Money20/20’s attendance was excellent this year. Here are my big takeaways from the biggest payments event of the year.
- Crypto was noticeable for its absence.
Last year, crypto stands were everywhere; this year, very few. Behind the scenes, however, plenty is still going on to serve the c. 300 million crypto users worldwide. Increasing merchant acceptance is critical so these hundreds of millions of users have something to do with their crypto other than speculate. But many industry players remain cautious about touching digital assets. The use cases in payments are still at an early stage and mostly focused on faster settlements outside of banking hours and edge cases such as volatile economies and restricted currencies.
- The conference was a great mix of excitement to meet in person but there was also a little more austerity in the air too.
No one quite knows how the next few years will play out so cash conservation (shown by the less flamboyant stands to last year for example) is on everyone’s minds. Offering more services to existing clients is sitting ahead of expensive growth and new customer acquisition.
- The payments infrastructure space is fast becoming one of the most crowded.
And even more so when it comes to cross-border. Co-opetition is at the core, with many companies big and small offering payouts to 100+ countries, in real-time, to many different types of endpoints. Cross-sector partnerships support the perpetual reselling of a competitor’s services as part of a company’s own offering. How all these companies differentiate themselves is going to be fascinating to see. Global, instant reach has become table stakes, meaning value-add services will become increasingly important.
- Banks remain the enigmas in the cross-border payment sector.
Some of the largest banks are centralising their capabilities to put renewed energy and focus into products that treat both internal bank divisions and external companies as customers. But many banks, especially in the US, are also stuck on old technology and core wire systems that are very hard to unwind, however strong fintech offerings may be. No single player has cracked that opportunity yet, but many are trying.
- Financial inclusion and the share of female fintech leaders in the space still has a long way to go but great progress is being made.
Credit to Money20/20, where female attendance has risen to over 30% at the event and nearly 50% of panellists were women. And in my panel (summarised below), we had a deep discussion on where both digital and crypto may drive further female inclusion in financial services (an area the UNCDF has done some of the best work on).