" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> EXCLUSIVE: Top 10 Insights from the FF Salon chair at Money20/20
Monday, May 20, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: Top 10 Insights from the FF Salon chair at Money20/20

“You forget you’re on camera”.

That’s what one of our interviewees said when we brought our very own FF Salon to Money20/20 Europe in Amsterdam. The concept is simple: Get a haircut and chat about fintech.

We might not be doing full-on makeovers (most of our guests are pretty nicely made up already) but we like to do things differently and the hairdressers set up is perfect for open, honest and insightful conversations.

In this year’s interviews, talented professional barber José Domene does his thing whilst founders, consultants and decision makers are quizzed by the brilliant Emily Redding. Rather than awkward barber shop chit chat, the FF Salon, having travelled to a few locations at this point, brings out some interesting nuggets and insights from those sitting in the chair.

Over three days at Money20/20 Europe 2023 we spoke to people at the heart of fintech, working in a whole host of verticals. We had specialists in payments, open banking, funding, ID verification and more all offering interesting perspectives.

We thought it would be a good idea to share our top 10 best bits. These are the comments that grabbed our attention and the insights that we think you should know about.

The need to evolve – Myles Bertrand

Banks need to evolve, or they’ll go extinct. That’s according to a survey cited in our first interview from the FF News Salon coverage, with Myles Bertrand. He’s the CEO of core banking firm, Tuum and talks about the importance of banks evolving in line with customer behaviour. The neobanks of course are driving forward in this area but the older bigger banks are now also realising they must change. Customers don’t stick around if they’re not happy and the stark reality is neither will banks if they don’t take on new technology and change the way they do things.

Banks are stuck in their old ways – Jim Marous

On a similar theme, fintech and banking expert and creator/host of the Banking Transformed podcast, Jim Marous didn’t hold back when talking about the challenges legacy banks face today.

Although old approaches may have made them profitable in the past, directors and leaders have often become stuck in their ways. That’s the perspective of Marous, who talks about how embracing change is an unpopular but necessary move in the banking world.

Going deep in your vertical – Sandi Samantaray

What does it take to be successful in fintech? VP of Product at Thredd, Sandi Samantaray talked in his interview about focusing on a particular specialism. Picking a vertical that you’re passionate about and developing deep knowledge of it will make you more of an asset to a company in the future. He alludes to there being too many people and companies in the industry who may know a little about a lot but are not necessarily providing real value. Those that are going to drive the industry forward are those who have truly ‘learned their craft’.

The importance of reducing friction – Martin Pitcock

When it comes to key trends in the payments space there were few better people to speak to than CMO of e-commerce at Nexi Group, Martin Pitcock. Increasing simplicity and reducing friction is very much a key concern for many in the payments space. He recognises that contrary to what you might think, a lot of people still want to experience in person commerce and appreciate good service but that the actual process of paying needs to be as breezy as possible. A kind of standardisation is probably also needed across the landscape as the experience can often look very different across different countries, increasing that friction.

Choosing the right people rather than a lot of people – Rebecca Wright

Chief People Officer at Estonian bank LHV, Rebecca Wright, talked about resisting the desire to increase headcount exponentially and instead focusing on getting the right people and aligning your culture. It’s much better, she says, to think about what you need for your business and protect what makes you, you. Our host Emily even coins the term ‘magic protector’. Maybe it’s something all startups need!

A shift in the funding landscape – Sheel Monhot

It’s always good to have voices from the funding and investment space when surrounded by founders and startups. Sheel Monhot of Better Tomorrow Ventures was able to give us several important insights.

He shared what he and his team look for in a promising startup, including a good team they can work with. When giving us his views on where the funding landscape is now he also echoes the prevailing hesitance around overfunding, pointing out the mistakes of the past. ‘What makes companies special is dealing well with constraints,’ he says. Fortunately things are changing for the better.

This is the year of efficiency – Jennifer Bennet

It was good to hear from a KYC, KYB and ID verification specialist in Jennifer Bennet, a senior VP at Trulioo, who talked about how onboarding customers is changing. For her it’s all about increasing efficiency. Mistakes have been made in the past so now it’s about ‘onboarding the right customers at the right cost’.

Ultimately, the key is striking that balance and creating a safe environment for existing users whilst not turning away new ones. This is something Bennet and the team are attempting to solve.

It’s ok to fail – Izhar Arieli

Shifting away from talking about technology specifically, Izhar Arieli, Founder & CEO of IA Applied Consulting, was candid about failure and gave some important advice on how to fail well.

It can often be forgotten that most startups fail and as an experienced entrepreneur Arieli has experienced his fair share. He stresses that it’s ok, often down to a multitude of factors and that each time is a learning opportunity. He’s now able to use his experience to help other startups in the fintech space. It’s important and refreshing to hear this perspective when we often only see one side of the story.

Being a woman in fintech – Sarah Carver

Be yourself. This is the crux of the advice Sarah gives when asked about her experience of being a female decision maker at a leading firm working in financial services. She expands on her experiences in sales but also how she’s navigated being a woman, in some cases being judged more for the clothes she was wearing than her performance. Carver talks about how she had shrunk away from being herself to fit in. She soon realised that the only version of her that was valuable was the real version. It’s an important conversation that we’re glad we had in the comforting surrounds of the salon.

Tangible benefits of AI – Jethro Macdonald

Need some tangible benefits of AI? Here’s a really great one. We realise it’s a bit of a buzzword and the actual use cases can sometimes get lost in the wider conversation surrounding Artificial Intelligence. Jethro MacDonald from SmartStream was able to talk about some of the ways they’re using AI and ML technology to help with data reconciliation and the incredible potential it has. He gives a great example of how using AI to bring data together can streamline processes but also ensure the data is more secure and reliable.

So there you have it. Some of our ‘best bits’ from the FF Salon. You can watch more of our great interviews on our website.

And we’ll be bringing the FF Salon to another conference very soon. Do you want a trim or a shape up whilst we chat about all things fintech and finance? We’d love to have you, so feel free to get in touch.

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