Find out what we’ll be talking about at FinForward. Topics are subject to change. Speakers and a detailed scheduled will be added later.
For many years, central banks have had instruments at their disposal allowing them to control the economy. Being able to set interest rates and control the supply of money gives them the power to help economies through difficult times and stop them overheating. But now, alternative methods of payment could take these instruments out of their hands. The privacy and decentral nature of cryptocurrencies put them out of central banks’ reach, facilitating money laundering and making enforcement of regulation more difficult. But on top of that, they blunten the central banks’ tools to react in a crisis. As if that weren’t bad enough, Libra threatens to introduce a universal international currency that could make national currencies obsolete.
Following the 2008 financial crisis, banks were seen as a brake on progress and in need of opening up. Enter PSD2 and open banking. But does PSD2 run the risk of making banking services mere commodities for startups to build on? Is it unfair for GAFAs and startups to have a back door into banks via API but not the other way round? Banks are afraid of what the future holds: but should they be more afraid of missing the opportunities to innovate?
Big banks and insurers know they need to keep up with the agile innovators. They know they need to update their legacy systems, and use technology to deliver customer value instead of making their lives difficult. They don’t need telling that whoever wins the battle for talented, creative, tech-savvy employees will prevail. So it’s no wonder that existing employees, many of whom have loyally served their employers for decades, are getting fidgety. Their livelihoods are at stake and until recently, they thought they could look forward to a comfortable retirement. How do we deal with these employees, taking their fears seriously – while at the same time paying attention to those who are afraid that Germany will drift ever further behind if we don’t keep up with the pace of innovation? Is it possible for people nearing the end of their career to adopt a new customer-centric mindset?
While the Nordic companies rapidly do away with cash, just a few miles south the adoption of card payment is years behind. What is it about German customers that make many of them reluctant to succumb to the temptations of round-the-clock banking, easy financial management and convenient identification? Are the Germans irrationally afraid, or are their fears understandable? How do we move forward, finding solutions that the majority of people are happy with? And does Germany’s reticence make it a less attractive market to invest in? Or is this an opportunity for businesses that can win German customers’ trust?
It could be said that a regulator’s job is to prevent nightmares while still allowing dreams to come true. What fears specifically drive German regulatory practices? How does this affect the attractiveness of Germany as a market? Is Germany likely to follow the examples of places like London and Lithuania in starting a sandbox for new business models to be tested in? How can we ensure that we fuel European innovation, rather than simply regulating imports from the US and China? Will Libra prompt a harmonisation of international regulations by forcing a joint response from national regulators?
Several Hamburg startups have expanded to the USA. Why did they choose to break America? What is different there? And what have they learned about Germany as a result? Share in their experience and ask your questions.
Listen to the experiences of several startups who have gone international. In smaller states, going global is not a choice but a must in order to access a large enough market. But in some countries, such as Germany, that is not the case. Are German companies at a disadvantage because they don’t think globally from the off? Or are they lucky to have a large enough market that they know well and can serve perfectly?
Verifying a customer’s identity is a the core of a bank’s day-to-day business. Facial recognition and other biometric procedures mean there are more technical solutions to ensuring somebody is who they claim to be. But differing regulations in different jurisdictions are a headache for fintechs looking to roll out in other countries. What are the differences between European markets, and is there hope of harmonisation on the horizon?
Despite the proliferation of digital technology, many people around the world are cut off from banking. This includes people moving to unfamiliar countries, who face offputting bureaucracy and people sending remittances back home to support their families but facing high charges for doing so. What are the challenges to opening up banking to everyone, what solutions already exist, and what hope is there for the future? And is Libra the solution to everything?
The promise of PSD2 was to open up banking through APIs and let a thousand flowers bloom. Where have we got so far? Some seem to be embracing the emerging platform economy: putting your best foot forward in the form of your core product and pulling in the rest from elsewhere. Is there a race to be the first killer app? The Amazon of finance? Or will payment and finance play a backstage role in future?