Money20/20 Day 3: Equality, blockchain, apps and security

October 26, 2017
7 min read

Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America, kicked off day 3 evening keynote sessions with a talk on how gender diversity can drive financial innovation. Sweet began her discussion outlining the market importance of women in the US economy, noting that women control over half of personal wealth in the US and an overwhelming majority say they play the dominant role in family finances. However, only one in 10 women say they believe the financial services industry pays equal attention to them. Sweet attributed this low stat to outdated generalizations that financial firms and marketers use to categorize women and challenged the audience to use the new and innovative analytics tools like big data and AI to gain a more accurate and intricate picture of the female customer and market to them in a more personal and dynamic way.

Blockchain steals the show

Blockchain was the unofficial star of this year’s Money 20/20. The distributive ledger technology not only held its own track at the conference, but consistently appeared in conversations across other tracks, too, including banking, payments and security. Most of the keynote interviewees, which included fintech veterans as well as leaders of major financial institutions, were asked to give an opinion on blockchain. Skeptics, who included some fintech ‘vets’ who have seen distributive ledger technologies around in the startup world for some time, acknowledged that the technology will continue to gain steam, but it has a ways to go. In his day one keynote interview, Affirm CEO and former PayPal founder Max Levchin reminded attendees of Digicash, the virtual ledger based currency that debuted in 1989. The idea of blockchain, particularly the storing of money on it (like Bitcoin), was certainly not new. Levchin also admitted that one of the original goals of PayPal was to be a “database of money,” similar to Bitcoin, but corrected its path to solve a more immediate need: person-to-person digital payments.

On the other side, the evangelicals of blockchain believe the technology will fundamentally transform the way businesses and individuals send and receive anything digitally, including money. Bridget van Kralingen, SVP of Global Industry Platforms at IBM, said during an afternoon keynote that blockchain will be a foundational part of how businesses talk to each other in the future. This includes B2B payments, invoicing, data validity and security. Given its distributive ledgers, blockchain is not as susceptible to any server hacks that could expose volumes of sensitive information. Chris Ballinger, CFO & Head of Mobility Services at Toyota Research Institute, presented findings from a smart shared car pilot developed with tech firm Oaken Innovations. Toyota began the discussion agreeing with an estimate recently issued by the World Bank that by 2025, around 20% of the global economy transactions will take place on blockchain technology. Ballinger then showed an at times dizzying example of how Toyota is using blockchain to allow prototype cars to transact with a bevy of services in real time such as ride per mile insurance, car sharing services, parking spot leasing services, smart tolling, renewable energy grid recycling and more. The presentation highlighted the connectivity achievable and the lack of traditional payment present when services are allowed to talk and pay each other directly through blockchain.

The effects of app fatigue

Stan Chudnovsky, Head of Product for Facebook Messenger, brought the day’s conversation back to mobile by affirming a budding trend: the decline of apps. Facebook sees that the amount of apps customers are downloading is on the decline, with the amount of time being spent on current apps trending slightly up. Chudnovsky attributed this to app fatigue; customers are growing weary of new apps for specific purposes, and are looking for brands to meet them in a more dynamic way, including via messaging platforms. A natural bias was evident, given Facebook Messenger’s focus on messaging as the future of customer engagement, but a short time at the conference supported the idea, with a large number of financial brands and startups investing in chatbots to handle things recently firmly in the purview of apps.

The future of security

Finally, security was another consistant theme at the conference and one that was featured in multiple sessions on day 3. With recent large scale data breaches front of mind, many fintech startups as well as established financial institutions spoke on the need to move past massive stores of data for customer servicing and decision making, instead allowing customers to hold more of their data in personal devices, and again using blockchain technology to store transactional data in multiple places. Mastercard discussed some new products on the horizon that allow customers to track their linked card relationships in real time, enabling them to better manage security and finances. The new APIs would allow a user to see all of the recurring charges on linked cards in an app and allow them to seamlessly turn off that subscription. A gym membership subscription payment could be halted from the customer’s side with a swipe. Jamie Dimon, CEO of Chase, notably discussed in the bank’s 2016 letter to shareholders the proliferation of open banking linkages from services into consumer banking and credit card accounts, linkages that put customers at risk of fraud. The Mastercard API works to address that.

News and launches from day 3

  • Intuit launched its new personal financial management product, Turbo, which uses spending data from budgeting app Mint, and official income data from Turbo Tax (both Intuit Brands) to paint what it sees as the most holistic view of consumers finances. Intuit mentioned that nearly half of Mint users spend more than they make each month, and each year around 20k customers ask Turbo Tax if they can claim a pet as a dependent—obviously they see the need for better financial management and education. Turbo will also seek out partners for services. In the demo, Turbo recognized that the user would benefit from a debt consolidation loan, then asked if it was okay to share their information with ‘Marcus,’ the personal lending product from Goldman Sachs. Marcus gets government verified income and debt to income ratio information from Turbo to make the decision within seconds.
  • Bank of America Merchant Services used VR to show attendees what they think the convenience store will look like in five years. The new convenience store will be the seat of not only products, but also services, all accessed through a bevy of touchscreen terminals. Checkouts will be grab and go, borrowing from the Amazon Go concept.
  • PayPal and Synchrony officially announced a broader rollout of the PayPal 2% Cashback MasterCard. They see this card setting a new precedent in cashback with 2% unlimited everyday earn. The card has so far been only marketed to PayPal customers, with Mintel ePerformance showing 334M emails being sent from 5/1 through 10/9 this year, suggesting PayPal emailed its 90M active account holders around three times regarding the card. A larger push to the general public is expected in Q4.
  • Lisnr, a data via audio startup, debuted its newest version. Lisnr allows any device with a microphone and speaker to send and receive data via low frequency soundwaves, a method claimed to be much faster and securer than Bluetooth, NFC and QR and barcodes. Ticketmaster will begin experimenting with the service for mobile ticket processing at events this year.
  • TD Bank announced a new smart bill pay for its checking account. The bill pay will alert customers to upcoming bills well before they arrive, not after or right before, and allow users to use any number of payment methods, including cards and other banking accounts, to pay bills. The service will launch early 2018.

Read about Money20/20 Day 1 here, Day 2 here, and Day 4 here.

Claude Lawrence is a Senior Research Analyst with Comperemedia. His areas of focus include Credit Cards, Personal Lending and Banking.

Claude Lawrence
Claude Lawrence

Claude Lawrence is the Director of Insights, Payments & Lending at Mintel. His areas of focus include credit cards, unsecured lending and banking.

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