Money20/20: Optimism Ran the Table

November 1, 2022

By Leah Scanlan, Oak HC/FT

This year’s Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas came at just the right moment, with many people excited to get back to large in-person events and discuss the future of fintech. For many in tech, the last several months have been shadowed by a combination of uncertainty, resilience and avoiding the ever-looming burn out, but the energy at the conference was positive and energizing.

Whether this buzz was created by something as simple as people being excited to get out of their home offices and embrace “normal” again, euphoria produced by the flurry of conference activity and potential to meet and mingle with the most interesting people in fintech, or simply the oxygen pumping through the casino floor, it was evident that Money 20/20 had us all feeling a little bit more optimistic about next year.

These key themes dominated the conversation:

Embedded finance is the star of the show

Embedded finance is revolutionizing fintech as we know it. Though many of us have said that it’s all about software eating the world, today it’s clear that fintech is now the disrupter. Panel after panel we heard leaders from top companies like Adyen, Squire and eBay discuss how platforms and marketplaces are leading a revolution including how the concept of embedded banking features into existing products and services and will be at the heart of meeting customers’ financial needs.

Talent plays crucial role here. The importance of international experience, depth in emerging markets and global growth is that much more core to the success of your organization. More and more companies are expanding their cross-border businesses throughout markets such as Asia Pacific, LATAM and Europe creating a frenzy for executives who bring market knowledge and experience navigating complex markets.

Looking back to move forward

The macroeconomic landscape seems rocky right now, especially to those who haven’t worked through a cycle or two in uncertain market conditions. The fact is, there are a lot of people in today’s workforce who haven’t, and the odds are in the favor of those who have. Those who have been through a downturn are far more likely to survive this one and the skills that matter today aren’t necessarily the skills that mattered 12 months ago.

Jackie Reses, President and CEO of Lead Bank and former Executive Chairman of Square Financial Services, said it best during her panel with Steve McLaughlin, the founder, CEO and Managing Partner of FT Partners: “The current market is incredibly helpful for businesses…so understanding, culturally, how to build the foundation to grow a business is incredibly important.”

It’s true; understanding the cultural foundation of a business can make or break it.

Regulation, regulation, regulation.

Never more obvious than this Money 20/20 was the emphasis, and importance of the regulatory bodies that surround the fintech ecosystem—crypto specifically. For the first time, compliance officers, legal officers, policy makers and risk officers dominated the stages of the expo hall. With looming regulatory crack downs, it’s becoming more and more critical to be on the right side of regulation, which was made clear from many of my one-on-one conversations with leading regulatory and compliance executives from top companies such as Affirm, Square and Coinbase. There’s an all-around heightened awareness that installing the right regulatory leader in your organization earlier than you may have initially planned for could be the difference between failing and succeeding.

Overall, there seemed to be a greater receptivity to opportunities regardless of recent macro events. The stars of the show at this year’s Money 20/20 were those helping the industry navigate the legal and regulatory environment, with policy leaders, government affairs and compliance being front and center for many of the CEOs we met. It’s clear that executives are more focused on a company that strives for operational excellence, profitability and reasonable valuations over unicorn growth.