Money20/20 USA: The Show that Keeps Delivering

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12 November 2018
Zilvinas Bareisis

Autumn is traditionally a very busy time for analysts – many of us are on the road attending various industry and client events. Many offer excellent opportunities to network and to keep the finger on the pulse on the hottest issues facing the industry. For me, one event that continues to stand out in my autumn schedule is Money20/20 USA.

Many readers of this blog know that I am a Money20/20 “veteran” – I’ve been going to Las Vegas every single year since the very first event back in 2012. I watched the event grow from a 1,000+ attendees in its first year to 10,000+ for the last few years. It’s a great way to keep the show’s momentum – you must be there, because everyone else you want to talk to is there!

Celent again had three representatives at the event – Dan Latimore, Bob Meara, and me – and we certainly appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Money20/20 team. This year we were also joined by our colleagues from Oliver Wyman, a number of whom delivered insightful content sessions on stage.

We spent most of our time at the show in meetings, talking to clients and other industry experts, so my takeaways are inevitably shaped by those conversations and the limited number of sessions I was able to attend. Having said that, there are other ways to gauge the “zeitgeist”, such as walking the floors of the exhibit halls, or simply taking stock of the emails that we receive in the run up to the event suggesting meeting up. The latter is often a good indicator of where the fintech investments are going.

Based on my pre-Money20/20 inbox (and confirmed by the stands in the expo hall and dedicated sessions), a really hot topic right now is a rather broad category that includes authentication, biometrics, identity, and security. I don’t think I am exaggerating by saying that at least three quarters of the many emails I got were from companies offering various solutions in that space. Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet with all of them, but the obvious question to ask is how one is differentiated from the other. On the surface, many look very similar, with differences often being in the subtle nuances of the offering. Clearly, a space where clients can benefit from an analyst perspective!

Money20/20 may have started as primarily a payments and fintech show but it has long outgrown that definition. The conversations on stage now reflect the key issues debated by society at large, such as financial inclusion and education, the importance of trust, diversity, and in particular, the role of women in finance.

In previous years, there were always one or two announcements that generated a lot of buzz and were on everyone’s lips during the event, whether it’s Google Wallet, MCX/ CurrentC, Chase Pay, Zelle, Apple Cash, or even 2014’s “Pay by Ass”. I don’t think there was such an announcement this year. Does that mean the industry is slowing down or getting less creative? I don’t think so; it means that the players are hard at work, continuing to strike partnerships and to transform the industry.

Personally, I was particularly keen to explore one set of announcements made just before Money20/20 and discussed on stage around the efforts of the global payment networks (Visa, Mastercard, and American Express) to improve the convenience and security of remote payments. The initiatives focus on driving merchant adoption of credential-on-file tokenisation, and on preparing to implement Secure Remote Commerce (SRC), a new framework and specifications published by EMVCo, an industry standards body.

I do believe that the cards-centric ecosystem is now at a critical juncture. Unlike proximity payments, remote commerce payments today lack standards. Introducing more consistency there by deploying standards such as EMVCo payments tokenisation, 3DS 2.0, and SRC should deliver clear benefits.

However, getting the next steps right is crucial. The networks are rightly demonstrating leadership again, but the buy-in from all the stakeholders, especially merchants, is essential. Also, an alignment with alternative proposals, such as those from W3C, a web standards body, is needed for clarity on how different standards are going to fit and coexist.

This is the topic I explore in depth in my report published earlier this week, Payments Tokenisation and Digital Enablement Ecosystem: A Critical Juncture, and also in the upcoming webinar in December. If you are a client and would like to join, keep an eye on our website; the webinar registration will open soon.

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