"It's Woodstock for Payments Geeks"

It’s rare that the top innovators in the world meet in one location, but that’s just what’s happening today in Boston, as the Innovation Project 2014 kicks off at Harvard University. Though the media are not invited to attend, will provide exclusive coverage of key awards presentations and leave the show with thoughts and information to share over the weeks to come.

By Staff (@pymnts)

Today begins the Innovation Project 2014, an invitation-only offering a content-packed program filled with dynamic speakers, innovation competitions, “Think-a-Thon” brainstorming showdowns, gala awards dinners and networking sessions involving the brightest minds in the business.

The focus, or theme if you will, of this year’s event, which is being held in Boston in Annenberg Hall on the campus of Harvard University, is “Rethink. Reset. Reinvent.” Topics relating to the reinvention of retail, the consumer experience, security, digital cash and global commerce will be among the key issues discussed among the more than 600 expected attendees. There’ll also be a big bitcoin debate as well as a panel on cybersecurity.

Unique to The Innovation Project Feature is its interactive panel keynote discussions, which include an external thought leader with a connection to the topic paired with an industry CEO who puts the concepts in context.

The panel discussions that follow will include top executive leaders from established firms and many of the most promising new ventures in the payments space.

The Innovation Project will kick off with a two-hour session that includes the Father of Competition Strategy and Harvard Business School Professor Michael Porter, Discover CEO David Nelms and 10 CEOs from across the payments and commerce landscape who will talk about the role of Porters legendary “five forces” framework in their work to reinvent payments.

Karen Webster, CEO of Market Platform Dynamics, recently wrote a commentary piece about the 10 things payments innovators are teaching us about innovation based on her advance discussions with those innovators.

Because many of the Innovation Project 2014 sessions are structured as off-the-record background, no media are invited. However, as the event’s organizer has exclusive access to attendees and certain information shared at the event, including a variety of important awards. Look for various nuggets of information to spill out from the event over the next few weeks.

But this week, we’ll be publishing the winners of various awards, including the 2014 Innovator Awards. Some 69 top payments firms are finalists for the most prestigious recognition awards in the payments industry. The 15 best-in-class categories include recognitions for the “Most Innovative Company,” “The Most Disruptive Company,” “Best New Technology,” and “Best Comeback Story.”

In addition, women were chosen as finalists for the Women Driving Innovation in Payments award across 16 categories by a panel of judges with deep and practical expertise in payments and innovation.

Other awards include:

The What’s Next Power Players – Fifty of the coolest, newest and freshest innovators in payments will compete for a $25,000 cash prize for the most innovative new payment technology.

The PYMNTS Catalyst Award – Given out for the first time this year, this recognizes the company that has created the greatest and sustainable value in payments. The inaugural winner this year is PayPal.

Payments Hall of Fame inductions – This year’s inductees include Arthur Hahn, inventor of the Magnetic Stripe; Robert W. Selander, president and CEO of MasterCard from 1997 to 2010; and George Wallner, co-founder of Loop and the investor of the modern POS terminal.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Presented this year to the family of Frank McNamara, the founder of Diner’s Club.

The Innovation Project 2014’s industry brainstorm sessions give attendees the chance to split into teams to develop solutions to four industry challenges: “Making Online Payments as Easy as Offline Payments,” “Catastrophic Failure and Systemic Risk,” Leapfrogging and Replacing EMV,” and “Revolutionizing Global Cross-Border Payments.” Here’s a look at what was submitted last year and the winners.



Banks, corporates and even regulators now recognize the imperative to modernize — not just digitize —the infrastructures and workflows that move money and data between businesses domestically and cross-border. Together with Visa, PYMNTS invites you to a month-long series of livestreamed programs on these issues as they reshape B2B payments. Masters of modernization share insights and answer questions during a mix of intimate fireside chats and vibrant virtual roundtables.

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