From Consumption and Debt to Sustainability: The New CitiesTheodore Iacobuzio |
Everything was interesting at last month’s CityAge conference on The Global Metropolis, but if you’re in the payments business, the session that probably popped most prominently was the one on The Metropolitan Revolution, which is also the title of a book (and an app), by the presenter, the Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz.
Like most of the presenters at the two-day New York conference (including me), Katz is convinced that cities are more sustainable, greener (yes), and make more sense politically and economically than the suburbs, which last characterized so much of the late 20th century, at least in the U.S.
But Katz managed to connect these insights to broader-based social and economic movements that have everything to do with what’s happened to the global economy since 2008. According to Katz, the great meltdown marked the shift from a consumption-and-debt economy to one based on coexistence, sustainability and commerce. And the only place that can happen is cities. Katz makes a compelling case for the importance of cities in general, one that MasterCard was on board with long ago.
That’s not the only area of intersection, because if Katz is right, he’s validating on a macro level what Global Insights has been saying for four years now: that the U.S. consumer—and global consumers, for that matter—are responding to this new environment by using the payment media that already exist or are in development to construct lifestyles based not on consumption and debt, but on value and sustainability—of which a certain manageable level of debt can be a valuable tool.
My only contribution to this discussion was to point out that none of this can happen without electronic payments, and that’s increasingly including mobile payments. One of the great things about mobile is how inclusive it can be. Unless everybody is banked, then there’s a danger that the new cities will not fulfill their potential, but turn into theme parks for the one percent.