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Casino Royale-with-Cheese, Part 7

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Undercover at Money2020, our man in Las Vegas ls lost in booths, babes and benjamins. But can agent 0111 stop a killer new technology from falling into the wrong hands? It’s Main Street vs Infinite Loop in the major new blogbuster from CHYP End… welcome to… Pay Another Day

Part 7: You Only Pay Twice

Bond strode confidently through the door of the two-floor suite on the 58th floor, taking in the breathtaking view of Vegas, the three burly security guys, the bar at the far end of the room and the crowd in one measured, experienced glance.  The boys in the back room had hacked into Tom Noyes’ PC and edited his Excel spreadsheet of top payments bods to add @dgwbirch’s name, so he was now on the guest list.

As Bond circulated, mixing with the payments high and mighty, he kept his payments sixth sense turned up to 11. If they were going to be anywhere, the agents of A.P.P.L.E and M.C.X were going to be here. This was where the power was and if anyone doubted it, they need only look at the fine figure of a man blocking Bond’s way.

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The noble gait, the piercing intelligence, the handsome visage and the steely glare of a determined and successful payments executive could only be explained by one thing: this was a man who had bought “Identity is the New Money” at the full retail price and read it from cover to cover. Bond didn’t need to check this man’s bag out: he knew he’d find a well-thumbed copy there.

Bond was looking some of throng up on his smart phone when mein host Tom Noyes walked over to him. Bond acted quicky, and made it look as if he was taking a selfie. He had read about them in The Telegraph recently and knew they were all the rage. So he smiled at the nearest CEO, Ted from Kik Messenger, held up the camera and snapped. It was only when he looked at the picture later that he realised that the mysteriously missing Rodger Desai was in the picture behind them! What on Earth was going on? How had Desai got past security? What was he up to? Bond began to realise that the picture was more complicated than G. and her masters suspected.

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Standing at the bar with a fresh gin and tonic in his hand, puzzling over the clues he had accumulated, Bond began to scan the assembled luminaries. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for, he was just looking for any little clue as to the power structures behind the scenes. He was distracted for a moment by a beautiful woman who emerged from the crowd. Bond nodded to her.

“Didn’t I see you at the Woman 2.0 reception?” he ventured, but she wasn’t buying it.

She turned to a companion and began talking about San Francisco. Ah, he thought, San Francisco. For a moment he was transported to the city by the bay, remembering the lazy days and busy nights he had spent there.  Snapping out of his daydream he scanned the room again. Nothing. He set out to circulate, and kept up the small talk, using some of the phrases he had picked up during the day.

“It’s not about payment, it’s about the value-added services around the payment” he told David Sears from Skrill.

“Well, for the big merchants it’s not about tap-and-pay it’s about app-and-pay” he told Osama Bedier from Poynt.

Then…

“Did you see Tom’s panel? When President Cook asked that question to the Commander-in-Chief of Visa?” he heard a man somewhere behind him say.

“Oh man”, said the second voice. “He was tough”

“Really?” the first man mused. “I’m not so sure. We had some of our top analysts go through that in slow-motion, and that’s not what they thought. We’ve got one or two people who are fluent in Walmartese, and their interpretation was a little different from the standard translation. They think that Cook is thinking about a future cease-fire agreement with A.P.P.L.E and asking the networks to give lower rates for in-app purchases.”

At that moment, a slim man dressed in a natty jumper walked passed, and in a lilting and strangely comforting voice, addressed both of them.

“Card-Present and Card-Not-Present are outdated concepts. They have no place in the modern age. We must replace them with Cardholder-Present and Cardholder-Not-Present” he said, an expression of calm enlightenment draped over his youthful features.

A.P.P.L.E were here. Bond gasped. They had penetrated to the very highest level of the Aria. Nowhere was safe.

Bond followed the young man to the bottom of the staircase.

“I know why you’re here”, said Bond, “and you’re not going to get away with it. You’re not going to control all of commerce. I don’t fall for your ‘easy payment’ waffle. I know it’s just a trojan horse for your wallet play: loyalty, coupons and — if you have your dastardly way — identity.”

The young man stared at him, impassive throughout.

Bond mused for a moment, and then tried another tack.

“Were the end of CP/CNP rules and rates for SE-based in-app tokenised payments part of the negotiations between A.P.P.L.E and the banks?”

Another voice from behind…

“There were no negotiations, Mr. Bond. And there will be no negotiations with you either, unless you sign this NDA.”

Bond turned and ran for his life. He knew that signing an A.P.P.L.E NDA would mean a lifetime of servitude, so he ran. He ran out into the corridor and down to the elevator bank. Ahead of him he saw the suave figure of Peter Burridge, arm-in-arm with the woman Bond had spoken to earlier. Bond slowed, walked ahead of them and held the elevator open until they were both inside.

The door closed and he pressed the button for the lobby with a visceral sense of relief, the adrenaline draining from his system. It looked as if the mobile wallet was already in A.P.P.L.E hands. M.C.X would have to use the nuclear option.

[Part 8: Live and Let Tap]

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