Musings on the 8th year of the Grandaddy of Fintech gatherings
1) The event was decidedly smaller this year, and by all accounts, has lost some of its frenetic buzz. An outgrowth of market maturity? A new phase of market evolution? A little of both perhaps, making it less about disruptive innovation and more about disruptive integration. This was clearly reflected in the verbiage strewn across booths: Orchestration, Platform, Identity, User Experience.
2) A number of major players didn't bother with exhibition hall booths this year. Instead there was increased focus on large - and often well-catered (yum, yum) - meeting rooms. General consensus this year, and really for the past several years, has been that the true value of the event is the ability to meet in person with key industry players in one place over a 4 day period. In the age of digital everything, it's refreshing that actual face-time (no biometric pun intended) is the fundamental reason to attend Money2020.
3) While some might conclude that as Money2020 is no longer the fountain of innovation it once was, it is no longer as relevant, useful, or even as much of a bell-weather of market growth as in years past. I would argue quite the contrary. Fintech has graduated to a mainstream component of the financial services marketplace and now has burgeoning enterprise-scale ambition. The evolution of the event speaks directly to its accomplishments as a vehicle for market transformation.
4) Identity will play a crucial role in the next wave of fintech innovation. As the Prince of Payments himself, Dr. Blockchain, David Birch said, "If you know who someone is, payments are easy." And this is precisely where biometrics will play an increasingly important role. In a few short years, biometrics at Money2020 have gone from lonely, bastard cousin to celebrated, love child. (We can thank findBIOMETRICS' Founder and President, Peter O'Neill for 7 years of driving this evolution.)
5) AI, machine learning, and data mining built on top of a secure, reliable, and privacy enhancing, biometric-based identity infrastructure is poised to facilitate the emergence of single-user-view that vastly improves the customer experience while streamlining internal processes. This will finally enable financial service players to achieve their ultimate goal: offering the right products, to the right customer, at the right time.
7) What is the next round of fintech innovation and where will it come from? The answer likely lays in one of those key "booth themes" - Orchestration. Fintech players have set their sites well beyond dancing around the fringes of financial services, upping the UIX game on mobile devices. They are now looking to integrate broadly across large financial services organizations. Operating across silos, enabling cross-functional approaches to fraud prevention and detection, integrating AI, ML, and Big Data to leverage biometric identity as the basis of secure frictionless user experience while producing a deep, intimate single view of the customer.
6) And, finally what does this mean for established financial services players? Are they doomed? Are they simply too ingrained to be displaced? As these behemoths struggle through this extremely disruptive, yet inevitable digital transformation, it may very well be the wealth of their data resources that proves their primary defensible bulwark against the agility, flexibility, and innovation of the upstart fintechs that dream of threatening their existence.
So what did I learn at Money2020 this year?
Fintech is now decidedly mainstream.
The era of “dancing around the edges” is quickly coming to an end.
Integration has replaced Innovation as success is now linked to - if not defined by - the ability to develop and deliver integrated, enterprise scale solutions.
Identity and payments are on the path to becoming synonymous.
Biometrics are no longer the bastard cousins of fintech.
The dual ecosystem that has driven Money2020 for close to a decade, that is composed of both financial service behemoths and fintech upstarts, may have reached a level of sustainable coexistence driving continuous digital transformation.
The marketplace has finally caught up to its moniker as the initial Money 2020 mission appears to have been accomplished - bringing together fintech innovators, with established financial services and payments players, as well as Big Tech market leaders to innovate the next generation of money. Now, we just need to figure out how to make all this stuff work together!
Oh, and it’s really time to change the name. Money2030, here we come!