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The Ultimate Summary of Money 20/20 2017

Money20/20 Las Vegas has become a keystone event for the financial services industry. Game-changing announcements are made every year and the whole payments ecosystem comes together to stay ahead of the curve.

Members of our Payments team were in attendance again this year to meet with clients, partners, and stay on top of industry themes and trends.

Conference Highlights:

AI: “The Woz” Evangelizes Artificial Intelligence

Tech legend Steve Wozniak focused on the importance of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and materials handling growth.

“AI is happening”, Wozniak said, and nobody should stand in its way. According to him, there’s no reason to – technology will not replace jobs or human productivity, although “true” AI will one day handle real-world situations like humans do.

He went on to mention that simulated intelligence, which follows a ruleset, is often mistakenly called AI. This was echoed by Amir Khosrowshahi from Intel, who said that true AI involves both deep learning from a data set and inference for improvements.

Pamela Vagata shared an example of how AI can be applied to payments, and how it is used at Stripe, specifically. She explained their use of Word2vec, a technique developed by Google. This complex algorithm has been “taught” to automatically categorize their customers based on similarities between their businesses, to a very specific level.

Innovation: PayPal Advocates Industry Collaboration

Several conference sessions focused on partnerships between both payments and technology companies to reach a level of innovation and potential markets that they otherwise couldn’t. While the payments space already has a web-like ecosystem of partnerships, more companies than ever are opening their platforms for different forms of digital collaboration.

Dan Schulman, CEO & President of PayPal, stressed the importance of partnership and combining assets for broader offerings and customer segments. Opening platforms and enabling the use of each other’s best assets, he said, would allow payments companies to serve parts of the market that neither could reach or do well alone.

The same concept of collaborative efforts was repeated by Michael Miebach, Chief Product Officer of Mastercard. “Financial inclusion for all consumers is key”, Miebach stated, mentioning that payments companies could impact the lives of the underserved – $7.3 trillion worth of middle class, in fact, who need more than electronic payments.

Not only should payments organizations work together to innovate, but they need the help of tech partnerships from startups to established software providers. Jack Stephenson from First Data added, “Payments is really an ecosystem, and partnering is crucial for success.”

Christopher Woolard of the UK Financial Conduct Authority stressed the importance of global collaboration and regulatory compliance throughout partnerships.

CX: Mastercard Launches AR Glasses and Uber Launches a Visa Card

Another trend at Money 20/20 focused on customer experience in increasingly cashless economies. The goal of many payments companies is to make their customer experiences fast, easy, rewarding, and completely seamless.

“Faster payments are critical for our ecosystem, developing markets, and for the good of underserved markets”, Jess Turner, EVP of Digital Payments & Labs from Mastercard, explained.

At Money 20/20, Mastercard demonstrated their new augmented reality (AR) shopping experience with Qualcomm’s R-9 AR smartglasses. Made by Osterhout Design Group, these glasses show the wearer digital descriptions, including price, of the physical product they’re looking at while shopping.

If the wearer wants to instantly purchase the item, the glasses employ Identity Check Mobile iris authentication to verify ID, then pay for the product through Masterpass mobile payments.

Patrick Gauthier, VP Amazon Pay from Amazon mentioned that “customers want a frictionless experience,” which was a sentiment repeated throughout the show, including by Barclays, Samsung, and Charles Schwab.

The emerging prevalence of the PayFac (Payment Facilitator) model came up in several conversations about customer experience, along with the question of the staying power of these emerging players.

John Collison, President and Co-Founder at Stripe, talked about the PayFac trend not being about “quick reactions to how to get payments online, cross-border and easier for customers.” Instead, it’s important to “take a step back and consider how this is going to work in the long-term.”

Dan Werkinoff from Intuit Consumer Tac Group focused on how technology and AI should be used to simplify finances for the customer, without the customer experiencing AI at work. Instead, they should only experience human interactions and slick software.

Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING Group added that the only part of banking that should be noticeable is one click. “People need banking in the future, but not banks,” their studies showed. “To stay relevant, go mobile” and offer a seamless experience.

Uber, who’s winning in the mobile space, announced the launch of a Visa card in partnership with Barclays. Designed to be native to the Uber app, they promise this Visa option will be more engaging and rewarding for users, who will get nearly instant rewards upon settlement.

Keith Rabois, Partner at Khosla Ventures, pointed out that the financial services that thrive have advantages in distribution, risk, and underwriting.

KYC: Apple Announces Apple Pay Cash to Join Face ID

Naturally, the customer experience conversation expands to methods of conducting KYC and anti-fraud practices without being too invasive to the consumer. As payments and data storage become increasingly digital, security and anti-fraud mechanisms are concurrently topical.

Jennifer Bailey from Apple announced Apple Pay Cash, a feature that enables users to send money via Messages with Apple Pay, even using Siri to send and receive payments.

Bailey claimed that merchant acceptance of Apple Pay has soared from 3% three years ago to almost 50% today. The new iPhone X, she explained, will use Face ID to verify the user anytime they want to unlock, authenticate, and Apple Pay for something on their phone.

Contrary to popular belief, the Equifax breach, which affected 143 million credit records, did not spur a fraud revolution that resulted in technologies like this. Many industry leaders, including Dr. Injong Rhee from Samsung Electronics, mentioned that security and regulation was already a growing concern.

Two-factor authentication and KYC were hot topics at Money 20/20. A survey conducted by Lexis Nexis this spring of 1200 risk and fraud managers found that one in three of all monthly transactions involve attempted fraud. Fraud rates are higher among larger and digital companies, ranging from 17 – 43% and costing companies $2.66 – $3.48 for every dollar lost to fraud.

Blockchain: A New Digital Currency can Jump Between Blockchains

The digital currency Bitcoin is now eight years old and has quadrupled in value in the last nine months. This surge in popularity, along with the fact that nobody wants to part with their coins in fear that they’ll miss out on appreciation, has slowed transactions and increased user fees.

Interestingly, only about 100,000 merchants worldwide accept Bitcoin, but that didn’t stop it from stealing the show in the Money 20/20 Payments Race. The program asked five bloggers who knew little about payments to get from Toronto to Las Vegas in seven days using only one of different payment methods including chip and pin, contactless, cash, gold, and Bitcoin. The contestant using only Bitcoin made it the farthest.

Blockchain, which has been touted as the backbone of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is a digital ledger for recording and tracking transactions in real time. Despite the fact that no central bank is issuing or tracking Bitcoin’s blockchain, industry leaders like Steve Wozniak agree that all cryptocurrencies should be put on a blockchain.

At Money 20/20, Jeff Garzik, Co-Founder of startup Bloq, showcased their latest creation. Metronome is a new digital currency that can jump between different blockchains so if one collapses or usage slackens, the owner can easily move their holdings elsewhere to retain value and longevity.

Conclusion

Payments organizations and technology companies are partnering more than ever to provide innovative offerings and experiences for their customers and reach underserved markets.

Advancements in Artificial Intelligence are emerging from this movement, and sophisticated algorithms are teaching systems to apply nuanced learning for a multitude of revenue-generating possibilities. A focus on data security and anti-fraud has driven innovation in its own right, proving the importance of blockchain and KYC services.

Once again, Money 20/20 gave attendees exposure to the innovations and trends at the forefront of the industry, along with a chance to continue strengthening their professional networks that are proving more and more critical to success.

To learn about what Agreement Express is doing to innovate, collaborate, and help payment service providers generate revenue faster, check out our Payments webpage, or Book a Call to see if we’d be a good fit for your company.

 

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