Fintech Meetup opens its doors this week in Las Vegas. It's the first time the event has hosted people in the real world. Started during the pandemic by some of the same people behind Money 20/20, it's billed as the fintech anti-conference -- it's all about networking. Using a mobile app or the event's website, attendees can see who's coming to the show and request a connection. If the other party accepts, the Tinder-like experience culminates in a 15 minute meeting at the show.
Fintech Meetup launched during the pandemic and its first go at it was hosted entirely online. This year, the event claims 3000 attendees will arrive at the Aria Hotel for two and a half days of activities. The in-person version of Fintech Meetup includes hundreds of speakers, including about 10 keynotes. I'll be interviewing JPMorgan Chase's Sanjay Saraf, managing director of global head ecommerce and marketplaces on the main stage.
Themes at this year's event
Hunger for deals: Fintech Meetup has a lot of speakers on the agenda but I would suspect the biggest draw for most people is the format: double opt-in, 1-on-1 15 minute meetings. It’s efficient and it definitely worked during COVID-19 when people couldn’t get together to do business. This pent-up demand shows there’s appetite for these types of focused event formats.
The industry is challenged: With the pullback in funding, the banking system teetering, and a stormy macroeconomic backdrop, the industry is trying to figure out which way to go. It feels like things have been on pause the past few months as this environment has had its impact on spending and layoffs. Getting 3000 people together in any environment is impressive — all the more so now.
High quality speakers: One of the thing that I felt challenged attendees of the content side of Money 20/20 is that it felt like all the speakers were sponsors. That means sitting through some product pitches or at least, what's-in-it-for-me perspectives. It feels like Fintech Meetup has some really good organic speakers, too.
A first time event but not really: Fintech Meetup was founded by some of the same team that developed the powerful Money 20/20 event. So, while it’s the first time this event has been produced in the real world (if Vegas is real world), it has a longer legacy. A lot of the top talent putting on the event also came through the Money 20/20 system.
FIs still serious about working with the tech community: While the coverage of traditional financial institutions is narrower at Fintech Meetup compared to Money 20/20, there are firms that have a strong presence on the ground. Firms like Amex, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs all have assembled executives at the show.
Less of an offsite sideshow: As opposed to Fintech Meetup, one of the most interesting things about Money 20/20 is it has spawned a vibrant ecosystem of side events happening during the conference. Banks, fintechs, PR firms, and investors all have parties. That’s happening at Fintech Meetup, too, but to a smaller extent. I would chalk that up to the fact that it’s a fresh format and with a focus on networking, there’s less hunger to find a way to meet people offsite.