Mark Miller
Mark Miller is Associate Director of Insights for Payments with Mintel Comperemedia. He focuses on credit cards, lending products, and the general financial services landscape.

After four jam-packed days of announcements and insights from the biggest players in financial services, Money20/20 2018 has finally come to a close. Here’s what you need to know.

Announcements

The final day kicked off with keynote presentations on cryptocurrency, blockchain, credit scoring and a surprise announcement from the southeast Asian payments space.

Akon shares the life experiences that led him to the payments sector.

Singer, entrepreneur, and philanthropist Akon took the stage to share stories about growing up in Senegal, dealing with tough neighborhoods in the US and how those experiences inspired him to make a difference in the global payments industry. His cryptocurrency ecosystem, Akoin, was designed to “give the young generation in Africa a platform to build Africa.”

Chris Larsen of Ripple predicted that cryptocurrencies are going to change the world, but cautioned that in order to do so, entrepreneurs, banks, and regulators will have to work cooperatively.

Will Lansing of FICO, Steve Smith of Finicity, and Gregory Wright of Experian discussed the new UltraFICO score. Unlike the more traditional model, UltraFICO incorporates banking behaviors such as daily and savings balances, overdraft history, and length of time accounts have been open. This option is particularly helpful in opening up new borrowing opportunities for those that have thin or no credit files and those with prime scores could see improvements and lower rate offers.

Reuben Lai, at Grab Financial Group, spoke about Grab’s recent acquisition of Uber’s assets in Southeast Asia. The Grab platform is becoming an “everyday super-app” for the 70% of Southeast Asians with no bank accounts and 90% without credit or debit cards, offering remittances, loans, and payments. As the session was wrapping up, Lai surprised the audience with the announcement that Grab was partnering with MasterCard to issue virtual and physical prepaid debit cards across Asia.

Key trends

Frictionless banking: This year’s conference buzzword. This idea of removing friction in the banking experience was echoed across many areas, including making payments, authentication, and access to products and services. With so much competition and new technology, banks and fintechs are focusing more on providing simple, fast, and secure platforms to meet a multitude of user needs.

Global innovation: From remittances to payments to regulations. Big Asian “TechFin” players like AliPay, WeChat, and Grab spoke about how platforms previously designed for a single purpose can expand to offer multiple products and services to customers traditionally left out of the financial services space. US players like Amazon and Google shared similar stories for both domestic and international customers. The regulatory environment was also key in these and other conversations, with many highlighting the difficulties for fintechs in the US based on the system of state charters and how this has led to more innovation in Asia in Europe.

Financial inclusion: As evidenced by Asian techfins, most of the innovation is geared towards providing access to the underbanked. Additionally, comparison tools from NerdWallet, Credit Karma, Intuit, the new UltraFICO, and the push for more proactive, personal financial coaches are helping the underserved improve financial health and gain access to better products and services. Fintechs like Stash and Dave, which are developing alternative fee structures, and global banks like HSBC and Deutsche Bank, which are partnering with technology companies to design new products, are all innovating towards more financial inclusion.

Biometrics, AI and crypto technology: Biometrics, particularly voice and behavioral, are advancing to produce the needed balance between security and convenience when accessing an account. Blockchain technology is being promoted as a background identification tool that is much less susceptible to fraud and identity theft (it’s worth noting, though, that the potential uses for the blockchain far surpass authentication). AI tools are evolving with virtual assistants learning more languages and conversational dialogue, while expanding deeper into everyday interactions.

That’s all for an exciting, momentous 2018! The countdown to Money20/20 2019 begins…