Money 20/20 Europe: Three key takeaways from the week

That’s a wrap on Money 20/20 Europe this year, which brought together the leaders in the FinTech industry from across the globe. We’ve rounded up the top insights from the key sessions across the week – so whether you made it or not, you can stay in the loop with this year’s big themes.

Banks must future-proof

After the events of the past 18 months, it’s no surprise that the need for banks to innovate amid disruption in the industry and wider socio-economic factors has continued to be a hot topic.

Discussing the broad-reaching issues impacting banks today – from FinTechs to sustainability and cyber risk – Ana Botín, Executive Chairwoman at Santander Group & PagoNxt, questioned whether regulators need to overhaul their approach to the banking ecosystem. “We need to ask ourselves: what is the role we want in Europe for our banks? And are we regulating not just payments, but the economy, for an analogue time?”

Speaking about the challenges faced by banks in keeping up with FinTech-fuelled innovation, Annerie Vreugdenhil, Chief Innovation Officer at ING Neo, pointed to the laser-focus of FinTechs which she said is leading to an unbundling of services. “You see FinTechs with little niches in which they are extremely good at giving really fantastic customer experiences,” Annerie said. “It’s a time in which [banks] will be much more open to work with others – we have to. Why would you do it yourself if somebody else can do it better?”

Customers will fuel the future

One thread ran through almost every conversation: putting customers at the heart of your business mission is critical to success.
Today’s financial services companies need to “radically align” themselves with their users’ values, according to Tom Greenwood, CEO at VOLT. “There is absolutely a need to be agile, to be open, to be innovating, and to keep the customer at the front of your mind.”

Shola Akinlade, Co-Founder & CEO at Paystack, spoke about building a payments startup – which was acquired by Stripe last year – with consumer trust at the centre from the get-go. “We tell ourselves at Paystack that every time we let one customer down, we are letting the entire payments industry down, because that person is someone who won’t pay online the next time.”

The payments innovations of today and tomorrow will ultimately be driven by the consumer. According to Frederique Slevin, VP, Head of Retail Payments Product Management at ACI Worldwide, regardless of the potential of any payment solution, “it is the consumer that will drive the successful adoption.”

Brands should be built strategically

As open finance and increased access to data helps to create more aggregators and connected platforms in the market, questions are raised over the importance of company-specific branding. The answer, it seems, is to build your brand strategically with your company goals in mind.

According to Dora Ziambra, Chief Operating Officer at Azimo, brands are hard to build but remain crucial – particularly for FinTechs and new entrants to the market who have the challenge of building customer trust and loyalty.
But aside from brand-building for your customers, companies should consider how they are appealing to today’s talent pool. “For us it’s hugely important,” Dora said of crafting a strong employer brand. “Especially with those who are entering the workforce now, we see a lot more people joining companies because of their mission, their values, and not only because of what they do. That has to be reflected in the way we treat our customers, but also our employees.”