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My very subjective summary of Money2020 Europe 2017

added: 09-08-2017 Author: Cezary Kosiński

Recent Money2020Europe conference still attracts my attention despite it’s been more than a month since returning from windy Copenhagen. I went to Denmark without any cash and with the intention to pay purely by Visa and MasterCard branded plastics issued by Polish banks. The cashless only attitude didn’t stop me in Copenhagen even once. Chip&PIN terminals are really widespread. Some difficulty happened at ... 

... The David Collection’s wardrobe where 10 DKK coin deposit was required in the backpack storage box. A cashier was prepared to “sell” these 10 DKK coin and I “paid” for the coin by a credit card issued in Poland. Payment transaction has been registered as a pure “sale” instead of expected “cash advance” and without any extra surcharge fee billed to my card account! It is understandable that a coin with such a remarkable history had to travel with me back to Poland.

Nevertheless something bothered me in the city. “The moment of truth” came in one of crowded pubs while paying Chip&PIN for a drink. I exchanged my card and terminal with the barkeeper and then typed PIN while being nudged, got paper receipt and finally asked myself why it weren’t Tap&Go? Who took my Tap&Go toy designed especially for such payment context? It was like a feeling of being downgraded from “regular Tap&Go universe” down to “obsolete Chip&PIN world” which I wrongly assumed disappeared a few years ago. Such situation could happen because I live on the daily basis in Poland where more than 55% of transactions are initiated on contactless interface. Many people have already forgotten how it is to use Chip&PIN for low amount payments. Missing Tap&Go option in Copenhagen, so obvious in Warsaw’s pubs, suddenly turned out to be painful. This personal experience increased radically my valuation of living in Tap&Go friendly country. It also raised questions on how payment method preferences differ between countries. Denmark goes its own way with well-established local Dankort cards and growing modern MobilePay wallet using Bluetooth technology. In parallel NFC based ApplePay is expanding and international card schemes are promoting contactless cards. Most probably one or two of those methods will prevail in Denmark in the next few years. But it is also worth anticipating a day when QR based mobile wallets, so popular in Far East, will win hearts of all Europeans, including the Danish and Polish people. Very likely the change in payment method valuation is ahead of us and Tap&Go will be challenged one day as well. At the end of Copenhagen trip I did manage to pay contactless at the airport. What a convenience after four days!!  Worth to note PIN limit in Denmark is 200 DKK (about 27€), probably the highest in Europe.

The organizers of Money2020 Europe have already enabled recorded sessions on their Internet TV channel. So I feel relieved from writing an extensive summary. Anyhow two messages stuck to me. Jack Dorsey, CEO and Founder of Square, commented the lesson learned during the introduction of open platform and API strategy in the company. Before starting any technical or operational transformation he recommends answering three fundamental questions. What the company’s core business is? How the company positions itself in the value chain? And to whom the company offers the values? So apt so straight! The questions are so simple to ask while so hard to answer. Such transformation must touch the whole company including management, employees, operation routines, IT infrastructure, partners and also customers. As a consultant I am meeting often companies focused on maintaining post-M&A puzzles in structures and operations or even companies centralized around the founder’s personality. Can open platform and API strategy be too challenging for them? It will be interesting to observe how the whole industry deals with API transformation, who takes it as an opportunity and who as a thread.

Carlos Torres Vila, CEO of BBVA, compared modern finance and banking to a cruise control and automatic gears in vehicles. And he claimed bank customers already trust automated banking. Cruise control and automatic gears simplify driving and cause drivers are less exhausted and can devote more concentration on security. Thanks to these tools less experienced drivers can drive efficiently and securely even during an off-road or mountain trips. By analogy automated banking offers improvements in customer’s financial performance, inclusion for unbanked people and maybe even more important is mobilisation of banked but financially almost inactive people. Exhibitors of Money2020 Europe already presented several concepts of bank automation. Opening bank account on smartphone where photos of ID document and selfie are used for identification. Contextual text or voice chats embedded into banking application, following user activity and backed by humans or AI algorithms. Various biometric account access solutions based on fingerprints, veins in the eyeballs, voice speech recognition - all implemented on smartphones without external sensors. Various personal finance consolidation dashboards visualising a mix of bank and payment accounts, debts, credits or insurance. Those tools also advise personal strategies of debt consolidation, crediting, leasing, insuring or investing according to predefined templates and with respect to varying income. Exhibitors presented also payment automation solutions, mostly for Omni-channel retail. The automation concepts based on cryptocurrencies, blockchain and distributed ledger were represented as well. So bank’s automation is apparently in progresses, it improves customer’s performance, mobilizes them and enables services to unbanked people. But car industry already started preparation of autonomous cars. Can banks, by analogy, start speculating on autonomous banking concept? Well, interesting, let’s start speculating, why not.

At the end of this summary please let me shorty comment the organisation style. It was supporting visitors, just to mention easy readable navigation signs and venue plans, refreshments permanently accessible in many places, lunch buffets accessible without queues. The keynote room had capacity of almost 4k, was equipped with high quality multimedia. Speakers were zoomed-in on four big screens. Animation of the city skyscrapers’ lights was displayed across the whole width of the stage. A daily light cycle animation in a city was synchronised with lasting time of each presentation. Morning sunrise with building lights fading was animated at the beginning of each presentation. Then the midday with building lights off was animated in the middle of presentation timeslot. And finally at the end of each presentation sunset with building lights brightening up was animated on the stage. And there was a cherry on the top: I noted a black contour of a single person walking inside buildings. A few other people caught it as well. This great and funny gamification concept has created deep positive impression. The event was brilliant!!!  With plenty of insights, inspiring personalities and networking opportunities. Well done.

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