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Our final episode from Money20/20 Europe 2023, that took place in Amsterdam in June. We recorded a series of interviews with a number of the speakers from the conference. Featured on this third episode are:
1/ Cassie Boutelle, Chief Marketing Officer, BPC
2/ Michael Shaulov, CEO & Co-Founder, Fireblocks
3/ Claire Calmejane, Chief Innovation Officer, Société Générale
4/ Sulabh Agarwal, Managing Director, Global Head of Payments, Accenture
5/ Iryna Agieieva, Head of Product – Payments, Mollie
6/ Callan Carvey, Global Head of Operations, Cleo
Cassie emphasised that the boom the boom in the fintech sector that arose during the pandemic is far from over. The increased adoption of digital services, especially among older generations, positions fintechs to continue growing and leveraging the opportunities presented by the digital payment landscape.
Cassie highlighted various revenue streams that fintechs can explore, including personal financial management solutions that offer consumer control over their financial services and drive revenue growth. She also mentioned credit card issuing, niche market targeting, and non-payment related integrations to address compliance concerns like KYC, KYB, and AML.
In terms of using technology better, Cassie emphasised the importance of solid execution, market understanding, and seamless integrations to differentiate new disruptors in the industry. She said that fintechs should focus on business strategy, market needs, and delivering a superior user experience.
Finally, Cassie shared a case study involving Cake Bank, which successfully identified a financial gap in the Vietnamese market for younger generations and brought a new card to address that need. By partnering with BPC and leveraging their scalable and flexible platform, Cake Bank issued two million new cards to Gen Z and millennials within a year, enabling quick payment initiation.
Cassie advised fintechs to understand their target market, identify market gaps, and leverage those insights to become disruptive forces in the industry. By addressing specific market needs and utilizing technology effectively, fintechs can differentiate themselves and drive growth.
Michael Shaulov is the CEO and co-founder of Fireblocks. He explained that Fireblocks offers infrastructure solutions for digital assets, providing secure and compliant services to financial institutions and businesses. During the interview, Michael discussed Fireblocks’ involvement in a recent project with Israel’s Ministry of Finance and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange. They successfully completed the first phase of a proof of concept where a government bond was issued using blockchain technology.
Fireblocks played a crucial role by providing the infrastructure and abstraction layer for interacting with the blockchain, managing the issuance and settlement processes, and supporting the tokenised fiat used in the project. The proof of concept was considered highly successful, and further approvals are being sought for the subsequent phases.
This discussion at the event was deemed important due to the growing interest and regulatory efforts around digital assets. The audience in Michael’s session responded positively, finding it informative and expressing excitement about the possibilities presented. The online community also showed great enthusiasm by engaging with the content and seeking ways to replicate and advance the industry in a similar direction.
Claire Calmejane, the Group Chief Innovation Officer at Société Générale, discussed the power of open banking in corporate finance and the bank’s involvement in this domain. Claire highlighted the main outcomes from a panel discussion that took place at Money20/20, emphasizing the maturity of open banking in the retail sector and the opportunities it presents in optimizing liquidity and developing data products for corporate banking and finance. She mentioned Société Générale’s partnerships with Kyriba and Lemonway in the marketplace area as examples of the bank’s commitment to exploring new possibilities in open banking.
Claire explained that Société Générale has been actively pursuing their open banking strategy for the past seven years, focusing on banking as a service and banking as a platform. Through acquisitions like Treezor, a banking facilities provider, and Pay Experts, a payment gateway, the bank now offers a comprehensive range of services, including card issuing, payment solutions, and an e-commerce platform with credit facilities and data products.
Discussing their innovation initiatives, Claire highlighted the bank’s retirement program in France and the development of a dashboard for SMEs. These projects are aimed at prioritising initiatives and leading in the open banking space. She explained that Société Générale’s open banking strategy encompasses both product-focused distribution through partnerships and becoming a leading platform that connects demand and offers, leveraging data and network effects.
Claire also mentioned Société Générale’s achievements in open banking, particularly in embedding innovation into the bank’s core strategy. She acknowledged the efforts of the team driving these projects and their regular reviews by the general management. Looking ahead, Société Générale is focusing on bank as a service and exploring opportunities in the crypto space. They have built Société Générale Forge, a platform leveraging blockchain technology for primary market to post-trade services, including the issuance of digital tokens and providing custodian services. The bank has already issued stablecoins for clients to convert their digital tokens into fiat currencies.
Claire expressed excitement about the promising areas of banking as a service and crypto but emphasized the importance of transforming the core business for long-term efficiency and engaging employees in the transformation process.
Regarding the metaverse, Sulabh finds it to be an interesting topic but with challenges such as digital identity, data privacy, and competition within the metaverse market still need to be addressed.
Sulabh also discussed the commerce aspect of the metaverse, noting that once NFTs and trading gain momentum, commerce within the metaverse will increase further. Digital wallets and the competition among them are a more immediate concern for corporations. He explained that digital wallets and super apps have found success in certain regions, primarily due to market maturity, customer trust, and the experiences they provide.
The conversation then shifted to GenAI and its applications in the payments sector. Sulabh expresses excitement about the potential of GenAI and mentions using similar AI tools like ChatGPT for personal and business purposes. Accenture has developed numerous use cases for GenAI, ranging from automation to data reporting, and is actively exploring its productivity-enhancing capabilities.
Concerns surrounding AI development were also discussed, including issues related to safety, security, and ethical decision-making. Sulabh emphasized the importance of implementing guardrails to ensure that AI acts as an enabler rather than the sole decision-maker.
In conclusion, Sulabh shared his key takeaway from Money20/20, noting the growing attendance and indicating that payments transformation continues to be a significant focus in the industry.
Iryna Agieiva, is the Head of Product at Mollie and she talked about headless commerce at Money20/20. Iryna explained that headless commerce is an architectural approach that separates front-end and back-end capabilities, providing flexibility for making changes solely on the front end. This decoupling allows e-commerce retailers to deliver personalised experiences, conduct AB tests, and implement smooth personalisation more efficiently. One of the panel guests and clients, Sanne Bolkenstein from Hyvä, collaborated with Mollie to deliver Magento 2 front-end solutions, enabling faster website development for small and medium businesses.
For businesses implementing headless commerce, Iryna advised considering other architectural enhancements based on the problems they aim to solve and the experiences they want to offer. She emphasised the importance of compatibility and the potential to outsource or integrate with other platforms. Shifting the conversation to payment trends, Iryna highlighted the blurring line between online and in-person payments due to changing customer expectations influenced by the pandemic. She mentioned the launch of Mollie Terminal, which brings online payment experiences to offline point-of-sale (POS) devices and expressed excitement about the future of tap-to-pay capabilities, where any mobile device could act as a payment device. Iryna envisioned a future where traditional hardware becomes obsolete and tap-to-pay technologies dominate in-person payments. However, she acknowledged the current coexistence of both approaches, prompting Mollie’s investment in Mollie Terminal while actively working towards bringing tap-to-pay to market.
Callan on that Cleo is a conversational AI and financial assistant that simplifies financial life through personalised data and insights. They offer various tailored products like savings, budgeting, cash advances, and credit building, all aimed at reducing stress and improving users’ financial well-being. Cleo’s AI assistant leverages predictive insights to provide solutions for potential financial hardships. For example, it notifies users about impending overdrafts and suggests tips to save or offers their cash advance product to bridge liquidity gaps. Cleo’s engaging approach, including features like Rose Mode, where users are playfully roasted for their spending habits, encourages users to make more informed financial decisions.
AI technology in the fintech space is becoming increasingly significant, enhancing user experience, customer service, and internal workflows. Cleo collaborates with partners like AWS and Nvidia to leverage data and deliver prompt responses to user inquiries.
Looking ahead, Callan said that Cleo plans to expand its services, focusing on coaching and chat functionality. They aim to further personalise and simplify the financial experience using generative AI LLMs (language models) and continue improving users’ financial lives beyond paycheck-to-paycheck.
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