At Money2020 Europe, there are a lot of discussions around being a cashless society and whether or not this is achievable. However, because movements towards this direction have not been made on a significant level, it questions whether fintechs and banks are successfully pushing the boundaries of technology.
Adizah Tejani, Head of Ecosystem Development, Level 39
Perhaps, in order to implement digitisation into the traditional sector, companies should apply to be a part of programs like Level 39 and Adizah Tejani highlighted that having the capability to demonstrate their products will build a stronger network and payments ecosystem. A problem that Tejani brought to the surface in the discussion was that it is difficult to find people that actually understand. “Companies are hoovering up minds that are well versed in artificial intelligence, but how do we retain talent for the future?” She continued to explain that education is key to encouraging the developers of the future to work in tech. “Tech companies are increasingly working with computer science departments and also social science departments because this space is becoming more behavioural, to use artificial intelligence as an example.”
Eric Van Der Kleij, Managing Director, ENTIQ
A hotly debated question at Money2020 is whether banks and fintech startups should collaborate, cooperate or should there even be a combination of both? Eric Van Der Kleij, a former head at Level 39, wants to know which of these will make the customer market more accessible. Van Der Kleij took the controversial topic of the Brexit and explored how the UK has a “huge value of startups” with a “large amount of venture capital and funding available”, and this could change if the country leave the EU. With access to sandboxes, European companies are lucky as they have the capacity to educate. “They can take the concept to the regulator and they can agree that they don’t know anything about the idea and work together.” Returning to coopetition, he explored how with true coopetition, we will require new regulations that think in a different way. “We need world class technologists in the regulation world.”
Jonathan Quin, Founder and CEO, World First
Customer first technology is also in Jonathan Quin’s agenda, who uses his motto “high tech, high touch” to create efficient and easy to use systems. In a similar way to others at the event here in Copenhagen, Quin agrees with the fact that it is hard to hire “good people who know about tech”, but EU laws prevent those who are skilled from entering and working in the UK. Quin also mentioned how the potential Brexit could make this more of a problem, but predicted that immigration policies would be put in place to identify where the UK is short in talent, and London will retain its status as a tech capital. But, in reality, we cannot truly predict the future. PSD1 helped World First become harmonised across the EU and enabled the payments company to move across Europe and set up headquarters in different countries. Alongside this, with the alterations made to SEPA, payments can now be made on a next day basis and at a low cost. Returning to the topic of cashless societies, Quin is a “big believer” and “mobile is a key part in that” as Quin asks “why do I need a card when I am able to use my phone to authenticate?”
Blythe Masters, CEO, Digital Asset Holdings
Blockchain is always a subject that leaves people thinking they a lot about the subject, but after they’ve processed what they’ve been told, they think they know nothing. Blythe Masters, in her keynote, gave one of the most detailed and understandable descriptions of blockchain technology, mostly because she started with the phrase “forget what you have heard before.” Masters predicted that “we will see this technology being deployed in a commercial setting, but it will be years before it becomes mainstream.” The tech will also offer opportunities to regulators as they will have a direct window to the shared ledger, so with this, they are “already armed with incredible power”. “If responsibly pursued, it could be great as it combines a number of positive features,” Masters explored and compares the advent of blockchain to that of the internet. “What came out of the internet were a few behemoths and a few deaths, but the vast majority of companies had to adapt.” Masters made a comment about how banks had to create websites and online services during the internet boom, and predicted that blockchain will make this kind of impact also. She ended by saying that “the financial industry is a large ocean to boil, but blockchain is changing the world as we speak”.
Rupert Keeley, CEO, PayPal Europe
“Money, like music and film, is going digital,” Rupert Keeley started his keynote speech at Money2020 and advocated blockchain also by describing it as a promising technology. He said that the internet, mobile, social change and regulation is driving the change, as well as the growth of social media as companies like Facebook and Twitter have an addictive personality - something that hasn’t ever happened. “We are blessed with regulation in Europe,” Keeley mentioned as it enables payments companies to be more innovative and this means that PayPal can target the fastest growing market, which is the emerging market and “democratise money”.