Key takeaways from Fintech Week London

Key takeaways from Fintech Week London

Last week, we attended Fintech Week London’s flagship conference along with more than 1,000 decision makers from across the global fintech space, many of which were focused on payments. We attended to find out what companies are talking about from a cross-border perspective.

Upcoming elections in both the UK and US hung over the event and were frequently mentioned in panels. Linked to this was repeated discussion of regulation and how it can help drive innovation while at the same time not holding fintechs back, as well as the potential for AI – but as we found at Money20/20 Europe, the conversation felt more practical than hype-led.

Below, we’ve rounded up our key takeaways from a panel focused on international payments, which featured The Banker’s Elizabeth Lumley, B4B Payments Head of Product Niyati Joshi, Kora Operations Lead Stephen Oluwatobi, Shoosmiths Partner Luke Stubbs and Gnosis Pay Head of Strategy Breno Maximiano:

  • Panellists noted the G20 Roadmap for Enhancing Cross-Border Payments – which FXC Intelligence provides much of the data for – is helping promote the development of payments infrastructure, but hasn’t necessarily been a driving force for financial inclusion everywhere. In Africa, for example, Oluwatobi noted that different countries have different requirements, which has made it harder to drive a collaborative regulatory progress but also led to the creation of market-led solutions such as mobile money transfer service M-PESA.
  • Despite steps forward, core payments infrastructure (i.e. local clearing systems) is still missing in many countries and needs further investment to build a foundation for better cross-border payments. Various models were given as an example of countries doing this well (e.g. Brazil’s Pix), but these solutions need to be tailored based on the region.
  • Panellists brought up blockchain several times, aligning with other discussions of stablecoins and CBDCs at the event. Maximiano (from Gnosis Pay, which runs its own decentralised payments infrastructure) said he believed that blockchain could one day be an international payments layer, but this would require interoperability with local rails.
  • One of the questions was whether all the different initiatives going on across cross-border payments will be interoperable with each other or lead to more fragmentation in the system, with one solution trying to emerge as a leader. Joshi said that it will be less about there being one winner and more about choice for users – though orchestration will remain a big challenge. 
  • Digital IDs were also discussed in relation to payments, in particular why these have struggled to get off the ground in some countries. Stubbs said that one of the key challenges has been removing friction within a regulatory landscape that is also trying to protect data sovereignty. He added that regulation to improve cross-border payments will continue at a slow and steady pace amid hampering factors including political instability and a focus from regulators on financial crime.

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