In less than five years, Money20/20 has become the “must attend” event for payments and financial services, and reflecting on the past few days in Las Vegas, it starts to become clear why 10,000 delegates converge on the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas for this huge show. Although PAY.ON has previously attended Money20/20, 2015 was different, as we were sponsoring and exhibiting here for the first time.
The most difficult thing about Money20/20 is deciding what to do and where to be. Attending educational sessions, meeting with clients, talking with attendees in the exhibit hall, listening in on keynotes, and endless networking opportunities. As such, it’s futile to try and recap on the show in its entirety, however here are a few of the highlights and impressions from the PAY.ON perspective.
Sunday October 25th
Claiming 1,000 CEOs, 3,000 companies, and 10,000 attendees representing 75 countries, the scale and globality of Money20/20 is unmatched. It has become the place for major product launches and announcement, and as such the payments media are out in force. As the show officially got underway on Sunday afternoon, PAY.ON sat down with PYMNTS to discuss trends in payments, and provide our views on the internationalization of payments companies. The interview with Tobias Schweiger, CFO/COO at PAY.ON, can be viewed on the PYMNTS.com website.
Educational sessions on Sunday afternoon focused on disruptive financial inclusion and legal and regulatory issues, however it was the opening keynote session with Vinod Khosla (Founder, Khosla Ventures) that drew a huge crowd to the Palazzo Ballroom. Vinod spoke about the shift to an economy of ideas, and the rewards of experimentation. One point that really resonated, and that we at PAY.ON agree with, is that regulation can be a competitive advantage for those who can move fast. Regulation often favors the startup, as there are no legacy systems to overcome and an ability to adapt and deliver suitable payments products. For established players, working with a technology partner who can address regulatory issues and move quickly is one way to benefit from the competitive advantage of regulation.
Vinod Khosla also shared the stage with Patrick Collison, the fast-talking CEO & Co-founder of Stripe. Patrick spoke on a wide-range of topics, including the need to support developers with suitable online documentation to access APIs, claiming “technology needs to be exposed to developers in the right way.” Patrick also acknowledged the great potential for partnerships between big and small companies.
Sunday evening provided an opportunity to head across town to the Palms, where the Emerging Payments Association (EPA) hosted an event together with UKTI and Clarion Events. PAY.ON recently confirmed membership of the EPA, so this provided an opportunity to network with association members, and to enjoy stunning views over the lights of Las Vegas!
Monday October 26th
Track sessions get underway at 8.00am, providing a glut of choices on a diverse range of topics. Apple Pay, mobile wallets, and tokenization all feature prominently. One interesting theme that emerges is the need for faster payments, as a response to a more connected world. The panelists in the session “Designing and developing a secure, real-time payment system” spoke at length about the need for payments to keep pace with the rest of the interconnected digital world, and the challenges that existed, especially in the U.S. marketplace. Security concerns are central to the challenge of real-time payments, however Dwolla CEO Ben Milne succinctly summarized what needs to be done, stating that when it comes to payments, “security is not guns, it’s math.”
The big guns were out on stage though at a later session, “Driving innovation in payments and commerce,” featuring executives from PayPal, Alipay, Western Union, Vantiv, and Facebook. Jonathan Shieber, from TechCrunch, did an outstanding job of moderating this session, asking questions that forced the participants to move beyond the standard panel responses. If there was a common thread in this session, it was that all acknowledged the need, despite the challenges, to move away from restrictive legacy systems.
At 10.00am the doors the exhibit hall opened for the first time, and the rest of the day saw a steady stream of visitors to our booth. The PAY.ON America sales team spoke to visitors representing all parts of the payments value chain, as well as analysts, bankers, and consultants. Having a home base on the show floor also gave us a place to meet and catch-up with many of our valued partners.
Tuesday October 27th
Morning keynotes from Accenture, Ingenico, and PayPal set the tone for the second full day on Money20/20. A common theme emerging concerned the growing role of ‘Millennials’ in shaping payments. The trend towards mobile has been much discussed, but it is also the tastes and expectations of the demographic bulge behind those mobile devices to which merchants, payment providers, and banks need to be attuned. Accenture’s Robert Flynn made a valid point on this subject, highlighting that the Millennial demographic cannot be treated as a category, and that payment solutions need to be personal. This will no doubt create challenges for banks, payment providers and their merchants, and will favor those that can offer the desired personalization and adaptability.
Back in the exhibit hall, we welcomed more visitors to our booth, including some from the media. Money20/20 has a number of media partners, and it was positive to see PAY.ON coverage in publications distributed at the show. This included a feature by Michael Doron in Payment Quarterly, an article by Markus Rinderer in Telegraph on Sunday’s Business Reporter supplement, plus an interview in the most recent issue of ISO&Agent.
Wednesday October 28th
The home stretch…. although you wouldn’t know it from the number of attendees still pacing the exhibit hall mid-morning. The barista at the HSBC booth kept us charged with quality coffee once again, and when the closing bell had sounded (at exactly midday) a quick pack-down was followed by lunch and the opportunity to listen in on the remaining educational sessions. Relevant to PAY.ON was the session on global e-commerce acquiring, where execs from PPRO, Adyen, and Optimal Payments (amongst others) spoke about the challenges and opportunities of cross-border commerce. Much of what was said certainly resonates with PAY.ON’s view, especially regarding the need for comprehensive payments services to serve rapidly-growing emerging markets. As expected, plenty of food for thought, and a glimpse into the future of payments.