Q&A: Sophie Wawro & Pat Patel, Money 20/20 Europe

This June saw another buzzing Money 20/20 Europe show take place in Copenhagen. Retail Systems catches up with event director Sophie Wawro and content director Pat Patel to get their take on 2017’s conference and exhibition.

This was the second year that Money 20/20 Europe has been held – were there any new features for delegates this time around?
At Money20/20 Europe this year there were many new features for delegates, from the Google and Chargebacks911 sponsored industry party at the Tivoli Gardens to an entirely new hall, C5, and stage, The Arena. There was an outdoor patio where delegates could network while enjoying an ice cream, and graffiti artists working away in our Atrium on FinTech inspired art. We really set out to immerse our delegates in a totally new conference experience from the content to the superhero theme.

What do you think were the key themes to come out of Money 20/20 Europe in 2017?
There were many themes that came out of Money20/20 Europe, and the conversations continued to buzz online with over 35 million impressions generated in just five days. The PSD2 was a key topic that reverberated around the event, with most seeking clarity from the confusion and trying to identify their plan of action. There was a handful of banks and a number of FinTech companies that were clear on their approach and strategy and ready to execute new products into the market, to either extend their current customer value proposition in existing markets or to enter new markets. Blockchain and in particular AI continued to dominate the headlines too, with a great session on ‘new AI use cases in financial services’ led by David Birch to a packed room. It went far beyond chatbots, delving into real value that improves the financial services experience for consumers. There were 685,000 social media impressions following the news that Mastercard had announced the implementation of a new AI-based fraud solution, Decision Intelligence, for key major clients Citi and Paysafe. Coming back to blockchain, it’s clear to see the movement from proof of concept to implementation with IBM, Ripple and even Samsung SDS paving the way. In particular, Samsung’s approach to using the blockchain for digital identity and loyalty generated a great deal of interest following its launch in Korea earlier in the year. Another topic, rebundling of financial services, is slowly gaining traction, with companies like Adyen and Klarna (who announced an investment from Visa onsite) securing banking licences and approaching financial services from a tech-first approach – TechFin is more than just a buzzword!

Were there any stand-out speaker sessions or show features for you?
There were so many great sessions over the three days it’s difficult to choose! Based on initial audience feedback, Jack Dorsey, Oliver Samwer, Carlos Torres Vilas, Gemma Godfrey, Will Gaybrick and Jonathan Larsen really stood out on the main stage. There were a number of sessions which provided entertainment and insight such as The Payments Race, in which a number of vloggers had to travel from London to Copenhagen using one mode of payment – gold, pennies, cards, etc. ‘The curious case of unbundling and rebundling in financial services’ session (with Ghela smashing it out of the park as the moderator) involved a two-on-two debate, for and against unbundling, with the panellists having to switch places and argue against their initial points, with the audience voting for the most convincing panellist to be crowned winner (yes, we really did provide a crown for the winner). Gavin Littlejohn was crowned winner and he wore his crown with pride – in fact, he wore it late into the night as he celebrated his victory!

Looking forward to next year’s event, what topics do you think the 2018 conference speakers will be focusing on?
This is difficult to accurately predict as we will start the lengthy research and market engagement process in a month or so. It’s likely to be the next chapter in the PSD2 and who has launched new products to capitalise on the XS2A opportunity, plus the impacts and potential fall-out arising from the GDPR. We’ll definitely see further progress of AI and in particular augmented intelligence, as well as commentary on the continued rise of Alipay as they leverage their recent acquisitions to build a global network.

The banking and payments landscape is changing rapidly – what are the main challenges now for financial institutions, payments providers and retailers, particularly on the technology side?
It’s difficult to generalise, but in the main it’s about refreshing legacy infrastructures and having a coherent strategy to build, buy or partner to acquire new tech capability and platforms. Throughout the event, open platforms were discussed at length as were the impact it has on existing customer value propositions and the ability to build entirely new digital propositions. The other key challenge is talent! Many financial institutions, payments providers and retailers are struggling to recruit the tech talent required to be able to develop their capabilities and this is only set to increase over the coming years. The need for developers, data scientists and AI specialists is creating a major headache for organisations.

What do you think is top of the agenda for these business leaders now, as organisations continue to develop their digital strategies in a world of more connected customers but increasing regulation?
A continued consideration for business leaders of large organisations is to maintain the margins on their existing business in a world of connected customers and increasing regulations. The second area is to ensure that their organisations are geared up to be able to respond to these changes, from an organisational structure, people and tech capability perspective. The third area is around their partnership strategy to help improve service delivery to existing customers to grow engagement and profitability, but also to reach new customers.

Money 20/20 Europe is moving from Copenhagen to Amsterdam next year – what has driven the move and what can attendees expect from this new location?
We are thrilled to make the move to the Rai, Amsterdam for June 2018 and have been met with some great feedback on our decision from the industry. Money20/20 Europe chose the Rai because it gives us the space we need to support the growth of the event. We have had an incredible time building the event in Copenhagen, but this is an important move for us to continue bringing together the thousands of delegates, partners and hundreds of exhibitors who Money20/20 Europe is essential for.

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