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The bright lights of Las Vegas hosted the US edition of Money 20/20 this year. Fintech players from across the world came together to discuss where they were placing their bets on the future of the industry.
It feels like a critical juncture for the industry and here are some of my key takeaways from the event as we look towards the future.
An ecosystem coming of age
Anyone who still thinks that fintech is a niche sector clearly hasn’t walked the floor of Money 2020. The scale of the event and the range of participants reflects a sector that has been on an astronomical growth journey in recent years. From start-ups pitching the latest innovations to the presence of financial behemoths like Standard Chartered and JP Morgan (with everything in between), it’s clear to see a thriving ecosystem working towards a collective vision. PayPal’s VP of Product, Blockchain, Crypto & Digital Currencies put it best during a panel on payments innovation, saying “Making things better for people. That’s what we are all here to do.”
A JP Morgan-hosted panel explored how their recent fintech acquisitions had driven innovation in the business. During the panel, JP Morgan Managing Director Michael Elanjian made the interesting comment that the firm has “learnt more from the fintechs we have bought than the other way around.” This epitomises a key shift in the industry’s reputation, moving away from the ‘break the banks’ conversation to one that is centred around collaboration, dialogue, and knowledge sharing. It is important that this is reflected in how fintech companies are communicating about their company and products.
An open dialogue on regulation
“If the regulators don’t understand your business, that’s your problem” this was the poignant statement of Plaid CEO Zach Perrett as he discussed the future of fintech. Perrett encourages “an open dialogue about what is effective”. Regulation was central to lots of the conversations at the event, from both the industry and participating regulators. Now is the time for fintech companies to engage in the conversation with policymakers to ensure that regulation moves in a way that reflects and supports the innovation taking place across the sector.
This is an issue that is nuanced depending on both the industry a company is in and the geography. What is clear is that education is key. Financial innovation is moving at pace, and it is down to the industry to educate regulators as much as possible. During a panel on crypto and remittances, hosted by Daniel Webber at FXC Intelligence featuring the Stellar Foundation and Remitly, there was agreement that educating central banks was (for want of a better word) central to achieving innovation in payments.
Lots of crypto, but does anyone have the answers
“So, what’s your stance on crypto?” was probably one of the only questions that made it to every single stand. Crypto is still driving conversations in financial services but it remains to be seen the true impact it will have. However, the combination of potential and appetite was plain to see. The conference saw significant presence from the likes of Ripple, Copper and NYDIG. However, for me it was Metallicus that won the day simply for the sign which read “forget Adele, it’s all about a DAO”.
Whatever the company, if you are in the financial innovation game it will soon become time to come off the fence when it comes to crypto.
What does this all mean for communicators?
First and foremost, the communications teams involved in bringing an event like this to life all need a good long rest! Once the dust has settled there are some key things to note. Firstly, whatever your strategy, brand & reputation must be recognised as a crucial growth driver for your business. Whether you are focussed on establishing banking partnerships to help you scale, trying to attract investment or growing your products how you are seen matters. An increasingly complex ecosystem means that your audience is now more varied than ever before and therefore communicating a clear vision can be the key to unlocking the future.
If you are a company in the fintech or financial services sector and would like to talk about how our team could help you tell your story, then please do get in touch at Ewan.White@grayling.com