Money 20/20 Europe: Top insights from day one

Money 20/20 Europe has kicked off in Amsterdam, bringing together the leaders in the FinTech industry from across the globe. We’ve rounded up the top insights from the key sessions on day one – so you can stay in the loop with the hot topics.

Customer-centric wins the race

As financial services are increasingly commoditised and as Open Banking allows for greater sharing of data, today’s consumer is well and truly in the driving seat when it comes to shaping the customer journey. In a panel session, Annerie Vreugdenhil, Chief Innovation Officer at ING Neo, highlighted a specific transformation currently happening in the industry: “What we are seeing, particularly with the rise of FinTechs, is a lot of unbundling of services.” These FinTechs are carving out niches in which they are “extremely good at giving really fantastic customer experiences,” Annerie explained. And while banks are working hard to keep up, they are also increasingly open to partnerships as a way to innovate quickly and stay relevant amid the disruption.

Speaking in the same panel session, Tom Greenwood, CEO at VOLT, said that the industry is in flux as financial services that have traditionally been siloed and owned by banks are opened up to third-party providers. “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,” Tom said, adding that it is now essential for financial service providers to “radically align” themselves with their users’ values.

How to partner with the competition

With the customer still at the forefront, Gaetan Okias, Head of Wholesale Payments, Netherlands at J.P. Morgan, and Arun Tharmarajah, Head of Europe at Wise, discussed how FinTechs and incumbents can partner successfully – despite often being seen as competitors. In recent years, the industry’s view and approach to partnerships has changed, according to Arun, who said there is an increased focus on the customer outcome as the primary objective. But collaboration is not always an easy process – for younger FinTechs, it can be very challenging to partner with big banks who often come to the table with lengthy procurement and legal processes.

From the incumbent perspective, Gaetan explained that many of JP Morgan’s partnerships are driven by client demand: many are looking at how to futureproof their business and want solutions that are geared around current and emerging trends. “We realised that we needed to take a different approach to make the most out of the partnership opportunities,” Gaetan said, adding that the bank has created a dedicated innovation team that is at the forefront of its partnerships strategy.

Asked for the secret ingredient to a successful partnership, Arun said, “It’s about accepting that there is no one ‘magic sauce’…I think it’s about understanding that each partnership is completely different in its own right.”

A world without cards?

What would a payments landscape without cards look like? Will we see cards become obsolete? Those were the questions discussed in a lively panel session. Hamish Blythe, Founder & CEO at Trilo, argued that while the current card system works, it is “broken” in the sense that it’s inefficient and was designed for a bygone era. But, according to Fredrik Sauter, Head of Growing Markets at American Express, while the payments landscape is changing, cards aren’t set to disappear anytime soon. Trust, security and brand recognition all play a key role in the continued prevalence of cards, and the growing range of payment methods will allow consumers to make different payment choices for different types of purchases, rather than make cards extinct.

Might the payments world of the future be based around account-to-account payments? According to Frederique Slevin, VP, Head of Retail Payments Product Management at ACI Worldwide, regardless of the merits of innovation, the payments landscape will only transform if there is sufficient take-up: “In my view, it is the consumer that will drive the successful adoption of any payment instrument.”