There was palpable excitement in the air yesterday as Money20/20 – described last year by Mintel as the “hottest event in payments” – returned to Las Vegas for the fifth time. In a keynote interview, John Sculley, Vice Chairman of Lantern Credit, but better known for his decade as Apple CEO, recalled some advice from the late Steve Jobs to set the tone of the conference. He described how the most important thing he learned from the Apple co-founder was a process for developing ideas called “zooming.” First, Jobs would “zoom out” for inspiration from other companies or industries, and then he would “zoom in” to figure out how to simplify, improve and apply an idea. Sculley hinted at a new launch from Lantern Credit that would utilize artificial intelligence and machine learning to create an “intelligent credit report,” but he stopped short on providing details.

However, there were 3 major keynote announcements on Day 1:

  • In the first keynote of the day Vicky Bindra, Global Head, Product & Solutions at Visa and Adam Ludwin, Co-Founder and CEO of Chain took to the stage to announce Visa B2B Connect – a new platform to facilitate instant, transparent, secure and trusted global B2B payments. B2B Connect addresses a pain point in the industry by digitizing the payments process utilizing blockchain technology. The platform is set to launch as a pilot in 2017 after Visa and Chain met at Money20/20 just two years ago.  The disruptive potential of the blockchain has been frequently discussed but Visa is the most notable player in the payments ecosystem, to date, to announce a blockchain solution.
  • Paul Finch (CEO) and Lou Anne Alexander (Group President, Payments) from Early Warning discussed the launch of Zelle, which is “coming soon” as the banks’ mobile P2P payments app that will compete with Venmo by offering payments, bill pay and disbursements in a single application. Approximately 100 million consumers will already have access to Zelle through online banking, and 70 million will have access via their existing mobile banking apps. Zelle also promises a stand-alone app sometime in 2017. The move explains the 1.4 million emails that Citi sent to its iPhone customers on 10/21, according to Mintel ePerformance/eDataSource, informing them that “effective late November 2016,” its Popmoney P2P service would no longer be available in the Citi Mobile app and that a new person-to-person payments service would be available in the coming months.
  • Richard Cordray, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), addressed the conference in the final keynote suggesting that, on one hand, the CFPB and FinTech companies are aligned in putting consumers first and changing their lives, but also warning that everyone has to comply with regulations even when offering services to consumers that cut across regulatory frameworks (as is the case with some FinTechs). He spoke of the CFPB’s Project Catalyst initiative, which is designed to encourage consumer-friendly innovation in financial services with access to credit, controlling spending, creating savings opportunities, refinancing student loans and P2P money transfer as just some of the tremendous opportunities for FinTech companies. The CFPB’s consumer complaints database has surpassed the milestone of 1 million complaints and is available as a resource for mining ideas and coming up with innovation given that companies can access and analyze the data.

What we think

Key developments in blockchain and P2P indicate that the industry is “moving the needle” with innovative solutions, however both announcements were vague on launch dates, suggesting that the reality of when these solutions will be available might not live up to the Money20/20 launch hype that we’ve seen before (remember Chase Pay?). The prospect of getting access to now 1 million consumer complaints from the CFPB should be tantalizing for anyone looking to innovate in financial services.

Andrew Davidson is SVP/Chief Insights Officer for Mintel Comperemedia. He is an expert in data-driven cross channel marketing intelligence, consumer behavior and global trends. As a thought leader and expert speaker, Andrew has consistently predicted the evolution of payments marketing for the past 23 years. He speaks at high profile industry events and has presented at conferences in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Andrew is passionate about the global role of payments as the first step on the path to financial inclusion.

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