William James, Head of Payments, brings you a "View from the Floor” from Money20/20 in our latest blog article.
Looking at the themes for this year’s 20/20, the agenda and speakers have provided a good indication of the issues that are currently entertaining and worrying CEOs. Looking at the conference floor itself is also instructive. Last year it was largely Tech based and with solution providers and identity being the key drivers. This year the banks are here in force and alongside them processors, gateway providers and platform providers and seeing a firm of lawyers here has given rise to numerous questions about regulatory issues on a Europe-wide basis and our experience of managing regulatory exercises around the world – we have some good answers I am pleased to say.
The key notes on the first day stressed the importance of platforms and particularly global platforms emphasising that this is a global market place and FinTech has to be scalable on a global basis. The “key note” that has been missing for us, as FinTech lawyers, has been how you scale in the context of regulation, law and compliance – Steve Wozniak referred to this – see my partner, Fiona Ghosh’s piece yesterday – however, it is all very well having a global FinTech solution, it’s not so good having a solution that struggles with compliance and regulation in the US, Europe and APAC.
There is a belief that FinTech is about tech, software as a service and hardware. This, in our view, is not the right way of thinking about FinTech. Which seems to mean financial technology rather than financial services empowered by technology (or, as Jack Ma has it TechFin). We prefer this characterisation and at 20/20 the clients and contacts we have spoken to our increasingly aware that financial services (even when intermediated by technology) are still a regulated product and no amount of digital and mobile front-ends takes you away from that.
So as the conference draws to a close, it is clear that FinTech is a global business. We have been approached about Money20/20 USA, Europe, Asia and China (as a standalone market) – and lawyers who can come to terms with both the technology and the regulation of financial services are in for another interesting 12 months. Looking forward to next year already!