Money 2020 on my mind – the Las Vegas 2018 edition

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I will attend Money 20/20 in Las Vegas this coming 21-24 October. By my count, this will be my 7thattendance (European events included). My lack of enthusiasm about Las Vegas (I am not a gambler) is perfectly balanced with my exuberance when it comes to learning and networking for 4 days around payments, banking and all things fintech. Recently I have moderated M2020 panels on bank as a service or platform banking – both in Las Vegas and in Europe.

This time around I am mixing things a bit and interviewing Scott Mullins, one of AWS’ executives in charge of the financial services industry, in a keynote fireside format. I am quite excited with this interview as I strongly believe the bedrock of future financial services is cloud computing. Without cloud computing a financial institution cannot truly become flexible with its technology architecture. Not being flexible means being unable to re-invent core systems & how products/services need to be delivered? Without core systems re-invention financial institutions will not be able to take advantage of the sea of data they swim in. Basically cloud computing is it and in cloud computing AWS is it. The keynote fireside chat will be very interesting, I promise, especially as many in the financial services industry lose many nights thinking about how Amazon could enter their businesses and obliterate them. We will try to debunk these myths too and focus on how AWS can enable and help financial firms – be they banks or insurers or asset managers. The only part that chagrins me is that the good folk at M2020 have limited this fireside chat to only 25 minutes. As such, if you want to hear more about this subject, please lobby your M2020 representative immediately and demand that my AWS fireside chat be extended to at least 40 minutes. That should do the trick!

Talking about the good folk at M2020, they also approached me for my good looks and general gregarious demeanor, suggesting I co-host, alongside other individuals, a revamped poolside soiree on October 21. I happily answered by the affirmative before they changed their minds. So, in addition to attending the AWS fireside chat, please make an appearance to the poolside reception to say hello as all of your closest friends will attend. Fun will be had by all I promise – further, unlike this graphic suggests, I will not wear a bathing suit at the party.

Much has happened since last year’s M2020 in Las Vegas, much of it geopolitical or political in nature. In no particular order, trade wars as a political weapon, tariffs, currency wars, challenges to the post WWII economic order, further repercussions off of Brexit, accelerated cyber warfare, pressure on the EU, a general climate of deregulation in the US, China’s “new” Silk Road drive progress, inflation making a comeback, tax rates competition, economic growth in the US, the end of the love affair the public has had with technology in general and social media in particular, a changing sentiment towards tech platforms, the weaponization of news and data…

I posited, in a blog post published at the end of 2017, that the 2018 fintech trends could very well be impacted by geopolitical events. I believe this prediction has proven to be on point to a certain degree. What I will track and try to decipher during this upcoming M2020 event is how all the above turbulences and changes are being digested by the industry at large and by several constituencies in particular – startups, bankers, payment companies, cross border payment businesses, trade finance folk, VC investors, CVCs, thought leaders. Based on the assumption that the era of “technology is neutral and can do no wrong” is over and that a new era of “national politics is back front and center” the fintech world has to be impacted too.

Here are a few thoughts I will want to test during these four M2020 days of intense networking:

  • How are Chinese investors, operators, big tech and financial actors acting and reacting?
  • Are the Chinese models (WeChat, AliPay…) really the future of financial services in a new geopolitical era? How will Chinese regulators impact Chinese fintech models?
  • Will US banks have a spring in their step given the deregulatory noises and actions so far?
  • Are investors (early stage and late stage, corporate and private) already adapting to a lengthy national economics era where cross border investments will be more difficult to execute?
  • Will financial regulation diverge further between trading blocks and how will fintech be impacted as a result?
  • How will cyber warfare evolve as a threat vector applied to financial services? What will be financial institutions actions & reactions over and above what is already a healthy cybersecurity spend across the board.
  • Will fintech activity, payments tech activity cool off further trans-border in 2019? What are the expectations?
  • Will technology and innovation suffer from national economics, or thrive in different ways? If thrive in different ways, how so?
  • In the face of a resurgent national economic era, how will the crypto world evolve – given that crypto technology is by essence transnational?

I am sure to be missing a few salient points here, so please chime in, and do not hesitate to do your own research too. Further, what I like about the above is how different of an approach to the future of fintech it forces you to think. Namely, I am not focusing on the development and application of a specific technology, be it AI or blockchain. Rather, I focus on governance and political actions and how the fintech world will be impacted.

ps: I probably will blog further about M2020 in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

pps: I do look like a crazed human marmot in these M2020 graphics

Pascal Bouvier

Life and work experiences have given Pascal an unmatched vantage point, seeing things as both venture capitalist and aspiring entrepreneur. He currently is a Venture Partner with Santander Innoventures – Santander Group’s Global Fintech fund.

  • Liv Freihow
    Posted at 06:24h, 04 September Reply

    Fintech is in many ways the globalisation of finance. Give financial services a digital platform and boom – the world is your marketplace. How does increasing protectionism (in Europe, US and China) affect this potential and our ability to pick and choose services regardless of country of origin? Will we (the market) accept protectionism which strongly limits our choices/access to services?

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