Building TSYS’ Technology Blueprint

Name: Frank Braski

Title: TSYS Senior Enterprise Architect

Company: TSYS

What I’m working on now… Trying to gain traction with a unified view of TSYS’ future, innovation, product, business and technology development.

My crowning achievement is… Still a work in progress.  (I do not have a crown, yet!)  Other than my kids, in the past, I’ve created several FOAKs (First of a Kinds), a tablet-based electronic medical record in the 90s which assisted in LASIK surgical development, and a half billion dollar services business at IBM.

Education… I am a perpetual learner. (It is one of my Clifton Strengthsfinder Top 5s)  I’m currently BACK in school to finish up my degree so that I can get the Ph.D. that many assume I have.  I’ve attended classes at a couple of universities, my favorite of course, being MIT, where I took a wireless futures class while working on the pervasive and mobile computing space with IBM.

When I’m not working, I like to… Be a parent, read, listen to audio books, explore the world (travel) and coach and promote FIRST robotics activities for kids of all ages.  Like Legos?  Have kids?  Want kids?  We should talk… ;-)

My favorite payment factor is… Mobile of course!  But different than you might think — the spatio-temporal “awareness” of location, current context, purchase or shopping intent, etc. are all fascinating to me.  The convergence of a self acquired multi-factor, multi-capable tender and acceptance terminal is mind-blowing.  Think about it… today’s phones pack power (sometimes even solar generated), network voice and data communications, biometric security and multiple sensors for imaging, video, sound, location and proximity capture in ways we’ve only begun to dream about exploring.

I think the next big thing in payments is… On the wholesale side, straight-through-processing (STP) and global payments clearinghouses will emerge and become prevalent enablers of global commerce.  As more and more banks and other FIs and large multi-national conglomerates vie for internal payments efficiencies, payment services hubs will evolve into the cloud computing infrastructures that everyone has been talking about saving so much money with.

On the commercial side, it is the automation of expense management combining location awareness, knowledge of one’s schedule, and payment information.  I mean, think about it.  It is 2010 and my phone knows where I’m at, socially it knows who I’m with and with my calendar and personal information manager (PIM) why can’t it do my expenses for me automagically?  

On the retail side, the democratization of tender and value exchange, personalization and the potential inversion of demographic control of spending analytics.  Location awareness and push-payment technologies that protect one’s identities will be welcome convenience and security and privacy protections.

In commerce, checkout aggregation (a.k.a. a virtual wallet) aided by search-to-purchase (s2p) marketing efforts.  Once I’ve established a relationship with a checkout provider supported by an account that has hybrid characteristics, why do I want to have to create yet another login ID and password for some site I’ll only visit once?

Cash is… Expensive, highly launderable, not as anonymous as you’d think, and last but most deadly, it is the number one contagion.  Travelling the world one gets a sense of the diversity of types of payment instruments.

Checks are… Anathema.  Actually, I’m kidding.  They were a necessary step, and actually a prototype of the eventual manifestation of the “Payment Object” that everyone talks about.  Unlike most other forms of tender, checks, as a payment object, are the closest approximation of what payment transactions will look like in the future.  Unlike cash, which is kind of destination or origination “dumb”, meaning it is anonymous and purposeless without some sort of folder or external binding meta-data, checks have destination data (who the check is to), biometric data (handwriting samples and signatures), origination information (who it is from and what bank is providing it) and purpose information (the memo field often serves as a reconciliation reminder).

NFC will… Finally reach critical mass and official tipping point status this next year as globally Nokia is introducing all new products with the capability, and even consumer products outside of the “traditional” payments space will begin to benefit from other technologies capitalizing on the n-mark and its 2-way enablement of secure value, reputation and identity transmission.  Imagine being able to legitimately impersonate multiple cards and accounts and legal entities securely and safely based on the number of biometric or other security factors you are willing to provide at Point of Sale. (POS)

EMV is… One of the nine available complementary security factors that will further enable the spread of card-like (I include phone in this category) payments capabilities to the rest of the world of global payments.  Remember, cards are just one of the 8 “ways to pay”,  the other 7 can benefit from the automation, choice, control, convenience, and simplicity of cards.

P2P will… Continue to grow and become increasingly more popular as a viable means of convenient cash replacement.

My mentor is… I’ve had many in my 22 years of being a digital evangelical.  One of the most fundamental I learned from a 40-year IBM veteran executive. Politics is the one game you can not, not play.  So when people ask me about Enterprise Architecture and why I care so much about the business and why I ask the questions I do, I refer to the Open Systems Institute (OSI) 7-layer model of architecture.  See, there’s this hidden layer that gets most folks in IT in trouble.  Another mentor of mine called it Layer 8.  The political, or human layer.  In all my years in technology and business, that human factor is more important than any other.   The greatest ideas that were totally technically feasible and insanely great failed, when they didn’t consider the human factor, or the underlying politics.  Another one said, “When you don’t understand why something is the way it is, follow the money.”  Ultimately, when you wonder why things are the way they are, there’s a lot of luck involved, sometimes cults of personality, but most times, it is sheer economics.

Executive Bio: Mr. Braski has a diverse business and technical background spanning more than twenty years as an entrepreneur, business owner, management consultant, engagement manager, technology architect and developer.  Both prior to joining and since his tenure at IBM, he has consistently delivered positive results to the world’s largest banks, insurance companies, retail and consumer packaged goods brands and car manufacturers.  He has worked with organizations of all sizes ranging from the Fortune 5 and federal government agencies to small non-profits. 


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