News In Context

Key TakeAways From Viva Technology

Thousands of people gathered in person at Paris Expo Port de Versailles in Paris and thousands more joined online for the hybrid tech conference Viva Technology, which kicked off June 16. In addition to a focus on the latest technologies, such as AI, quantum computing, robotics, augmented reality and virtual reality, there was also a big emphasis on how tech can help solve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Innovator’s Editor-In-Chief moderated five panels, including the one pictured above with former Cisco Executive Chairman John Chambers, veteran Silicon Valley venture capitalist Joe Schoendorf, and Business France CEO Pascal Cagni. Other speakers at the conference included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Eric Schmidt, the co-founder of Schmidt Futures and the former CEO of Google, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, Microsoft President Brad Smith, French President Emmanuel Macron, India Prime Minister Narendra Modi and some of Europe’s most successful startups. Read to get some of the key takeaways from the first two days of VivaTech.


VivaTech kicked off is conference with a focus on Scale-Up Europe, an initiative from French President Emmanuel Macron that gathers a select group of 170+ of Europe’s leading tech founders, investors, researchers, corporate CEOs and government officials around the same goal: to accelerate the rise of global tech leaders born in Europe in the service of both progress and technological sovereignty. (The Innovator’s Editor-in-Chief is a member). Macron participated in a round table with some of Europe’s most successful scaleups, including Klarna, which recently raised $639 million round, giving it a valuation of $45.6 billion. The  entrepreneurs on the panel outlined what they would like to see changed to help make it easier to scale.

One issue that has improved but still needs some fixes is scaling capital. The Innovator’s Editor-in-Chief moderated a panel on that topic with Nicolas Dufourcq, CEO of BPI France, Manish Madhvani, Co-founder and Managing Partner of GP Bullhound and Julia Bijaoui, co-founder and Co-CEO of Frichti.  The panelists talked about the need for the establishment of an equivalent to NASDAQ, the opportunity to better connect the different European ecosystems and the need for a tech vertical of savvy young investors in the main asset management houses in Europe. A new Scale-Up Europe report, released on the first day of VivaTech, emphasized the important role that big corporates play in helping startups scale.

The panel with Chambers, Schoendorf and Cagni emphasized the enormous progress that has been in Europe in the last few years. Chambers urged France – and Europe – to dream big and keep up the momentum.


During a panel moderated by The Innovator’s Editor-in-Chief, Neil Pein, global head of Axcepta, BNP Paribas’ new European payments system, spoke about the payment revolution. He predicted that cash will keep on decreasing. Half of  payments are still made in cash in some geographies but that figure has been declining  by 4% to 5% a year. “With the pandemic, we’ve seen a move, of course, to online payment and, consequently, a decrease in cash,” says Pein. “My guess is that cash will decrease by 10% to 20% in the next few years.” 

Pein outlined three main trends in payments. Immediacy is now the new standard. Payments used to take one day or even more for cross border transfer. Now, people can’t bear it when they don’t have notification instantly. Secondly, smartphones have made payments almost invisible.  “These two reasons create a lot of high-quality interaction with clients and make payment key for the client relationship,” he says.  The third trend is the open banking revolution that forces banks to open their networks and allow startups to provide specific payment service. “All this explains all the buzz around payment right now, a buzz that we can actually see here at VivaTech with all those new brilliant fintechs,” he said.

Pein outlined how BNPP is innovating payments with its Axepta offer and by partnering with fintechs. For example, BNPP has partnered with Token, a London-based open banking payments platform, to launch “Instanea“, which is an instant payment capability for its merchant customers across Europe. Instanea is the first online payments service in Europe to combine the power of Single European Payment Area (SEPA) Instant with open banking APIs in order to bring account-to-account payments to merchants which are lower cost, more secure, and settle instantly, said panelist Todd Clyde, Token’s CEO. The solution is already available to BNP Paribas’ retail customers in France and is live at three customers supporting three distinct use-cases: account top-up, loading a wallet through a bank transfer from within the application, in-store payment at physical point of sale and a traditional e-commerce payment. Clyde said that the partnership with BNPP is a way for traditional banks to use open banking to develop offers that will help them compete with fintechs.

The panel also covered how European banks are teaming to make sure they are part of the payments revolution.  The European Payments Initiative (EPI), aims to propose a new payment solution and payment scheme to Europe. It is an initiative of 33 European large banks and third-party acquirers. It will be a new brand on the issuing and on the acceptance side, but also a solution with two main products, a debit or credit card and digital instant payments, which will be available for all commerce situations.

EPI will offer a wallet to the clients of the participating banks and will be proposed through mobile banking apps and as a standalone app. “Various value-added services are foreseen in order to tailor-make the offer for the European consumers for all retail payment situation such as POS [point of sale], ecommerce, person-to-person (P2P/P2Pro)  and cash withdrawal,” said panelist Martina Weimert. She acknowledged that It will take several years and billions of dollars of investment to make the system work.


 Peggy Johnson, the CEO of Magic Leap, a U.S. company specialized in augmented reality, talked about how, after a failed foray into the consumer sector, the company is focusing on industries like health care, manufacturing, public sector- “sectors that are used to wearing displays on their eyes and now we’re supercharging them with augmented reality”.  “Think of it a little bit as the mobile phone industry in the early years. They were big, and they were expensive, but they delivered value for enterprise. So that is sort of the stage of augmented reality. We’re focusing first on enterprise and eventually we’ll get to consumer use cases,” Johnson told Euronews.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he sees potential for Peleton-like fitness subscriptions in the future of virtual reality (VR) . Zuckerberg spoke about virtual and augmented reality at VivaTech on June 17 via video with Publicis Group Chairman Maurice Levy. He said gaming is the major use case for VR today, but that there’s growing potential in areas like social experiences or fitness.“Think about it like Peloton, where you have a subscription, but instead the device is VR and you put on your headset, and you’re in this amazing environment and you’re doing a boxing class with an instructor, or a dance class,” he said during the video interview. “It’s quickly expanding beyond games into a bunch of other use cases, and we think that this is eventually going to be a big part of the next major computing platform after phones and after PCs.”

In Other News This Week:


US. Push For Self Driving Cars Faces Continued Opposition

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday again rejected attempts to lift regulations to allow for the deployment of thousands of autonomous vehicles as union groups and attorneys campaign against the legislative proposal.

Smart Tires Hit The Road

Goodyear Tire and Bridgestone are rolling out new intelligent tire features that use sensors and artificial intelligence for vehicles delivering packages from e-commerce sites such as Amazon. The technology is geared toward vehicles that specialize in last-mile delivery, which refers to the final step in getting packages from a distribution center to the customer. The market for last-mile delivery has picked up as online shopping has soared during the coronavirus pandemic Goodyear’s new technology, announced  June 16, is called SightLine and includes a sensor and proprietary machine-learning algorithms that can predict flat tires or other issues days ahead of time, by measuring tire wear, pressure, road-surface conditions and many other factors.


Google is Ready To Open Its First Store In New York City

Google opened its first-ever physical store June 17 on the ground floor of its Manhattan headquarters . The store will carry a full array of Google’s gadgets, including Pixel smartphones, Nest home devices and Fitbit’s wearable fitness products, the company said. Inside, shoppers can try out devices and subscription services, while existing customers can get on-site repairs of broken products. The 5,000-square-foot store will include rooms where customers can experience “real-life scenarios” in which Google products can be useful.

Cashierless Startup Trigo Gets $10 Million Investment From German Supermarket Chain REWE

Israel-based cashierless checkout startup Trigo announced that it  has raised a $10 million strategic investment from German supermarket chain Rewe.Trigo is one of the many startups looking to bring cashierless checkout to grocery retail. The company’s technology relies on cameras, computer vision and artificial intelligence installed in stores to keep track of what shoppers pick up and keep, charging them automatically upon exit.  REWE is the second large European grocery chain to partner and invest in Trigo. In October of 2019, UK-based grocer Tesco made an undisclosed strategic investment in Trigo as part of their partnership. Trigo also has a partnership with Israeli grocery chain Shufersal.


Apple Struggles To Make Healthcare Its Greatest Legacy

Tim Cook has said the company’s greatest contribution to mankind will be in health. So far, some Apple initiatives aimed at broadly disrupting the healthcare sector have struggled to gain traction, according to people familiar with them and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.Apple has considered operating clinics with Apple-employed doctors, according to internal documents and sources for The Wall Street Journal; the company reportedly tested the concept by building a team of clinicians, engineers, and others, and taking over clinics serving its employees.


Airline And Bank Sites Go Down  In Another Major Internet Failure

Airlines, banks, stock exchanges and trading platforms suffered brief website outages June 17 after a key piece of internet infrastructure failed, sparking the second major interruption of the past 10 days.Virgin Australia said in a statement on Thursday that it had resolved an IT outage caused by a failure at Akamai Technologies , a global content delivery network.The outages come just over a week after countless websites and apps around the world went down for about an hour when Fastly (FSLY), another major content delivery network, suffered a widespread failure. Content delivery systems improve load times for websites and provides other services to internet sites, apps and platforms. The services accomplish that by storing content and aspects of websites and apps on servers that are physically closer to users.

About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.