FinTech Connect Europe 2023 welcomed a wide range of fintech and finance experts and influencers for a second day, to discuss some of the most important topics for the industry in the build-up to 2024.
As FinTech Connect Europe returned for its tenth year, The Fintech Times explored some of the most important discussions had on stage.
Using fintech for good remains a hugely important topic for the industry, especially as the political landscape remains difficult for a large proportion of the population. Christophe Langlois, co-chair of EMEA at the Fintech B2B Marketing Community, moderated a morning discussion on the topic.
Emma Cherniavsky, CEO of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), explained: “We fundamentally believe that refugees and the countries that host them, many of which are lower and middle-income countries, require digital inclusion. Bringing refugees into the digital economy, and enabling them to access financial services, as well as access the digital world is really critical to their resilience.”
“Recently in Uganda, the government changed what documents and verification are required to obtain a SIM card. That meant that more than a million refugees overnight, were able to get a SIM card and get a mobile phone.
“That means so much because it means accessing mobile money. It means being able to connect with relatives and family. These are all things that we take for granted but for refugees, that ability to connect means so much both financially and emotionally.”
Fintechs doing good
Floris Dorgelo, global impact lead at Adyen, also explained how it is making its own mark on the world: “Adyen is a financial technology platform and in 2019, we thought about what we could do to do good. We took a team of 25 people to think about it and we came up with enabling donations at checkout. Why? Because, actually, donation at checkout is relatively complex.
“For example, in the US, if you donate one dollar, 44 per cent of that donation goes to schemes and interchange fees. So we wanted to lower the barriers for businesses to adopt the solution. We also put our money where our mouth is by absorbing all the fees, our own, but also those of the third-party schemes of the interchange backs, meaning 100 per cent of the amount donated in-store will actually go to UNHCR, for example.”
Challenging legacy financial processes
On day one, artificial intelligence dominated a number of the discussions. While the technology looks as though it will have a profound impact on the finance industry, many companies are still focused on improving existing technology and processes.
As Lee Taylor, chief financial officer at subscription platform OnlyFans, explains, his company is one of those hoping incumbents can adapt to new technology – especially to benefit creators on the OnlyFans platform: “We’ve seen the start of the creator economy. There’s a change in how people are earning money and how they’re monetising.
“What we’re trying to do is have interesting conversations with influential groups to challenge that perception that these creators shouldn’t have access to everything that a nine-to-five worker would.
£We have creators talk to us that they can’t get a mortgage and they’ve had to save up and buy a house outright because a bank would not give them a mortgage – despite the fact the risk was so much lower, given the LTV position they would have been in. But, without a P60 at the end of the year, the bank can’t compute them and offer them a mortgage.”
Past successes and future predictions for open banking
Attention next turned to open banking on the ‘PayTech’ stage, as industry experts initially pondered the successes of the space seen throughout 2023.
Havi Majinthan, open banking business operations lead at Lloyds Banking Group, said: “While open banking isn’t particularly near to the level of card processing, I think its growth has been exceptional.
“Enterprises are looking at open banking, people are exploring different things and the innovation of using account information servicing. Everything comes down to customer behaviour and changing their customer behaviour. So it looks quite promising quite interesting actually.”
Daragh Burke, director of digital product for Virgin Media O2, explained that although there is a lot of industry excitement about open banking, how they portray this message to the average consumer should be carefully considered: “We’re all fintech professionals in this room. We know what open banking is. But the person on the street doesn’t know what open banking is.
“Therefore, we don’t use that term in our customer journey. We don’t say, hey, use open banking to do this. We say we’re going to make it easier for you to connect to your bank and pull back the data that we need to make your life much much easier. So I think when we’re thinking about like, the customer, we should think about it from their perspective, don’t use a term that they’re not familiar with.”
A panel chaired by CFIT‘s Wasim Mushtaq addressed how to ensure embedded finance is driving profitability, explored the different product channels and identified the secrets to successful partnerships.
Hazal Muhtar, director of global product analytics at Wise, stressed the importance of solving real customer pain points and providing critical value when considering embedded finance solutions. She highlighted the need to focus on the problems that need to be solved and how those solutions enhance the customer experience.
While Paul Staples from ClearBank, stressed the need for specialisation within the embedded banking space, as not every proposition will be profitable or suitable for every organisation.
Deeptasree Mitra at Deutsche Bank discussed the importance of improving API products and customer service to ensure customer satisfaction. She also emphasised the need to create seamless customer experiences and connect clients with their customers.
Additionally, she highlights the value of building a strong ecosystem and suggests starting with a cloud and API strategy: “If you’ve got a cloud strategy, great, build on top of it. Think cloud native and have a proper cloud and API strategy to ensure standardisation of these things.”
Later on on day two of FinTech Connect, Robin Amlôt, managing editor at IBS intelligence, also shared his thoughts on the importance of financial education during an afternoon discussion on digital ID: “I’ve been ranting about financial education.
“Money is not a free thing, we need to educate consumers, users, customers – whatever you want to call them. They need to look after themselves, no one is going to look after this for them – they need to protect their own identity. They need to stop putting every opportunity for social engineering on Facebook and get some level of protection.”