On 17 May, around 130 developers and entrepreneurs from the London FinTech community gathered for the Apps Alliance Meetup: The Role of Mobile in the FinTech Revolution. The meetup, which was hosted at WeWork Spitalfields, was organized in cooperation with Visa Europe Collab and welcomed app developers, mobile tech startups and entrepreneurs to discuss if and how FinTech mobile apps are disrupting traditional banking and focus on the future of financial services as a whole.
The event included a fireside chat with London MEP and passionate tech advocate Syed Kamall, an introduction to Visa Europe Collab from Jon Downing, Innovation Partner - Emerging Payments, and a panel that represented the true nature of the FinTech industry with a mix of big established financial corporations such as Visa and Barclays, B2B lending services like Pollen VC and FinTech app companies like Revolut, WorldRemit and Yoyo Wallet.
Fireside chat with Syed Kamall, MEP for London & ECR Chairman
In London, Syed Kamall, MEP for London & Chairman of the ECR campaigns on a huge variety of issues from London’s technology economy, including FinTech. At the event, Syed Kamall introduced himself as a geek – quite some years ago he was working with Pascal and other programing languages and added that he sees London as a leading global financial center. Unlike in the US, where West Coast is more focused on Tech, and East Coast on FinTech, in London these two sectors meet within a single city. Syed Kamall added that he sees huge opportunity in sharing economy services like Uber and Airbnb.
When questioned by moderator Catriona Meehan, EU Policy Director & Government Relations at Applications Developers Alliance, on what policy does to empower the FinTech sector, Syed Kamall replied: “Get the hell out of the way and let you guys flourish”. But at the same time he highlighted the importance of regulation in order to avoid things going wrong. He finished his speech by encouraging developers to talk even more to policy makers and make them aware of the issues and challenges they are facing.
Presentation: An Introduction to Visa Europe Collab
Jon Downing, Innovation Partner - Emerging Payments, introduced Visa Europe Collab as the innovation unit of Visa – the group that is thinking of the next generation of payment ideas for consumers, retailers and banks. Visa Europe Collab started in 2015 and since then has engaged with over 500 startup companies. Out of those, they have identified a smaller number of companies, with which they’ve run informed proof of concepts and tests.
Jon Downing also presented the six key technology themes for Visa Europe Collab. He started with “Untangling the Blockchain” and what this technology can offer including things such as cryptocurrencies as a means of payment, or brand new services like smart contracts, for example.
“Me2B” explores the opportunities that will help banks comply with regulation and benefit from opening up the data in their systems. By offering consumers control of their data and digital footprint, the new relationship with customers enables banks to offer a wider range of individually tailored products with greater value and benefit to both parties.
“Smart Cities” is focused on the interconnected world of the future, including areas such as IoT, machine payments, connected cars or smart home tech and how that world would operate effectively.
“Inclusion” explores alternative payments outside the traditional banking domain, including alternative markets and constituencies (e.g. the under-served).
“Identity & Authentication” examines the ways technology can ensure that the person requesting a service or making a payment is who they say they are, and that they have the authority to use a particular service. This includes technologies such as biometrics, sound, device characteristics and more.
“Emerging Retail Journeys” looks into the impact of the Internet, social commerce and new technology, such as Virtual Reality, on retail environments.
Panel: The Role of Mobile in the Fintech Revolution
Acquiring Users in the FinTech Space
Edward Cooper, Head of Mobile at Revolut, said that getting users is hard anyway but people are very serious about their money and therefore as a FinTech company you need to have legitimacy. In order to gain legitimacy, Revolut partnered with some well-established organizations. Another way was peer-to-peer marketing – by allowing users to send money to their friends for free they generated growth through word-of-mouth marketing. Finally, they focused on user experience and ensured that every detail, even the unboxing of a Revolut card, was well thought through.
Alice Newton, Head of Product at WorldRemit, added that from their experience, as around 95% of the remittance market currently still takes place offline, something that really helped the user acquisition was to actually meet in person with the communities to enhance trust.
Product development environment and FinTech Regulation – a Balancing Act
Ritesh Thadani, COO, Pollen VC, said that waiting to get regulated can be tough and added “Eight months in the life of a startup is a very long time.” His advice was that when working with regulators you should try to make them aware of your work and be in contact with them as early as possible.
Edward Cooper, Head of Mobile at Revolut, commented “Nothing kills creativity more than filling a 200 page document on compliance.” He added that Revolut is not actually FCA regulated, but has partnered with an FCA regulated company “Optimal Payments” and operates under their e-money umbrella. “This meant we could focus on making a good product and acquiring users, which at the start was the most important thing for us.”
The Role of Mobile in the FinTech Revolution?
Alice Newton, Head of Product at WorldRemit, added a striking number “If you look at it from a global perspective, there are 2 billion unbanked people in the world and 1 billion of them have a mobile phone. For most people that are going to get access to financial services over the next decade that experience will be a mobile experience and it may or may not involve a bank.”
Tariq Patel, Senior Mobile Lead at Yoyo Wallet, added that what mobile FinTech does is enhance the consumer experience, “From a retailers point of view, you don’t know who your customer is, you don’t know how to engage with them and you don’t know how to sell more to them and right now, what mobile does is to link your identity to your transactions and that’s really why mobile is so relevant right now.”
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Communications & Events Manager EMEA