Money20/20 Asia: A FinTech’s Perspective
By Katelyn Sweeney Ching, Eternic
Looking to break into the Southeast Asia FinTech or financial services industry? Money20/20 Asia might be the place to start. Money20/20 is a worldwide event series geared towards bringing FinTech, financial services and payments sectors together. Money20/20 Asia was held in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands Exposition Centre in 2018 and 2019, and it will be hosted in the same location in 2020 as well.
Why We Attended
Why did a small Norwegian FinTech travel all the way to Singapore for Money20/20 Asia?
Singapore is one of the leading banking cities in Asia. It’s also been ranked as one of the world’s easiest places to do business according to The World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business index. Transparent laws, efficient government and government-supported venture capital initiatives all contribute to how Singapore became an entrepreneurial hub. The high quality of life and geographical location make Singapore an ideal starting point for FinTechs to dip their toes into the Southeast Asia market.
Additionally, our partner company, Neonomics, exhibited at Money20/20 Europe in 2018. They generated many relevant leads and many of their target customers were in attendance. Based on their positive experience and the location, our parent company Fintech Innovation decided to try Money20/20 Asia and showcase both Neonomics and Eternic together.
Our objectives for the event were straightforward. We wanted to check out the FinTech scene in Singapore and meet banks that could become our next potential partners.
Here are our key takeaways from the event:
Event traffic came in waves. Mornings tended to be slow until the speaking events began. The afternoons had a steady flow of visitors to the booth, though it was never so busy that people had to wait to introduce themselves. The reported attendance level at Money20/20 Asia 2018 was around 3500, compared to Money20/20 Europe 2018 which was around 6000. Why wasn’t it as busy as Money20/20 Europe? Two possible explanations:
The exhibition and speaking areas were separated on two floors. Only one speaking area was located in the same area as the exhibitors, which only held afternoon talks. The reduced foot traffic on the exhibition floor made the event feel disjointed and the attendance level appear lower than it was.
The other contributing factor was the high ticket price of 3495 USD. Most financial services conferences in Singapore do not have entry fees. If they do, it varies between 0–1000 SGD. As this event is relatively new to Singapore, the entry cost seemed exceptionally high. This was confirmed by one of the banks we met with outside of the event, who explained they didn’t attend because of the ticket price. This is strong evidence that the ticket price not only kept banks from attending but was likely a deterrent for other financial services and FinTechs as well.
Pre-opening day. After our booth build was complete, we joined other sponsors for a welcome reception on the lanai. While the event location allowed for a glittering view of the city at sunset and good photo opportunities, it wasn’t too heavily attended. However, it’s possible that many were still arriving.
Kick-off party. Following opening day, there was a networking event at the Marina Bay Sand’s famous rooftop restaurant CÉ LA VI. The event was packed with sponsors and attendees. It provided a good opportunity, and relaxed environment, to reconnect with members of the press and delegates we had spoken with on the floor. The views and the venue made it a highlight event for everyone.
Money20/20 is a great platform for major announcements. At Money20/20 Asia, IBM caused a flurry of buzz when they announced IBM Blockchain World Wire, their new cross border payment solution. By attending, we were able to meet with IBM and talk to them about it first-hand.
As Eternic is 50% women, the Women in FinTech Meetup was a highlight. A panel of five leading women in FinTech spoke about their experiences and shared advice on how to make FinTech more inclusive. We were also encouraged to learn about Money20/20’s RiseUp initiative. RiseUp is a global program to empower women in leadership by connecting them with senior-level contacts, mentors and executive training to further their careers. It’s fantastic that Money20/20 is making a deliberate, thoughtful effort to promote women in FinTech, and is giving women from around the world a unique opportunity to network.
As a startup, the investment cost would have been more digestible for us had more banks attended. However, we learned a lot at Money20/20 Asia, and some of the connections we made may lead to our next big break down the road. It was also great to connect with Southeast Asian FinTechs, which could lead to some interesting collaborations in the future.
As for us, we will definitely be returning to Singapore in the future. If not to Money20/20 Asia, then possibly one of the other strong FinTech-focused events hosted there.
To learn more about Money20/20 Asia, see the survey report from the event:
Money20/20 Asia: Barclays Global FinTech Insights Survey
Katelyn Sweeney Ching is the External Affairs Strategist for Eternic. To learn more read: The Fluid Solution for Global Payments and Settlement