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Money20/20 Europe: A Payments Extravaganza and a (figurative) Carnival of Sorts (to borrow from R.E.M.)

Recap on Money2020 Europe

According to the Googles, “payments” translates as “betalingen” in Dutch. And if I’m using the word correctly, betalingen is on full display! Last week, Amsterdam brought many highs (and not of the stereotypical Amsterdam variety), very few lows (Antonio Banderas as a no-show, unexplained flight delays both departing and returning), a couple of surprises (Stu co-winning the Payments Race, celebrating Mark’s fake birthday) and some great memories. In addition to our presence at the ever-lively Money20/20 Europe, we hosted a corporate event commemorating our 20th anniversary in the Netherlands—welcoming regional ACIers and customers alike (and enjoying a most densely delicious and decorative cake).

First, the highs: for me, it was the incredibly positive interactions at Money20/20 with customers and partners across our various solution areas (I can’t get into specifics, but to loosely quote my good friend Jay, “everyone is bullish on payments”). It was also the fantastic customer panel we hosted at our anniversary event with some incredibly innovative banks—ABN AMRO, ING and Rabobank. The Dutch banking and fintech scene is impressive and advanced. And since I love to reference food ad nauseam, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the addictive bitterballen or the amazing hotdog in Iceland (made even sweeter/tastier because you purchased it).

DR: Mark, what were some of your highs?

Mark Ranta: Money20/20 Europe moving to Amsterdam signaled a shift in the event itself, reminiscent of the move in Vegas to the larger event space at the Venetian... but this one was more than that. Today’s payments world is unlike any other time in history. Two of the largest regulatory events to hit our ecosystem both went live in the past six months (GDPR and PSD2); we are staring at Faster and Immediate Payment initiatives going live the world over; and the battle to attract and maintain consumer business in a time of digital acceleration is being strained by massive tech giants edging closer to the payments ecosystem, if not dipping their toes into the pool. So with that as the backdrop, I would say the high of this event was hearing so many people acknowledge that it’s not going to get any easier! Everyone in the ecosystem needs to think differently, act differently and go to market differently ALL while maintaining current experiences for an important and existing client base. The challenge is immense, but for the most part, people sounded excited to tackle it.

DR: My momma once told me there’s no need to harp on any lows, so let’s just skip ‘em. That said, other than Stu tying for first in the Money20/20 Payments Race and you getting that flaming ‘fake birthday’ concoction, how about some surprises?

MR: Given the timing of this race and the inability to transact with a card for a few hours, I am not entirely surprised by our friend Stu winning this race with Cash. Also keep in mind, the race plays out in a sect of the population where cash is very much still king. Buses, taxis, rickshaws, street vendors, beach side towns and remote areas that are (somewhat) untouched or unmoved by time and tech advances. Reaching the underbanked and unbanked is something that we as an industry haven’t been able to solve yet; it’s going to be something that continues to drive me for the next 30 years of my career, because it will take at least that long to get to the point we need to… but you need to keep this race in context, and it reminds us how much farther we need to go. But shout out to Stu nonetheless! The other surprise that reverberated through the show was how much longer this fuzzy period of PSD2 will be; I had assumed I would hear more answers than questions around PSD2 given the date on the calendar, however, the questions still far outnumbered the answers…good news for many of us out there, that we are not alone, but for those who aren’t preparing for the answers, it certainly is a wake-up call!

DR: It was a great week spent with great colleagues, customers, partners, industry influencers and friends. The conversations were fruitful (as were the ACI Smoothies) and the industry optimism was considerable. As for my final thought, it’s taken from a fascinating IoT panel hosted by our colleague Mandy Killam (as quoted by panelist Aldo De Jong while discussing those jobs that will be replaced by AI): “Jobs being done today by “Artificial Robots” e.g. people who are working from scripts!”

Mark, any final thoughts?

MR: For me, the discussion around organizational mentality was coming through loud and clear, I scribbled this quote in my notebook from Paysafe’s Daniel Kornitzer, “If we don’t like change, we will like irrelevance less!” It’s time to start the transformation process if you haven’t done so already. Europe is certainly leading the world on this front and it was awesome to be a part of it, if only for a few days. The countdown has already begun in my head to pick the string back up in China and Vegas in just a few short months. Our friends at Money20/20 outdid themselves yet again, and I can’t wait to get to the next chapter!

DR: And with that, we close the books on another Money20/20 and bid a fond doei-doei to The Netherlands. We’ll be back soon!