Blog: Money2020 Opens Door to Payments’ Future (October 2013)
By Kate Fitzgerald, Emerging Payments Editor
The second annual Money2020 in Las Vegas earlier this month had a vibe unlike payment conferences of the past, and not just because of the acrobats roaming around during networking sessions. Evidence of the money pouring into the payments arena was palpable at the sold-out event, and attendees reflected an influx of newcomers. Venture capitalists in luxurious casual wear and scruffily dressed startup types seemed to far outnumber typical banking types in conservative suits, with everyone primed to spot the next big thing.
Organizers Anil D. Aggarwal and Jonathan Weiner turned up the volume significantly since the inaugural event, from attendance (4,300-plus) to a jam-packed agenda with provocative speakers and funky extras. There was a pool table near the refreshments area and circus-like performers tumbled around the exhibit hall where a couple of fairy-like servers suspended from the ceiling refilled champagne glasses, for example.
Payments started to seem almost sexy.
A team of three anthropologists were on hand, studying the social traditions of payments and how technology is changing everything. All the big payments industry names were there, from major banks and payment networks to Square and PayPal, two prime examples of disruptive payment concepts that have achieved significant success. Money2020 also played host to hundreds of new payments companies with sky-high hopes for a diverse array of new technologies surrounding mobile payments, digital wallets and marketing schemes.
Traditional banks took a beating in several presentations, flogged for failing to deliver consumers the right products and services. But executives from major banks said that attitude did not carry over after sessions; they were mobbed in the exhibit hall by entrepreneurs eager to partner with them, no doubt because of their coveted customer relationships.
Payments now encompasses a broader ecosystem of banking, retail, telecom and marketing, all converging around mobile and data-crunching capabilities, and it’s becoming clear that as mobile-centric financial services applications angle to revolutionize financial services processes, bedrock players will need to make radical changes to survive and meet consumers’ evolving needs.
But there’s plenty of opportunity to go around, Peter Diamandis, futurist, space flight entrepreneur and author of New York Times best-selling book “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think,” announced during a kickoff keynote speech. “Industry disruption is the norm now, not the exception,” Diamandis said, promising that successful innovators will see exponential growth unlike the slower, linear dimension of growth banks are accustomed to.
How quickly will things change from today’s payment systems? Bill Ready, a veteran of many payments companies, and now CEO of Braintree—which PayPal recently bought for $800 million—offered a bit of perspective in one session. “There’s a lot of talk about who the players in this new ecosystem are going to be and concern for existing players and if they will still be around,” Ready said. Many of the biggest innovations are building on existing technology, he observed, adding: “Five years from now we probably won’t be running [the payments industry] on totally different rails.” In the same way the mobile operating systems didn’t get eliminate cell phone networks, existing players may stay relevant as innovation happens atop it, he suggested. But make no mistake: 2020 will look a lot different than 2013.
Kate Fitzgerald covers emerging payments at Paybefore. She can be reached at email@example.com. She has deep background in reporting on developments in point-of-sale technology, payment security, loyalty and the competition among traditional and new players in the expanding payments marketplace.
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