Money20/20 Asia Day Two snapshot

Image credit: Money 20/20 Asia

Money20/20, the world’s largest payments and fintech conference, continued in Singapore yesterday, with speakers and attendees keeping a weather eye on future trends. Here are some of the insights, announcements, and updates that caught our attention on Day Two.

Image credit: Money 20/20 Asia

“Payments have gone from boring to the boardroom.”
Ron Kalifa, deputy chairman of Worldpay, kicked off Day 2 on the CEO breakfast panel by explaining that payments is now strategic. Global CEOs and marketing heads want to use payments and the data it generates to engage customers and drive loyalty.

  • “Payments have gone from boring to the boardroom.”
    Ron Kalifa, deputy chairman of Worldpay, kicked off Day 2 on the CEO breakfast panel by explaining that payments is now strategic. Global CEOs and marketing heads want to use payments and the data it generates to engage customers and drive loyalty.
  • “It may fail; it may succeed: we’ll have to see.”
    Cambodia may be about to dramatically leapfrog traditional banking solutions with a project to tokenize fiat money through blockchain technology. The National Bank of Cambodia’s director general, Her Excellency Serey Chea, revealed that this will launch into the real environment in Q3. The project is set to overcome the diversity of siloed systems operated by banks and payment service providers in the kingdom and is a classic leapfrogging story in that Cambodia’s capital market, which is very small, does not yet have a real-time gross settlement (RTGS) system. She also called on the financial sector to do more to raise the financial literacy of young people, especially women.
  • “I don’t think there is some cataclysmic world-ending event driven by AI coming [to the financial services sector] anytime soon.”
    Andy Maguire, group MD and CEO of HSBC Holdings, is confident that AI and machine learning will revolutionize banking, but not entirely replace people. Key areas will continue to demand human intelligence and intervention: some anti-money laundering payments checking; customer enquires that need an empathetic conversation; and applications that cannot be ethically justified by a transparent institution. He also spoke for the first time about Project Iceberg. Working with more than 100 fintech startups, HSBC will establish a digital-only business bank and partner with enterprise customers to build innovations that solve problems and scale these solutions worldwide.
  • “The market in China gave us the opportunity to test all kinds of ideas…and we are sharing not just a technology platform, but also this experience with our overseas partners.”
    Wayne Xu, international president of ZhongAn, said that Chinese firms expanding internationally have learnt lessons from the mistakes of multinationals moving into its home market. You have to respect local expertise, especially in the financial world where regulations and back office processes differ from market to market even if the underlying tech and front-end production or application looks similar. It is vital to choose partners wisely and let them contribute.
  • “Globalization should matter to everyone in this room.”
    Stripe’s chief business officer Billy Alvarado wants a more inclusive and interoperable internet – not for altruistic reasons but because the second-order effects of unlocking human capital and exponential connectivity will be significant. To do this, the internet economy has to be universally accessible and agnostic to geography and it must let people in faraway places exchange economic value. A disruptive technology is not enough: it will take collaborative disruption to make this happen across borders.
  • How can a payments provider take on the risk of non-payment for the merchant while making commerce faster and more transparent?
    With the launch of its One Touch Bank at Money20/20 yesterday, PayPal announced it has this figured out. Rohan Mahadevan, senior VP of International Markets, said PayPal is giving merchants immediate access to funds via one-click POS bank transactions by taking the liability, which means overcoming different risks in different markets.

Image credit: Money 20/20 Asia

Financial inclusion: the facts speak for themselves

  • “Women’s financial inclusion is a driver of economic growth and profitability, but financial service players…have been incredibly slow to recognize that opportunity.”
    , wants banks and fintech companies to serve the 1 billion women who don’t have access to a bank account, including nearly 30% of the women in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and the many millions of underbanked, such as the 20% of low-income women with inactive accounts. After all, women will control 75% of discretionary spending worldwide by 2028 according to Ernst & Young.
  • “A financial strategy aimed at women will tend to give you a better return on your capital and will tend to make your investment less risky.”

Taimur Baig, MD and chief economist at DBS Bank told Money20/20 that there are three compelling reasons why every financial enterprise with a tech angle should view their potential customers through a gender lens.

  1. Income inequality and gender inequality are strongly correlated (i.e., countries where women are denied access to income and banking have the most dramatic rich-poor gap)
  2. Gender inequality and income per capital are strongly negatively correlated (i.e., nations that treat women fairly are better off overall)
  3. Data now conclusively proves that women are a better risk, save more, and invest their surplus income in health and education

Image credit: Money 20/20 Asia

Innovation: the regulatory perspective

How can traditionally conservative central banks ensure that innovation works for the benefit of the markets they supervise? Pia Roman-Tayag, head of Inclusive Finance Advocacy at the Philippines’ Bangko Sentral, highlighted four key approaches:

  • Seek to understand how innovation works in order to identify and manage risk
  • Develop policies that enable innovation, like interoperability in the payments system
  • Deploy enabling financial infrastructure, like digital IDs
  • Balance policy objectives: stability, inclusion, integrity, protection

Money20/20 Asia closes tomorrow with insights from the likes of VC legend Jenny Lee, WeBank’s Henry Ma, and Standard Chartered’s Deniz Güven, plus look at what it will take to enable the next billion consumers and micro-entrepreneurs. We’ll also learn which company triumphed in the Startup Pitch Competition.