The American Bankers Association next week will add three names, most notably that of Dee W. Hock, to its honor roll of lifetime achievement in the bank card industry.
Mr. Hock, who designed and built the Visa organization and set a visionary tone for the global development of electronic payments, plus longtime MasterCard leader Arthur B. Ziegler and automated teller machine network executive David A. O'Connor will be the 11th, 12th, and 13th recipients of ABA Distinguished Service Awards.
Mr. Hock-whom ABA organizers failed to persuade to accept the honor in three previous annual ceremonies-will attend an awards dinner this weekend before the association's bank card conference in Philadelphia. He will also address the conference Monday on the cause that is preoccupying his post- retirement life.
The title of the presentation, "Chaordic Organizations: Out of Control and Into Order," is based on a word Mr. Hock coined from "chaos" and "order."
He contends that corporate, government, and other current institutions are built on industrial-era foundations that cannot bear the weight of the coming information-based millennium. He looks for answers in theories of complex, adaptive, self-organizing systems, or "chaords;" and he regards Visa as a prototype for turning industrial-age, hierarchical organizing principles on their head.
Mr. Hock heads a nonprofit organization, the Chaordic Alliance of Half Moon Bay, Calif., which is working with several groups to put the philosophies into action.
But it was the 1970-84 period, the first 15 years of Visa U.S.A., Visa International, and their predecessor National BankAmericard Inc., that Mr. Hock, 69, is being recognized for.
Visa's first president and chief executive officer "is widely regarded as the father of the bank card business," said James B. Shanahan, principal of Business Dynamics Consulting, who works with the ABA on the awards program.
"He was the guy who made the banks believe that they could take on American Express and that this was a big business rather than an experiment on the side that was being handled out in the operating centers," Mr. Shanahan said. "He really brought it into the big time."
He called Mr. Hock "a classic leader, a guy who really saw what the business could be and made other people believe it as well."
Kudos have come from many directions. Joseph Nocera, in his book on financial services visionaries called "A Piece of the Action," compared Mr. Hock's achievements to those of John Reed of Citicorp and Donald Regan of Merrill Lynch & Co., among others.
D. Dale Browning, a previous ABA honoree for his early credit card work and the organization of the Plus ATM network, has said, "Without him, I'm not sure (the electronic payment infrastructure) would have gotten done."
Former Chase Manhattan Bank executive Frederick Hammer once said, "For all he did, the industry should write Dee Hock a check for $1 billion."
Self-effacing when it comes to recognition, Mr. Hock professes to be completely consumed by his current crusade, hoping to effect changes in society before it is too late.
"When is the last time evolution rang your number and asked your consent?" he asked in a recent lecture. "If your organization is not actively involved in reconceiving, you are already in a state of dissolution and decay."
Whereas Mr. Hock was forceful and outspoken, Arthur Ziegler of Marine Midland Banks Inc., Buffalo, made his mark in a quieter, behind-the-scenes way, Mr. Shanahan said.
Mr. Ziegler was at the 1966 meeting that led to the creation of Interbank Card Association, later MasterCard International, of which he was board chairman. His Marine Midland colleague, the late Karl H. Hinke, who was honored by the ABA in 1995, was Interbank's chief organizer.
Mr. Ziegler rose through the retail banking ranks and took a special interest in global card affairs, playing a key role in the forging of MasterCard's partnerships with the Eurocard and Europay. He was on the board of that European group from 1988 until 1995-five years past his official retirement from Marine Midland, where he spent 38 years.
"I believe that the United States, as a group of bankers, no longer owns the world of cards," Mr. Ziegler, 68, said in an interview from his home in Orchard Park, N.Y.
He traces his involvement in bank cards to 1957, when Marine Midland, now a unit of HSBC Holdings, became the first with a statewide charge card system. "We wanted to have interchange throughout the area," at the time a novel idea, he said.
In the 1980s and early 1990s he was one of several MasterCard directors who together left a lasting mark on that organization and the industry through management appointments and innovations like gold and corporate cards. Also in that cadre were former BankAmerica Corp. chairman Richard Rosenberg, an ABA honoree last year; Alex W. Hart of First Interstate Bancorp, who was MasterCard president from 1989 to 1994; and Edward D. Miller of Manufacturers Hanover Corp. and Chemical Banking Corp., now head of Equitable Life Assurance Society.
Mr. O'Connor, 63, founded the Reston, Va.-based Most network, which merged in 1996 with Honor Technologies Inc., now the biggest of the regional ATM and point of sale networks.
Mr. O'Connor said he was introduced to the banking industry as a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Los Angeles, where he investigated bank robberies. He moved east for a job at the advertising agency that represented Virginia National Bank, which hired him as marketing director.
After automated tellers were introduced. Mr. O'Connor said he was asked to produce a strategic plan for 1975 to 1985, "not just for ATMs but for electronic banking generally."
He worked closely with International Business Machines Corp. to develop that company's first ATM model.
"We were accused in the early days of wanting to use ATMs to get people out of the branches," Mr. O'Connor said. "But we were really trying to build a more comprehensive delivery system so customers had more points of access."
Once Virginia National-it was later absorbed into NationsBank Corp.- finally embraced ATMs, it was one of the first to place them at supermarkets and other off-premises locations.
The idea of a shared network came when Mr. O'Connor approached Newport News Ship Building about putting an ATM in the employee cafeteria to serve 30,000 employees.
"They said we could do it if we made sure all the employees could use it, no matter what bank they used," Mr. O'Connor recalled. The need to "figure out how to get a deposit from Bank A back to Bank B" became "the genesis of the switching business."
Mr. O'Connor founded the Virginia network that ultimately became Internet Inc., operator of Most. He left the bank to become Internet's CEO and he remains vice chairman of Florida-based Honor Technologies, commuting from his Virginia Beach home.
He said that in the early 1980s, "if I had 30,000 transactions, it was a big month. Today, you have 30,000 transactions before eight o'clock in the morning.
"We still only have 51% or 52% of bank customers who use ATMs today, so we have a long way to go," he added.
Mr. Shanahan called Mr. O'Connor "one of the guys who got the whole electronic funds transfer world going."
As an ATM luminary, Mr. O'Connor follows in the footsteps of former NYCE Corp. president Richard Yanak, whom the ABA honored last year along with Mr. Rosenberg and, posthumously, the founders of Fair, Isaac & Co.
The ABA bank card conference will open Monday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia with a keynote address by Charles M. Cawley, chairman of MBNA America Bank. He is to discuss the value of affinity marketing relationships, which is MBNA's forte.
Also on the three-day program are "state of the card association" addresses by Alan J. Heuer, president of MasterCard's U.S. region, and Carl F. Pascarella, president of Visa U.S.A.
Prospects for international expansion by U.S. card issuers will be the topic of a panel discussion to include Robin Abrams, president and CEO of Verifone Inc.; R. Dwane Krumme, president and CEO of JCB Bank; and Richard Robida, executive vice president of First Data Corp.
Updates will also be presented on the U.S. government's efforts in electronic commerce, smart cards, and procurement card systems.