A contingent from Freshfields is attending Money 20/20 in Las Vegas this year, from 21-24 October 2018.  If you're going, or will be in the area, do give us a shout.  We will have a kiosk and I'll be almost constantly tweeting from @ClaireHarropLaw.   

Some of you might recall that I attended Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam over the summer and what really struck me was how energising it all was - a lot of people, all in one place, talking Fintech.  Small start-ups, unicorns, private equity houses, investment banks, retail banks, regulators, central banks and a small group of plucky Freshfields lawyers, all talking to each other about key themes in Fintech and hearing industry announcements.

So I'm expecting a lot of big things from the US Money 20/20.  In particular, I can't wait to learn more about the following three things. 

1. The themes

The agenda prioritises certain themes and there are a few of those themes that I'm looking forward to feeding back on. 

Payments and platforms, and Banking and personal finance - there's been so much M&A activity in payments and new services offered to customers across the board that it feels like there is a lot more to come. The Banking theme refers to "balancing emerging competitors with cross-industry collaboration" - antitrust is such a hot topic in Fintech so I'd like to see how this is dealt with.     

AI and deep learning - I am not really sure where AI is going to go and how it is going to be applied in financial services, so I'll be listening out to learn how this is going to be used and where we might go.  Apparently the latest innovations include Deep Learning and Adversarial Networks, so I'm hoping to find out more about what these terms mean...

Blockchain and Crypto - these seem to keep the Fintech press ticking, but it'll be fascinating to find out what, if anything, people are actually using Blockchain and Crypto for - is there still a future here? 

Regulation and Regtech - in recent years, banks and other regulated entities have had a whole raft of legislation to comply with.  Compliance is difficult, expensive and time-consuming.  Regtech is touted as a solution to help navigate the regulatory landscape.  The idea of Regtech is also seen favourably by regulators (see FCA page on the subject), so is certainly something to watch.  

2.  The Hackathon

Every year, Money 20/20 hosts a hackathon for developers, designers and entrepreneurs.  Effectively, this involves teams of up to 5 people, creating a Fintech solution to a problem.  This year, the aim of the hackathon is to "design solutions for a simpler, fairer, and more inclusive financial system for businesses and society as a whole."  The winners  get to showcase their innovation at the conference.

This also fits in with one of the themes "Fintech for social good" - which is also a priority for regulators.  What particularly surprised me was the statistic that 2.5 billion people (i.e., 36% of the world’s population) are unbanked. The Money 20/20 website also mentions that more than half of Americans struggle financially, including excess debt, irregular income and sporadic savings habits.  

3. The speakers

If nothing else, some of the speakers should be pretty good.  Headliners include speakers from incumbent companies such as Visa, Google, Amazon, Stripe, BlackRock, Morgan Stanley, Goldmans and JP Morgan (setting aside the many speakers from interesting Fintech companies and digital banks such as Ripple, Starling, 11FS, N26, Paysafe...) as well as individuals such as Richard Branson and Taavet Hinrikus (Transferwise).  The list goes on.   

Others who are less expected (by me, perhaps not others) are Akon, Shaquille O'Neal, the Mayor of the City of Dallas and someone from the Seattle Seahawks.  Keen to understand their involvement in the world of Fintech!