Money20/20 Europe 2019 round-up
This year, Money 20/20 brought about tons of interesting stuff. Among the talks about innovation, open banking, and the importance of investing in cybersecurity, there were plenty of cynics, quirky new features, and other not-so-popular trends and opinions that have flown a bit under the radar.
In this feature, we will try to cover the scattered list of topics that won’t make it past 140 characters online. For a more thorough coverage on the main topics in this year’s conference, be sure to check out our previous coverage!
Facial scan payments
Undoubtedly, Net’s FacePay was one of the features that raised a lot of eyebrows. In its demo area, Nets staff encouraged the delegates to do a pretend-shopping of the faux groceries they had on display. Once their shopping basket was full, they had to take it to the pretend-till, and by resting it on the counter, the system read each chip glued onto every faux banana and faux orange.
The next step was to smile to the camera. Net’s tech recognises the user’s face with remarkable accuracy, and asks for a confirmation PIN to complete the payment.
As it is, the system doesn’t really reduce the friction that we encounter when paying with contactless. But the future Nets imagines is such where shoppers can pick up their shopping and exit without goring through the till, as the system will automatically recognise which products they have picked and who they are, automatically validating the payment.
With big open data plans, come big cybersecurity concerns. “The next crisis will be a cybersecurity crisis,” is the title of one of the panels at the event.
Will open banking be a threat to cybersecurity? The long and short of it is that no, not really, because open banking or not, we should all be in a cybersecurity state of alert. Yes, you read that right, cyber doom is inevitable. That’s why there was no shortage of recommendations to prepare for the worst, and make sure recovery is possible.
In the meantime, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as we have mentioned in other Money20/20 Europe 2019 reports, are the most likely solutions to our problems. There wasn’t a single person in the audience who disagreed with this statement.
And more interesting than picturing a saviour, is the possibility of seeing these technologies be actively applied to fraud, financial crime, and many other applications. This encompasses a theme that we have seen running throughout the event: use cases are happening now, and the theorising about how this tech might help in the future is a talk of the past.
A pinch of cynicism
Ghela Boskovich hosted a light-hearted panel of experts who all had their gripes with our dear industry. And it’s not surprising, as we know that hype and marketing lingo has plagued events for a long time.
Innovation labs, as progressive as they may sound, have proven repeatedly to not be successful in coming up with real-world applications of technology. Despite all the innovation, the fintech industry may be too caught up with imagining a utopic world than actually finding plausible ways to execute it.
And on the topic of fintech, buzzwords didn’t earn that same panel’s favour. Again, this becomes a topic of controversy due to the many hyped up companies and technologies that haven’t yielded returns – at least yet. Think about blockchain, a technology that has faded to the very background at these events.
Undoubtedly, the industry needs more people that are able to “get stuff done”, as the panel put it, and fewer people aggrandising technologies and ideas that are then unable to be put in practice. The time to execute is now, the panel concluded, and “fintech ninjas”, as some job positions denote, are going to take us nowhere.