Like some at the Money20/20 conference, Watson quickly indicated that Diebold was now more interested in blockchain technology. These included in particular conditional blockchains and distributed registers in which a certain number of financial institutions or bodies share a transaction network.
Watson sees such applications as potential dampers for disputes regarding data protection laws and data security in payment transactions.
“There is generally a lot of interest in conditional systems, but there are other technologies, such as programming languages. We think it’s interesting to go into banking,” soe Watson said.
Watson said he was impressed by the new applications for blockchain-based assets, but stressed he was “excited” to be shown at MIT how ownership titles can be transferred through such systems.
Contrary to the short-lived development brakes against the spread of this technology, Watson is largely optimistic that new solutions will bring alternatives to physical cash.
Such a transition was a top priority for Diebold, who introduced its card-less Mobile Cash Access solution in July 2013, which allows customers to perform transactions from a vending machine using a mobile device.
“Approximately $5 trillion in cash is circulating around the world, and this cash is not inaccessible to payment companies,” Watson said.
Watson thinks such transitions are more likely to happen in developed countries, as these markets have a “better taste” for new financial tools. Countries like Kenya and India have had to face local challenges.
Diebold’s latest annual report suggests that a “significant percentage of revenue” is generated by operations outside the United States. Thus, in 2013 and 2014, more than 50% of revenues came from international markets.
“I think it will be heavily dependent on the region and customer base,” he explained.
Mentality of Mass Consumption
After being asked about possible ways to start up in the Bitcoin vending market, Watson warned that despite his pessimism about the prospects for the industry, there is still no judgment on long-term success.
Watson said that there is no company that offers Bitcoin ATMs and has “completely failed”, but even that has had a “resounding success”.
“For founders or others who have an idea for a concept, it’s hard to put yourself in the role of the end user and apply that to the product,” he said.
Watson also confirmed how difficult it is to dream of big steps in this area, considering the (slow) adoption of digital currencies. Finally, he said:
“It’ll take a while.”