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Money 20/20 EU: Take caution with hyper-expansion

Money 20/20 EU: Take caution with hyper-expansion

Hyper-personalisation is receiving significant attention from financial services at present. Yet expansion into new niches which businesses haven’t fully understood poses new risks, and, as explored by Money 20/20 Europe’s panel session, ‘Hyper-personalisation in a data-driven world', this can have severe impacts across an entire business model.

Babs Ogundeyi, CEO at Kuda, advised: “The most important thing is you want is a large audience. You need to be able to define that audience, and you need to understand what that means. In our case, we're Africa focused, and we've defined that audience using age demographic.”

Canelle Chokron, co-founder of Vybecard, gave an example of how they have approached this tactic. We do campaigns with icons from Gen Z, mostly influencers, to target the mass market. Then we go to niche audiences with small creators that have engagement and can be passionate. By going to the previous small creators, we have targeted specific needs and specific segments.”

Chokron continued: “We did that with a small creator for a big campaign. She was very engaged and passionate. We got six million views on the video on TikTok- it went viral, and then from that video we gained about 10,000 customers.”

Vrushali Prasade, co-founder and CTO at Pixis, pointed to four main factors when deciding to pursue an audience. The first is who your target audience is at a high level. The second is what kind of communication do you want to send out to them so that they might be interested in actually clicking on an ad. The third is deciding how much money you want to allocate to pursuing that audience. Lastly what is the success metric you are using to determine if the selected audience has been converted.

From an investments side, Fabian Pregel, executive director of growth equity investment at Goldman Sachs, stated that something they are looking for is, “can you actually scale your channels to access that demographic efficiently? Right. We see quite a lot of startups as they turn on the taps to acquire more customers, that the cap pretty much linearly shows up. And so even if it's a great accessible market, that’s not a great situation to be in.”

Regarding expansion, Chokron commented that Vybecard grows with the audience: “We have access to all the data and to their key moments of life.”

Ogundeyi argued that you still need to build a relationship with customers, “we're targeting the youth and we learn about them from day one, and build that relationship with them. The needs will change, but as a business we also make sure we change as well.”

Pregel concluded with a warning: “What we are advising our portfolio companies is to only expand from a position of strength, where you're well-funded, and you can really afford it. The last thing you want is to go halfway, be running out of funding, and suddenly you have to focus on short term profitability. All the while investors are not giving you credit for the thing that you've just spent millions building and then you're maybe having to sort of abandoned it.”

What's the hold up when it comes to financial inclusion?

Ahmed Karsli, founder of Papara, argued that there were two major challenges for financial inclusion were education and culture, giving the example that 70% of the unbanked population in Turkey are women, limiting their financial options and making them dependent on men in their lives.

Adding to this, Edidiong Uwemakpan, group head of marketing at TeamApt pointed out that affordability is one of the bigger challenges cash is free. She furthered on the need for accessibility, stating: “you're giving someone a digital service. And they haven't done this before. So how do you take them and educate them through that process?”

“The hybrid approach has actually helped digitise things. In the past, when people were paid, they would take the money and just pay by cash. Now, because they know there's a guy down the road who can do these transactions for them, they would leave it in the bank,” said Uwemakpan.

Karsli agreed with this sentiment stating, “if you don't give them that opportunity to go and digitalise their cash for the first time, then they will just keep using their cash.”

In facing some of these problems, Uwemakpan offered an example from her own experience: “We've gone that route of digitising businesses for the merchant, toward allowing them to collect payments and store their value. Because we can see their main transactions, we can give them credit, and they can grow.”

When discussing one of Papara’s missions as part of financial inclusion, Karsli explained that in many banks, “if you have higher levels of money in your bank account, they eliminate all your fees. But if you have lower income, you have to pay for everything. Which is something of an injustice, it is not fair. This is actually what they're fighting in Turkey. We call our pricing structure RobinHood, we charge richer people and use that money to provide a better experience for poorer people.”

Karsli furthered the position they are in, providing financial services to a less banked population, “we feel like we have to provide for every kind of financial need of our users. It is not only providing payment services, there are many things we have to do in addition to that.”

Uwemakpan concluded with some areas of the African market which are still in need of servicing: “I see a lot of opportunity in cross border trade as well. Africa has largely been excluded. For example, you can send money in but you can’t send money out. That's why you'd find a huge amount of crypto play in Africa, because it is enabling people send money faster and better.”

Introducing Project New Era, the UK's first Digital Sterling pilot

“By designing money, digital currencies can reshape how we transact. Innovation and technology can both be a force for social good,” said Lord St John of Bletso, member of House of Lords in opening the headline session around the British CBDC pilot.

The panel focused on discussing some of the decisions behind the pilot, as well as opportunities and some risk factors moving forward.

Kunal Jhanji, MD, partner and global lobal lead for networks and market infrastructure at BCG explained why they decided to run the CBDC pilot in the way they have. “We want to make sure that the decision we take around such an important evolution of money is well informed, well thought through, and is elaborate enough to actually take into account any risks, concerns, challenges.”

Dr Lisa, House of Commons and chair of crypto and digital assets, all party parliamentary group in the UK government discussed some of the opportunities offered by CBDC: “We need to be ensuring that digital transformation, and innovation has at its heart inclusion, because there are so many sectors of our society who are marginalised in traditional finance industry.”

She continued: “I don't think this is going to be something that entirely replaces cash, I think it would be a complementary system. But what I would like to see are test cases where we can have inclusion of marginalised and minority groups at the centre.”

Brunello Rosa, CEO and head of research at Rosa & Roubini Associates, argued that CBDCs were an inevitable way forward: “This is an evolution that in our opinion is inevitable. It will happen, it's just a question of when and how, not if. […] Use cases will come. The platform will be provided by the technology that they are piloting in the UK and some other parts of the world. Then when technology is available, that will help policy implementation.”

From a banking perspective, Nicole Sandler, head of digital policy at Barclays, stated: “It's really important that the industry at large we worked collaboratively with our regulators to make sure that when digital money becomes an enhancement to the financial service industry, that we have worked alongside to make sure that design choices that are made, mitigate the risk that that will come up.”

Sandler continued by explaining some of the risks faced, especially that of reputational risks for central banks: “If something happens in a bank, it's terrible for a bank, it's unheard of.. And they haven't taken the time to test it and mitigate those risks. They would lose trust and confidence which cannot happen.”

Paul Sisnett - co-founder and CEO at SMD Group / paywith.glass, raised a pertinent point about cybersecurity concerns which need to be kept to mind, “what happens when you have a nation state has decided that the new kind of war is going to be be attacking the next country's economy by breaking their digital currency infrastructure.”

Jhanji concluded: “we need to be very thoughtful, thorough and structured in the way we roll out a retail CBDC, because it's a significant shift towards the future of money.”

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