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USA Money 20/20 - 5 key takeaways from the world’s biggest fintech event

Insights 11 March 2023
Business people on their way to work

As one of the mainstays of the annual fintech events calendar, this year’s Money20/20 in Las Vegas was crammed full of insights and information around the biggest emerging trends and critical challenges facing the financial services industry.

If you weren’t one of the lucky 8,000 or so attendees that flocked to the opulent halls of The Venetian casino hotel to enjoy the show in-person, here are my five key thoughts and learnings from the event.

1) Loyalty is fast-evolving into a banking ‘must have’

Loyalty and rewards have been a perennial side-feature of the banking world, usually employed as a side sweetener to clinch the deal. However, as the issue of trust continues to dominate c-suite agendas – coupled with a looming economic downturn predicted to fall during 2023 – the idea of customer loyalty has recently evolved from a nice-to-have into a business imperative.

Money 20/20 showed that, when it comes to rewards and loyalty in financial services, marketing continues to fuel the business. With so many other external factors at play – such as disruptive fintechs, challenger banks, and depleted interest rates – banks are looking at new ways to differentiate their products and services, and marketing’s role in promoting rewards and loyalty programs are vital.

It’s left financial services crying out for sustainable reward platforms that are scalable, meaningful, and remain relevant to their customers, regardless of what’s happening in the world. Data, insights, and analytics represent the key to unlocking the full power of loyalty programs – and signals the industry’s evolution towards a marketplace model, where consumer data is used to create more personalized and unique offerings.

Brands that follow the insights and use them to inform strategic and integrated digital enablement will be those that win the battle for their customers’ long-term loyalty.

2) Collaboration and competition at a tipping point

With competition rife within financial services, differentiation is key, and many organizations are teaming up to enhance the quality and efficiency of their loyalty programs. For example, many banks are partnering with payment processers to offer an end-to-end loyalty program solution: MasterCard, Chase, and Revolut to name just three.

Outside of the loyalty game, collaboration remained a huge theme throughout Money 20/20, with a number of significant announcements taking place during the event. Amazon and Venmo teamed up to add a new payment option on Amazon.com and the Amazon app, just in time for the annual Black Friday frenzy.

Meanwhile, Wipro-owned consultancy firm Capco announced its partnership with fintech solutions provider Plaid to combine the former’s data and domain expertise with the latter’s open finance solutions.

Of course, collaboration in banking is nothing new, but we don’t see this trend slowing any time soon. With the industry under more pressure than ever from government regulation and external stakeholders – not to mention the increasingly sophisticated tactics employed by cybercriminals – the best way to flourish and thrive in financial services is by working together.

The sheer number of partnership announcements from Money 20/20 – coupled with the overall sentiment of sharing during the event – could well mark a tipping point in financial services, signaling a clear move towards companies partnering up and using their diverse skills and expertise for mutual benefit, rather than frantically competing against each other to innovate in-house.

3) Open banking to take over new markets

Another topic that was thrust under the future-looking lens at Money 20/20 was the wider issue of risk and compliance, which could see open banking burst onto the scene in a major way over the coming years. Rohit Chopra, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced a series of proposed rule changes in a bid to accelerate growth for open banking.

The ultimate goal, as he laid out, is to give consumers more control over their financial data – in doing so creating a more decentralized and neutral consumer financial market structure. While not legally binding in the strictest sense, it appears as if the new rules signal the continued shift towards an open banking ecosystem in financial services.

An open financial services marketplace unlocks a wealth of benefits for businesses and customers alike. The evolution will invariably continue to fuel the rise of ‘everything-as-a-service’, giving third-party applications full control and visibility over their data, while enhancing the agile production of new solutions. Other benefits include:

  • - Enhanced access to a range of financial services products and offerings through ‘open’ use of banking data.
  • - Continued growth of incumbent institutions and emerging fintechs/challenger banks by providing specific services that cater to specific customer segments – either in partnership or in competition.
  • - An expanded marketplace of financial services accessible through a customer’s bank, thanks to a range of partners that provide specialist services.
  • - A stronger focus on customer lifetime value and the banking experience, as organizations seek to build relationships and affinity with customers in the new open marketplace industry.
  • - Greater value and more relevant rewards for customers, all curated to their individual needs.

Ultimately, because opening banking unlocks a wealth of new APIs and third-party products and services (including loyalty programs), financial institutions and banks can scale rapidly and iterate efficiently, creating superior customer experiences and personalized value propositions.

4) The rise of the metaverse as a customer experience differentiator

To win the loyalty of an increasingly digital-savvy consumer base, leading companies are doubling down on robust mobile app experiences and deploying digital monitoring tools to reduce friction and personalize experiences.

One emerging technology high on the Money 20/20 agenda was the metaverse. There was a strong sense the metaverse would play a major role in the future of digital customer engagement and experience in financial services over the coming years.

Many banks and financial institutions see the metaverse as an exciting and unique (at least for now) way to digitally engage their audience. And, because this exciting technology is only just emerging, there’s a golden opportunity for the early adopters to be change agents and shape the metaverse’s potential impact on the industry.

The truth is that many people (particularly younger generations) are no longer navigating the internet in the traditional manner, particularly when it comes to banking and managing their finances. Consumers don’t want to spend time balancing checkbooks or traveling to their local branch, unless it’s absolutely necessary.

They demand an always-on service from their bank or financial institution, along with content and information that’s relevant to them, in the moment. Therefore, the industry must evolve quickly, matching the speed of technological change and constantly shifting consumer preferences.

JPMorgan is the latest in financial services to jump on the metaverse bandwagon, announcing at Money 20/20 that its network of merchants will soon offer customers the option to make payments through Meta Pay.

Experiential marketing through the metaverse creates profitable business and opportunities in financial services, starting with loyalty and going much deeper. For example, companies that offer part-pay, part-redemption solutions as part of their loyalty programs (such as  Valuedynamx Pay with Points) can use the metaverse in the future to provide customers even easier access to payments and rewards, in all their earned currencies.

5) Cloud uptake will increase, but expectations must be tempered

The future of financial services lies within the cloud. This was one of the major takeaways from this year’s Money 20/20. Look no further than Google’s partnership with Well Fargo, announced at the event. Google’s Cloud artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities will soon power the bank’s new virtual assistant in a bid to provide Wells Fargo customers with more personalized banking experiences.

However, if not used and planned appropriately, forays into the cloud can prove extremely expensive. The biggest hurdle here is building reliable capabilities and ownership. With cloud, you’re intentionally buying speed, meaning process and strategy are often left playing catch-up.

The solution lies in making informed decisions about which business problem you’re looking to solve, and then identifying which cloud solution can help you solve it – rather than the other way around.

In terms of loyalty and rewards programs, operating within the cloud enables better accessibility, speedy onboarding, operational robustness; and enhanced security, scalability, and efficiencies.

Looking forward to 2023

It was a privilege to attend this year’s Money 20/20 USA event and witness the exciting innovations taking place in the world of financial services. First and foremost, it enabled me to reaffirm the Valuedynamx North Star vision: when defining success, customer centricity must be ingrained into our strategy, at the heart of everything we do.

During 2022, we continued to deliver innovation, solidify our footprint in the U.S. and globally, and enhance our partnerships with exceptional propositions. Our achievement is confirmed by every client when they recognize our contribution to their bottom line, product growth, and the significant incremental engagement reached through our solutions.

Valuedynamx undeniably makes brands more relevant to more customers. Here’s to a bright 2023!

Written by Manuel Catedral, VP Business Development, Americas, Valuedynamx