Just got out from the Federal Reserve of Chicago’s annual payments conference, where I was fortunate enough not just to attend, but to moderate a panel on Innovative Business Strategies. The panel had four great speakers, representing PayPal, the National Branded Prepaid Card Association, Best Buy, and the National Association of Convenience Stores.
I didn’t really give a presentation per se, but attempted to set the stage with a few opening remarks, and thought I’d share those comments here. I didn’t really have my remarks scripted, so what I write here will be a recreation, and I might take a liberty or two to add or edit something I actually said:
We have a great panel assembled here to talk about innovative business strategies in the retail payments world, but since none of our speakers are from a financial institution, I thought I would set the stage by making some comments about innovative business strategies from the FI perspective.
But before I do, I’d like to tell you about hedgehogs.
Cute little feller, ain’t he?
Although there are a lot of hedgehogs out there, they’re dying off at a alarming rate. I know this because the FHIC, the Federal Hedgehog Insurance Corporation, reports on the number of hedgehog deaths each week.
I thought that I would do a little research and find out why hedgehogs are dying. I found that there are three leading causes of death among hedgehogs.
Number three is cars. That’s right — our poor little friends are often road kill. Do you know what a hedgehog does when it sees a car coming towards it? It curls up in a ball, and sticks its needles out.
In other words, it doesn’t recognize that the foreign, unknown threat coming at is any different from any other predator or danger it faces. So it responds in the same way that it responds to other threats. Needless to say, it doesn’t succeed.
The number two cause is insecticide. This is pretty interesting because it reflects hedgehogs’ greed. Hedgehogs are fond of certain kinds of plants and fruits, and when it finds a fruit or plant it likes, it can’t stop eating it. But many farmers spray these plants and fruits with insecticides, which are harmful to the hedgehogs. If hedgehogs weren’t so greedy — that is, if they knew when they’d had enough of a good thing — perhaps fewer of them would be dying off.
But the number one cause of death among hedgehogs is hibernation. What happens is that as soon as the temperature gets down to a certain point, a hedgehog goes into hibernation. It crawls into its nest, curls up into a ball, and hibernates for the winter.
Or what it thinks is the winter. Because what often happens is that hedgehogs prematurely react to a change in the environment and go into hibernation. And because they have haven’t made an appropriate investment in the thing it needs to last the winter — namely, fat — they don’t survive the cold, and they die.
But enough about hedgehogs. Let’s talk about financial institutions.