Impressions from my first Money 20/20 conference
A number of good recaps attempt to summarize and spin this year’s Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas, most of them by long-time veterans in the financial services industry. This is another approach. As a long-time Big Data guy, I’m interested in how the FinTech world is innovating.
Across three days, 19 tracks, over 200 vendors, and more than 10,000 attendees, Money 20/20 is the biggest gathering of those with a similar view so here are some observations from that lens:
- Millennial preparation is in full swing
- Biometrics is moving beyond the basics
- Mobile wallets are a battleground
The need for a more tech-savvy banking and payments system came across loud and clear. Financial institutions are resolute not to get left behind as the next generation of consumers quickly hits their earning and business decision-making years. Established players and start-ups are embracing social media, mobile platforms, and other technology, looking for ways to gain new customers and keep them engaged. Understanding this, new approaches to credit decisioning and fraud prevention, like Feedzai, as well as updated approaches to point-of-sale (PoS) devices, like Poynt, cater to these more tech-savvy and friction-loathing group.
Apple may have been a first mover for mass-market biometrics adoption with the fingerprint reader, but Money 20/20 was alive with all manner of biometric identification. Some commentators noted “identity is the new money,” as frictionless multi-factor authentication becomes a reality and the end of passwords looms large. Socure CEO and Founder Sunil Madhu had this vision when building Perceive, the facial recognition extension to the Socure Social Biometrics Platform. Using biometrics alongside device fingerprinting and personal information facilitates password-less authentication for onboarding and transactions. From many of the conversations among the finance Technorati, you’d think passwords were already a thing of the past.
Android Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet… and now Chase Pay – which formally launched their offering at Money 20/20, among others, are in a war for your wallet. Now a mainstream topic, consumers are faced with a choice of whether one mobile wallet will rule them all, or if they will need to have several of them. This pits big name technology brands versus well-known financial institutions. As one MasterCard commentator noted, “any device can be a commerce device” today, and this trend will develop further over the coming months as you can expect more announcements and key partnerships across the board.
This dichotomy played out in the keynotes and the sessions, as upstart companies attempt to disrupt established players, who themselves are moving quickly to update their business models and remain on top. Max Levchin, of PayPal fame, used his keynote to talk about his new start-up Affirm, which cuts out the card network and bank altogether – offering the to extend per-item credit and pay over time. Contrast this with the ‘power panel’ Sunday night on disruption in cross-border remittances, where established players Western Union and MoneyGram competed for airtime with start-ups Xoom and Uphold.
Identity ties it all together
Verifying consumer identity, online, in person and on-device is a common thread among all the key innovation trends from the conference. Much of the new technology seeks to provide convenience and reduce friction, while Consumer Information Program (CIP), Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements increasingly play on the minds of the Chief Risk Officer (CRO) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO). Whether it’s a global remittance, mobile wallet purchase, or an old-fashioned online order, confirming that the person initiating it is who they say they are is a prerequisite for much of the innovative solutions on the show floor and in the keynote sessions.
Michael Hiskey is the Chief Product Evangelist for Socure, a company that uses trusted online and social media data for real-time identity verification. Socure is headquartered in New York City and helps institutions better financial inclusion for under-banked and thin-file consumers worldwide.Follow @mphnyc