The annual Money20/20 conference in Las Vegas this year explored key themes and topics shaking up treasury and the wider financial services.
Highlights included keynote speeches from Dan Schulman (CEO, PayPal) and Julie Sweet (CEO, Accenture North America), track sessions exploring how the payments industry requires collaboration between different industries and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak speaking on the importance of banking and technology.
Here are our five key takeaways from the conference:
Addressing financial inclusion
Financial inclusion was a topic on the mind of leading fintech companies and leaders. Work collaboratively as an industry and tackle the unbanked and underserved and to better serve those in the financial markets was a key focus at the conference.
Dan Schulman opened his keynote presentation on day two of the conference by addressing the importance of the movement.
“Two billion people in the world are currently unbanked. In the US, there are 70 million outside the financial services industry.”
Schulman made a clear case to all attendees that financial inclusion is a topic the industry must tackle together and collaborate. He stated that we should be the generation that looks back and can say we ignited the move towards addressing this issue.
“Managing and moving money should be a privilege for all citizens, not just the rich,” Schulman adds.
Michael Miebach, chief product officer at Mastercard also spoke about the importance of combatting financial inclusion in his keynote talk. Miebach discussed the only way to reach the unbanked is through technology and the opportunities to connect the unbanked with the digital world should be explored in depth.
Building technology and products that make payments accessible to the unbanked may be a challenge, but it’s achievable. The only way to solve this problem is to partner across industries and segments with a shared commitment to help close the gap.
Mobile banking and improving customer experience
Adoption of mobile banking is a movement the payments industry has been closely watching for some time now. Millennials are the largest group of online shoppers, and also the largest adopters of mobile banking and in-app banking services over bank branches, so it’s important to target this audience and analyse how banking is shifting to mobile.
More people than ever before want access to their money and banking services with a push of a button, with as little friction as possible.
Customer’s expectation has grown simultaneously with the adoption of technology with banking. Payments must be relevant to consumers, built on modern systems and offer experience-based rewards and insights such as budgeting and analysis. The future of mobile banking will be catered to the consumer and make managing finances an easy and rewarding experience.
The opportunity with AI and banking
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak stole the show on his discussion of leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in computing and technology, stating how AI and machine learning can make our everyday banking requirements easier, offering suitable products and creating interactive experiences. Several speakers and attendees were also focusing on the implementation of AI within banking and payments.
The concept of AI has been around for decades, but only in the last few years has its modern applications had profound effects on the banking spectrum. Wozniak also discussed how machine learning wasn’t created to replace humans, but rather to enhance human efforts and to assist in solving admin details so that humans can focus on details that require personal knowledge and experience.
Social payments were addressed by leading innovators and companies who believe that messaging apps are the next big thing in payments. Connecting people with a social context of a transaction is quickly increasing, and has far greater impact when connecting a payment with a concept that sparks emotion.
As mobile payments have become ubiquitous and is helping drive commerce in new verticals and contexts; enabling consumers and merchants to connect at the point of discovery on social media platforms is a big driver of commerce. Social media platforms are being used by roommates and colleagues to split bills, rent and utilities, and are done on innovative peer to peer payments platforms such as Venmo and Braintree.
Speakers from technology platforms including Facebook and WeChat Pay agreed in the common understanding that social and in-app payments will shape the future of finance.
Collaboration & partnerships between fintechs and financial services
The talk of partnerships was frequently featured at Money20/20, with one clear message: the next great innovation won’t be provided by a single player – it’s going to come through the power of partnerships.
The future of payments is increasingly driven by those outside of the traditional payment ecosystem. However, without the foundation of the incumbent payment technology companies, these disruptors are challenged to scale their solutions and establish a strong user base.
Banks have warmed up to the idea of partnering with fintechs that are more nimble and agile, where technology can enhance the user experience for banks facing problems with their outdated legacy systems. Long gone are the days where fintech start-ups clashed with the more prominent banking players.
Partnerships between fintechs and banks should have a dual mission of democratising financial service products for consumers and increase commerce capabilities and opportunities for merchants.
On the third day of the Singapore Fintech Festival conference, there was a focus on specific applications of fintech innovation. One was trade finance, which is clearly is ripe for a revolution.
Kicking off the first day of the Singapore Fintech Festival, issues with cryptocurrencies were addressed by MIT media labs director, Joi Ito, and panels of technology leaders discussed how they’re using data analytics.
It’s almost time for the Treasury Leaders Summit that will take place on the 5-6 of December in London, where senior treasury and finance leaders from across global capitals will come together to discuss the key issues impacting their industry.
Following two weeks packed with travelling and conferencing for GTNews team. Here are our highlights of Sibos and Money 20/20 - two of the largest events in digital finance this year.