Cointelegraph speaks to Devon Watson, Diebolds VP of Global Software R&D, on a mobile driven ATM, conditions for using Bitcoin in mobile banking and implementation of Blockchain into the Diebold platform.
Diebold Inc are a financial self-service, security and services corporation, incorporated in the United States since 1876. It is the world's largest manufacturer of ATMs with divisions in North America, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.
Devon Watson, Diebolds VP of Global Software Research and Development, is an owner of bitcoin and a big fan of the Blockchain with an insight into the whole ecosystem and protocol.
Bridging a mobile based world
Cointelegraph: I see in Copenhagen at Money2020 Diebold showcased one of its newest mobile driven banking concepts, a mobile driven ATM. Can you explain your reasons for bringing such an advanced concept to market?
Devon Watson: The more we see digital payments take off, the more cash actually gets used in society which is sort of an inverse phenomenon to most people's line of thinking and the simple reason is when there is a new digital payments innovation for your average consumer, it's now more and more convenient to move their payment types, whether that is physical cash or some sort of a digital transaction, back and forth from fiat to digital currency.
These new terminal designs and the new software that we’ve been building helps to bridge a mobile based world. You know we will see this more and more over the next several years the cards in your wallet will be dematerialised into your phone and now that phone has to be the bridge for the consumer between their digital payment types, their banking experience and the need to deposit or withdraw their cash and other types of tenders.
Conditions for using Bitcoin
CT: It says on your website, Diebold continues to shape the future of the mobile banking landscape by bridging the physical and digital worlds of cash in unprecedented ways. Have you any future plans to incorporate digital currencies such as bitcoin into this landscape?
DW: That’s a great question, I think it will probably happen. The question is when, so we are a provider to banks and retailers and others that want to deploy ATMs and software solutions to connect to their consumers and i think it’s unclear to me at least market by market when bitcoin will join that ecosystem.
I think if you look around the world you're starting to see the early signs of that being a payment option that providers want to adopt. When I’m looking at certain countries in Latin America the usage of bitcoin there seems to have skyrocketed and that's going to lead in my opinion to more adoption by the incumbents.
If the government's support the usage of this payment type that’s a good thing for its usage and if other providers within the ecosystem support it and make it easier that’s a good thing for its usage and then we of course are ready to immediately follow along and make sure consumers can transact between those two mediums.
Blockchain is no fit for a regular payment type
CT: From researching your company it is obvious it has stood the test of time and is future proof being nearly 150 years old and still the biggest supplier of ATMs in the world. What are your views on Blockchain technology and have you plans to implement it into the Diebold platform in the future?
DW: So when I look into my crystal ball, I came to Diebold previously from software start-ups and a venture capitalist background before that so you know I'm tasked with looking at how the world is changing over the next several years, making sure that we are proactively bringing the right solutions to the marketplace and to meet those opportunities and challenges.
For me when i look at Blockchain I actually see more promise in the technology for streamlining and adding security to inefficient processes right now. Do I think old payment types are going to run on a Blockchain? Probably not in the nearterm.
Blockchain is a brilliant way to manage and orchestrate cryptocurrency. But when I try to shoehorn it into a regular existing payment type - probably not. You have trusted parties and scale issues and real-time problems etc, it’s probably not the right fit.
But we are very bullish for medium and long term use against streamlining and securing document intensive processes. Whether that is capturing timestamping, securing the viewership of identity credentials, mortgage documentation or income proofs and things like that. Whether it’s automation of notary services all of these heavy paper based things that we still do for government reasons or for banking reasons. I think those are prime candidates to be moved to automation which is great for me. At the end of the day an ATM is an automated outpost managing your financial life.
If I can make it easier and more secure for a consumer to walk up scan proof of income for their mortgage documentation, making sure it’s cryptographically authenticated and only allow one financial institution to view that, that’s a pretty interesting consumer powerpoint.
If you put something into the Blockchain you are now in control of who can actually gain access to view this rather than forking it over to them and letting them show to whom they please. I think those sorts of use cases are very very exciting.
Cash and cryptocurrencies have a lot in common
CT: With the arrival of digital currencies and ATMs specifically designed for them, do you see these as a threat? How do you see the future role of digital currencies and their associated ATMs play out?
DW: So my point of view is for digital currencies to meet, let's call it, mass consumer adoption you need entities like Circle basically putting a banking service wrapper around a digital currency. And if that is the direction more and more banks and bank type entities go, then obviously an ATM is a great way to extend that service capability to the consumer base. That takes time because it has regulatory implications.
The most important use case of what we’ve learned from cryptocurrencies is that Blockchain comes into completely new consumer transactions giving consumers control and anonymity for case types of document sensitive types of things.
Let's take the documents and people out of application processes and notary processes, all that security and the control that gives a consumer is very powerful and really exciting and actually beneficial to both the consumer base and to the banks that have to deal with all that, so it’s a win-win. I see this happening probably first.
Longer term as cryptocurrencies become more and more mainstream through regulation etc, you know cash and cryptocurrencies have a lot in common. And there is an obvious need for a bridge between the two as a consumer good.