Q&A: KCnext president Ryan Weber talks July 9 mobile payments event
As we reported last month, KCnext - The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City is hosting an event on July 9 to look at the future of mobile payments. Called GO | The Future of Mobile Payments, the event will feature talks from Ben Milne, the founder and CEO of Dwolla, Chris Teso, the CEO and founder of Chirpify, and Barbara Pacheco, a senior vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. Following that, the speakers will participate in a question-and-answer session moderated by journalist Ben Paynter.
After KCnext announced the lineup, Silicon Prairie News conducted an email interview with KCnext president Ryan Weber about the event. Check out that interview below, and for a chance a pair of free tickets to the event, visit SPN's Facebook page.
Silicon Prairie News: Can you talk a bit about why each of the speakers stood out to you and made a good fit for this event?
Ryan Weber: Each speaker presents a very unique view about the future of mobile payments, particularly how they are received and processed. Ben Milne’s company, Dwolla, is located within the Silicon Prairie. His leadership has so far overcome the challenge of scaling a high-growth tech startup in the Midwest. He’s proven Midwest companies can attract high-profile investors (Ashton Kutcher, Union Square Venture and Village Ventures are investors in Dwolla) and not be required to move to a coast. His story of discovery, and now execution, is very unique and every “disrupter” should hear it.
Barb Pacheco is a senior vice president with the Federal Bank of Kansas City, and you might be thinking; “Why would the Fed be speaking on a stage with entrepreneurs?” Interestingly, the Bank is a big fan of Ben’s and it follows the mobile banking space very closely. The Bank commissions numerous research projects regarding mobile payments, and Barb will share what it knows.
Both Ben and Barb are from our region, so we wanted to reach outside the Midwest for our third speaker. This led us to Chris Teso’s company, Chirpify. Chris’s story is unique because Chirpify utilizes existing platforms (Twitter & PayPal) to make electronic payments.
Our goal in combining these three speakers is to show multiple angles of the mobile payments sector, how it impacts our global economy and get a glimpse into the future. We also believe our region has the assets to capitalize on the growth of this sector.
SPN: How does the event fit into KCnext’s big-picture mission?
RW: Our focus is to grow and advance the technology industry in the Kansas City region. We feel the KC area is positioned very well to be a leader in the mobile payment space. Published data and existing assets in our region support this thinking. Kansas City is a mobile town; in fact, Venture Beat named KC one of the highest Android app producing U.S. cities last summer (10,000 apps were created in KC between Jun-Aug 2011). We also have a very diverse banking community, and our Host Sponsor, Alterra Bank, recently launched an innovative mobile banking application for its customers.
SPN: There’s been a fair amount of recent national press on the strength of the Midwest in the payment space. How much did that factor into decisions regarding the theme and lineup for the event?
RW: The payment space is very popular right now. Ben’s company, Dwolla, is contributing greatly to the Midwest’s exposure in the national tech and business media. The ability to get national media coverage is important, but wasn’t the leading reason for the theme or the lineup. We developed a theme which encompassed technology and a wide-range of industries outside of tech-centered companies.
A mobile payment-focused event was the clear leader, and we believe nearly every business will be affected by the disruptive innovation being created in our backyard.
SPN: What do you hope attendees take away from this event?
RW: We are focused on collaboration and education for our members and community. We hope this event inspires the local business community. Companies have a lot of needs, but one consistent need is customers. We hope others think about additional resources that are available to make and process payments, and use some of the services showcased by the entrepreneurs on stage. Additionally, we hope they learn from the research that will be presented so they can make educated decisions on what platform is best for their businesses.
Disclosure: Silicon Prairie News is a media sponsor of GO | The Future of Mobile Payments.
Credits: Photo of Weber from kcnext.com.