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Fintech Frenzy and Fun: Money20/20 Asia

fintech frenzy

I’m in vibrant Singapore for day one of the inaugural Money20/20 Asia... or is this day two? I’ve lost all concept of time this week (and didn’t realize how close Singapore is to the equator… it’s like wicked hawt outside!) And I’m joined once again by my ever-intrepid Rantings colleague to rant about what’s happening in this fun-filled world of payments.

So Mark, I’ve been on my figurative 37th wind for a couple of days. How are you holding up

Mark Ranta: We’re about at the same wind stage. “It’s regressing to the mean.”

Dan Ring: I think we need to put that on a T-shirt! So what did you think of day 1 (minus the incredibly long queues at registration)?

MR: Overall, it was excellent—Singapore is such a logical choice to host an event at the intersection of banks and fintechs. The queues did have the benefit of allowing some of the networking to start early, but once inside, the Money20/20 experience was in full swing. The hallway buzz reached fever pitch by lunchtime and the mainstage presentations for DBS Bank, BBVA and Ant Financial were some of the highlights.

DR: What themes did you pick up on?

MR: OPEN and (its brotha from anotha motha) Partnership. We are hearing this globally, so it didn’t come as a shock, but taking those themes and focusing them on the likes of financial inclusion, digital identity and inclusive ecosystems—and then marrying them with this region of the world—added a new lens to look at them through. The refreshing point for me is that globally we are tackling the same issues and we are starting to see the leaders, in terms of regions, emerge. Exciting times!

DR: Wicked exciting (and the second time I’ve used “wicked” in this post)! Financial inclusion really hit me, as it’s been brought up in many conversations this week. And I don’t recall such wide interest in this topic in past years.

MR: I thought that the mainstage talked to this best… KYC is the BIGGEST hurdle to reaching more of the world’s population, and bringing both AI and blockchain into this discussion has given us the tools to really start addressing financial inclusion.

DR: How can AI and blockchain help with tackling financial inclusion?

MR: Combined, the two have the potential to handle the “I am who I say I am” in ways that were not possible on heritage technology. Don’t get me wrong, we aren’t there yet, but it was exciting to see and hear the buzz here… it shows me that we have gotten beyond talking about the problem as an industry and are actively working toward a solution.

DR: Let’s pivot (PIVOT!!) slightly to another topic upon which we’ve ranted a couple of times… open APIs. This continues to be a hot theme.

MR: Open APIs are not far from any conversation we are having these days. Interestingly, I think the technology has taken a back seat to the organizational mentality side of the trend. We have talked a lot about this; however, the meetings we had yesterday hit this point home. When talking about digital transformation, one of our clients mentioned that the ONLY person in the bank who doesn’t talk about digital these days is the tea cart person. Talk about an organizational mentality to emulate!

DR: If day 2 is anything like day 1, conventional wisdom tells me I should get some rest; sadly, my brain doesn’t always adhere to conventional wisdom. Mark, any last thoughts before we adjourn?

MR: Rest is for the weak Dan, plus my body has no idea what time it is… which brings me to my final thought, Immediate… Immediate Payments, Immediate Access and Immediate Fraud. Real-time is no longer a nice to have, it’s a need to have and it’s much more than just payments. More to come on this trend tomorrow, time to go find some street hawkers and dig into some chili crabs!

DR: Ummmm, delicious chili crabs… if only Singapore was a quick flight… less than 20 hours in the air!

For further insights into the trends that are driving payments investment across Asia, and the role of real-time in providing a launchpad for innovation, download our new benchmark report ‘2018 ASEAN Payments Insight Survey,’ produced with Ovum.