Speaker Spotlight on John Winchcombe

john winchcombeAnti-Counterfeit & Currency Conference caught up with industry expert, John Winchcombe, Currency Advisor at Seven Layer Solutions.

In this Q&A, we learn about the technical developments and challenges within the currency industry, the projects he's currently working on, along with why he 's excited to attend the first annual ACCE.


Hi John, please tell us about your background and current role. What are your key focus areas and responsibilities?

My career has been spent working with issue departments in central banks to help get the currency and cash cycle working well. I have a marketing/product management background and I spent four years until mid-2015 as the marketing director of De La Rue Currency. Although every central bank is unique, reflecting their economic, social, geographic, and political situation, the basic task of ensuring their currency is efficient, certain, and effective is the same. Working with central banks, and all of their stakeholders, is a real joy.

Today I have a number of roles, including being chair of the 2019 Future of Cash conference, but I am attending the Anti-Counterfeit & Currency Expo talking about how data analytics can deliver huge value to central banks and the wider cash cycle community. This is because I also work for 7 Layer Solutions in the UK, whose NoteChain product is right up there as best in class in this area.

The two huge innovations have been the use of windows in banknotes to carry security features, driven originally by CCL Secure’s Guardian product, and the micro lens technology originally brought to market by Crane Currency


What do you view as the key technological innovations and new developments in the cash cycle industry in recent years?

In the past 10-15 years the supplier side of the industry has seen a revolution benefiting central banks. Increased competition has driven lower prices and at the same time significant security feature innovation. Although that appears entirely positive for the central banks, in reality that has required them to be much more technically and commercially savvy. For smaller institutions, that can be difficult.

In terms of security feature technology, clearly the two huge innovations have been the use of windows in banknotes to carry security features, driven originally by CCL Secure’s Guardian product, and the micro lens technology originally brought to market by Crane Currency. The security of each has driven a massive response from suppliers giving real choice to central banks.

At the same time the payment landscape has started to change. Although that is self-evidently true in Europe and parts of Asia, few countries have escaped this change even if the impact has not yet gathered pace. The pressure on cash, as a payment tool, to be managed well both by central banks and the wider wholesale cash-handling community (commercial bank/cash in transit/retailers, and so on) is gathering momentum. You won’t be surprised to hear that I believe that great data allows great analytics and this has to be a key element of managing cash well.

 

What are the barriers to success for the industry and what can be done to tackle these challenges?

Firstly, there is the challenge that where cash volumes are declining the unit cost of handling cash becomes uneconomic, even if only for a period while adjustments and restructuring takes place. If cash is no longer viable, the implications for central banks and society are significant. How can declining volumes be managed best?


Secondly, I wonder whether we are thinking about cash incorrectly. At the moment the alternative payment systems benchmark their convenience, speed of transaction, costs and so on against cash to demonstrate their superiority. Actually, should the cash industry be rethinking cash to benchmark itself against the alternative payment systems? Can we make cash “better”, matching the costs and convenience of the alternatives? Can it use, even, the “cashless” infrastructure? I don’t know the answer, but it would be good to challenge ourselves!

 

What are some of the projects you are currently working on? What are you aiming to uncover?

I am very busy currently working on 7 Layer Solutions’ NoteChain data analytic product. We are talking to a number of central banks building on the significant pilot work carried out with a European national central bank. These initial investigation phases are always fascinating as we understand the questions that need answering and work through the feasibility of implementing the solution. As ever, our aim is to bring together hardware, software, and analytics to create a strong solution quickly and cost-effectively to demonstrate the full value of the software. Exciting times!

The expo is a very different type of event for this industry. It is drawing in a much wider attendance list compared with the existing industry events. I am looking forward to seeing what new ideas this generates as a result. 

 

What are you most interested in learning from Anti-Counterfeit & Currency Conference 2018 and which audiences would you like to reach while you are there?

The expo is a very different type of event for this industry. It is drawing in a much wider attendance list compared with the existing industry events. I am looking forward to seeing what new ideas this generates as a result. 

I have a particular interest in understanding the needs of the wider stakeholder cash community around making cash competitive and how data can help. Central banks, cash wholesale organizations, and technology providers will, I think, be key!  


Don't miss John's session "Speeding up Cash Cycles: the Macro Issues for Central Banks" on Wednesday, November 7, 2018 in Las Vegas, NV. View session outline here and pre-register online for your free delegate pass.  

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