It was good to be back! Money 20/20 Europe 2021 brought together key players from throughout payments for a series of presentations and debates on the key concerns and opportunities within the industry. From global leaders to dynamic startups, the event brought together over 1,500 people to share thoughts and ideas.
Gathering alongside other delegates in Amsterdam for one of the first in-person events since the onset of the pandemic, we were able to join the discussions on the key ideas at the event. There was excitement everywhere and not just about meeting in person. Discussions centered on a broad range of opportunities available in the payments industry at the moment, but a few overarching themes stood out.
A pan-European payment plan
The European Payments Initiative (EPI) aims to create a unique scheme that will facilitate a unified, pan-European payment solution for both domestic and cross-border transactions. The migration of domestic card schemes to EPI aims to provide a more seamless payments solution for consumers across the entire continent.
One of the primary focuses of discussion at Money 20/20 regarding this initiative was defining its next steps. End of 2021 / beginining of 2022 are seen as crucial for the future of EPI. Institutions such as BNP Paribas and Worldline voiced their support for the initiative. Currently, the cost of the initiative is being evaluated, as well as the other streams such as functional and technical. It is expected that large scale investments in the project will be made soon.
As the initiative progresses, a key aspect of the work is building trust and adoption for consumers and merchants. This was noted at the event by CEO of the EPI Interim Company, Martina Weimert, who stressed that this initiative will look to tackle the fragmentation issues currently found in the payments ecosystem. By creating a unified network, the EPI is bringing together the plethora of domestic schemes into one centralized ecosystem. This is advancing the movement towards ubiquitous digitized payments.
Cryptocurrencies were another key topic. With private initiatives like Facebook’s Diem in the works, the community debated how cryptocurrencies can be promoted and regulated by central banks.
This trend has been accelerated by the adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in El Salvador. Banks are therefore keen to develop proof-of-concept Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) to retain their position in the ecosystem. By utilizing closed-loop, blockchain-based ideas, CBDCs provide the potential to retain influence over digital finance.
With this consideration in mind, delegates discussed the requirement for international standards to be agreed on collaboratively. By private entities and central banks alike. Different stakeholders hold varying motivations, so it is important to safeguard financial inclusion for citizens who rely on them. Much of the conversation at the conference was conceptual economics as opposed to tangible payment solutions. However, debates like these will help to formulate long term strategic plans for the ecosystem.
New ways to pay
Echoing throughout the conference was the underlying theme of putting customers at the heart of any solution. The prevailing consensus was that payment innovations of the future will be driven by consumer demands. One such example of this was the discussion surrounding SoftPOS payments.
SoftPOS solutions that can enable users to accept payments using their own commercial off-the-shelf device give more people access to the growing world of digital payments. Merchants and vendors alike are aware of the benefits of adoption. It’s a cheaper option, which provides more business opportunities for merchants. Equally, vendors know customers are ready to accept it with the growing use of contactless payments. A recuring concern throughout discussions of SoftPOS was security however, if implemented correctly, this technology is ready to take off.
It was interesting to hear discussions regarding Visa and Mastercard offering free software development kits for SoftPOS, making such solutions more readily available. The creation of new payment acceptance methods highlights that stakeholders throughout the ecosystem can play a pivotal role in democratizing digital finance. This is especially true in nations which may lack traditional technology infrastructure.
The need for support
Money 20/20 Europe gave insights into the industry that truly highlighted what an exciting, dynamic time it is. The overarching themes discussed above served as the framework for even more discussions on how to enhance the ecosystem from various positions throughout the value chain.
As these come to fruition, many stakeholders need support in refining their role in the industry. Fime can offer support in defining, designing, delivering and testing quality payment solutions and user experiences. Learn more about how Fime can support your payments project.