Retail Worlds: Ben Jordan of Card Network Solutions
Written by Scott Thompson
Ben Jordan is managing director, Card Network Solutions, the company behind Cardivation, payment card technology which adds intelligence to any existing card scheme through a combination of cloud and tokenisation technologies
RS: How did you get into the retail/technology sector?
BJ: I started my career as a research chemist. I have an enquiring scientific mind and have always seen innovation and technology as ways of improving the commercial process or offer of an organisation. Much of my working life has been in the banking sector and the oil industry. With BNP Paribas and Exxon Mobil, I was able to help in creating innovative solutions that reduced costs, while still providing simpler or better user experiences.
RS: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
BJ: My family – and having an endlessly inquisitive mind.
RS: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
BJ: Zamsos AB, a little known payment service provider based in Alvsjo, Sweden, which has been a subsidiary of Swedbank BABS AB since 2007. It was early to recognise the difficulties merchants faced with interfacing different PoS and retail equipment to acquiring banks or payment service providers. Zamsos developed a plug-and-play device that provided standard interfaces to all PoS and PIN entry devices and supported a common acquiring process. This removed the prevailing need for complex and expensive intermediaries. The equipment could be simply activated and made ready, without the need for an on-site specialist engineer.
RS: Which IT professional do you most admire?
BJ: Eric Schmidt, outstanding as both technologist and businessman. After working at Bell Labs, Zilog and Xerox, he became the first software manager at Sun Microsystems and earned promotion to the very top. After a spell as CEO and chairman at Novell, he joined a young Google as CEO. Still with Google, he is now executive chairman of Alphabet, the holding company that owns Google and related businesses. Along the way, he has also found time to lecture on strategic management at Stanford. The Schmidt Family Foundation, created with his wife, does great work in the areas of sustainability, environmental preservation and the responsible use of natural resources.
RS: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
BJ: The lack of operational standards.
RS: What technology can't you live without?
BJ: My iPhone 6S – I just love it.
RS: How do you relax?
BJ: I rarely relax, according to my wife, but I do like to ski and enjoy walking in the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.
RS: What was your last retail experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
BJ: Online, I ordered some whisky, which was then delivered two weeks late. I was automatically credited for the value, so called the supplier. They said it was a glitch and told me to, “just keep take the credit,“ as a goodwill gesture. Overall, very positive! On the High Street, I was shopping and saw an article that my wife would like for Christmas. I could not have it, as it was apparently the last one in stock, so I asked if they could order another. They said that I should go online myself, as it would be quicker than ordering it themselves. Not very impressive.