When was the last time you attended a conference that kicked off with a hip-hop video, had breakout sessions so popular that delegates felt like they needed to tip the door person to gain entry, and yet was focused on the straight lace world of financial services and data security?
If you had the opportunity to attend Money 2020 this month in Las Vegas, you know exactly what I am talking about.
With one of the best array of presenters I have enjoyed and the highest production value in the conference itself, Money 2020 not only provided a venue to learn about “the future of money”, but also created a powerful networking opportunity for anyone in the Fintech, Loyalty, or Payments industries.
An interesting sidebar that might be considered an “insider’s tip” for others that plan and host industry conferences is this: while walking into one of the sessions, I struck up a conversation with Simran Rekhi Aggarwal, one of the founders of Money2020. I complemented her on the event, letting her know it was one of the most worthwhile I’ve attended over the past year or two. Her response was telling, as she stated simply “that’s what happens when people from outside the conference business organize a conference.”
Over the course of three days, the event was headlined by the top executives of payment networks Visa, American Express and Discover. MasterCard was the only network without a keynote spot. Large banks and financial services providers, Citi and FIS among them, delivered their plans for the near future, while retailers Sam’s Club and Subway made product-related announcements and offered their view of how consumers will interact with their brands in the future.
On the heels of the Apple Pay announcements from the previous month, most of the buzz in the event was aimed to dissect the emerging payments business, with multiple conversations overheard debating which “payment disruptor” would win the digital wallet wars. Not surprisingly, the keynotes presented by Amazon, Facebook, MCX and PayPal were among the most popular. Bitcoin was widely discussed as well.
The words that I heard most often during this event were friction, simplicity, security, and loyalty.
- Friction, as in “we are going to take the friction out of the consumer’s shopping experience
- Simplicity, as in “the technology we have developed with actually make the payment process more simple and transparent, rather than complicated for the consumer”
- Security, as in “if the digital wallet solution described is not perceived to be and in fact is, secure, consumers will not adopt it widely
- Loyalty, as in “no matter which digital payment solution comes out on top, there needs to be a compelling value proposition, like a loyalty program, to trigger consumer adoption”
Most agreed that the next few years will represent the greatest advances and changes in the payment system since the introduction of the first credit card. The majority also agreed there will be more than one winner in the digital payment “wars”.
There are important influencers of the outcome of this competition between Apple Pay, Google Wallet, MCX, Softcard and others. The dichotomy of mobile handset preferences in the market today, the tug of war between retailers and card issuers / payment networks, the control of consumer data, and the ability to scale across the masses all will have influence towards the outcome of the competition.
Maybe the most encouraging acknowledgement spoken by several of the presenters at the event was that, in the end, the consumer will have the most influence in this process, becoming the deciding factor in which digital payment systems come out on top.