PCM Vol.2 - Issue 5

paymentsnet1

PCM

YOUR GATEWAY TO THE WORLD OF PAYMENTS

Vol 2. Issue 5

May 2016

DATA SCIENCE

To Infinity and Beyond


Welcome to Vol.2 - issue 5

We are enthusiastic to release the 5th Issue of the Payments & Cards Network

eMagazine for 2016. This month we focus on the increasing importance of data

and its impact on businesses in the payments sector. In light of this we present an

interview with Nathan Trousdell, Director of Strategy & Corporate Development at

Payvision, who talks about Data Science and how it is influencing and shaping the

payments industry.

In the Startup Spotlight we introduce you to DataCamp, an R, Python and Data

Science e-learning platform. Jonathan Cornelissen, Co-founder and CEO, talks

about discovering the demand for a learning platform focusing on statistics and

programming lanugages like R and starting a successful business in that field.

Moreover, in this issue you can read about the launch of Payments System Regulator,

a tool enabling payments system to work efficiently, securely and transparently for

everybody, especially consumers.

We feature the experts Rebekah Moody and Vanita Pandey who discuss the latest

trends in cybercrime. And on top of this Clint Wilson explains why teaching children

to manage their budget is crucial and how the ParentPay application can assist in

this process.

Finally, an overview of the hottest job openings we have at the moment. Feel like

you need a change or looking for a job opportunity? Get in touch directly by clicking

on the jobs. What better way to network and get to know your peers in the industry?

Check out our premium event partners and make use of the discounts we have on

offer before they run out!

For any questions, suggestions, or concerns, please address them to the editors:

Amir Abdin - amir@paymentsandcardsnetwork.com

Duc Dang - duc@paymentsandcardsnetwork.com

Joanna Bak - joanna@paymentsandcardsnetwork.com

The Payments & Cards Network team wishes you good reading!

002


Contents

thoughtleaders

spotlight

16

6

8

10

STORIES

4

6

8

10

Metro Bank and Engagement with the Payment

System Regulator

Becky Clements gives us an insight into Metro Bank’s efforts to tackle UK’s

Payments system challenges.

Many Faces of Cybercrime

Rebekah Moody & Vanita Pandey outline the driving cybercrime key trends in

the 1st quarter of 2016.

The Payment Product for Youngesters in the UK

Clint Wilson shines light on how essential financial education is and how he

and his company foster youth banking in the UK.

Expert Interview: How Data is transforming

Payments

Nathan Trousdell elucidates the increasing importance of data in the world of

payments.

16

19

20

Spotlight: DataCamp

We speak to DataCamp, an exciting startup aiming to

educate the data scientists of tomorrow.

Hot Jobs

Hottest jobs in the industry! Get in touch directly to get

more insight.

Events

Here we showcase the most exciting upcoming events

related to FinTechm, Payments and Cards throughout

the world!

003


Thought Leaders Corner

by Becky Clements

Metro Bank and Engagement with

the Payment System Regulator

In the UK we are in a unique position, having an

economic regulator that oversees payments -

the Payment System Regulator (PSR). The PSR’s

ultimate aim is to make the payments system

work efficiently, securely and transparently for

all, especially customers.

The PSR, launched in April 2015, recently

established a Strategy Forum to ensure that

as a regulator, it is not solely dominated by the

traditional players. Rather the PSR benefits

from a diverse membership, accurately

representing a cross section of users - from

consumer representatives, to finance technology

organisations, to traditional high street banks.

This ensures that not only are all stakeholders

involved in the payments process being

represented, but also gives them an active voice.

Only by having all parties represented will there

be a level playing field, which will in turn benefit

the millions of customers who rely on the ability

to make and receive payments in their everyday

lives.

The Strategy Forum, that Metro Bank is proud to

sit on, benefits both challengers and new entrants

alike by injecting competition and innovation into

the system, enabling a range of organisations of

all shapes and sizes to flourish.

In line with Metro Bank’s outlook, where the

customer is centric to all decisions made, the

Forum ensures that the interests of all those

that use the payments system are put at the very

heart of the decisions being made.

To help develop these initiatives the Forum

has already sought input from a wide range

of businesses from the payment community

to understand what the main challenges are,

looking specifically at those which impact

customers’ experiences. With these findings

in mind, the Strategy Forum has established

four, multi-stakeholder working groups. The

aim of these groups is to advance the analysis

of these challenges and to develop a series of

collaborative solutions that will revolutionise not

just the industry, but each and every customer’s

experience.

The four issues that the Forum is dedicated on

resolving are:

• End User Needs

• Simplifying Access to Markets

• Financial Crime

• Horizon Scanning.

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Thought Leaders Corner

The Forum is responsible to develop solutions

for a two, three and five year strategies, which

will be circulated to the Payment Community

in July 2016 for feedback and comment by all

members. We are seeking to provide options

for a range of issues that the payments industry

has seen develop over a number of years (items

such as common message types, the benefits of

centralised financial crime systems, and - for new

entrants and smaller payment service providers

- the ability to join payment schemes).

Indirect access to payment systems is currently

the only option offered to challenger banks and

new entrants which can have a detrimental

impact on customers, as the service provided

does not meet the standard service provided

through traditional players with the direct access

to UK payments schemes.

As the UK’s leading challenger bank, joining the

UK Payment Schemes is complex and timeconsuming.

The on-boarding process and

requirements for a payment service provider

to join the scheme requires greater clarity and

transparency, as well as requiring long lead time

for implementation. Once a provider has worked

through the on boarding process, the extensive

procedures and regulation are intricate which can

create resource and compliance review needs –

both of which are in precious resource in smaller

organisations. Ultimately, those organisations

that rely on access to the scheme, are the exact

organisations that are either put off or repelled

by these challenges.

As a challenger bank, it is refreshing – yet long

overdue - to have the same level of influence

as the larger financial players. This pioneering

involvement will not only allow us to help shape

the payments industry for years to come, but

will provide equality to all payments service

providers, enabling customers to benefit

from a more efficient, transparent and secure

experience.

Becky Clements

As Head of Industry Engagement, Becky Clements is

responsible for Metro Bank’s industry payment and

card regulatory and change activity, as well as acting

as the relationship manager for Metro Bank’s payment

third party suppliers. Becky has extensive experience of

working within the payments industry and delivering longterm,

sustainable value to both customers and business.

She sits on both the Advisory Panel and the Strategic

Forum for the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR), as well

as being a Director of Payments UK and Deputy Chair of

the Simplifying Access to Markets Working Group.

Becky’s close involvement with the new regulator gives

her a unique perspective on the progress and work being

taken to improve customers’ payment experience from a

challenger banks perspective.

Metro Bank is the UK’s first new high street bank in more than 100 years,

focussed on offering unparalleled levels of service and convenience. Launched in

2010 the bank was set up to revolutionise British banking, putting the customers

at the heart of every decision made. Metro Bank is a full service banking, offering

personal, commercial and private banking services.

005


Thought Leaders Corner

by Rebekah Moody

& Vanita Pandey

The Many Faces of Cybercrime – A Look at the Key Fraud Trends

from Q1 2016

As a technologically savvy consumer, you might think you are

fairly adept at spotting potential fraud attempts. We know that

banks won’t ask for our full login details, our passwords need

to be undecipherable, and we need to make sure that we

don’t click on dodgy looking links in emails. Sadly, this may not

be enough to protect us from fraud attacks. The cybercrime

world is evolving and consumer data is now everywhere.

Usernames and passwords can be bought at the touch of a

button following numerous data breaches and fraudsters

can stitch together complete and convincing identities from a

jigsaw of stolen credentials. They create pitch-perfect attacks

because they know so much about us, sometimes more than

the businesses we transact with.

Organizations must become smarter at detecting the full

spectrum of possible attacks, from huge automated identity

testing sessions, to advanced social engineering attacks that

hijack individual accounts. This starts with really understanding

the digital identities of consumers so that high-risk behavior

can be detected in real-time.

We’ve seen some interesting trends emerge in ThreatMetrix

Digital Identity Network at the start of this year. Authentication

is still a core part of our Network traffic, with 86% of

transactions coming from returning devices. Trust is critical

– consumers expect to be recognized, known and given

easy access to products and services without experiencing

unnecessary friction.

However, the dark undertones of fraud attacks continue

to take us all by surprise, with 311 botnet attacks detected

this quarter alone. Businesses are under attack from a

particularly pernicious group of fraudsters who are becoming

would-be generals of their very own botnet army, controlling

vast networks of bot computers, some of which belong to

unsuspecting consumers.

These botnet attacks are mass-testing identity credentials,

often adopting a low and slow attack speed to appear more

like legitimate user traffic and evade rate control measures

that have traditionally formed the first line of defense.

ThreatMetrix also spotted some new forms of credential

testing this quarter. Online businesses provide the perfect

way for fraudsters to anonymously test stolen payment

credentials, such as credit cards, before making a big ticket

purchase. Industries with low digital sophistication are easy

targets. We detected a series of $5 payments made with

stolen credit cards targeting the charity sector.

Identity spoofing had a strong footprint in the FinTech

space with fraudsters using cloaking technologies such as

proxies or spoofed locations to mask their true identities and

locations. This has caused an increase in fraudulent new loan

applications.

Our other big story this quarter was the continued growth

of mobile transactions, particularly prevalent in financial

services. Mobile transactions grew 200 percent compared

to the previous year and now make up one third of our

006


Thought Leaders Corner

transactions volumes in The Network. Users are really

incorporating mobile apps into the daily ebb and flow

of their lives. Mobile banking apps, for example, are

a key way for users to log in to their account, check

balances and transfer money on the move. Some

users are logging in almost daily. Many users are

now mobile only, reflecting just how reliant we are

on mobile devices. Mobile security must be front of

mind; attacks are steadily rising and businesses must

be prepared for these to increase further.

Rebekah Moody

Although fraudsters may talk a convincing story,

there are always glitches in how they transact that

sets them apart from the real user. The ThreatMetrix

Digital Identity Network analyzes the myriad

connections between a user’s devices, locations and

anonymized personal information as they transact

online. This builds a unique and trusted digital

identity that fraudsters can’t fake. Leveraging the

power of digital identities to establish trusted user

behavior is the best way to authenticate user identity

and pinpoint behavior that deviates from the norm.

This is combined with global threat intelligence about

known fraudsters and botnet participation to deliver

robust fraud prevention.

Rebekah Moody brings 12 years of marketing expertise

to ThreatMetrix, with a proven track record of delivering

strategic multi-channel campaigns. At ThreatMetrix she is

part of the core Product Marketing team, driving thought

leadership, sales enablement, product positioning

and messaging. She has penned numerous thought

leadership articles and whitepapers that demonstrate

her clear, strategic thinking.

ThreatMetrix®, The Digital Identity Company, is the market-leading cloud solution for authenticating digital personas and transactions

on the Internet. Verifying more than 20 billion annual transactions supporting 30,000 websites and 4,000 customers globally through

the ThreatMetrix® Digital Identity Network, ThreatMetrix secures businesses and end users against account takeover, payment

fraud and fraudulent account registrations resulting from malware and data breaches. Key benefits include an improved customer

experience, reduced friction, revenue gain, and lower fraud and operational costs. The ThreatMetrix solution is deployed across a

variety of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, payments and lending, media, government and insurance.

007


Thought Leaders Corner

The Payment product for Youngsters in the UK

ParentPay was conceived by a working

parent and ex-teacher who wanted

to help her school make life easier for

parents. Twelve years on they now

offer a complete income management

solution to more than 6.000 schools

across 200 local authorities in the

UK, allowing approximately 2.500.000

parents to make online payments for

all their child’s needs including school

meals, trips, clubs, fees and uniforms

through a flexible and secure web

application.

ParentPay created and continues to

leads the market for online school

payments, removing cash from

schools, making them safer places

for both staff and pupils. They are

often called to provide advice to the

Department of Education and other UK

government bodies while at the same

time conducting robust research about

parents, schools and online payments.

Given their central role in the school’s

eco-system and the deep relationships

they have formed with schools, parents

and children alike, one of the causes

that truly matter to them is financial

education.

Since September 2014 financial

education has formed part of the

compulsory national curriculum for all

maintained schools in England, it is part

of citizenship for 11-16 year olds and

there are stronger links to it in maths for

all ages.

The importance of financial education

for any nation is paramount, as the

future financial decisions of today’s

young people will dictate to a great

extent the future of world economies.

Providing them with the economic and

social environment to prosper and

the competences (financial, social and

livelihoods) to thrive has a meaningful

impact on the lives of individuals and

the communities in which they live.

Still, findings from a major UK wide

quantitative study they undertook last

year with almost 6,000 parents reveals

70% believe their children have less

understanding of money today and 80%

of parents feel children spend money

too easily.

In his mind there is a strong correlation

for these attitudes with the fact that

despite the shift from cash to electronic

payments, parents all too often are

educating children with money in its

physical form, cash.

The ‘kids getting older younger’

phenomenon means children under

14 are maturing at an earlier age. They

are exposed to more information,

technology, media, entertainment,

gaming, and even travel than ever

008


Thought Leaders Corner

Clint Wilson

Clint is Chief Executive at ParentPay Ltd.

With the business since inception, Clint has

established ParentPay as the UK’s leading online

payment service for schools. With over 20 years

in payment processing and software he has

cross-sector experience in a number of fast

growing businesses.

Clint lives in Somerset with his wife and four

children.

before. Born into the digital world, young

people are faced with financial decisionmaking

at a much earlier age than their

parents, be it buying a song download,

subscribing to online services, saving

for the latest game, topping up their

mobile phone, or just paying for the bus

journey to school.

Despite their digital acumen young

people often lack access to electronic

money in a form that allows them to

participate equally in an increasingly

cashless world, while at the same

time helping form responsible money

management skills. By using cash it

is harder to track spending, to have

immediate access to their money and to

form budgeting skills. Of course carrying

cash also has the inevitable safety

considerations.

So what is the role of existing banking

solutions? Can they address the

rapidly evolving needs of young people

and offer a foundation to becoming

financially responsible adults?

Most UK banks do offer accounts from an

early age yet most of them do not come

with a payment product for minors.

Those that do are unable to cater for

the inherent parent-child relationship

in the design of their offerings. Parents

need a safe and secure environment in

which they can empower their children,

and take advantage of a forum for

family discussion that will spark lifelong

learning. Children need access to

tools to help them learn how to spend,

save and budget wisely, learning the

value of money and how to manage it

responsibly.

Offering financial products to young

consumers requires commitment

and vigilance. To develop payment

products that respect and support

children’s rights whilst considering

parental needs requires looking beyond

business-as-usual.

At ParentPay they are delighted to play

a pivotal role in the interactions of the

parent-child relationship and to work

on exciting new products that will help

redefine youth banking, supporting

financial freedom for young people.

They have for many years been at

the core of school-parent payments,

providing safe convenient services

affected millions of children. They are

privileged in being able to deploy our

accumulated knowledge and experience

to new services, which can contribute to

the financial competence of tomorrow’s

young adults.

As they sit on the brink of launching a

new child-facing finance service, they do

so with the confidence any difference

we make to an individual’s financial

competence, contributes not only to

their future success, but also to that of

our economy as a whole.

009


expert interview

How Data Is

Transforming Payments

Nathan Trousdell is the Director of Strategy & Corporate

Development at Payvision, a global online payments processor

based in Amsterdam. He works with the founders and

department managers across all areas of the firm, including sales

strategy, data science and product. He is also responsible for

the valuation and analysis of strategic investments and merger

& acquisition activity. Prior to joining Payvision, Nathan worked

as an Investment Banker in London and Wellington. He has a

Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from The University of Otago,

and an NZX Diploma in Finance.

Nathan Trousdell

Director of Strategy &

Corporate Development,

Payvision

The emergence of Data Science

is gradually picked up also in

the Payments World. We talk

to Nathan from Payvision, a

company at the vanguard of driving the

importance and real value for customers

of data in Payments.

What do you think is the role of Data

Science in the Payments sector?

I think Data Science in the payments

sector is multifaceted, with fraud and

security being a large part of it on one

side, and the optimization of payment

processing on the other side. On the

fraud side, understanding fraud patterns

and trying to bring in obscure data that

may help you recognize and catch fraud

is incredibly powerful. You can also use

Data Science to help your merchant’s

process payments more effectively, by

diving into authorization and conversion

metrics and looking at card holder

patterns and motivations. Overall, Data

Science is helping payment companies

provide safer and more reliable payment

services to both merchants and their

consumers.

What role does Data Science play in

your firm’s strategy and day-to-day

operations?

It is an interesting area because in

the payments business you sit on a

huge amount of information. You have

live transactional flow, running into

the millions of transactions, and the

more data you can collect on these

transactions the better understanding

you can obtain about your customers

and about the process. At Payvision,

we work to make business decisions

based on a mix of data information

and intuition. Many businesses run on

gut feeling and experience, and while

this intuitive approach to business is

important you always back up your

decision making with fact and logic.

With so many human biases it’s vital

to look at data and understand the

full picture before making decisions.

We at Payvision are evangelists about

doing business this way and are quite

passionate about getting this approach

more and more into the DNA of our

company. We always work to educate

people in all departments about the

importance of data based decision

making, and how it can be leveraged to

improve the organizations performance.

Picking up the aspect of combining

intuitive and data based decision

making, do you think adopting to this

new environment is a big challenge?

It is definitely a learning curve and an

educational process. Proving the worth

of data through tangible results is

important because analyzing it, creating

reports and teaching people about how

it can help them serve our customers

better is time consuming and soaks up

resources. However, as I noted before,

I think that at Payvision we will never

solely rely only on data because there

is always a chance you can incorrectly

interpret it and act in blind faith. The

philosophy that inspires us is to always

have curious and critical mind, and be

skeptical of everything. It is easy to

make a mistake and suddenly lose the

value of the data and exercise that you

were going through, which needs to be

focused on solving real problems, not

creating new ones.

010


Expert Interview

There are numerous advantages

of using data within the Payments

sector. What are the disadvantages

in your opinion?

The only disadvantage is that it’s really

time and resource consuming. This is

because the market is highly fragmented

especially when you work with a lot of

partners, like we do, who may still use old

systems with different data sets, styles,

information management approaches.

To provide a seamless experience to

merchants and consumers, and enable

them to process and review payments

in all regions through a single system,

you need to take all of that differing data,

clean and consolidate it so it can be used

to provide real insights. This is a pretty

heavy exercise in terms of resourcing,

but we need to face this challenge

in order to provide the omnichannel

experience that is the future of

payments industry. To me, outside of

the resourcing issues, and the need to

continuously educate people who don’t

have a data-driven approach to problem

solving, there aren’t any disadvantages.

In the long run seeing past those shortterm

disadvantages allows you to reap

huge long-term benefits.

What is innovation in Data Science

for you?

Traditionally, innovation comes from

being frustrated by old-fashioned ways

of doing things, being curious about

how it could be done better and then

playing with the ideas that come out

of that process. Scientists, the chief

innovators in society, are themselves

people who constantly tinker and play

with things. To be innovative within

Data Science in the payments world you

need that curiosity. You need to look at

the payments experience from the

merchants and partners perspective,

as well as the consumer’s perspective.

You need to understand what problems

and frustrations they face, and how

looking at data in a curious way can

impact the problem solving process, and

provide new insights into behaviors and

motivations.

Do you see real-time analytics also as

an opportunity in Payments? In the

past companies used to base their

decisions on historical data. Now with

the technological advancement you

can get quality data out of real time

analytics.

Definitely! With traditional financials,

when you do the monthly or quarterly

close the data comes from looking

back at historical information. However,

if you’re able to connect all your data

sets and systems together, you’re

able to build up a full financial view

of the business based on real-time

transactional information. This real-time

information can serve the finance, sales

and management teams and give them

instant feedback on business trends.

Also, and this is incredibly important in

the payments industry, preventing fraud

relies on being able to act instantly to

cases of fraud before there is a negative

financial impact, so you have to be

running real-time on transactions. For us

moving all of our data systems to being

real-time is very high on the agenda of

all departments.

Data Scientist: The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century

011


expert interview

What are your expectations from

Data Science or how do you think

these expectations have evolved

over time, in the Payments sector

especially?

It is interesting because Data Science

is like UX and UI designers 5 years ago.

There weren’t many of them, nobody

really knew what they were doing but

they knew it was important. I think Data

Science is going through this discovery

phase recently too. You can now

study Data Science specific courses in

universities, when traditionally people

came from a computer, engineering,

math or physics background, or a

mix thereof. In general, Data Science

is maturing and by this I mean the

technology stacks and the systems

are evolving to a point where they can

be trusted and are widely used and

understood. In the recent years, there

were a lot of possibilities discovered

in payments, and people figured out

what data means to their company and

customers, and how to best leverage it.

Now it’s the time to push forward and

get the real benefits from it.

What is you vision where on the

future development of Data Science ?

I see a continuing improvement in

predictive and machine learning models

on conversion rates, fraud, and on the

optimization of whole omnichannel

strategy. There are plenty of areas

we’re looking into, and many of them

are sensitive and provide a competitive

advantage for our company, hence it’s

confidential.

As Director of Strategy, I will continue

to work together with my team in order

to provide our merchants, as well as

our own internal departments, with

special insights so that they can make

actionable changes in the areas they

didn’t even know could be improved.

I think this is what makes Data Science so

interesting; taking a journey of discovery

into areas you can already improve, and

areas that others haven’t even thought

about yet. It’s that curiosity that will

drive it into the future. Within payments,

people have many habitual patterns that

you can extract valuable insights from.

We like to think that we are all very

different, that we do things differently,

but the truth is that we all have many

predictable patterns. Our geo-spacial

habits, our spending habits, what we like

and don’t like etc. As we collect more

data on behavior the predictability of

such habits will become more reliable,

which will drive better decision-making

to serve customer needs.

What legal and regulatory challenges

do you face when utilizing the data?

What are the major hurdles in this

matter?

There are two parts. There are the

regulatory hurdles that we face and

Europe is definitely at the forefront in

protecting people data privacy, which

is great. The second part is about the

perception of collecting and using data.

How much do people want to give away

and expose their privacy? We are living

in a world where everything is being

tracked. 90% of the existent data was

collected in the last two years and I

expect that trend will continue. The

amount of data that is being stored is

growing rapidly, and people are not

comfortable with that – they feel it’s very

‘Big Brother’ and could be used against

them.

For example, if we were tracking

payments and looking to link it with a

person’s profile both online and offline,

then we need to be open about why we

are doing it, and have the certainty that

the person is protected and the use

of the data is positive. In such a case,

data could help us to understand what

payment methods the customers like to

use, where do they like to shop, what

kind of things do they like to buy. This

information could allow merchants to

provide the best deals to the customer

as well as the most frictionless and

seamless payment experience, both

online and in stores.

Awarded with “Best Acquirer” at MPE Berlin 2016 and ‘Best Merchant Acquirer/Processor’ at the 2015 Payments Awards, Payvision

is one of the fastest-growing global acquiring networks in the world. With over a decade’s presence in the global payments market,

Payvision has accrued vast knowledge of global acquiring and payments processing for the ecommerce market. Payvision simplifies

the complexity of cross-border ecommerce through a highly effective and secure transaction processing platform. By offering banks,

PSPs, ISOs and merchants one global acquiring platform, 24/7 support, 150+ transaction currencies, a high-end reporting interface

and a solid risk management solution, Payvision strives to support its customers in expanding their geographical footprints and

growing their business.

For further information, please contact:

Floriana Cristea

Global Communications Manager

E-mail: press@payvision.com; Web: www.payvision.com

012


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Spotlight

Think you have what it takes to start a business in

a super-hot market?

PCM takes a close look at some of the most

innovative and promising startup companies in the

payment industry.


startup spotlight

“WE WANT

TO BE THE GO

TO LEARNING

PLATFORM..."

Jonathan Cornelissen, Co-Founder & CEO, DataCamp

Jonathan Cornelissen is one of the co-founders of DataCamp,

and is interested in everything related to data science, the

programming language “R”, education and entrepreneurship.

He holds a PhD in financial econometrics, and is the author

of an R package for quantitative finance. DataCamp is the

second education start-up he founded, and the first one that

went international. In his spare time, he loves to do some

programming, especially in Ruby on Rails..

Can you tell us something about your background? Where

did the interest in data come from?

I have studied Business Engineering in Belgium and decided to

choose a major called Business Research, which involved a lot

of statistics and data analysis. I fell in love with it and decided

to start a PhD in this area. At that time I also got involved

in the R community and was teaching R to multiple groups

of students. It was an interesting experience but if you are

teaching the same exercise lab for the fifth time you receive

a lot of similar or exactly the same questions. This made me

think that there must be a better way to do this. It was the

period when the idea for DataCamp was born.

At that point there was an emergence of great online platforms,

however most of them focused on teaching web development.

We researched the market and found out that there is no real

learning platform for R and statistics. There was clearly a gap

in the market and we knew that DataCamp was a good idea

and it was going to work.

What is DataCamp’s vision now?

We want to be the “go to” learning platform eventually for all

science technologies, as well as all Data Science methodologies.

At the moment we are focused on R and Python because they

are the largest - they are open source and they are growing a

lot. At least the demand is growing a lot. Ultimately, we want

to teach everyone the tools they need know to be productive

as in a professional work environment. This includes not only

the hardcore data scientists but literally everybody who wants

to become more data literate and is basically bumping into

the limits of Excel because the data sets are getting bigger.

The way we want to do this is very different from traditional

learning platforms. Most platforms are very generic and they

are all focused on a more passive learning experience. We

consider reading a text or watching a YouTube video not

attractive. We want to give the learning experience, we want

the people to solve challenges, we want our students to be

active at least 70% of the time. That way we want to build the

engagement and be sure people get through these courses

and have the necessary skills they need to be productive in a

professional environment.

When starting a DataCamp course, do you need to have

knowledge about Data Science?

We have a variety of courses, from basic ones to more

advanced. However, our main focus has been on building

great beginner courses, because that’s where the greatest

demand is. There is an enormous lack of people with Data

Science skills and a considerable amount of companies face a

problem of finding professionals with Data Science skills. This

situation applies to every industry. The greatest demand in

the market is retraining people who might have a technical

background (engineering, mathematics, physics etc.) but do

not have experience with Data Science, so they would be

employable as Junior Data Scientists. Besides that, we also

have a lot of people with economics, psychology or sociology

background and this is what I really like about Data Science –

the diversity of people that come to this field. It also testifies

how large this market is going to be. Because it is not only

mathematicians, STATs or MAT PhD types, who need to learn

this. It is a substantial percentage of the population. Just like

you are getting STATs education in almost every university

right now.

One of the achievements of DataCamp is raising 2 million

dollars seed money. The company is now 2 years old, what

are the other achievements you accomplished so far?

The most I’m proud of is that we already have 350 thousand

students on the platform and a large percentage of that have

completed courses. This m

eans that we were not only able to attract a lot of users, but

016


that they are also active on the platform. In total we have now

about 13,5 million completed exercises and over 20 million

attempts to solve challenges. That’s huge, right? What is more,

is that we are now at the point where we can get to work with

the best people in academic industry. We have partnerships

with companies like Microsoft and university professors from

top universities like Duke, Princeton, University of Washington

etc.

What are your goals for the future?

I think that there is a lot of room for improvement when it

comes to building up our course library. We would like to add

at least 50 courses by the end of 2016. We also aim to double

the amount of users we have, which means we would like to

grow to 700 – 800 thousand by the end of the year. Eventually,

we want to keep growing the company and find great people

to join our team.

In what way Data Science can have a positive effect on a

company’s performance?

In my opinion it can have an impact on any aspect of the

company. Of course the way in which Data Science might be

used vary depending on the company’s structure and needs.

It certainly will influence the marketing department and help

understand customers better, in terms of their behavior,

needs etc. It will help the sales department qualify leads, as

well as the finance division to detect fraud. Lastly, I believe it

will help the company as a whole to predict the revenue better.

What is the role of Data Science in the future?

It is being still underestimated how substantial it’s role is going

to be. I think that the big transformation in a professional world

is already set in motion. My prediction is that every company

will either have a Data Science department or scientists

managing different teams. The way it will be set up will differ

from company to company but I do think it is going to be

important for every business. Another trend that I expect to

happen is the shift from having an IT department to having a

Data Science department. I predict all this to happen within

the next 5 years.

startup Spotlight

What are your thoughts on the current state of the

industry and what will the most important opportunities

be in this regard?

If the demand of the Data Scientists will grow, then companies

will have to retrain people towards more specific areas. As a

result of that, the education field will grow. Recruiting for Data

Science positions as well, that’s my guess.

Data Scientist has been termed as the sexiest job of 21st

century. Do you agree? What advice would you give to

people aspiring a long career in Data Science?

I definitely agree with that and its not only Hal Varian from

Google who said it but it is being confirmed by other studies

as well. Data Science and applied statistics is definitely a

good choice that will most certainly get you a job and most

certainly will get you a job that’s well paid etc. The demand

for Data Scientists is and will be growing. My advice would

be to focus on learning the skills and focus on learning how

to communicate the results of your analysis. The biggest

challenge is often being able to tell a story and present the

analysis, so that it will be understandable for people with less

knowledge.

Any recent exciting news you would like to share with the

payments community?

We have recently announced DataCamp courses for groups.

It was driven by the fact that many companies need to retrain

existing engineers to become more data literate and get Data

Science skills. The courses allow either professors or people

internally within the companies to teach and train a group of

people and monitor the results of their performance. For us

as a company this is an exciting new step. So far we have had

a lot of success with individuals who want to take a DataCamp

course and ultimately get a subscription to our data course

library. We are also working on great features to make the

tasks even more engaging.

Which of the big data tools will have the biggest impact

in the upcoming years, and why?

I am quite biased in this matter. Even if behind the scenes, the

more advanced technologies like Spark will be used, I still think

that either R, Python or both will remain the bridge between

all new advanced tools. I once heard somebody say that what

HTML did for the web, is what R or Python did for Data Science

- giving people an easy way to interface with data. It’s hard to

predict to what extent Spark and other tools will win over new

technologies, it’s probably going to be a combination of a lot

of technologies. We try to think about what is going to be the

one, two or three languages that everybody is going to use as

an interface to all the other tools. Just like SQL is a standard

to creating data basis. Behind the scenes you can have Oracle

or Microsoft but the interface is SQL.

017


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