Voice of the Industry

The Humans behind Money20/20

Monday 20 June 2022 13:19 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Voice of the industry

Connections, conversations, innovations, and deals are made at Money20/20 Europe; but have you wondered what the people behind those are? Let’s find out.

Money 20/20 has done it again – managed to gather people from all over the world to speak fintech, crypto, and payments innovation. The beginning of June saw 6500+ people attend Money20/20 Europe in Amsterdam, and I was, luckily, one of them.

I have met with experts from South Africa, New Zealand, the US and UK, Europe (from France to Lithuania), and Asia, and saw the Money 20/20 crowd as a reflection of the diversity and inclusion our industry aims to achieve.

After two years of the COVID pandemic, the attendees were so happy to share laughs (without a mask) and enjoy a glass of beer (or wine) and good food in the park (Money in the Park party). What better way to meet fintech's decision-makers, spark incredible conversations, and win game-changing business than over a drink, tasty food, and energy-giving sunlight and disco-funk & soul vibes? Some of them (me included) even got a tattoo with Money 20/20 (although a temporary one).

Besides the ongoing conversation around payments, this year I have been privileged to be part of the RiseUp program – a global program that aims to bring diversity and inclusion to our industry. The RiseUp schedule included sessions such as gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, finding the right mentor/sponsor, balancing hard skills with soft skills, conquering imposter syndrome, the importance of hiring the right talent, and much more.

Being part of the program made me realise the importance of embedding diversity, inclusion, talent, and meaning in our daily work/activities and also on every level of an organisation, especially at the leadership level. This concept should be understood exactly as its industry equivalent – embedded finance* as the integration of diversity, inclusion, talent, meaning – traditionally being seen/approached siloed within work environments – within the products, services, levels of all organisations, financial or non-financial.

But what good a concept is if it is abstract? To test it, I took some of the ideas I learned during the RiseUp program, which took place in the mornings, to the wide Money 20/20 audience and was impressed to learn that successful businesses and experienced leaders are practicing these concepts.

I asked Charles Delingpole, Founder and CEO at ComplyAdvantage if he ever had a mentor and where he gets his inspiration from. Having started from an early age, since he was only 16 when he built his first company, he said his main source of inspiration is the books he reads and that he relied on investors for advice whenever he had to take his company one step further.

For Daniel Goldscheider, CEO of yes.com mentorship starts from an early age – for him, parents are an inspiration, plus all the opportunities and good-intentioned people that arise in his life. I liked that he refused to talk about the concept of work-life balance, as he sees work as part of our life, as one cannot be distinct from one another, one must love what he/she does so he/she does not feel it as a burden.

Apart from mentorship, I wanted to learn more about the right balance between hard skills and soft skills. During RiseUp, Simon Stokes, Senior Partner - Payments and FinTech, Greenings shared some findings of a research conducted by his team on influential C-level opinion leaders to gauge their thoughts concerning the talent issues that are affecting the payments industry. When asked what are the senior talent attributes that are most needed within their team/organisations, most of the respondents mentioned: solution-oriented, integrity, creative thinker, emotional resilience, and strong network.

And then, after meeting Steve Munford, Trulioo, CEO, who so warmly talked about resilience (that keeps Trulioo such a successful company) and the importance of being aware of (the need for) diversity at the team level to enable a company to grow, I had the AHA moment – no matter how well you know how to code, soft skills do matter. After all, ‘when a bunch of guys speak about football, and there is one lady in the room, even if they continue their conversation, they should be conscious about her presence’.

And speaking about the ‘soft’ side of work-life, having children, for women especially, should not be perceived as a vulnerability, but as an enabler. A double enabler: firstly, because being a parent makes one more responsible, and loyal to their workplace; and secondly by raising educated and tolerant children today, we grow the workforce for a better tomorrow. I was so thrilled to see Scarlett Sieber, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer, Money20/20, bringing her toddler on the stage, revealing the woman who wins and struggles behind organising complex events such as Money 20/20.

After hearing so many wonderful pieces of advice and success stories, I have started to feel a bit … overwhelmed: ‘what am I doing here, speaking to all these successful people, that have over 10 years of experience in payments, and me … just another journalist?’ The imposter syndrome was starting to crawl inside of me. And then I remembered some of the advice Jill Docherty, Director, Global Partnerships, GDS shared during RiseUp on how to ‘love your imposter’. Some ideas include just joking about it or showing your achievements to an imaginary person. She also suggested being surrounded by two types of personalities; one that is empathic with you (listens to you, ‘you got this’ – and I thought of my mother) and one that is more logical about it (brings data and facts to your life, ‘you interviewed the Obermay(i)er brothers about Panama Papers and many others, you’ll manage’ – my husband). To sum it up, deal with it, acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses, and ‘Silenzio Bruno’; this is a phrase used by the main character of a film called Luca that Mariana Gomez de la Villa, DLT Expertise Lead, ING remembered me about. In the film, Alberto tells Luca to repeat this to himself to silence his inner negative voice – shutting down his doubts by giving them a name.

And if you were wondering if only women have it, well I learned that men do also experience the imposter syndrome.

Since 2017, I have been to all Money 20/20 editions held in Europe, and I enjoyed all of them – the networking, the knowledge, the parties, and the fun. But this Money 20/20 edition has meant more, has been emotional, and left me with some food for thought: we all suffered because of COVID, felt weak, maybe lonely, without resources, and tried to figure out what life and work are, how they are intertwined, what brings meaning to my life. But it has also taught me things – not to take relationships for granted, that emotional resilience needs to be trained and might be hard to achieve, that is also ok to ask for help, say no, and be human, as long as you are sincere and authentic; but most importantly, that I count and should be passionate about offering my help, expertise, and ideas to my family, my group, my workplace, my country, and the world.

And this is so well reflected in the needs of our society (the nascence of the creator economy, data privacy), of what we are trying to build within our industry – creating full embedded experiences, where the payment is not felt.

* embedded finance is the integration of financial services or tools – traditionally obtained via a bank – within the products or services of a non-financial organisation.

About Mirela Ciobanu

Mirela Ciobanu is a Senior Editor at The Paypers and has been actively involved in drafting industry reports, carrying out interviews, and writing about innovation in payments and fintech. She is passionate about finding the latest news on AI, crypto, blockchain, DeFi and she is an active advocate of the need to keep our online data/presence protected. Mirela has a bachelor’s degree in English language and holds a master’s degree in Marketing. She can be reached at mirelac@thepaypers.com or via LinkedIn.

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Keywords: financial inclusion, fintech, payments , banking
Categories: Banking & Fintech
Companies: Money20/20 Europe
Countries: World
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Banking & Fintech

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