Money 20/20 in Las Vegas was quite the lavish affair this year, as far as trade shows are concerned. Celebrating its fifth anniversary, there were more than 10,000 attendees from 75 countries at the “world’s largest payments and financial services innovation event.”
Keynote speakers included the likes of Jack Dorsey, CEO and founder of Square (not to mention Twitter), Pali Bhat, global head of payment products at Google, and Bill Ready, global head of product and engineering at PayPal.
Beyond the flashy names, however, was a three-day schedule of interesting and educational track sessions and panels on topics like mobile wallets and payments, next gen retail and commerce, and digital banking and personal finance. In addition, there was an impressive exhibition hall with brands ranging from cross-border payment start-ups to credit giants like Mastercard, and everything in between.
I attended Money 20/20 this year to take in the sights and sounds, expand my professional knowledge and learn more about the wider fintech industry. Here are four buzzwords that floated around The Venetian over the course of the week.
- Ubiquity - The official definition of ubiquity is: “the state or capacity of being everywhere, especially at the same time; omnipresence.” Well, tech companies sure have some lofty goals! All kidding aside, ubiquity, as it relates to products and services, was of the utmost important to the panelists I listened to during the week. When it comes to payments, for example, there is no such thing as a ubiquitous service (and there might never be). Visa Checkout, Masterpass, PayPal, Amazon Payments, Square, Venmo… the list goes on. As I came to learn, though, the goal isn’t necessarily one ubiquitous product for all, but rather a ubiquity in experience for customers. Too often the industry is focused on payments as the end goal. Of course, it’s important. That final transaction is what pays the bills. And yet, the journey of getting there, and how payments fits into that journey, is what will bring customers back. The product must enhance the experience.
- Millennial - Did you think we were done with the golden age of hot takes and think pieces on the generation that is, depending on to whom you listen, either ruining, confusing or dominating America? Think again. Based on what I witnessed, the compulsion to figure out how millennials think, what they want and where they go is bordering on obsession. From a business standpoint, there’s a precedent: in 2015, Boston Consulting Group found that millennials wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. That number has very likely only increased since. And yet, there seems to be a disconnect. Much of the conversation was centered around a younger demographic, one that you might sell to through a Snapchat story, for example. The oldest millennials are now in their early to mid-30s, with mortgages and children of their own. At the very least, more millennials are now past college than not. Personally, I’d like to see the terminology around the demographic become more nuanced and defined.
- Mobile - When Money 20/20 launched in 2011, “mobile” everything was hot. The industry was primed for the takeover of mobile wallets, mobile payments, mobile shopping, and more. While mobile usage and comfortability has certainly increased since then, the tone has shifted, the takeover not quite so dramatic. Now, the conversation has matured to a point about incorporating mobile into omnichannel strategies for selling, using mobile for personalization, and overall making mobile one piece of the user experience -- as opposed to the only user experience.
- Engagement - When it comes to creating a great product, value to the customer is everything. The best products today don’t just solve a problem, they actively involve the user while doing so. In fintech, for example, APIs are making it easier to transfer user-permissioned data seamlessly and securely between banks and apps, making personal money management a gratifying experience, rather than a headache. In retail, a shining example of mobile engagement is the Starbucks app, to which many panelists glowingly referred. Starbucks found a way to effortlessly incorporate payments, rewards and loyalty into one package, and so far it’s paying huge dividends.
At Walker Sands, we’re always looking for ways to learn as part of our core values of “Learn. Support. Do.” Attending a variety of industry events, both on behalf of our clients and as exercises in professional development, certainly help us achieve that goal. What are some events coming up in 2017 you think we should check out?