Business of Fintech

Money 20/20: Reflections

  • Money 20/20 made waves as the first major industry event to return to in-person.
  • The Tearsheet team is back at our desks to deliver the key takeaways.
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Money 20/20: Reflections
Money 20/20 was a powerful event this year. A lot of its impact had to do with the world we’re living in — nearly two very long years of pandemic, sheltering in place, and the slow return of semi-normalcy. This was the first large conference in financial services that resumed to an in-person format (Tearsheet is still running virtual events through 2021). Money 20/20’s content and form, therefore, is very telling about where the industry is headed.

Here are some of our takeaways from 2021’s Money 20/20:

Deal making

Money 20/20 has become a popular place to announce news. Much of this year’s PR centered around collaborations. 

Take Uber’s announcement that its freight division was working with Branch and Marqeta to issue a card to truck drivers. Through Marqeta’s card issuing platform and Branch’s digital wallet, Uber Freight can pay carriers significantly faster than the industry standard, at no additional cost. Rather than waiting 30 days or longer for the traditional accounts payable process, carriers on Uber Freight can get paid two hours after approved proof of delivery.

Tearsheet’s editor in chief, Zack Miller, moderated a panel with executives at Uber, Branch, and Marqeta. When Uber thought about creating a payments product, it went to market to look for partners, knowing a collaboration was the way forward. 

Lior Ron, head of Uber’s freight division, told Zack backstage that he had never been to a fintech conference, had no idea what Money 20/20 was, and yet — he launched a payments product that can have a significant impact on a million drivers and the industry at large. He didn’t need to be a payments expert — just partner with the right folks.

Ikea’s experience moving into BNPL (and subsequent investment) with Jifiti was likely a similar experience. The appetite to collaborate is strong.

Moving beyond vendor relationships, the industry is figuring out how to collaborate in a way that makes something new in the marketplace based on the partners’ skills and experience.

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Cards abound

From Zeta’s headline sponsorship, huge central booth, and sponsorship of a Journey concert (they haven’t stopped believing, even with a new lead singer), cards were the soup du jour of this year’s Money 20/20. Talk was more about credit cards as a service than about debit. Zeta’s presence in this year’s event was strong. So was Deserve’s. The announcement that Visa invested in the credit card as a service firm was timed for the event, after the two firms collaborated on BlockFi’s crypto rewards card.

From Marqeta to Galileo, cards were a major theme at this year’s event. They’ve evolved from being a nice-to-have to being table stakes for fintechs, challenger banks, and brands entering into financial services of any kind. There didn’t appear to be much about virtual cards, though, which is interesting given the rising volumes.And in terms of the card networks, Mastercard had a big lounge set up near the center of the expo floor. Discover had a smaller booth, while Visa and Amex didn’t appear to have a booth at all. 

Money to spend

Money 20/20 said it had 7500 people at the live event. That’s pretty impressive for a year in which major firms hadn’t approved travel and event budgets. The companies that made it there were focused on making the most of it.

MX had a two-story booth at the front of the expo, right where attendees walked in. You couldn’t miss the financial data firm. Galileo had its own double decker booth with an observation deck overlooking the main stage.So much money has flowed into fintech over the past 18 months — it needs to go somewhere. And for the B2B companies, Money 20/20 is a big opportunity to make hay. One firm’s CEO took a Tearsheet reporter out for coffee. When the reporter said that the CEO didn’t need to pay for the coffee, he responded that it was the VC’s money anyway.

And all in all…

Beyond the edifices, attendees came focused and energized to make the most of their time at the event. Meeting places were full, agendas packed, and restaurants teeming with teams of people. Many attendees confirmed that they came for blood — making the most of having everyone together again on such a scale. 

Journey was the right group to play at the end of the third day. Middle aged execs could let loose and have fun to some of the biggest rock hits of the 80s. As Don’t Stop Believin’ came to an end, a couple of cannons shot out mountains of confetti on the attendees below. As the paper snow came raining down, it was a confirmation that the time, energy, and money spent on the event by attendees and advertisers was worth it.

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