Money 20/20’s inaugural European event was a runaway success and a total blast, with stories, themes and arguments exploding, flying and bouncing around the place more than flying ants on flying ant day. Top highlights for you here with more to follow. Anna Milne reports
AliPay expanding into Europe- it was only a matter of time. The Chinese payment giant is officially extending its offering into Europe to serve the ever-increasing numbers of Chinese travellers to the region. And what could and should Europe learn from China in all things payments and banking? The answer is a lot: DBS Bank CIO Neal Cross shared fascinating insights with EPI on the future of fintech and the threat to banks not of fintech start-ups, but of Google.
Blockchain- is it a goer? It is. And it will be the platform developing companies rather than the product-offering ones that will really pave the way. And as for regulation- yes, regulators globally are behind the development of this and yes, it can be regulated. It’s down to building on and plugging in to the open source platform. Monica Monaco, founder and MD, Trust EU Affairs: "Blockchain fulfils 90%of the European Commission’s objectives. Regulators are interested."
Nancy Hulgrave, anchor CNBC, drew out Blythe Masters’ vast knowledge of blockchain and distributed ledger technologies to get straight to the point: is it going to change the world? Masters: "It already is."
Tech trails regulation. In many cases, tech is actually lagging behind regulation- usually we’re all harping on about regulation hampering technological advancement but in the UK, the ongoing call to widen access to the payments systems is enjoying a strong push from the Financial Conduct Authority, Payment Systems Regulator and the Bank of England.
Rich Wagner, on the board of the Emerging Payments Association, and heavily involved in the lobbying process for direct access to payment systems, says he was "amazed by the engagement of the FCA" and only two tech providers have been certified out of ten to accommodate the change in access. "They didn’t expect the speed of response from the regulators and haven’t got up to speed in time themselves."
Partner, partner, partner… Was there even a session in which speakers were not wholeheartedly behind this plan of attack for advancing innovation? BBVA’s Carlos Torres Vila perhaps the strongest advocate of all for this, given BBVA’s aggressive acquisition strategy, most notably of Holvi Bank.
Torres Vila bucked the trend for lambasting banks’ legacy systems: "We have a conservative approach to change and risk, that’s what we do and we do it well; we have a legacy way of doing things which has served us very well and continues to serve us very well- we will make a multi-billion dollar profit this year as we did last year and the year before and the year before."
Dave Birch, global ambassador, Consult Hyperion, showed us how to implement a strategy for change with his manifesto for cashlessness. Classic ‘Who, what, why, when, where’ stuff. And with ‘How’ thrown in. This is the stuff journalists get out of bed for.
High value notes to be removed, retailers to be allowed charge for cash payments and make debit card payments free; payment accounts to be available free of charge to everybody.
"Europe needs to put this on its political agenda; Nineteen basis points could be added to the European economy if this was implemented," Birch implored.
Plenty more to come. In the meantime, Which bank is the most liked?