Atlanta has successfully built the largest Payments cluster in the world, where more than 60 percent of the companies in the U.S. payments industry call home, and 70 percent of all U.S. payments are processed annually run through Georgia. Delegates and attendees discussed if Ireland could offer a similar solution to the EU Payments Industry, with the development of an M1 Payments Corridor from the IFSC to Belfast, and the creation of a National Payments Centre in Drogheda. Richard Hanlon, SVP of Vesta’s EU Headquarters in Dundalk, outlined how he is working with partners in the M1 Steering Group, to develop the M1 Payments Corridor as a region that can cultivate indigenous payment-related companies, and attract global firms to establish EU Headquarters. He continued “The ATPC started with three companies, and in three years, has developed into the primary voice of the Payments industry in the USA. It’s crucial that we build on the current momentum, and take the bold steps needed to become the EU Payments Gateway”.
The first National ePayments Conference took place in October 2015 and focused on the theme of collaboration and scaling within the Irish Fintech sector, whilst this year’s e-Payments Conference concentrated on driving Ireland as the EU Gateway for Payment firms. Other keynote speaker included Louise Phelan, PayPal’s Vice President of Global Operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, who delivered a presentation on ‘The Future of Money’ and how their M1 Dundalk operations has helped them achieve and exceed their EU milestones.
Eoghan Murphy, Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement, praised the M1 Payments Steering Group and The Mill Enterprise Hub for being pro-active in driving this innovative proposition, and for assembling a stellar cast of International and national panellists. He concluded by stating that “the fact that in Ireland, over 3700 people work in FDI Payment firms, and 10% of Enterprise Ireland’s Competitive Startup Fund goes towards indigenous Fintech firm, highlights our existing strengths, and the opportunities to develop this cluster”.
The conference also included panel discussions on the challenges affecting the Irish Fintech sector, how Brexit will influence the sector, and whether Blockchain will drive innovation across a number of sectors including Fintech. The panellists included Keith Fingleton (IDA), Peter Oakes (Fintech Ireland), Garrett Cassidy (Abarta Consulting), Shane Brett (Gecko Governance), John Mahon (Edgeverve), Stephen Moran (Bank of Ireland), Brendan Murray (IBM), Ron Immink (British Irish Gateway), Noel Moran (Prepaid Financial Services), and Graham O’Rourke (Aphix Software). The consensus on Brexit was that uncertainty was the main issue and will remain so for some time, but overall, it will provide an opportunity for Ireland in relation to developing the Payments sector, and ancillary sectors. The Fintech sub-sectors that could generate most growth in Ireland included Payments, B2B services, RegTech, Data Analytics, Capital Markets, and customer interaction.
According to the government’s IFS Strategy 2020, 35% of existing Financial Services jobs in Ireland are already based outside of Dublin. An M1 ‘Digital Payments Corridor’ is a key part of the Government’s NorthEast Action Plan for Jobs which proposes the creation of a ‘Digital Payments Hub’ in Drogheda, and development of an M1Payments Corridor with the potential to create hundreds of sustainable new jobs. Breanndán Casey, BDM of The Mill Enterprise Hub in Drogheda, commented “The cluster presence of a number of Payments service companies within the North-East region is apparent, and we’re working with a Steering Group of private and public organisations to ensure that it can develop into an EU Payments Gateway. The steering group includes DCU and DKIT who will provide R&D support to the industry, economic development agencies, and a mixture of FDI and indigenous companies that will ensure we directly address the present and future needs of the global Payments industry.”
Our 2nd e-Payments Conference will focus on driving Ireland as the EU Gateway for Payment firms.
CityNorth Hotel is on M1 Corridor and is exactly 15 minutes from Dubin airport.
– Find out how payments are changing and how that brings opportunity to your business
– Listen to & meet leaders from PayPal, IBM, Vesta, IDA, Bank of Ireland & more
– Learn more about how M1/ Drogheda could be the payments centre of Europe
– Understand the opportunities & threats caused by Brexit
“Ireland’s Payments industry post-Brexit – Real Opportunities, Real Challenges?”
8:30am: Registration / Coffee
Introduction by Thomas McEvoy, Louth LEO
9:30am: Welcome Address: Eoghan Murphy, Minister of State for Financial Services, eGovernment and Public Procurement.
Chair: Thomas McEvoy (Louth LEO)
9:45: “The Future of Money” – Louise Phelan, Paypal
Chair: Thomas McEvoy (Louth LEO)
Louise Phelan is Vice President of Global Operations for Europe, Middle East and Africa, PayPal. She leads 2,600 colleagues in Dublin, Dundalk and Berlin.
10:15: “Building a National Payments Cluster”
Chair: Irene McCausland (DkIT)
Michael Wasserfuhr, Vesta CFO, and Board member at ATPC
The American Transaction Processors Coalition (ATPC) represents the more than 70 Georgia-based companies that develop the products and provide resources supporting the financial service industry’s technology needs. More than 60 percent of the companies in this U.S. industry call Georgia home and 70 percent of all U.S. payments processed annually run through Georgia. The global payment processing (merchant acquiring) industry currently generates $50 billion annually, and the industry employs 40,000 people in Georgia.
Michael Wasserfuhr brings over 15 years of international C-Level financial experience to his role as Vesta’s senior vice president and chief financial officer.
Q&A – Chair: Padraic White (Inaugural Chairman Louth Economic Forum and former Managing Director IDA-Ireland)
11.00: Coffee / Networking
11:15 : Fintech/ePayments sector in Ireland: Challenges to be overcome- Panel discussion
Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, the Finanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand, a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. His latest book, Digital Bank, provides a comprehensive review and analysis of the battle for digital banking and strategies for companies to compete.
He is also Chief Executive of Balatro Ltd, a research company, and a co-founder of the website Shaping Tomorrow, as well as a regular commentator on BBC News, Sky News and Bloomberg about banking issues.
“I can honestly say this is one of the best books that I’ve read on the subject matter around what constitutes banking in the present, past and future.”– David Brear, Digital Banking Director, Gartner Group
12:30: Update on M1 Payments Corridor (Thomas McEvoy, Louth LEO)
Chair: Richard Hanlon and Alan Costello
12:45 pm: Light Lunch / Networking
13:40: Blockchain – Can Ireland take a leading position in Europe?
Chair – Keith Fingleton (IDA)
Stephen Moran (Bank of Ireland), Brendan Murray (IBM), John Mahon (Edgeverve)
14:20 Brexit: What does it mean for Ireland’s payments sector? – Panel discussion
Chair – Graham O’Rourke (Aphix Software)
Shane Brett (Gecko Governance), Ron Immink (British Irish Gateway), Peter Oakes (Fintech Ireland)
Irish shoppers spent €4.3 billion in 2015 online. Online commerce is a huge market bursting with opportunity for companies of all-sizes. With the cluster of Payments service companies in the North East, Louth is ideally positioned to take advantage of new opportunities in the fast growing and evolving payments industry. Businesses can take advantage of these opportunities.
This event, hosted by PayPal, is your opportunity to learn how to capitalise on that growing trend. Anthony Rafferty, PayPal’s Director of Merchant Services, will explain their Braintree service which can offer your company free processing on the first €50,000 worth of transactions.
This seminar will be followed by a tour of PayPal’s facility in Dundalk, providing a unique insight into how the company operates.
An M1 ‘Digital Payments Cluster’ is a key part of the recently published NorthEast Action Plan for Jobs which proposes the creation of a ‘digital payments hub’ in Drogheda, and along the M1 economic corridor with the potential to create hundreds of sustainable new jobs.
The Minister for Business and Employment Ged Nash TD launched the new Action Plan for Jobs for the North East/North West on November 30th, which aims to increase employment by 10-15%, resulting in 28,000 more jobs in the Border region by 2020.
According to the government’s IFS Strategy 2020, 35% of existing Financial Services jobs in Ireland are already based outside of Dublin. The creation of a new Payments Hub is a key action of the IFS Strategy document.
Launching the Action Plan for Jobs for the North East / North West at the new Boann Distillery in Drogheda, Minister Nash said, “We need to build on the recovery and the turnaround in economic fortunes to ensure there is further jobs growth and opportunities across County Louth. I believe the Digital Payments Cluster concept along the M1 Corridor, building on the success of Fintech companies such as Yapstone and Statestreet in Drogheda, PayPal, eBay and Vesta in Dundalk offers a critical mass of companies with the potential not just to scale and grow, but also to act as a magnet to other indigenous and FDI companies. The fact that the Mill is also expanding by building phase two of the enterprise centre with funding I secured means that more startup companies in this field will have a supportive home to start and scale their business.”
Within the North East and M1 Corridor, companies have access to the skills and expertise within the HEI sector to include Dundalk Institute of Technology as well as DCU through the strategic alliance between the two HEIs. Given the region’s proximity to the border, major opportunities also exist to facilitate and significantly support the development of the digital payments cluster by deepening and widening this supply chain across the M1 Corridor. The Mill (Drogheda Enterprise Centre Limited) and DkIT are proposing to undertake an action/business plan for this cluster with the following remit:
To identify the best way in which the region can support the emergence of a digital payments cluster.
To outline the range of enterprise development and R&D programmes to support the cluster’s development and to identify how these will be resourced to best support the development of the cluster.
To explore national and international marketing initiatives for the development of the cluster, and to market the cluster.
To develop a business/implementation plan for the realisation of the project.
According to Breanndán Casey, BDM of The Mill Enterprise Hub, “The cluster presence of a number of Payments service companies within the North-East region was identified as a strength at a recent Stakeholder meeting on the Regional Action Plan. Our recent Payments Conference was a great success, and gave both large and small payment firms an opportunity to network, reflect on the state of the Payments industry on a national perspective, and hear the latest thoughts from leading innovators in the fast-growing sector. The Conference was completely sold out, and included two panels of companies from across Ireland, and international payments expert, David Birch. Additional contributors include Bynk, VESTA, Frontline VC, DKIT, Currency Fair, Aphix Software, DCU, Abarta Consulting, and the IDA. The Mill is working with industry players on the M1 Corridor, and with DKIT and DCU to develop the proposed M1 Payments Corridor, which would link the IFS with Belfast via Dublin airport, Drogheda and Dundalk. ”
The Action Plan also includes examining the establishment of a Business Innovation centre in Louth. Minister Nash continued “I also strongly support the idea of establishing a Business and Innovation Centre in the county in order to meet the target of increasing startups in the county by 25%. But, it is not just about increasing the number of new businesses and entrepreneurs – it is about ensuring that they survive and thrive and the track record of BICs in other parts of the country shows that assisted companies have a survival rate of more than 75%.”
Other key targets in the plan specifically aimed at Drogheda and the wider Co. Louth area include:
IDA and Enterprise Ireland will work with industry, The Mill in Drogheda and DkIT and DCU to develop a Digital Payments Cluster in the area
Explore the potential to establish a new regional Business and Innovation Centre in Drogheda
IDA will continue to market the IDA Business & Technology Park in Drogheda in order to enhance the attractiveness of the area for foreign direct investment (FDI)
Win 30-40% more Foreign Direct Investment for the region
Build on the Ireland’s Ancient East brand, including positioning Drogheda as the Gateway to the Boyne Valley, to grow tourism employment by 25% by 2025
Increase the number of startups in County Louth by 25%
On 9th October 2015, The E-Payments Conference “Payments – The Opportunity for Collaboration and Scaling” took place at City North Hotel where guest speaker David Birch, from London-based Consult Hyperion, which specialises in secure electronic transfers, spoke on the future of the e-payments sector.
9.30am: Welcome Address: Ged Nash, TD, Minister of State, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
9.50am: Introduction by Dennis Cummins, President DKIT
Panel Discussion: Chaired by Richard Hanlon, Vesta
Panel: Brian MacCraith (President DCU), David Birch (Consult Hyperion), Denis Curran (IDA Ireland), Dave Anderson (Bynk.me), Garrett Cassidy (Abarta Consulting).
State of Payments Sector in Ireland
Regionalisation / Opportunities for smaller Fintech Companies
R&D in Payments Sector
11.20am: Keynote Presentation – David Birch, Consult Hyperion
“The Future of Payments Industry”
David Birch is a Director of London-based, Consult Hyperion, the IT consultancy that specialises in secure electronic transactions. He is an internationally-recognised thought leader in digital identity and digital money, was named one of Wired magazine’s global top 15 favourite sources of business information, listed in the European “Power 50” for digital financial services, rated a NextBank “Fintech Titan” and ranked Europe’s most influential commentator on the emerging payments field. His latest book “Identity is the New Money” was published in April 2014.