Payments On Fire

Conferences & Meetings

Episode 180 – Fanning the Flames: Money20/20 Preview

 

Yvette Bohanan hosts Glenbrook’s Chris Uriarte, Cici Northup, and Joanna Wisniecka to discuss their attendance at the upcoming Money20/20 conference. Listen in to hear what noteworthy payments trends the team is paying attention to and what related themes they expect to surface at Money20/20. We’ll catch up with them after the conference to see what takeaways were most surprising or interesting. 

If you are attending Money20/20, we’d love to connect! Please reach out to Bryan, Chris, Cici, or Joanna on Our Team page or connect directly with them on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Yvette Bohanan:

Welcome to Payments On Fire, a podcast from Glenbrook Partners about the payments industry, how it works, and trends in its evolution. I’m Yvette Bohanan, a partner at Glenbrook and co-host of Payments on Fire along with George Peabody. And today I am absolutely delighted to have three of my Glenbrook colleagues with me who are all packing up and heading out to Money20/20 very soon, off to Vegas. Joanna Wisniecka, Cici Northup, and our newest partner, Chris Uriarte. Welcome, everyone.

Chris Uriarte:

Hey, Yvette , great to be here.

Cici Northup:

Thanks, Yvette.

Joanna Wisniecka:

Hi, Yvette.

Yvette Bohanan:

So, we are going to do a Fanning the Flames today. This is a short format where we get together and talk about what’s going on. And I thought it would be fun to get the three of you together to hear your thoughts on what your expectations are for Money20/20 this year. This is the first time we’re getting out of the house and on airplanes to go in, what, three years?

Chris Uriarte:

Yeah.

Yvette Bohanan:

It’s crazy. It’s crazy. And along with the three of you, will be our managing partner, Bryan Derman, too. So, we have a strong contingency showing up, and I’m sure you have things at top of mind. This is a conference that has had a growing reputation for years, well before 2020. We’re in 2022, going into 2023 now. I don’t know if they’re ever going to change the name, but it’s sort of the conference of the movers and shakers of the industry. It has a reputation for where deals are made, where FinTechs go to showcase what they’re doing, where industry veterans go to catch up with each other, to talk shop, to see what’s happening. There’s a bit of a schmooze factor involved that we will want to hear about when you return, but I think overall, this focus of this podcast is really to find out as you’re going, as you’re getting ready, what are your expectations? What’s top of mind for you? What do you want to hear about?

So, I’m going to start with Chris, because you’re a news partner here. I’m going to put you on the spot first. What’s top of mind? What’s going on in your brain when you’re getting ready for this conference?

Chris Uriarte:

So, definitely a lot of topics, a lot of things that are very interesting being covered this year. Very good to be back in person with everybody, but I’m definitely going to be focusing on the continued rise of the FinTech, as I call it, and where the market stands right now. Because over the past several years, the market’s just been flooded with startups that seem to address every single corner of the payment’s ecosystem. So, it’s going to be very interesting to see who people are talking about, who’s getting all the buzz and what the hot topics are in this area.

And another area that I’ll be focusing on is what’s going on in the buy now, pay later space, which has certainly been one of the hottest topics in the industry this year. Probably thought of as the darling of the payments industry, maybe a year or two back. Couldn’t wake up a day without seeing something about BNPL in the headlines. And there’s really been a whole new array of entrants as well as longstanding incumbents that are continuing to enhance their product offerings and how they’re going to market. But I think one of the most important things associated with this sector right now, is the global regulatory landscape seems to be changing by the minute. So it’s going to be very interesting to see how everyone in that industry is adapting to it.

And also, following on the themes of significant regulatory changes, this is maybe the big year for changes in the cannabis industry, the legal cannabis industry in regards to payments. So we’re seeing a lot of major changes right now on the legal front due to recent legislative activity at the federal level, as well as some hot off the presses executive orders that have just come from the White House last week. So this could potentially be the year where we open up some major opportunities through the entire payments value chain. And there’s a few sessions in the conference that we’re going to be following on this topic.

Yvette Bohanan:

Interesting. Wow, that’s quite breadth. You’re going to be running around to a lot of meetings.

Chris Uriarte:

For sure.

Yvette Bohanan:

Okay, so that’s a wide range. I’m going to switch over to Joanna. Joanna, I’m amazed that you are even able to squeeze this in. You have been traveling across the globe now for quite a while on a lot of different projects. I guess Chris, too. You just did a post on coming back from French Polynesia for a break. So you all are global travelers. Joanna, from your vantage point going into Money20/20, what’s on your mind? What’s on your radar?

Joanna Wisniecka:

Yeah, thanks, Yvette. And I also am super excited to be going in person. Last time I went was five years ago. That seemed like a whole other world. So very excited to be there in person. Watching a lot of topics, but one that I’m particularly focused on at the moment is fraud. And specifically in the context of instant or fast payments. For any of us in the payment space, this has been a really important topic all along. This is not new. I would say it’s become a little hotter recently. There have been some public discussions about fraud and Zelle specifically. Probably many have heard Elizabeth Warren’s comments about it. I’m not going to get into that space and talk about her comments except that it’s really highlighted or brought this into more of the public sphere-

Yvette Bohanan:

We’ll call it sharp focus, Joanna. She’s brought it into sharp focus.

Joanna Wisniecka:

Sharp focus is very well said, Yvette, as always. My point is that the focus, the sharpened, heightened sharpened focus will continue and it’s likely to grow. This is good, as more needs to be done in this space. And I’m seeing some impact already as an end user so not just as a bond broker. But seeing this as an end user. So, recently, just a couple weeks ago, I sent a Zelle payment, which I’ve been doing for years, but this was the first time that I saw this notification pop up on my screen from my bank, giving me a customer service number to call in case I sent the payment in error. I didn’t call the number. I probably should have put on my Glenbrook hat and get into investigative mode and called, so I will next time. But it was clear that this was a change in the user experience. And was it directly in response to Elizabeth Warren’s comment, potentially.

Point being is this is an important topic that the industry is paying attention to and more broadly. I really want to hear about what the industry’s sentiments are here in this space and also thoughts and potential actions they intend to take, they are taking. What innovations are coming up in the industry? Undoubtedly, there are many and there will be more to mitigate fraud risk. And in particular, how is the industry going to do that in the context of fast payments, without impacting the fast, instant nature of sending the payment, which these systems were built for? So, a few sessions on the topic there, hoping to hear what the innovations are that are popping up.

Yvette Bohanan:

Yeah. And they got to get it right because this is an opportunity. If you look across the globe, which you do on this topic a lot, the US is a little bit behind a lot of other countries in figuring this stuff out. But we’re also behind in the innovation opportunities that you can build on top of these new systems. And if we want to grow the system and we want to really encourage people to build things and think differently about all of these customer experiences across all of these different ways we interact and engage with payments, we’ve got to get the regulation. And we’ve got to get the customer experience so people can trust the system, and it’s going to scale. So it’s kind of a good thing. Sometimes regulation feels rough at the beginning, but it could actually bode well for the whole environment, especially as FedNow is coming out next year.

Joanna Wisniecka:

That’s right. And maybe just to build very quickly on that, the innovations that are built on top of the system and now we’re actually seeing some innovations and elements of fraud mitigation built into the fast payment systems. So that’s another focus area.

Yvette Bohanan:

Cool. All right, Cici, you’re up. We’ve checked a lot of boxes here on topics.

Cici Northup:

We have, yes.

Yvette Bohanan:

What do you have brewing on your dance card for people and things you want to listen to and hear about?

Cici Northup:

I went through and on the Money20/20 app selected sessions that I wanted to attend. And it looks like I need to refocus or do it again because I’ve selected so many that are overlapping. There’s so many interesting sessions that are happening. One of the themes that I’m paying close attention to is digital assets, Web3 and metaverse activity. And those three words mean really different things, but they are interrelated in many different ways.

And I think, as an industry, we are still wrapping our arms around how best to leverage these revolutions. We’re seeing a lot of competition with new entrants. We’re seeing a lot of investment in this space. But where is competition most appropriate? Where is collaboration necessary to promote ubiquity and access? And how do we more equitably bring these innovations to market?

I think these are themes that we have to figure out as an industry to make these revolutions successful. So I will be paying close attention to themes around collaboration, standardization, and interoperability as it relates to digital assets. It looks like I’m not alone because, again, looking at my schedule, there are a lot of sessions on IP and regulation and governance for digital assets, Web3 activity. So I look forward to reporting back.

Yvette Bohanan:

Awesome. Okay. Well, put on your headset and go forth into the metaverse. It’s really interesting, there is so much going on in this space at every level. And it’s the marketing teams I think are out there for a lot of the major retailers, really exploring this. It’s coming in through the gaming industry right now. But people want to do things that sort of bridge a virtual world, a physical world. That bridge blockchain-based technologies and legacy systems in the payments ecosystem. And we see examples of that.

But interoperability and ubiquity have not been top of mind in this space. We’ve got thousands of cryptocurrencies, hundreds of stable coins exchanging value, but really that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interoperability and ubiquity. So I’m looking forward to hearing what you observe as you go through all those conversations.

Cici Northup:

Yeah, excellent point, Yvette. We’ve done this before. We’ve done this in the payments industry. We’ve collaborated and standardized and built frameworks in other industries. We collectively have a lot of knowledge that we can use to work through this. I think we’re just at the very early stages of realizing that we need to in order for this space to really be successful.

Yvette Bohanan:

Well, in one of the topics that we’re batting around a lot these days within Glenbrook is the world of fast payments and the world of… for lack of a better word, distributed ledger, blockchain-based digital asset technologies. And is there room for both? How do they coexist? There’s so many different angles to where this could go. How to create an interoperable environment, what’s the right balance? What’s the right technology? Lightning Network had all of this promise associated with it. We’re starting to see that that’s not quite there yet, maybe in some cases, so there’s a lot of moving pieces here.

And then you have the regulatory overlays. Okay, we could almost do a point-counterpoint with you and Joanna coming back between that. That would be fun. Maybe give that some thought on the plane. Okay, so Bryan, our managing partner… Chris, you caught up a little bit with Bryan. He couldn’t join us here today, but I’m curious, what were his thoughts as he’s going? He’s been to a lot of these too.

Chris Uriarte:

I think Bryan brought up a number of different interesting points. And I think just to start, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the 800 pound gorillas in the room here at Money20/20, which is the investment community. With all sorts of folks from VC and private equity firms and investment bankers, analysts, all sorts of investors throughout that whole community. Certainly take up a lot of room there at Money20/20, although they do throw some great parties and have some great events, so we’re happy to have them there.

But specifically in the payment space, PSPs and merchant acquiring businesses have really been a big focus for private equity investors in recent years. And with everything that’s happened with the economy over the past year, a number of those investments have really taken quite a hit. So with the prospect of a recession coming up next year and slow down in spending across the world, it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out for this group. Obviously, it’s not looking favorable for some of those investments, but we’ll see what some of the members of the investment community are thinking.

But what’s really interesting is in the payments ecosystem, fraud is a factor that never goes away as the economic environment changes. So there’s a lot of interesting companies continuing to grow in this space, continuing to be new entrants into this space. And these could certainly be new targets for investment from the PD firms that are out there. And we’re looking at certain areas where we’re a little bit more laser focused these days.

One area that Joanna highlighted was risk and fraud in real time push payments. So we’re seeing a lot of activity in this area, a lot of risk associated with these types of payment activities. So certainly something that we’re going to be taking a look at. And I think the other interesting thing that continues to pop up is this concept of central bank digital currencies, which we often just call CBDCs. And the latter in particular seems like a game changer to the rest of us. And I sense that CBDCs may be emerging more quickly than the market expected. We’ve seen that in some dramatic announcements that have occurred in the recent weeks, like JPMorgan going all-in on real-time payments and SWIFT building a CBDC network. Those are pretty significant strategic shifts, so we’re going to be keeping an eye on that as this space continues to evolve. And, again, there’s several items on the agenda at Money20/20 on this topic alone, so it should be very interesting.

Yvette Bohanan:

Those are all really good points. The confluence of technology, regulation, innovation, customer expectations… We didn’t even touch too much here on B2B, did we?

Chris Uriarte:

No.

Yvette Bohanan:

The whole B2B evolution that’s going on post pandemic, I guess. We’re still in a COVID era, if you will. But the peak of the pandemic really highlighted businesses needed to figure this out and come up with a solution better than two people going in the office and dual-signing paper checks, right?

Chris Uriarte:

Yeah.

Yvette Bohanan:

So that whole area is also a big area of investment that we’ve been observing right now, innovation.

Chris Uriarte:

Yeah, sure. And a number of these different innovations that we’ve been talking about, blockchain payments for example, faster push payments are very relevant to the B2B space. So we’re keeping an eye on these, what I think are going to be foundational technologies in the future for a lot of B2B payment activity.

Yvette Bohanan:

As always, I love all of the curiosity of the team. And the thing is, it sort of feels like 52 card pickup, where you were a kid and you just threw the deck of cards up in the air and they landed wherever. It sort of feels like there’s so many topics at this peak of bursting at the seams complexity. Everything’s kind of everywhere. People are trying to figure this out. The regulators… Who knew, in 2023, there would be this much going on in this industry at every level, in every dimension?

So that’s pretty exciting. The question is going to be, and the question just to prepare you when you come back from this, is going to be: Where do you think these places are heading? Where are these spaces? Where are these topics? What should our listeners be thinking about?How should they distill this down right now? And where should they focus? Because it’s like there’s bright, shiny objects everywhere. There’s cards all over the steps and the floor.

What cards are the ones to be paying attention to? What should you be picking up on versus all the noise in the news that inevitably comes out of all these conferences and the big splash? And I sincerely hope that you go to some great events, and that given the macroeconomic conditions, you’re not eating ham on whole wheat, that you actually may have a little fun on this too.

Chris Uriarte:

I think we’ll be fine on that front.

Yvette Bohanan:

All right, thank you so much for joining me. Listeners, as always, we are delighted to hear your comments. You can send them to paymentsonfire@glenbrook.com. And if you are going to Money20/20, we would love to connect with you. And I’m speaking as we, as Glenbrook, on behalf of the four folks that’ll be there. But you can find their contact information. You can look them up on LinkedIn, in our website About Us at Glenbrook. Every person’s bio has information on how to reach them directly. So, Joanna, Cici, Chris, and Bryan would be delighted to catch up with you in person in Vegas, over a beer, a glass of wine, a cup of coffee, and talk shop.

Chris Uriarte:

Yeah.

Yvette Bohanan:

Please reach out, and thank you all so much for being with me today, and I am looking forward to hearing what’s going on when you get back.

Joanna Wisniecka:

Thanks, Yvette.

Chris Uriarte:

Thanks, Yvette.

Cici Northup:

Thanks, Yvette.

 

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