Now that many industry conferences are back as in-person events, we are also back to travelling again. At the end of October, Celent turned up in force at Money20/20 in Las Vegas, where Dan Latimore, Alenka Grealish, Bret Heither, and I spent a couple of very busy and productive days meeting with clients and prospects, and trying to catch the zeitgeist in banking, fintech, and payments. Alenka already shared her observations, and I wanted to add a few as well.
Money20/20 USA has a special place in my heart – up until the pandemic, I’ve been to every single one of them since the very first in 2012! Unfortunately, there were still too many restrictions for travelling into the US last year, so for me it was the first time back again in three years. And it was GREAT to be back!
This show has always known how to put together a great expo hall, but this time it seemed even grander and greater than usual. Granted, it took me a few meetings to get my bearings and learn how to navigate it, as most of it was happening in one place – booths, intermixed with presentation stages, and food locations – but it was certainly convenient. On the other hand, it seemed to me that this year the content component was scaled back somewhat. It may just be my impression, but it felt like there were fewer presentations, panel discussions, and keynote sessions, than in previous years. I have to say I missed that a little, as it’s always a good way to check the pulse of the industry.
Another way to see what’s hot is to walk the expo hall, although I am conscious that we are all susceptible to what psychologists call a Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. Yes, bizarrely, somehow it is named after the German terrorist gang from the 1970’s, but it describes a frequency illusion or bias – if you learn something new or start thinking about something a lot, you suddenly notice that here, there, and everywhere. So, I know I might be guilty of that, but it did seem to me that the expo hall was dominated by players in identity verification and authentication, as well as companies offering credit card-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions.
The other thing I always find interesting is to see who has what kind of presence. For example, Mastercard had a large and central booth, but I couldn’t find Visa anywhere this year. Many larger firms, like ACI, FIS, and Fiserv, but also Stripe and Plaid had meetings rooms outside of the main expo hall, while it seemed to me that the biggest and brightest booths in the expo hall belonged to companies, such as Marqeta, Deserve, and Socure. Zeta, one of the companies with a CCaaS offering, took a step further by hosting a spectacular closing show with Foreigner, the rock band from the 70’s! I understand that in most cases it’s simply a decision of where and how to spend the marketing budget, but I think it also shows the scale of newcomers’ ambitions. At Celent, we intend to take a deeper dive into the CCaaS segment of card issuing to better understand the capabilities of various players and how they differ from each other.
I also had the pleasure and the privilege to share my thoughts on the growth of self-employed workers, the challenges banks face trying to serve them as customers, and the increasing importance of creating customer-centric banking solutions that meet the unique needs of this segment. Veritran were launching Fusion by Veritran, the small business wallet solution for the US market that allows customers to manage their personal and business finances in one app, and they kindly invited me to present at their booth before the launch – thank you!
Finally, I’d like to thank everyone that met with us. We know that time at Money20/20 is a precious commodity, and we appreciate your generosity! For us, every conversation is valuable, as we get to know better what’s on your mind and how we can best serve you. We look forward to continuing the dialogue!