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Money 20/20 special report: Digital revolution based on cooperation

Kate Goldfinch, Science Editor at The Fintech Times.

Every year, Money20/20 attracts the best, boldest and brightest businesses from across payments, fintech and financial services. From industry institutions to up-and-coming innovators, everyone is here, every time. This year Money20/20 spotlighted open call for digital transformation, open banking and full cooperation between challengers and established brands.

With over 5000 attendees from more than 1500 companies and 80 countries, representing every sector of the payments, fintech and financial services ecosystem, Money20/20 brings together a complete who’s who of the community building the future of money.

Money20/20 in Amsterdam showcased the global interest in open banking, connected providers, easier and faster transactions, and fully digitised UX. Discussions were held on rising platforms for SMEs that will leverage open APIs and the latest payment technologies, cross-border services and digital lending disruption, AI & machine learning based data management, and growing demand on a decentralised paradigm. Among the most important conclusions made by global opinion leaders and visionaries was that the financial world is set to become customer centric – B2C financial structure in the future will see the change to C2B.

This year at Money20/20 Europe there were seven stages around the show, and a stunning Big Stage with Hollywood stars and Silicon Valley icons presenting as keynotes.

Apple Co-Founder and philanthropist Steve Wozniak spoke on the Big Stage about the decentralised world, AI & neural networks and gave some sage advice to entrepreneurs. Wozniak believes that, in 10 years, Bitcoin will be the main payment instrument, and that AI is getting closer to achieving human-like behaviour in some ways. “Nowadays, there’s so much processing ability. We can use neural networks to extract data you can’t even see. Machine learning pulls out factors you wouldn’t even be aware of,” he said. When asked for his advice to entrepreneurs on how to succeed, Wozniak warned of long hours, and highlighted the need for a good team and the right product. “You’re gonna have to work hard and a lot of long hours. Maybe you’ve got the skills, that’s even better. You must want the product yourself, want it to be good, and want it to be simple. And get good engineers in your startup team, not just a business team.”

Also on the Big Stage, Actor, Director and Producer, Antonio Banderas, “played a new role” as Biocryptology’s Global Brand Ambassador. According to the agenda, Ted Oorbals, CEO of Biocryptology, and the film star were announced as presenters of a ground-breaking keynote address in which they would share their vision for a Brave New World, highly innovative platform, that is destined to become the global standard for identification. However, Banderas could not be present and explained in a video why he is passionate about identity and cryptology. “As an actor I am used to playing roles and hiding my real identity. In real life I want to make sure that nobody can play with my actual identity. Biocryptology gives me this peace of mind: it allows me to reveal my identity in a secure fashion, while keeping it protected against hackers at all times.”

The panels Chris Skinner, fintech-guru, chaired at Money20/20 Europe, were all about open banking and digital transformation. “There is a fundamental requirement to move from the old banking structures to new ones. The new model means the bank controls nothing, especially not the customer, and demands that the bank thinks differently. The genetics of the bank need to start with customer-centricity and build the digital structure from the customer-centric view. It must throw away the old margin models of hidden fees and charges and focus upon the new margin model of expected fees and charges in return for safe management of my data,” he said.

The message was reiterated by various global speakers and CEOs of successful fintech companies, and reviewed from different angles. Li Wang, Head of EMEA, AliPay, stressed that Alipay is not a payments company, it’s a “super lifestyle app for the masses” all over Europe. Amy Neale, global lead for Mastercard’s Start Path startup engagement programme, shared her company’s strategy and view on how to build a cooperation between startups and established brands. Urs Gubster, head eCommerce at SIX Payments, explained how to establish even broader working relationships with merchants, “we see ourselves providing the services and solutions to help merchants adapt to the changing retail trends and cultural aspects, like digital natives and young consumers. We do this partially with new technologies such as robotics and AI, which will further streamline the customer journey. Our role is to enable the merchant to seamlessly transact with its customer. This will continue to extend into channels, such as IoT and conversational commerce, which are now becoming more relevant,” Gubster said.

One more very important problem highlighted at Money20/20 was about building trust between a company and a customer. The final keynote on the Big Stage was an inspirational address on the topic by Dan Ariely, Duke University Behavioural Economist & Chief BehaviouralOfficer at Lemonade (an insurtech startup powered by AI and behavioural economics, and driven by social good). “Real trust is much harder to achieve when one of the players is a large business. As corporations are, for the most part, faceless, it is not at all obvious to individuals in whom they are placing their trust. Thus, businesses need to find methods beyond meet-and-greet as mechanisms to build trust. So what do they have at their disposal and how can they use these as trust generators? There are many aspects and building blocks for trust, but here are five key mechanisms that allow human beings to trust one another: long-term relationships, transparency, intentionality, revenge and aligned incentives,” he concluded.

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