Money20/20: From Humble Beginnings to Industry Behemoth.
Senior Director Scott Paer is part of the Caliber leadership team, working across client accounts to develop and execute successful public relations and marketing plans. He also helps drive our business development efforts and is a regular at fintech and financial services conferences like Money 20/20.
Attending industry conferences is part and parcel of being entrenched in the fintech world. They all have their own pros and cons, but none have grown as quickly in such a short amount of time as Money20/20.
What started as a payments-centric conference in 2012 has grown into perhaps the biggest financial technology industry event there is. We had an action-packed time in Vegas this year – each day going from dawn till well past dusk – and met many smart and innovative people and sat in on a lot of great panels. A conference as busy and packed as Money20/20 can seem to go by in a whirl, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t come away with some key learnings. Here are a few of our takeaways from this year’s Money20/20 event.
Big Tech Targets Finance – We’ve all seen predictions about what will happen when big tech firms like Amazon cast their eye towards financial services; and while the Bank of Amazon does not exist quite yet, tech companies continue to dip their toes further into the waters of the financial ecosystem. This was readily evident at Money20/20, with announcements such as the launch of Uber Money and a voice-based bill payment service coming from Amazon.
Traditional banks and financial institutions are surely watching forays such as these with a mixture of curiosity and wariness. How much further Big Tech gets into offering financial services will certainly be something to keep an eye on.
Artificial Intelligence – Can any financial technology-focused conference go on without at least one panel devoted to AI? It may seem like the industry has been talking about AI for a while and it is poised to “jump the shark,” but the fact is that as the technology matures we are seeing more potential uses for it in financial services.
One panel discussing the future of AI noted that increasingly sophisticated chatbots and virtual assistants are just one small example of how the technology will be used. We heard about the possibilities of AI being used to complete entire tasks currently done by humans, and parsing through massive amounts of data to gain insights into customer behavior while also fighting financial crime. All in all, the AI story is only just being written.
The Evolution of Startups – We especially enjoyed the learnings from the portion of the conference known as “Startup City” as well as the several panels that focused on entrepreneurship and innovation. The old thinking is that it didn’t matter if startups made money right away – or even for years. Heck, it took Twitter nearly a decade to finally turn a profit!
But a new generation of founders is latching onto some different ideals. Namely, the quicker you make money the quicker you can operate with autonomy, and having a solid business model is more important than just acquiring users — another lesson that Twitter and other social media companies took a long time to learn. Many of the startups we spoke with seem to be applying these lessons well.
Networking with a Diverse Flavor – Of course, networking (and the parties – we see you Plaid) are the primary reason to attend any conference, and Money20/20 was no different. But we were heartened to network with folks from a diversity of locations. It wasn’t just the typical New York and Bay Area Crowd. There were folks hailing from across the fruited plain, and from sea to shining sea of this great land. And that’s to say nothing of the international flavor that was also represented. All in all, it’s always good to hear from innovators that live outside the typical tech “bubbles.”
Money20/20 was a hectic time, but an event that we would not miss for anything. The combination of networking, great panels and industry-shaking announcements make Money20/20 a can’t miss. See you next year in Vegas!