Technology Pioneer attends the first Davos World Economic Forum

Off to the World Economic Forum

Q: Tell us about Obopay and why are you, the CEO of Obopay attending the World Economic ForumObopay is a mobile banking and payments provider. We are based in the US and India. We are recognized as a early leader in the rapidly expanding financial services sector delivering services via the mobile phone. The opportunity is massive – 4B phones but only 1.6 B bank accounts. Obopay gives those with bank accounts added convenience and those traditionally underserved access to affordable secure banking and electronic payments.

I am attending the World Economic Forum because they have recognized Obopay as a technology pioneer. Obopay is receiving an award at this annual event in Davos.

Q: What is the World Economic Forum?

The World Economic Forum (WEF) is a Geneva-based non-profit foundation best known for its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland which brings together top business leaders, international political leaders, selected intellectuals and journalists to discuss the most pressing issues facing the world including health and the environment. The World Economic Forum was founded in 1971 by Klaus M. Schwab, a business professor in Switzerland. Beyond meetings, the Forum produces a series of research reports and engages its members in sector specific initiatives. Regular attendees at annual meeting include Bill and Melinda Gates.

Q: What happens at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting?

It is non-stop sessions on a variety of key global topics. In the evenings there are private events hosted by Presidents of countries and CEO’s of Fortune 50 companies. The convening of such a top level global group – spanning government, corporate, thinkers/academics, and entrepreneurs – is unique and powerful
Q: What is the theme of this year’s Annual Meeting?

The 40th anniversary of the Annual Meeting is a defining moment for world leaders as they meet under the theme “Improve the State of the World: Rethink, Redesign, Rebuild“. Over 2,500 leaders from over 90 countries representing business, government and civil society will work together on pressing challenges. “We must look at the Meeting in the context of what’s happening in the world and we see that the present system of global cooperation is not working sufficiently,” said Klaus Schwab. Haiti will feature on the agenda: “We hope we can present a major common effort to the world community showing true corporate global citizenship in Davos,” he said.

Q: Who attends?

This is a very exclusive event. It is by invitation only and even the most powerful and influential people in the world may not be invited every year. – must be a member or invited to attend. All attendees have security checks and there is no dropping by Davos. I went in 2003 to help with a Global Giving private evening event. I thought that I would be allowed to listen into a few sessions – no way. If you were not an official attendee you were not allowed to participate.

Q. Why is Obopay going to the WEF?

Every year WEF recognizes approximately 20 technology pioneers and asks them to attend Davos. This year there were 26 companies recognized – of those 11 were IT companies, the rest were health, energy, or other. We were the only financial services company recognized this year.

Q: What are some of the sessions Obopay will be attending.

We are invited to most of the sessions at WEF – There are about 5 different sessions going on at anytime during the 4 day conference. I haven’t decided all the sessions I will attend. Below are ones I am committed to attending so far. My husband, Joe Tumminaro, is attending and he can attend sessions also.

With all the compelling topics, we plan on splitting up frequently so we can cover 2 sessions at once and then brief each other. In future blogs we will give more details about our plans and then our experiences.

My agenda so far is …

Tuesday 26 January
20.00 – 22.00 Private Dinner entitled Technology Pioneers Welcome Dinner and Awards Ceremony 2010 (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)

Thursday 28 January
8.30 – 10.15 Interactive Session entitled From Pioneers to Champions (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)

14.30 – 16.30 Workshop entitled Redesigning with Technology Pioneers

19.00 – 20.00 Your Private Session entitled Schwab Foundation 10-Year Anniversary Reception (Private Events for Annual Meeting)

Friday 29 January
8.00 – 10.15 Interactive Session entitled The Dynamic Duo (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)

14.30 – 16.45 WorkSpace entitled Advancing Models for Mobile Financial Services (Industry Partnership Meeting for Telecommunications)

Saturday 30 January
14.30 – 15.30 Session entitled Technology Pioneers Wrap-Up (Technology Pioneers meeting for Annual Meeting)


About Carol Realini

Serial Entrepreneur, Mobile Payments and Banking Pioneer, Author, Board Member Carol Realini is a successful Silicon Valley executive and expert in financial service innovation. She has worked with leading financial institutions including MasterCard and Citi, as well as numerous multinational and regional banks, to change the way banking is conducted. In 2011, as a Technology Pioneer attending the World Economic Forum, she led discussions on alternative banking at their meeting in Davos. A serial entrepreneur, she has been recognized as one of the 50 Top Women in Technology by Corporate Board Member magazine. Carol is a huge believer in the potential of mobile banking and payments to create financial inclusion - where everyone with a mobile phone has access to affordable financial services that empower their life and work. To understand Carol's vision please watch the WEF video (click on the link below). Carol also mentors entrepreneurs providing wisdom and lessons learned from her four successful startup experiences.
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