Money2020 Europe

By Glesni Euros

Financial Alchemy

Dozens of thought leaders along with hundreds of delegates made it to Money2020 Europe in Amsterdam.

CEOs, CTOs, marketing managers and executives came to the Rai exhibition hall last week to explore the latest developments in payments, financial technology and the financial services industry more broadly. The theme this year was alchemy – a nod to the array of changes happening across the industry, and the exciting potential mix and interconnections between them.

The breadth of participants at the event was evident. Bright exhibitor stands displayed the names of well-known companies (Barclays, Mastercard etc), but also the names of growing disruptors and challenger brands including Thunes and StreamMind. The ‘Startup City’ just inside the entrance – a long and narrow desk with individual stands for entrepreneurs – was a reminder that Money2020 caters for companies of all sizes, from seed-funded firms right through to incumbents operating at scale.

Newgate Communications was onsite this year as the official PR partner of Team Mobile in the Payments Race. Organised by Fintech Finance magazine, four racers competed in a round-the-world race using only one form of payment each – our racer (and eventual winner), social media star Max Fosh, travelled only using mobile payments. As Max whizzed around the globe for 12 days to the finish line at Money2020, Newgate supported him in securing media coverage and social media endorsements for Max. Our client, global banking software firm Temenos, was a key team sponsor.

Team Mobile winning racer Max Fosh and Kam Chana, Chief Digital Strategist at sponsor Temenos, during the event.

As well as the many exhibitor stands and (impressive!) food halls, stages and lecture rooms dotted around the site were platforms for speeches by industry leaders. These provided an insight into the key ingredients growing and merging within the financial sphere.

The Global Wallet
In a session on the Main Stage, Akshay Naheta, Managing Partner at Japanese conglomerate Softbank, spoke regarding emerging trends within payments. With Japan encouraging businesses to go cashless, Naheta believes this will also soon be a growing trend in the EU and US.

It seems that Asia is already in the payments lead. South-East Asia-based GrabPay (a collection of cashless payment methods and a Softbank Group firm) is, according to Naheta, a ‘global wallet’. With all payments in one digitally-accessible place, global wallets like Grab are increasing financial inclusion in the region. They cater for those who may not be banking via traditional methods, but who can easily manage their finances via a digital account.

Data Dominance
Naheta also referred to the power of data – an ongoing theme throughout Money2020.

The main stage at Money2020.

Consumer-focused companies, he noted, are turning ever-more to fintech as a low hanging fruit, mainly due to the masses of data they have on hand. They can tailor financial products to meet customer needs, based on available customer information.

The use of data is also crucial in the age of Open Banking – as noted in a session by Dave Birch, Director at Consult Hyperion. Open Banking means banks aren’t just competing against banks anymore – they are directly threatened by internet and distribution giants who are masters in leveraging data. Banks have had data for years, but Big Tech companies are proactively going to ‘do something with it.’ To remain relevant in an essentially ‘asymmetric warfare’, banks must find ways of exploiting Open Banking, rather than simply complying to it. To this end, data is key.

For Tom Stafford, Managing Partner at the worldwide investment firm DST, a bank-fintech collaboration is the most likely future outcome. While there remains a need to build software to automate processes and increase efficiency, these tools must use data to provide a pleasant customer experience. Fintechs will play a key role in increasing the visibility and transparency of data. For banks, the challenge is that data is siloed – and while they will remain key within the financial landscape, Stafford believes fintechs will make things more efficient for banks by giving their data the visibility required.

Global Opportunities
So, is the way ahead all just about data? The wider economics of certain regions is also key, noted tech entrepreneur Dr Hermann Hauser.

Speaking in a session on entrepreneurship and investing, Hauser highlighted a European gap in the market within tech disruption. China, he noted, is known for its exponential GDP growth over the past four decades; the US is home to the world’s largest tech companies… but what of the EU?

Entrepreneur Dr Hermann Hauser during his session.

According to data by the Pew Research Center, few see the EU as the world’s top economic power, despite its large economy. Hauser highlighted the abundance of tech start-ups in Europe (sprung from plenty of top universities) … but the problem is that few are succeeding to scale. Scaling up more tech start-ups could increase the EU’s economic clout.

A World of Possibilities
After three days of meetings, gatherings, bustling exhibitor stands and packed-out lecture halls, Money2020 provided a clear insight into financial innovation. Exciting times lie ahead within global fintech and payments.

While some global markets may be leading the way more than others, we see paths crossing and mixed alchemy bubbling, mostly due to a shared emphasis on data usage.

If there’s one thing to take away from it all this year: Data is King, Queen…. Or simply Customer.

The four Payments Race teams on the Main Stage during the finale.