Chris Skinner reviews the opening day of Money2020 2016 from Las Vegas, where he catches interviews with Jack Dorsey and Vitalik Buterin.

It’s the end of the first full day of Money2020 2016 and it’s been a mixed day, starting with a surprisingly packed room for my discussion with Moven, Simple and ING about digital banking.

The story of the fish seemed popular (see last week’s blog).

[Note: I do not say all banks are dead fish, just those with leaders who don’t get tech.]

Jack Dorsey at Money2020 2016. Photo by Chris SkinnerFollowing that short highlight, it was running madly around between the exhibit hall, my room, a lunch meeting and then settling in for the main keynotes of the day from Google, PayPal, Square and AliPay. I must admit the Google discussion disappointed and I was surprised by how quiet Jack Dorsey was. (And many in the audience were intrigued by that tattoo on his arm.) I expected bada-bing bada-boom pyrotechnics from the man who co-founded Twitter and Square, but what we got was a guy who kept coming back to talking basics.

Far more interesting (for me anyway) was the news that PayPal has partnered with Facebook to embed payments into Messenger. PayPal is deepening its relationship with Facebook, and will now become one of the payment options within Messenger. Mind you, this isn’t so amazing as Facebook is working with Stripe, Visa, MasterCard and American Express, not just PayPal and PayPal-owned Braintree. Maybe what is amazing is the idea that the largest social network in the west is becoming a dominant player in the payments world. It’s a shame Facebook wasn’t here to keynote.

PayPal’s EVP and COO Bill Ready then talked about ecosystems, partnering and strategic alliances, one of which is Alibaba, which is interesting because AliPay was on just before Bill talking about its entry into America and Europe. Here are the numbers:

  • PayPal: 192 million active users
  • AliPay: 450 million active users
  • PayPal: 5 million transactions a day
  • AliPay: 180 million transactions a day.

Ouch! Forget Gafa, think Fatbag. AliPay, in fact, is processing 85,000 transactions per second and has a clear global expansion plan. It’s also based around partnerships with Ingenico, Wirecard, First Data, Verifone and more in its portfolio to date. It intends to use these alliances to grow to two billion active users within a decade, and a million merchants outside China will be using its services for online to offline checkout experiences. Four months into the job of heading up AliPay’s international expansion, Douglas Feagin was pretty bullish on stage about its views of the world.

Don Tapscott (right) interviews Vitalik Buterin at Money2020 in Las Vegas in 2016. Photo: Chris SkinnerAfter those presentations, I toddled off to hear Don Tapscott interview Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, about the DAO hack and more. It wasn’t a terribly insightful discussion, but it did at least give Vitalik a chance for a good joke. Bearing in mind he lives in Canada – when Don asked him if he thought the banks were toast, Vitalik said, “Yes … French toast!”. That got a laugh.

All in all, I just couldn’t help feeling that we were all buzzing about how technology rules the world, and that the third-age industrial revolution financial firms are not taking up the challenges fast enough. Some are, obviously, but many were being thought of as potentially washed-up fish or French toast. Either way, that’s not very nice. Maybe that’s why most of the banks attending the show this year were hiding their badges.

Ah well, time to hit the Strip. More tomorrow.

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– This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. Read more here.

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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