Tough Questions Asked by Fintech Gurus After a Difficult, But Booming 2020

November 5, 2020 | Marcy CampbellGM & VP of North AmericaAustralia Sales & Global Sales Operations and Frank Keller, VP of Sales, Europe 

Every year, the brightest minds converge in one place to discuss what’s next for the financial technology industry and forge partnerships that will set that future in motion. In the past, this has taken place at Money20/20 Asia, Europe and U.S. in a bustling conference hall. This year, the industry event went virtual and hosted the first ever MoneyFest: a curated set of conversations with over 100+ industry insiders delivering business-critical intel. 

We joined Sanjib Kalita, Editor in Chief for Money20/20, and fintech reporter Tanaya Macheel, to unpack what's next for the commerce ecosystem. In case you missed it, here’s a summary of what to expect for the industry as we look into the future. 

 

The Superheroes of the Payments and Finance Industry 

The last several months have been incredibly challenging for every industry across the globe. But they’ve brought to light some positive examples of how financial and other institutions overcame adversity and showed true leadership during the financial crisis. 

These leaders are true superheroes. And while nothing can truly compare to health care professionals on the front lines, as Jill Castilla, the CEO of Citizen Bank of Edmond puts it, they acted as the world’s economic first respondersCastilla and her team were front and center seeing the impact the virus was having on the economy, especially for small businesses and individuals who were waiting for stimulus checks. So, she got scrappy and formed a partnership with Mark Cuban that started on Twitter and together, they were able to create an overdraft protection program up to $900 for the bank’s members who were waiting for their stimulus checks. This was a great example of agility and flexibility, using every tool in her toolbox to piece together a solution that met customers current needs. 

But Castilla was not alone in this pursuit, Kala Gibson from Fifth Third Bank and Sharon Miller, the head of small business at Bank of America, participated in the session, “Distributing Billions in Days, Addressing Challenges and Changes for Small Business Banking.” Both banks were critical in helping provide small businesses access to the benefits of the Paycheck Protection Program.  

If you remain positive, many opportunities can be born on the other side. One of PayPal’s enterprise merchants recently told us that 2020 is their Super Bowl moment. Now’s their time to move into the big leagues and to use this period of change to re-imagine their business. This is a mentality the entire industry should put forth. 

 

Looking into the Crystal Ball of Payments 

The sessions on the second day of Money20/20 demonstrated the magic of the industry this year, but they also previewed what’s still to come. One session that stood out was, “Why Every Central Bank Will Have its Own Digital Currency in a Year’s Time.” It dives into the inevitable shift to digital forms of currencies, which could bring with them further efficiency, speed and resilience of the payments system. And just as important, the ability for governments to disburse funds to citizens quickly.  

As well as opportunities, these new business models and value chains add a new layer of challenges for regulators and policy makers who are looking to keep financial services safe and secureThe policy and regulatory agenda in Europe in particular have come a long way already to shape these new frameworkswhich are also fostering innovation and growth. These are two sides of the same coin.  

A major takeaway from these sessions is that a new financial technology solution can succeed, only when it solves concrete user and customer problems. Be it faster payments, available to small businesses, so they have better access to cash flow, or contactless solutions, so consumers can shop in stores without touching a keypad on a POS device.  

 

An Industry Addressing Gender Diversity 

In an industry historically dominated by men, this year's conference shone a spotlight on the female leaders building for tomorrow. Perspective from the C-Suite, Meeting Demands in a New Digital Age, featured Bank of America’s (BOA) CTO and Chief of Operations, Cathy Bessant. In addition to talking about a 10-year transformation BOA underwent to simplify and modernize their business, she talked about the bank’s focus on women in the workplace. To emphasize the progress they’ve made in supporting females in the workplace, Bessant shared that 26% of the patents in the first half of 2020 were issued to women in the bank. The industry average is 13% to put that into context. 

Another powerful session was, Rise Up on How to align with Male Allies to Create a Female Future in Fintech. The speakers shared a grim stat from last year: A report from McKinsey showed that women account for only 19% of positions in the c-suite in finance. And data from McKinsey released this summer showed this figure only worsened as a result of the pandemic. But there is hope.  

The panelists shared three key tips for how women can power through this fog and come out ahead: focus on existing alignments and relationships, leveraging existing infrastructure and look outside your organization – the most strategic allies come from unlikely places. 

 

From Science Fiction to Reality, the Power of Technology 

The industry has demonstrated some amazing technological innovations, but one of the most important parts of bringing these to life for customers is to make them work at scale. How can you provide services with the same convenience, speed and security, at mass? 

"Views from the inside: The latest fintech developments in China,” doubled down on this idea: that successfully meeting the huge demand for digital payments is not a miracle. It took years of building mobile payments infrastructure and testing it to ensure consistent up-time and security 

As we approach the holiday season, keeping infrastructure in pace with volume growth is top of mind for most in the industry.  

But this difficult task will not go away after the New Year and it forces us to look for better solutions. Several speakers at Money20/20 discussed making authentication more efficient without losing the benefits of safety through solutions like biometrics. These solutions are available, but you still need to answer the question of scale, as well as speed, simplicity, security and you need to bring policy makers and regulators on board.  

So, what’s next at a time when payments and digital commerce have reached their long-awaited moment to shineIt was well described during the session, The Biggest Opportunities in Post-Pandemic Finance – and How to Capitalize on Them.” The great shift that we are still to comprehend, is in education and health servicesEd-tech and digital health are the next areas for leap frogging and challenging status quo, when people, who have no access to good education and health support, will finally get it.  

Nobody can predict today how 2021 will look and in what format we will be meeting next time at Money20/20. But we are sure, the industry will keep dreaming big. 

 

To listen to the Daily Wrap Up interviews with Marcy and Frank, visit the Money20/20 site here. These 10-minute daily interviews take 4-plus hours of global content and distill it down to the key messages and takeaways in an unmissable rapid-fire wrap up.