FinTech at Money20/20 Europe 2016: What Did the First Day of the Conference Reveal?

April 4 was the first day when one of the most important events in FinTech was rolled out. Money20/20 in Europe started out with some very interesting announcements and insights from financial industry players such as BBVA, Visa & MasterCard, and even tech companies like Amazon and Microsoft have made some waves. Let’s see what the first day of Money20/20 Europe has brought up.

In an attempt to take over PayPal in the payments business, Amazon announced that it is extending its customer checkout payments onto merchant partners—third-party businesses running their shops on Amazon. With this service extension, the company is looking to help merchants to have a payment solution that can be integrated with their online store. The new partner program is available by invitation in the US, Germany, the UK and Japan.

Another tech giant, Microsoft, announced a strategic partnership with R3 (a consortium of leading banking institutions) to help move blockchain technology to reality for the financial services industry. Microsoft will merge efforts with R3’s over 40 member banks to develop, test and deploy blockchain technologies to modernize processes and streamline operations, potentially saving billions of dollars from back-office operations.

Diebold announced and showcased one of its newest mobile-driven banking concepts along with an industry-leading security application from Cryptera. To deliver on consumers’ expectations for mobile-enabled services, Diebold's mobile-driven ATM concept dispenses and recycles cash with no screen, card reader or PIN-pad—it uses a consumer’s mobile device as the primary interface. With an estimated five trillion dollars in currency circulating the globe, the concept was designed to challenge present-day, self-service experiences to provide faster, more convenient consumer access to cash.

As MasterCard shared with CNBC, the company is interested in working with social media giants Facebook and Twitter on building up their payment services. "We see companies like Facebook and Twitter occupying a really good space in social media and we are always over in Silicon Valley talking to those companies," the Ann CairnsPresident of International Markets at MasterCard said to CNBC during an interview at Money20/20 Europe in Copenhagen on Monday.

As Ann Cairns continued in the interview with CNBC, "I think the way we would work with them is just the way we work with the other tech giants, we would figure out what we can do together, where our network could play into their space and connect up. Obvious spaces are if they want to offer payments to their clients and if you think about somebody like Facebook, it would probably be something like a P2P (peer-to-peer) service."

Western Union was also among the companies that made announcements. The company has launched a new B2B platform to enable connections between companies and the ability to pay each other. Cross-border payments for businesses can be challenging as the individual agreements with suppliers require a lot of effort and attention to obtain and maintain through various channels aside from online. Dealing with the floating foreign currency exchanges can also be tricky and cause losses. Western Union's B2B arm called Western Union Business Solutions is aimed to eliminate the problems with its platform called "Edge," which allows businesses to connect with each other on a central platform and set up invoicing and payments.

Another exciting announcement came from a Nordic mobile payments provider called Auka, the first fully licensed and regulated financial company to be run entirely on the Google Cloud Platform. The company announced its expansion across Europe. Auka’s fully regulated and licensed end-to-end payments infrastructure connects financial institutions, merchants and consumers.

The regulatory shift in Europe is forcing payments systems that were previously fully under banks’ control to the open market. As a result, it eases the payments for merchants and paves the way for API-first and mobile-first banks such as Atom, Mondo and—with one further layer of abstraction—Auka, as stated by TC.

BBVA gave an outstanding presentation on open APIs as enablers of innovation in the financial services industry. As BBVA’s CEO Carlos Torres Vila said to BI, "What’s happening is the way we relate to our customers is changing, it’s changing very fast, and it’s happening because of the innovation technology allows and the way people embrace it."

Mr. Vila has expressed very insightful thoughts at the conference, saying, A lot of the startups choose one very thin slice of what a bank does. But there’s just so many of them that they encompass everything we do. In every little slice, you have like 10 companies that just do it better. They do it cheaper and they do it with better value for the customer."

Mr. Vila has also shared that the bank is now focused heavily and invests significantly in design as it is looking to embrace customer experience. And by design, one of the most innovative banks doesn’t only mean appearance, but the whole process of how humans behave and what they need to designing based on that research.

Verifone, one of the world leaders in payments and commerce solutions, has unveiled Verifone Carbon – a beautiful, flexible and integrated POS that leverages powerful capabilities and applications to transform the checkout process into an experience that merchants and consumers will love. Verifone Carbon offers a secure business solution that is designed perfectly for café owners, quick service restaurants and retail stores. Featuring dual high-resolution screens that are optimized for merchants and consumers, the system integrates into a sleek stand with a built-in high-speed printer, and an optional cash drawer at the base – requiring minimal counter space and offering portability for mPOS activities.