GUEST POST: BioConnect’s Bianca Lopes Reflects on Money20/20 Europe

– The following is an article by , Director of Strategic Development at BioConnect. It was originally posted on LinkedIn* and has been republished with permission form the author. –

Money Money Money – Reflections from Money2020 Europe

This past week I attended Money2020 in Copenhagen and there were a few themes that I noticed to be prevalent. The word ‘identity’ was plastered on every booth, every brochure, and spoken by every person. The word ‘omni channel’ came out every few seconds as retailers, merchants, banks, fintech and telecom giants tried to understand how to cope with this fast moving industry and the consumer demand for capacity and mass customization.

The need for identity and authentication in enterprise finance is really real. There is nothing more sensitive as KYC (know your client), AML and Fraud Prevention – which all require many procedures and trillions of dollars in expenditures on an annual base. The problem is real, and much of the innovation is being driven by the consumer who is demanding and expecting change at a speed never seen before. Consumers are looking for frictionless solutions that can transcend one service provider to another and enable an easy, but secure client experience. On top of that ,the desired solution also shouldn’t be attached to a specific device or “way of doing business”.

The notion of a digital identity is an obvious response, but the question becomes who will be the custodian– who will gain the portal to the consumer with whom they can interact with and showcase multiple services depending on the need or task at hand?  How can the idea of smart boot advice really become a reality when the client is decentralized?

Well, there is NO shortage of ideas… I met some amazing companies, such as Bud, that are bringing this idea to reality – they are creating Okta, for the financial life of a consumer, letting you assemble not only your wallet, but your whole financial life in one portal. Other companies that brought a lot to light for me was the innovation at PFM and cross border payment solutions such as WorldFirst, TransferWise and the obvious growing giant Alipay. There was a shared focus on innovative gateways, and solution-based products for the SME that involved ease of use, security, mobility and speed.

The idea of a bank without borders is real, and the launch of MondoTandem Bank, as well as Atom Bank’s recent announcement further confirm this reality. Established financial institutions all shared one message at Money 20/20, “We are open for collaboration.” These institutions are willing to listen and want to partner. They have processes, but also have innovation divisions within their organizations to enable them to adapt quickly and not let a proof of concept be a waste of time or corporate money. Some institutions, such as ING, actually have separate corporate structures to focus on this. The sentiment resides even amongst them that the consumer is not going to let us wait and proceed in the old fashioned ways of testing, planning and maybe doing something in a 3-5 strategic window. They are ready to do it now.

I heard loud and clear from financial giants, such as HSBC, discuss a full 2-year strategy and need for a change in authentication centered around the development of a bank that serves not one country, but the globe. That’s massively different than ever seen before. Progressive… The question becomes who will they let in?  

As a growing tech business it becomes essential that one has proven scalability and competency in their core product, and a strategy with the ability to execute within large partner rules. I heard at Money20/20 that the need for maturity is still real, but the concept of a technology that has been vetted by regulators and has full proof of longevity is a thing of the past. Why? The consumer won’t wait, so neither will the large financial institutions be able to. There just isn’t room for that.

The big giants of tech are also joining. The conference had no shortage of major players, and executives from Google, Samsung, Amazon, and Alipay all had a big presence at the conference, with Alipay announcing a launch into Europe at the event. Jeez, it feels like they might take over the world.

There has been a lot of hype in the market surrounding fintech as an industry – a lot of money has been raised, and there is still a lot more in the system. There was no shortage of VCs at the conference.  Are they helping banks grow or planning a revolution?

The other  themes at Money 20/20, were: blockchain, digital inclusion and identity, and biometrics.

Blockchain – check out my recent blog post, if blockchain doesn’t really mean much to you yet. If I wasn’t obsessed with it before, I am definitely an evangelist/converter now. Blythe Masters and Digital Assets continues to share the real benefits of the advancement of the technology which far transcends cryptocurrencies. I will be sharing more soon!

Digital Inclusion – Ann Cairns showed the power of what digital identity can bring to the world as it relates to access, giving people a rightful way of proving who they are and contributing to their growth and society. This is one of my favourite topics, as to me digital inclusion has the potential of giving people a secure way of living, accessing healthcare, education, infrastructure and finance. It’s tech for a tangible must happen social good.

Biometrics, biometrics, biometrics… Amazing to hear multiple key note speakers talk about the need and relevance biometrics has brought to their business, and how biometrics has become a part of their product and identity management. (full disclosure on the excitement)  But Ann Cairns spoke about the increased adoption as MasterCard launched the biometrics selfie as an authentication strategy. Also, Andy Maguire mentioned the role that biometrics can play in compliance and taking cost out of the system. 

The Money 20/20 biometrics panel on Wednesday brought this further to light. The panel was brilliantly facilitated by the thought leader, Peter O’Neill CEO of FindBiometrics, and the topics of conversation were music to my ears. In the panel, there was Emilio Martinez from Agnitio, Clive Bourke from Daon, Craig Ramsay from HSBC, and Olov Renberg from BehavioSec. All great influencers in this industry.  The sounding agreement was that for an enterprise or a large bank to adopt and use biometrics, a platform approach is needed. Biometric modalities are not all created equally, and they do not singularly solve the omni-channel necessity, which as mentioned is key to the consumer and large companies such as HSBC. The comment was also made how its hard to obtain fast adoption rates while having so many options for providers, each of which only currently solves for one business problem or a specific channel. Peter O’Neill also made note of the sounding agreement that the advancements seen by Apple, Samsung, and Android has placed biometrics in the mainstream — officially enabling consumers to be at the infliction point of biometric adoption. But I would say that one of the conclusions regarding biometrics as technology is that it is growing rapidly because it has tremendous significance when evaluating what problems can be solved as it relates to fraud prevention and costs in the system.

The question regarding privacy, as always, also came up. Are privacy regulations ever the same in every country? Absolutely not.  HSBC shared how due to their global footprint, what is acceptable in the UK and easily adopted by consumers, does not obviously hold true to elsewhere. This to me, further reinforces the need for biometrics to be adoptable and customizable as it relates to security certifications, data storage and encryption standards. Is there still need for regulation? Yes. There is a lot of work being done, and The FIDO Alliance is most certainly a major player, but implementation is happening now, and regulation with likely observe and follow.

I am thrilled that I invested 4 days at Money 20/20. I returned energized, full of ideas and with the one certainty that what my quest, our company’s Quest for Rightful Identity has a potentially huge impact in the fintech and financial world. The notion of a need for identity and IDaaS is massive. Now, I enter this week with amazing follow up, some exciting partnerships to be closed and announced, and an overwhelming sense of purpose.

Thank you to Money2020 and everyone involved. I certainly can’t wait for the October event and being more involved with your organization.

*@ and # tags have been removed in transitioning this piece to our blog’s format. Where appropriate, Twitter and LinkedIn handles have been converted to names.

(Source: LinkedIn)