Trends and Observations for 2017 from Money2020
WePay sent several members of our team to the annual Money 2020 conference in Las Vegas this week. We spent a great deal of time discussing our acquisition and looking toward an exciting new future with our partners and customers. But, as in past years, we also spent time listening and evaluating the news and discussions from other players in the payments industry and we thought we would share the observations and trends we picked up on.
Global Disruption, Consolidation and Partnership
The single largest theme was the rapid pace of change in the payments industry globally with a huge push to use fintech to disrupt, modernize and innovate payments globally. That push is leading to consolidation as fintech disruptors and traditional financial institutions consolidate.
Zen Banerjee, our Director of Global Payments said, “disruption by fintech is further along in China than here in the US. For example, Alibaba’s Ant Financial, where they have already proven the power of a payments platform. Starting with payments (Alipay), the Ant Financial platform now offers wealth management, insurance, financing and other consumer banking products. Same story for Tencent. The model has been hugely successful in leveraging data about the user on the platform to cross-sell other products and services. The Chinese giants are replicating this model in other Asian markets through ownership stakes in local platforms. While fintech is on the rise here, in China fintech has already disrupted the market.”
Gene Ousey, a Senior Solutions Engineer for WePay said, “Kleiner Perkins described a ‘full stack’ vision of financial services that included payments, lending, personal finance, deposits and wealth management. KP made the case that while there are hundreds of ‘point to point’ solutions today, a consolidation is already underway.”
Bill Clerico, our CEO and co-founder, noted that consolidation was in full swing and cited the Chase acquisition of WePay and the FirstData acquisition of BluePay, both announced at Money2020 as evidence.
Adam Wright, one of Account Executives, noted “several of the fintech companies that specialize in fraud management, tokenization, etc. are searching for ways to round out their solutions. This pattern is also happening through partnerships between other fintech providers and I would expect this trend to continue. Merchants and platforms alike will always desire an “all-in-one” solution to solve the issue of managing multiple providers.”
Rich Aberman, Chief Strategy Officer and co-founder, noted “partnership was a central theme, where platforms and payment companies are looking to create “virtuous cycles” of sharing customers, supplementing each other’s functionality, etc.”
AI and Humanizing Banking
Another theme that our team identified was the use of technology to make banking easier and more friendly for all consumers. Rachel Page, our Director of Partner Success said “financial institutions can serve their customers better by understanding, and capitalizing on, the intersection between money and emotions. According to Cognizant, the greatest source of stress in people’s lives is not terrorism, health issues or jobs, but money. It’s not just access to money, but understanding the money they have. Institutions can improve their customers’ emotional connection with money by deploying experiences that leverage the human touch with smart automation and AI.”
Catherine Jing, Payments Manager for Global Core Payments, said “in the past decade, we moved from the PC interface to mobile interface, next we will be moving to voice interface. In our current mobile interfaces, we are also moving to a chat-based, conversational interactions and more and more commerce happening in a very social context. In the future, commerce will happen wherever customers are.”
Colleen Martin, one of our Senior Account Managers, also found consumer developments a significant trend. “Consumers are consolidating app usage and financial institutions that help provide tools to manage money, life events and make it easy for consumer to digest content, transact easily and plan for the future will be a differentiator. For example being able to see historical allocation of spending and how it will change based on life events.”
Blockchain and Distributed Ledger NOT Bitcoin
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been making all the noise over the past two to three years but the reality is that the underlying blockchain and distributed ledger technologies will be less splashy but have more profound effects.
Chris Hecht, our Director of Field Technology Services followed several discussions on the subject. “It came up in many sessions, but now it’s being referred to by the more business-friendly term of “distributed ledger.” Use cases for blockchain aren’t simply related to financial transactions, but tracking any asset and it’s history. For example, being able to identify tainted food/product recalls, their source and then removing it from store shelves could take several weeks currently, but transactional history with blockchain can enable Walmart to recall products in minutes. Interoperability and security are concerns which have lead to the Ethereum alliance where fintech, banks, and hardware providers are working together to address some of these concerns.”
Matt Marino, our Head of Sales, added, “at least two thirds of major financial institutions are working on blockchain based products for deployment sometime in the next three years.”
Financial Inclusion and Access
Government and private industry are taking access to finance, payments and transactions very seriously around the globe. Matt Marino said “financial inclusion is not just a social imperative, but a huge opportunity too. Ten years ago, 85% of the world’s payments were cash and check and today it is still 83%. So despite all the technology, electronic payments have only captured an additional 2% in a decade. Ten years ago 2.5B people were unbanked and today 2B remain unbanked. Access to financial services enables the poorest and most vulnerable in society to step out of poverty and reduces the inequality in society.”
Chris Hecht added, “there was a lot of discussion in regards to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) special purpose national bank charters for fintech companies. The key being there needs to be a mechanism to support fintech innovations for the underserved. There was a lot of talk from other regulatory agencies who are now are working together with the OCC, including agencies such as CFPB and the SEC, to investigate alternatives that would not stifle innovation.”