" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> Citi’s 9th Annual Digital Money Symposium #CitiDigiMoney - Fintech Finance
Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Citi’s 9th Annual Digital Money Symposium #CitiDigiMoney

– Bobby Suman, Fintech Finance

The Citi Fintech conference on the 31st March 2022 hosted some of the industry’s biggest and best names, covering a whole host of topics. Whilst I won’t share all of the fascinating talks I heard, I will share my favourites which covered two of the biggest talking points in our industry this year; Open Banking & Money In The Metaverse! Here’s what I discovered!

Metaverse and Money 

Stani Kulechov, CEO & Founder, Aave Companies

Morten Juul, Co-Founder, Cryptowalkers

Ioana Surpateanu, Advisor, Swash, Poolz Finance, Cryptowalkers & Executive board member, MAMA

Host: Ronit Ghose, Global Head of Banking, FinTech & Digital Assets for Citi Global Insights, Citi

It’s always so interesting to hear individuals evaluate what many use as a buzzword now; the metaverse. The Metaverse is the next-gen of the internet that will combine the physical and digital world in an immersive manner, but what will that reality look like? The image below emphasises how we are still, as Ronit Ghose rightly pointed out, still in our infancy when it comes to metaverse technology, but the potential seems was not minimised by any speaker on stage.

Iona Surpateanu highlighted how the metaverse could be transformational for encouraging more women to enter the digital sector, with trends such as digital fashion being a gravitational pull for digital talent. “This will represent the biggest commercial opportunity in the metaverse”, combined with the strong element of SSI in a world with a decentralised reputation.

The speakers noted how influential the gaming community would be in the metaverse, with play-to-earn crypto games and NFT skins becoming hugely relevant in the space. But what’s going to draw non gamers into the metaverse? What’s the killer app? Surpateanu believes that the sheer ability to make money will incentivise many to enter the arena, especially given the fact that many people lost their jobs during the pandemic and found the ability to earn money whilst playing games to be a huge lifeline. Having said that, the question of how finance will be regulated in the metaverse was pondered, with their being an understanding for the need of further rules and regulations. Stani Kulechov thinks experiences will drive people to the metaverse; “You can build what does not exist in the current world. A bank can be more than a balance in an application” and it is this personalisation which will entertain and attract people into the digital realm.

The metaverse represents a new type of community, one that research suggests appeals more to GenZ than any other demographic. When asked what the metaverse will look like in 2030, the panellists noted that even one year in metaverse years marks so much change that it’s hard to predict, but we could very well witness more personal interaction, brain interfacing with games, SSI and an embedding of the metaverse into our ordinary lives.

How To Solve Open Banking 

  • Huy Nguyen Trieu, Co-founder CFTE
  • Ivy Lee, Head of Strategy and Operations, Open Banking, Visa
  • Leda Glyptis, Chief Client Officer, 10X Banking
  • Host: Sophia Bantanidis, Future of Finance Analyst, Citi

The concept of Open Banking has been a long time coming and it’s not going anywhere fast, yet criticism of it is rising. With that being said, what are the opportunities and challenges facing and its wider impact on consumers? 

What’s in it for the banks? Leda Glyptis noted how “for a very long time there was no creativity in banking. There was only account aggregation.” The reality is that there is nothing in Open Banking for the banks by design because it’s here for the consumer. The regulation keeps up to date with fully digital economies. Nonetheless, if banks do not integrate Open Banking into their business models, they will become irrelevant. “When a tsunami is coming, it’s too late to think how to swim”, explained Huy Nguten Trieu. What’s in it for banks is now the infrastructural awareness to participate in embedded payments, which with BaaS offering and such, can provide additional revenue streams. 

Ivy Lee pondered the question of whether consumers even understand Open Banking? In the months from September 2021 to January 2022, UK users of Open Banking services rose from 4 million to 5 million. The adoption is happening. 75% of these people said it’s improving their ability to reduce fees and balance their budgets. “Consumers may not always be aware of a service powered by Open Banking, but the experience is what matters, and if that experience is seamless then the value is being proven out.” The talk ended in a discussion on the top 3 ingredients for an Open Banking platform; global standardisation, high levels of visibility and an ongoing improvement of knowledge.

As a little bonus before we conclude this write up, I must also commend Naveed Sultan, Chairman, Institutional Clients Group, Citi, for his charismatic talk on the Digital Money Index. One thing Nultan voiced certainly chimed with the audience at hand; “as we speak the world is in a state of perpetual change. There are new technologies, transitions towards sustainability, the impact of Covid etc. When we’re in this stage it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come. The change becomes imperceptible until it reaches an inflection point. One day you wake up and the world has changed.” 

It reminded me of a crucial fact. We need to create a distinction between noise and signals if we, as economic actors, are to be responsible. 

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