Money 20/20 explores data as ‘the new oil,’ cashless society, other trends
BBVA Executive Chairman Carlos Torres Vila argues that data gains value with use at Money 20/20.

Data could be 'the new oil'

Role of fintechs, new payments features may impact credit unions.

November 18, 2019

Money 20/20's main stage was dominated by payments-oriented players and headliners Uber, Amazon, and Libra.

It also revealed a few key trends that deserve credit union scrutiny.

BBVA considers data 'the new oil,' embraces open banking

Carlos Torres Vila, the executive chairman from the U.S. arm of BBVA, presented conference attendees with the idea of data’s role as “the new oil” in today’s economy. The key difference is that data isn’t depleted by its use. On the contrary, Torres Vila argues that data gains value with use, and that its broad application should be limited only by privacy considerations.

Torres Vila takes a firm stance that data belongs to the consumer, who must consent to its use. He also suggests that banks are naturally poised to play the “consent manager” role, since they perform similar duties with consumers’ currency today.

BBVA’s embrace of data sharing—which extends to the marketing of its BBVA Open Platform “Banking-as-a-Service” model—is facilitated by its experience gained in Europe, where open banking is mandated. It’s an easier stance for an institution outside the U.S. top tier, but it’s bold and visionary nonetheless. With laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act on the horizon, they’ve staked out an attractive position.

Bringing big ideas to broader markets

Two of the most interesting product announcements at Money 20/20 seem tailored to deliver high-profile new features to a wider swath of banks and credit unions.

Ondot Systems doesn’t shy away from comparing its new CardApp to an “Apple Card-like experience” encompassing instant card signup, self-service, spending insights, and wallet provisioning. Ondot aims to enable these capabilities for the 4,000-plus financial institutions already using its mobile card controls and interactive alerts.

MX has been reluctant to draw parallels between Wells Fargo’s Control Tower app, which manages recurring card-based expenses, and its new Subscription Tracker offering, but on the surface the products appear designed to address similar needs. Subscription Tracker resides within MX’s broader suite of money management tools, provides insights on the annual cost of these expenses, and enables informed budget decisions.

Zach Perret, co-founder and CEO of Plaid, a major player in the banking API space, struck a similar chord. During a presentation, he discussed the idea of “encumbered income,” or the amount of income committed in advance from one’s take-home pay.

He theorizes that Gen Z’s affinity for rental culture, from music streaming to ride services to housing, costs more in the long run and inhibits this generation’s ability to build its asset base. Data is critical to resolving this cycle, although a change in behavior will also be required.

Cash gains a few supporters, fintechs potentially more

During a staged debate of the merits of a cashless society, Square’s representative shared a poll indicating that most small business owners don’t even understand the concept and 83% plan to continue to accept cash.

Asked to explain how Sweden reached the verge of a cashless state, payment platform Marqeta’s chief revenue officer points out it’s among the most homogenous countries, with citizens professing a high degree of trust in government and a collectivist mindset, which the U.S. doesn’t share.

In the closing panel, Angela Strange, from the venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz, remarked that typically 10% of her audiences self-identify as working for a fintech. She predicts this figure will increase as companies recognize financial services as a natural lever to increase retention and deepen customer engagement. On a similar note, Financial Technology Partners’ Steve McLaughlin predicted that banks will “finally get it” and begin making more fintech acquisitions to defend their turf.

That’s a prediction we’ll be able to assess at the next Money 20/20.

GLEN SARVADY is managing partner at 154Advisors and a payments and technology expert.