The annual PAY360 conference took place on the 16th-19th of March, hosted by the Emerging Payments Association (EPA) in association with Mastercard. A virtual event spread over 4 jampacked days, PAY360 brought together over 1000 attendees from banks, fintechs, FIs, Investors and FIs, amongst many others, as well as over 90 speakers, to brainstorm solutions to the industries key challenges and opportunities.
The conference kicked off with opening remarks from Tony Craddock, General Director, EPA, and Scott Abrahams, Senior Vice President, Business Development UKI, Mastercard, welcoming participants to “the payments industries biggest and best gathering of 2021.”
As with many conversations this year, they briefly turned to the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect that it has had on the payments industry. Citing particularly the increased contactless limit that happened in a matter of days at the start of the pandemic, as opposed to the significant period of time it would have taken under normal circumstances, the pair advised that the pandemic has helped remove friction from their processes.
“Nothing forces change like a crisis,” said Craddock, with Abrahams adding that the pandemic “has shown what we can achieve when we all work together as one and focused on a common goal.”
Continuing the conversation around coronavirus, a keynote discussion was held around the topic ‘Covid-19 One Year Later – Tackling the impact and opportunity created by the pandemic.’ The panel was moderated by Allison Hutchinson, CEO, Pennies, with attendees featuring Kate Frankish, Director of Strategy, Pay.UK, David McHenry, Head of Banking Services, Financial Institutions and PSP’s, Starling Bank, Simon Fairbairn, Head of Professional Services EMEA, Ingenico, Basak Toprak, Head of Europe e-commerce Solutions, Wholesale Payments, J.P. Morgan, and Jill Docherty, Head of Business Development, UK and Ireland, Visa.
The aim of the panel was to discuss not only the challenges, but the opportunities created by the pandemic for the payments landscape, with Allison saying that “the level of transformation and change that has happened at pace over the last 12 months has been phenomenal, and I don’t see that going backwards.”
Though the panel was very much focused on the increase in contactless payments, as well as the use of digital wallets and other online payment methods, they were also quick to note the pitfalls of this boom. Turnbull advised that though there has been an obvious increase in uptake of digital transactions, “there’s still a demographic in society that relies on cash.” with digital and traditional payment methods being combined to serve as many people as possible.
Doherty added: “We’ve seen these massive leapfrogs, but we know that 2.1 million customers across the UK still like to do their everyday purchases with cash. It begs the question of how do we make sure through this digitalisation and through this shift from the pandemic that we don’t leave people behind.”
The idea of inclusion was a focus for another keynote presentation, titled “Innovate to Include – why the focus of 2021 needs to be on inclusion”, with Kelly Devine, Divisional President UK&Ireland, Mastercard
With the pandemic highlighting the digital divide in society, this session aimed to set out what the industry can do to ensure everyone is prepared for a digital future to tackle financial exclusion.
Devine advised that while the pandemic didn’t create the problem, “what it did was shine a light on an issue that already needed to be tackled.”
She further advised that: “No industry has a better insight to how low incomes exclude a large number of the population being connected from the latest digital services: be that banking, shopping, applying for jobs or helping kids with homework. We have to pass on our understanding of how serious the digital divide is in the UK so we can work together as an industry in partnership with government and community bodies to right this wrong.”
Networking and Training
Not only did the event feature thought-provoking webinars, keynotes and panels, PAY360 also featured over ten hours of dedicated networking time in a variety of formats. As well as this, day four of the event was dedicated to training sessions, with topics including how to manage Brexit’s impact on payments, wind down planning, what to learn from HMRC fines and scaling data for impact.
Finally, the PAY360 event also hosted The Fintechs Pitch LIVE in association with Mastercard. This was where payments and fintech start-ups competed to be recognised as the most exciting and most innovative new technology or service.
Taking place in three rounds over the first three event days, innovative companies took to the stage to pitch their ideas to the audience and a group of judges, followed by a Q and A session moderated by Mark Walker, Editorial Director, The Fintech Times.
Day One pitches were from companies that have technologies and services that are innovating to provide choice, enhanced customer experience and financial wellness tools to consumers. The pitchers were; Søren Nielsen, Chief Commercial Officier, Subaio; Oliver Gale, CEO, Elemental; Jack Nikogosian, CEO, ARYZE; Will Smith, Co-Founder, tred; and Maysam Rizvi, CEO, Elifinty – with tred taking the crown.
Judge Juliette Souliman, VC investor, MMC Ventures, said: “Surfing on one of the hottest tech trend, Green FinTech, Tred is tackling sustainable and green finance using open banking in a smart, seamless and innovative way. The judges were impressed by their early tractions and their clear understanding of the market. A very exciting startup and definitively one to watch in 2021!”
Day 2 saw companies empowering businesses with alternative payment solutions (in-store & online), helping them to get paid, manage expenses and prosper in the new normal take the stage. Craig Tillotson, CEO & Co-Founder, Ordo; Miguel Mateus, Co-Founder, Izicap; John Cavebring, Founder CEO & CTO, Hips; David Armstrong, Managing Director, Payxpert; and Sina Yamani, Chief Executive Officer, Yoello, pitched their companies, with Izicap winning Day 2.
Finally, Day 3 revolved around companies leveraging AI, machine learning and the blockchain, to tokenise data, democratise investing, combat fraud and drive operational efficiency. The judges heard pitches from Sean Salloux, Chief Revenue Officer, Baanx Group Ltd.; Timothée Grüner, Chief Commercial Officer, Antelop Solutions; Sofia Augusto, Marketing Manager, ITSCREDIT; Daniel Greiller, CCO, Weavr; and Sergi Figueres, Co-Founder & CEO, Worldcoo – before announcing Weavr as the day’s winner.
Dan Greiller, CCO of Weavr said “We really believe that Embedded Banking is going to be transformative – in the same way e-commerce was 20 years ago. When it was announced that we’d won, it felt like the judges had recognised this shift that we are pioneering, and identified Weavr as a great partner to help companies on that journey.”