My Takeaways from Money 20/20: The Power of Fintech Partnerships
After a few weeks, the dust has finally settled on the Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam. Like any major conference, it was a whirlwind couple of days. 8,000 attendees from over 2,300 companies presents a lot of partnership opportunities, as you can imagine. It also guarantees numerous laps of an event space four times the size of the Excel Centre, but I’m not complaining.
If this year’s Money 20/20 told me anything, it’s that the future is very bright for partnerships in financial services – here’s why.
- There’s still a long way to go in combatting legacy systems, across industries and business sizes. Satago is in the cash flow management business; in our world, the archaic invoicing systems of many businesses are crying out for innovation, or automation. Some I spoke to were still relying on a series of excel spreadsheets and felt that getting to the 21st century remained a central goal. It reminded me of a phrase I’d heard used for the least agile financial organisations: ‘Museums of money’. To coin my own phrase, it felt like many want to be ‘Mobilisers of Money’ instead. Time and time again, I met people who wanted more tools able to seamlessly integrate and embed into their customer journeys. It’s not just an additional revenue stream for them, the client value-add is still absolutely key.
- Anyone who’s anyone attends Money 20/20, but the largest banks and software providers make up a good proportion of them. A common thread, particularly amongst the largest business representatives, was that building the solutions they want themselves is an increasingly unattractive option. They have concerns over time and cost commitments, a slower time-to-market, a lack of specialised expertise, to name a few. They want ready-made, best-in-class solutions. While the average client of an agile fintech might not be of interest to the big player, so long as the solution is scalable – they’re a lot keener to forge partnerships to bridge their capability gaps.
- Commentary is often focused on the biggest players in financial services, but the regional networks and local hubs are solving their own challenges via alternative solutions, too. In general, I found their pain points falling into two categories. Firstly, regional players are looking to offer something new to the small businesses in their region. Whether they can help SMEs operate in a healthier way (via improved cash flow or risk management, for example), or enhance the SME’s product offerings for their regional customer base.
Their second issue was finding alternative routes to finance and funding. It’s no secret that finding lending has become harder and harder for the smaller businesses. The regional players are happy to consider alternative lenders, who give them more flexibility and transparency when they borrow.
- The conference as a whole felt like a demonstration of the power of good partnerships in itself. The goal of any good conference is to encourage organic conversation, and Money 20/20 did a fantastic job of creating an environment for that. The Money 20/20 Connect App was a huge help, an AI-powered scheduling tool, and comfortably the best booking system I’ve ever used. Enabling attendees to connect quickly and set up time with each other effortlessly, it was powered in partnership with the ID and KYC solution providers IDVerse – literally the power of a partnership in action. That collaboration exemplifies the way the fintech landscape feels to be shifting towards mutually beneficial deals, over acquisitions or in-house builds.
Although there were multiple themes at play throughout Money 20/20, there’s no single message that stood out. But what it drove home to me personally was how the role of partnerships seems to be gaining traction across verticals and markets.
Where the black-and-white world of challengers and incumbents existed in the first ten years of fintech (I picture its beginning after the financial crisis in ‘08), it feels like a new foundation is forming, in which largest vendors and organisations are increasingly finding the solutions they need by working with smaller, agile players, not against them. Fintech is reaching a stage of maturity in which it’s being taken more than seriously. The biggest players are viewing us as viable solutions to some of their oldest problems. With years of experience under the belt and stress-tested products now capable of bearing the weight of massive customer bases – it seems fintech’s time to shine is not in place of the establishment, but alongside it.