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Money 20/20 EU Recap Blog - Day 1

Money 20/20 EU got off to a sunny start, with plenty of talks on the agenda and a great atmosphere at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre.  

Three of the key themes that emerged from discussions and the event stages have been the future of the fintech and RegTech sectors, data security and cloud technology, and the ever-changing regulatory demands facing financial institutions in Europe. 

Following the recent stepping down of CEO Anne Boden, Starling Bank’s ingeniously titled talk, ‘Starling Your Engines: A UK Export Success Story’ – was by far the most hotly-anticipated session of the day. 

Digitalization and The Cloud – Not Just a Buzzword for Financial Services 

 Hot topics like ‘digital transformation’ and ‘the cloud’ can sometimes feel detached from the day-to-day of running a financial institution. 

But make no mistake, digital transformation is very much a priority for financial institutions, which was evident from the discussions held during day one of Money 20/20. In a discussion around sovereignty and security in Europe’s banking sector, Brent Phillips (Deutsche Bank’s Chief Security Officer and Head of Cloud Transformation) highlighted that 82% (paraphrasing research by KPMG) of financial institutions in Germany now leverage cloud technologies in some way, up 12% from the year before. 

At Starling’s session, they claimed that being cloud-native means the bank spends much less running the business, despite their technological infrastructure being ‘always on’ and the fact they make themselves available to their customers for support on a 24/7 basis. By their own reckoning, Starling spends £38 per customer, per year, as opposed to other banks spending within the region of £100-150 on people and operations at the bank. 

No discussion of the cloud, however, is complete without its shadow: data security. Multi-cloud services provider VMWARE’s Matthew O’Neill posed that, when faced with incoming regulations and updated requirements, financial institutions should ask: Where is that regulation intending to get you? - as opposed to: What do I need to do to meet the bare minimum of these new standards? 

Cloud technology brings organizations state-of-the art technology and the power to process huge amounts of data, which is no small advantage. Whatever approach a firm takes to digitalization and cloud-based technologies, it’s crucial that this is a custom approach: 

"The right tool for the right job at the right time" – Matthew O’Neill, Industry Managing Director, Financial Services at VMware 

Regulations, Regtech, and Fintech- What Does the Future Hold? 

At Mastercard’s ‘Horizon’s Stage’, Deborah Young made the compelling case for greater unification of players in the Anti-Financial Crime space. Her company, The RegTech Association, gathers insights and conducts research into RegTech, regulators, and financial services- stating its goal to “Act as the grease between the wheels of the ecosystem. 

Her argument? Regulation should provide certainty in times of volatility, and we’re certainly experiencing volatility in global financial markets right now. 

Alexandra Maniati, Senior Director Innovation and Cybersecurity for the European Banking Federation, described the incoming DORA (Digital Operations Resilience Act) as a “milestone” that Europe’s finance sector needs to prepare for over the next two years. By January 2025, the regulation is set to standardize stability requirements for all financial players- it’s no longer just up to banks to take security measures. 

Starling Your Engines: What Starling Had to Say About Starling’s Plans for the Future 

This packed-out fireside chat, hosted at Money 20/20’s ‘Close Up Stage’, featured Starling’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Alexandra Fean, and Sam Everington, the CEO of Engine by Starling. 

Engine is a digital banking platform, built with Starling’s technology infrastructure expertise, on which other fintechs can launch banking products and capabilities, guided by the expertise that lead to Starling’s undeniable success in the UK market. 

Despite previously considering wider expansion across Europe, Sam explained, ultimately Starling realized that working with fintechs as clients in other regions was a better use of their time and resources which led them to start consulting as Engine. In an ideal world, they said, Engine will eventually become the "mothership", and Starling ending up the smaller business of the two. 

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