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Tearsheet’s Money20/20 takeaways

  • Tearsheet is back from this year's Money2020, the biggest finance/fintech event of the year. There was an excitement to be back in the world, meeting new people and making deals.
  • However, the joy was mitigated by a reined-in exuberance and fear about what’s happening at the macro level outside the conference. Here are Tearsheet's main takeaways.

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Tearsheet’s Money20/20 takeaways

Tearsheet is back from this year's Money2020, the biggest finance/fintech event of the year. There was an excitement to be back in the world, meeting new people and making deals.

However, the joy was mitigated by a reined-in exuberance and fear about what’s happening at the macro level outside the conference.

The booths are by and large smaller, a reflection of where the industry stands today – a tight market where profitability is paramount for survival.

As this year's show is put to bed, Tearsheet explores the important trends that emerged from the event.

Main takeaways

There are so many interesting firms, technologies and people in fintech right now that it’s getting increasingly difficult to rise above the noise.

How do you explain what you do when you’re creating a new category?

How do you differentiate when there are a handful of others doing something very similar?

I see this as a key hurdle for technology firms as they vie for scarce attention from their FI prospects and clients.

Economic overhang

In our discussions with bank execs, there is deep concern about the economy. Many believe that the shoe is yet to drop and that the worse is to come.

Various execs echoed that consumer credit will deteriorate and fintech firms will not have enough capital to continue operating at current headcounts – bigger cuts are on the horizon.

Partnerships galore

Banks are getting better at partnering – besides the parties banks like US Bank threw and the suites they rented, banks are spending a lot of money and time wooing fintech partners.

They have deep relationships with technology firms and their presence at M2020 was more than that of a spectator.

Banks wanted to flex their presence at the show with their partners and use it to generate more relationships with entrepreneurs in the space.

You didn’t see this years ago and it’s interesting to see how they are positioning themselves to work with tech firms. We saw banks with younger, hip looking people managing these relationships.

KYC is thriving

KYC/Authentication firms are enjoying a bull market.

These firms appear to be making hay, based on the number of them and how much they’re spending on their booths. While the crypto infrastructure and data aggregation booths have shrunk, firms playing in identity or helping to onboard customers more quickly are in demand.

Debit has given way to credit

Zeta’s booth was front and center on the expo floor. Deserve had a big presence.

FNBO was at the show talking up Bend, its new API-enabled credit card program for tech firms and brands (thanks, Marc Butterfield).

In our chat with Derek White, Galileo’s CEO, he acknowledged that the innovation was now focused on credit, maturing from debit.

Crypto winds of winter

The vibe around crypto - It’s different this year.

There is a presence of crypto on the floor and in the agenda, but the tenor has all changed from last year. There’s an admission that this is likely the future but there isn’t the same excitement as last year.

Hustle is back

Whether due to the macroeconomic environment or post-pandemic momentum, the hustle is back in.

Companies aren’t just relying on VC connections – they’re working hard to grow and aggressive about finding product-market fit and turning on the growth spigot.

People were all in on the conference – we witnessed few people dialing in and checking in with their offices/people. Attendees were present, focusing on making connections.

Inspiring new voices

People were inspired to see Serena Williams on stage and find her story and presence inspirational.

Source: Railsr

Fun tidbits

M2020 knows its audience

Journey last year and Foreigner this year (by the way, those guys could still rock!).

The 40- and 50-somethings feel really at home at this conference. The gray hairs and cultural reference points have helped create a sense of community built on shared experiences.

It is not a conference designed for Gen Z – as younger people make their way up the ranks, the conference will need to evolve to generate a similar feeling of community for them.

Plan for tomorrow, party tonight

While M2020 always had side gigs going on, it feels like there are more of them this year.

Attendees and sponsors are looking for ways to make the event smaller, to bring some intimacy to a conference with thousands of people.

So far, most of these parties have been in bars and restaurants - a bit too dark and too noisy to really have good conversations.

Strong swag game

Companies want to be memorable and they’re raising their swag game.

We went to a party on Monday night hosted by Pathward (previously, Meta Bank) that had customizable Nikes as a give away, in addition to futuristic looking cocktails (I preferred (3 of) the peach flavored margarita served in jellied form in a spoon).

Quite a workout

The conference is so big – people complained about having the shlep from expo hall to meeting rooms and back.

Multiple people shared how many steps they had taken (I walked over 13,000 steps just within the conference).

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