Meet the Team – John Cragg
CEO at MYHSM
We’re continuing to introduce our customers to the people behind the brand in our Meet the Team series, and this week we’re talking to our CEO, John Cragg. Here you can learn more about what a typical day looks like for him, how he got into payments, his vision for the future of payments, and who he is on a more personal level.
How did you get into payments?
Well, I didn’t get into payments. Rather, I got into nCipher, which designed and manufactured General Purpose HSMs which were on the periphery of the payments space.
Then, back in 2007, nCipher was acquired by Thales eSecurity, which made the payShield HSM which was dedicated to the payment space. As part of this acquisition and the subsequent merging of the organisations I moved over from EMEA Channel Director to Head of Business Development.
What does a typical day look like for you at MYHSM?
My workday starts at around 07:00 when I check my messages and emails. Providing there aren’t any pressing issues I will have breakfast and be at my desk by 08:00. I will then catch up with my teams and discuss progress across the business.
That is where a “typical day” ends as no two days tend to be the same – I guess that’s what makes working in a start-up so exciting. Some days can be quiet with mostly internal calls, planning and discussions happening, but other days have seen us having to jump on planes to dash to meetings in Atlanta or Germany, or up and down to London.
However, for the moment working with the team here at MYHSM over Microsoft Teams is working really well, and while I miss the face to face meetings and socialising, the forced working from home is proving to work well and I think is very efficient. The time I’m saving not having to travel is great, and reduced T&E is helping the bottom line.
What excites you most about working at MYHSM?
Breaking new ground is what excites me in this role – we have taken an idea and turned it into a living, growing business. My team have managed to solve so many challenges and break the mould on the use of Payment HSMs. We have developed relationships and are working with the worlds largest payment application vendors and cloud and aggregation services, as well as clients and prospects from all corners of the world, ranging from start-ups to tier one banks and schemes.
I believe what we have achieved is fantastic, and this has only been made possible by the professionalism, expertise, and hard work of the MYHSM Team and has been a team effort. As well as working with a talented group of people here at MYHSM, what I am appreciating is working with key individuals from across the payments industry which will in time form a new foundation for the industry, enabling a revolution in payments.
When I explain what we do at MYHSM I describe it as providing the ‘plumbing’ or other key parts of the infrastructure of payments. The fact is, this is such a critical element, required to enable fintechs and start-ups to launch and get into production. Without our service, many just can’t get off the ground. What’s not exciting about that?
What long-term impacts do you think COVID will have brought to payments?
We have already seen the initial impact of the pandemic on how consumers and businesses are learning to cope under these changing situations. From this, what I can see is a massive reduction in the use of cash and an accelerated move to digitalisation for everything. I always believed there would be a gradual but constant move away from the high street to online, but this current situation has greatly accelerated this and I can’t see there being a U turn on this once we are through the pandemic.
I believe there are two reasons for this. Firstly, and very sadly, many high street retailers are going to fail. Secondly, as people learn the simplicity and the ease of online shopping they will probably remain online. For instance, when I do venture into my local shopping centre it strikes me that the vast majority of people still venturing into the shops are the elderly, who possibly either don’t want to break the habits of a lifetime or are struggling with the online world.
Of course, the obvious and sensible aversion to touching things is causing two fundamental changes to the way we pay. Firstly, no one is using cash unless they have to – I have had the same £60 in my pocket for the past six months. Secondly, people are avoiding using Chip and PIN machines. And while this has encouraged schemes to raise the limit on contactless, this will cause an increase in fraud. The solution to this is to accelerate the use of CPoC solutions, as offered by MYPINPAD.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have to admit to being a fanatical golfer – this takes a great deal of my spare time. As well as Golf I like to Fly Fish, walking in the lakes, and cooking. Unfortunately, most of my hobbies are very time consuming if, as I do, you want to be good at them. Golf is especially demanding should you want to gain and maintain a good handicap and play well.
I have been a keen outdoor pursuits person from my school days. Growing up in the Lakes meant we had fantastic opportunities through school to do everything from climbing to canoeing and fell walking which, thanks to great support from the teachers, we did most weekends.
So, as you can see from my list of hobbies, I am an outdoor person and Iove the quiet tranquillity of the countryside. That being said, I also love trips to the theatre and good restaurants, as food is also a passion of mine. Reading recipes and experimenting with food is great – some work and some certainly don’t. In fact, while at school I was quite keen on becoming a chef, but as we know I ended up going down the engineering route.