It's that time of the year again, when SXSW brings all the focus to our part of the world (the South). It’s one of the most important "tech festivals" in the world, attracting people from a variety of backgrounds, all to one place. Cocktail parties are as important as day sessions and some really important stuff has happened here, such as the launch of "Twitter" back in 2007. There is no better place for "engineered serendipity" than this event, which just started this year on March 13th, and will continue for the rest of the week until March 22nd. There is a detailed schedule page which is filled with exciting and never-ending sessions from the worlds of music, video, and tech (http://schedule.sxsw.com/).
What's the coverage for payments and commerce at SXSW?
Well, at first glance, it seems as though there is a high probability you will get lost looking for payments coverage. It's when you go deeper into the agenda and talk to people who have attended many of these over the years, that you will discover quite a lot of action in Bitcoin, Proximity Marketing, and commerce that's going on.
As an example, yesterday there was a great session from Capital One, "On Mobile Payments and Building for Apple Pay". The Capital One team talked about their Wallet app during the very informative session. The app provides views into spending behavior and a way to activate your card as a Payment Pass.
Proximity marketing is a big topic at SXSW sessions, but it can also be seen in action at the festival. Beacons have been deployed everywhere by Loopd (which is also an SXSW accelerator finalist for 2015). You can download the SXSW GO app and check out the beacons. You'll be able to see who is nearby, network with them, and engage in quick conversations and interactions, all within the app.
We also noticed that there are many payments and commerce companies this year in the Accelerator Finalist lists.
San Francisco, CA
Loopd provides proximity marketing solutions that prove event ROI, deliver higher quality leads, gather accurate attendee profiles, optimize event marketing strategies, and enhance attendee engagement via three integrated components: a mobile app, hardware – including wearable bi-directional beacons – and rich analytics.
San Diego, CA
Common Form was founded by former TurboTax employees who realized that existing tax software was overly complex and packed with marketing gimmicks and sneaky pricing. Their product solves for simple filing solutions, which make up 2/3 of the market.
Menlo Park, CA
GeneStamp is a comprehensive food analytics platform that builds consumer loyalty through label credibility. By giving consumers unprecedented transparency into the molecular contents of their food, retailers can differentiate their brands on quality.
New York, NY
Pixbi enables consumers to discover products within any image, anywhere. Beginning with digital and print publications, Pixbi is changing the way people read and shop by allowing consumers to view, save, share, and purchase products from images instantly.
Groundfloor is the first microlending community for real estate. It backs independent builders with secured loans that pay 6-26% annually. Founded by Brian Dally and Nick Bhargava, Groundfloor is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ledger is bringing the best of the smartcard industry to the Bitcoin world. The Ledger Wallet is a simple and affordable way to store and use your bitcoins with maximum security.
Mountain View, CA
Final is issuing a credit card that gives consumers total control over their merchant relationships. Rather than a single, static 16-digit card number, Final generates multiple card numbers that the consumer can restrict, and manages them automatically.
WiActs offers a stylish multifactor authentication wearable device (in a form of a ring) that provides unique authentication credentials for the wearer. This local authentication solution enhances security while improving user experience while respecting users' privacy.
There are 26 pedicabs around sxsw accepting apple pay and Bitcoin
Here is a video on a Pedicab driver accepting bitcoin and having an informed discussion on bitcoin:
In the first few days, there were many sessions on payments and commerce related aspects. Some of them were pertaining to Bitcoin alone.
Bitcoin sessions between March 13 & 15:
Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin: Vice vs Virtue Investing: Session about role of Bitcoin in backroom dealings of venture capital world.
The Bitcoin Opportunity: Session to understand the role of Bitcoin beyond a payment rail or currency.
Here are some other payments and commerce related sessions between March 13 & 15:
Step Up Your Game: How to Win the M-Commerce Race: Session highlighting role of gamification in driving m-commerce.
Augmented Reality and Commerce: Session to address how augmented reality can change the face of global commerce.
Commerce Startup Discussion: Session bringing together startups from different geographies to discuss the innovative use of technology to drive global commerce.
German Startup Engine: E-Commerce: Session was basically a pitch covering Germany’s top 5 ecommerce startups.
Virtualization and Gamification of Global Commerce: Session highlighting how virtualization and gamification can change the way companies interact with clients.
Biometrics and Identity: Beyond Wearable: Session highlighting implications of using personal biometric data as the virtual keys that unlock our very real lives.
Today and tomorrow (16th and 17th) you can decide from the following payments and commerce sessions (we will be writing more as we go):
Retail Tech: What Does the Future Have In-Store?: Session highlighting use of data driven insights pertaining to in-store retail activities to transform customer experience.
The eCommerce Friction Lab: Session will be focused on driving insights to improve ecommerce conversion.
The Collapse of Social Commerce?: Session on how social commerce can serve as a viable sales and marketing channel.
Bitcoin at SXSW 2015: What Is Bitcoin?: A panel discussion covering the history of Bitcoin, what it is, and its implications as a global digital currency.
Bitcoin at SXSW 2015: Bitcoin 2.0: A panel discussion about the continued evolution of the Bitcoin ecosystem and what improvements can be made to it.
Bitcoin at SXSW 2015: A Future with Bitcoin: A session comprised of insightful talks by thought leaders in various parts of the Bitcoin industry.
Bitcoin at SXSW 2015: Impact on Developing World: A panel discussion covering how Bitcoin empowers the developing world through banking, charity and more.
Bitcoin at SXSW 2015: Real World Applications: A panel discussion covering current and future real world applications of Bitcoin, opportunities that exist for entrepreneurs, and implications of blockchain technology.
Bitcoin: What It Needs To Succeed: Session by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss sharing their overall thoughts on Bitcoin and its future.