My learnings from Money20/20 Europe

17 June, 2019
Alexander Filshie, Earthport CFO
Alexander FilshieEarthport CFO

In May, I attended Money20/20 Europe. As usual, the European meeting of Money20/20 did not disappoint and certainly drew a range of FinTech businesses ranging from innovative smaller players, to big global organisations. As such, Money20/20 serves up an excellent breadth of delegates. This year, the theme was innovation, and it was clear that no one disagreed with the need for openness and collaboration. Presentations covered payments and fintech themes, and featured round-ups from a wide variety of businesses. Whilst innovation and collaboration remained prominent, topics like blockchain had, to my mind, receded slightly into the background for 2019, with a focus on the here and now instead.  Personally, my key takeaways from Money20/20 were very much about the value of partnerships and the debate on the future of Open-Banking - and identifying how both elements will be valuable for the payments sector and Earthport going forward.

With further regulations associated with PSD2 arriving in September, it was no surprise that a focus on Open-Banking would be a big feature at Money20/20 in Amsterdam and a lot of interesting debates were held around the value it brings, with disparate views expressed by international representatives on how much real change has so far occurred. With Open-Banking certainly taking the initial steps towards the aggregation of a large amount of data, and this flow of information being shared in such a way between financial service providers for the first time, there also comes a clear need to turn attention to protecting people’s digital identities. I expect this will need to be rapidly developed to further incorporate data controls associated with PSD2. Watch this space.

It was interesting to hear from Imran Gulamhuseinwala, Implementation Trustee of Open Banking, expressing a view that 99% of the Open-Banking effort to date was driven by compliance, and that this is often the driver pushing providers to compete and innovate. I certainly look forward to seeing the customer experience come to fruition for Open-Banking. A question asked often was “…where is Open-Banking now?” and it was apparent that attitudes to this depend entirely on your perspective and where in the world you are based. Some felt there was very little obvious change currently, however, I am of the impression that when PSD2 comes into full force in September, we will really see change take place. Already observers beyond the UK and EU are watching how it will be implemented here before deploying in their own countries. To me, the interest, investment and drive is already clear - we are only a year in and already the potential is huge. I believe Open-Banking really can offer myriad benefits to consumers as well as businesses taking part in creating these “eco-systems”. In order to get the best value out of this technology though, there is a heavy reliance on providers working in partnerships to achieve an optimal version of this offering.

At Money20/20, the conversation regularly returned to partnerships and collaboration, not only with regards to Open-Banking, but as the technological (and geographical) borders come down, the ways in which partners can work together to achieve more, faster. Working alongside one another incentivises companies to focus on creating real value and best-in-class experiences that can benefit the aforementioned “eco-systems”. By always keeping the customer at the heart of these propositions and connecting the customers and the environment, businesses will get the most out of these partnerships. With an increasing need to focus on customer experience and speed, particularly around faster payments, much of the presentations at Money20/20 focused on what is propelling the faster payments experience, and how working together can drive this.

Money20/20 was a great place to get together with those in the industry and since Earthport’s’ acquisition by Visa was completed in early May, we have been working hard to finalise our joint offering. Certainly for Earthport and myself, the opportunity to connect with Visa partners and customers at the Visa stand was great. Meeting with our Visa Europe colleagues including Charlotte Hogg, David Josephs and Helen Jones was enlightening and we will start working with them closely in the near future. Amongst several other talks, I attended a Lab Session hosted by Nick Ogden, the founder of ClearBank who discussed new clearing and payment settlements in the UK. I was excited to attend a panel at a co-located event, hosted by the European Women Payments Network. Here Earthport’s own Chief Operating Officer Helen Smith spoke on the new world of work and human leadership in the age of disruption, as well as sharing her experiences and insight on transformation, alongside other esteemed panellists from a range of backgrounds.

Tired but inspired, I left Money20/20 Europe with the feeling that there are great developments to come in the FinTech industry, that the power is very much in capable and collaborative hands and looking forward to seeing the role of Earthport and Visa in all this, unfolding.

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