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The revolution of money is in the hands of the consumer – a Money 20/20 round-up

The revolution of money is in the hands of the consumer – a Money 20/20 round-up

For the seventh year running, Money 20/20 put on an impressive show in Las Vegas and welcomed thousands of innovators from the fintech and banking industries to learn about disruption and forge business connections.

Over 500 speakers shared inspiring insights on subjects such as artificial intelligence, identity, payments, blockchain, security, diversity and inclusion, the latter being especially prevalent because of the launch of Money 20/20’s Rise Up accelerator program that allows ambitious female talent to blossom.

Amplifying inclusion, the four-day event kicked off with a keynote address from Frank Cooper III, senior managing director and global chief marketing officer at BlackRock, who highlighted how the financial services industry has the opportunity to serve all of society.

“Wealth is a set of behaviours and a way of thinking. It allows you to move forward financially no matter where you are, no matter your station in life, no matter your circumstances and when you think about wealth in that way, you realise that wealth is not just for the wealthy. No matter where a person stands today on the social economic ladder, they can take a step forward toward a greater financial stability.”

Cooper also discussed how banking providers should help customers understand their relationship with their wealth to serve their wellbeing. But first, the customer needs to trust their bank and the financial services provider needs to earn the right to manage people’s money.

Deidre Campbell, global chair, financial services sector at Edelman said that customer experience has become the “number one most trust-building behaviour” and after conversations about this subject at Money 20/20 three years ago, it resulted in “a domino effect across the industry”.

She also spoke about Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer which surveys over 33,000 global respondents and now in its 18th year, continues to reveal how trust in the sector, executives and technology has been gained or lost.

After having to resolve issues around sales practices that ruined the organisation’s reputation, Wells Fargo was used as an example to show how problematic it is for a bank to navigate digital transformation at the same time as building trust.

Joining Campbell was Braden Hope, EVP, head of partnerships and industry relations at Wells Fargo who said that “you see 83% reflecting on the fact that user experience is important and one of the things that we’ve done to rebuild trust is to really focus on the value of digital experience.

“With the issues that we’ve had around sales practices, there’s a real value in putting people in the position where they’re making their own decisions with digital, so we’ve been investing heavily and it’s hard to believe that 75% of our interactions that are occurring, are occurring digitally and that presents an incredible opportunity for us to put our customers in control of their financial lives.”

Aa an example, Hope pointed to the recent nationwide roll out of Control Tower, a PFM app which enables users to view a list of their recurring payments and track where their debit or credit card or account information is shared with certain third-party financial companies in a single, centralised location.

Tracey Davies, president of Money 20/20, then delivered her opening keynote and reiterated that 10 years on from the financial crisis, “the balance of power has well and truly shifted to the consumer. The crisis was a catalyst for change and although the consumer revolution may have started gradually, it’s quickly speeding up and a new generation of tech platforms are redefining financial services around the world.

“The businesses winning today are winning because they serve consumers on their terms, when and where they want it,” and went on to describe the Rise Up accelerator programme as a way in which key industry luminaries can join together to build a powerful network of women.

Sallie Kawcheck, CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, expressed a similar attitude on the second day of the event and spoke about her experience after being fired from Citigroup and Bank of America and how this gave her the motivation to close the gap for women and launch her wealth management firm.

“Diverse leadership teams lead to higher returns, lower risk, greater client engagement, greater employee engagement, greater innovation. The diverse teams outperform higher IQ teams and we all know this intuitively, we all know that if you are the CEO and you hire one person who’s exactly like you, you’ve done nothing.”

Fintech/bank collaboration was another big issue to the fore at Money20/20. HSBC’s partnership with digital lending platform Avant was another big reveal at the Las Vegas event with the roll out of a new platform that enables to complete the application process online and, if approved, get the funds - of up to $30,000 with terms of up to five years - the next day.

Vanessa Colella, head of Citi Ventures and chief innovation officer, CitiGroup chimed in: “There’s not one company that’s going to take over all finance globally. It’s important to really think about partnerships, so when we look at the space, we look at small companies, we look to our clients, we look to understand what is it that together we can do to push the ecosystem.”

Caesar Sengupta, GM payments and VP from Google closed out the day with a focus on the future and "a few major changes that are going on that will shape the world of money for the next several decades to come.

“Mobile computing is changing pretty much every aspect of our life and the world of money is going to be no different, especially when it comes to new users of the Internet, either the next generation in the US or Europe or most of the users in the rest of the world. Mobile phones are not only going to be the first experience they have of the digital world, it’s often going to be the only way they get online or do anything digital.”

Day three of Money 20/20 started off with a similar message, with Patrick Gauther, VP Amazon Pay stating: “Technology continues to grow as a segment of the economy. What will happen and will continue to happen evermore is that things will be simple and natural, as far as the interaction between the consumer and the merchant is concerned.

“To actually accomplish that, to create a natural experience, requires a lot of technology and we thrive to deploy technology whether it is with smart assistants, with logistics chain management or with delivery systems in order to remove friction and to make what could be very complicated, very simple for the consumer.”

Gauther went on to say that while mcommerce came after ecommerce, we are now in the early stages of voice commerce, which will be a powerful medium that will transform our daily lives and how consumers make transactions.

It is clear that we have a revolution on our hands and one that combines trust and value with technology trends and serving the consumer directly, which is resulting in the eradication of the middle man.

Harley Finkelstein, chief operating officer at Shopify shared this view and said that over 100 million online businesses of all sizes are choosing to side-step the middleman to control their brand and sell direct to customers online.

“It’s important to acknowledge that curators and intermediaries are not going away, but what’s going to change is that they will have to provide a disproportionate amount of value to justify their profit margin in the future.

“Amazon justify their existence and their margin because they provide incredible price and great selection on household commodity items and at Bergdorf or Barneys, they do that by having incredible curation and great personalised service.”

If good service is provided, the consumer would be willing to pay the margin, but retailers who defend their profit margin because they have a store in a particular location, do not have enough to justify bad service at this point.

Next on the main stage was Barbara Corcoran, star of ABC’s Shark Tank and founder of The Corcoran Group, who discussed American Express and Amazon Business’s new card for small businesses, which was launched during Money 20/20.

Corcoran said: “I truly believe it answers the needs of what every small business person really wants, which is improved cash flow and more accountability as to where the money actually goes. I never knew where my money went because I was so fast at spending it and I didn’t have the time to go through accounts.”

The new card allows members to reap rewards and cashback opportunities for a number of different purchases and also, benefit from the ecommerce solution Amazon Business, which allows the customer to approve or reject payments in real time.

The prevalent message from Money20/20 is that the revolution of money lies in the hands of the consumer, whether that means serving the customer’s needs with efficient platforms or giving them increased control over their finances with a choice of products and services.

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