What was everyone talking about at Web Summit 2017?

By Teamspirit on Monday, 13 November 2017

This year, Web Summit wanted to encourage more women in tech to visit the conference, so we sent along our Digital Project Manager Deborah Rothenberg to find out what the hottest topics and trends are this year.

Here’s the first of her three reports, about the day she spent at the MoneyConf pavilion.

Across all the talks, discussions and conversations scheduled at the MoneyConf pavilion, two themes stood out. The first was putting finance in the hands of consumers, the second was that innovation is the only way to survive.

Both themes came across particularly strongly in the conversation between Société Générale’s CEO, Frederic Oudéa, and Blomberg News’ Edward Robinson.

Oudéa and Robinson opened the talks under the heading of Open Banking in Bloom. Oudéa was an animated speaker and his passion for innovation and technology was extremely evident. He started by telling the story of a bank manager who has a visit from a customer.

“I cannot feed my family, you have to help me,” the customer says.

The manager looks into the customer’s account and says, “If you spent less on buying new clothes each month, you could feed your family.”

It is this transactional data that banks have at their fingertips and which is used exclusively by them that will soon change with the EU Payments Services Directive (PSD2).

Robinson was quick to ask Oudéa how he sees the Directive, which comes into force in January 2018, will affect his business.

A bank, he said, has three roles: using cash to finance services, using its services to make payments, and collecting the cash deposits.

He was quick to acknowledge that the payment arena will become fragmented and that old banks will need new competencies – so what will be important will be the added value for their retail clients.

Here Robinson pushed Oudéa. He asked, ‘do you not see Apple and Amazon moving into Investment and Finance?’ Oudéa mused for a moment, then shrugged off the tech behemoths, citing compliance as a barrier for entry for the Silicon Valley Google, Apples and Amazon.

Despite the fact that the talk was billed as focussing on open banking, it was impossible for the enthusiastic Oudéa to not talk about innovation.

There are two sides to Société Générale’s operations– those in developed markets where retail banking is commonplace, and in territories where retail banking is in its infancy. To solve the problem of the unbanked Société Générale launched the electronic wallet, Yup. This was done through by investing in a Fintech Tagpay.

Oudéa believes that by investing in the new start up his bank was able to develop the electronic wallet more quickly, thus opening up retail banking to a whole new market.

For Oudéa, innovation has to start from the client needs, and IT and Business must work together to make it happen. This is something that he believes in so strongly that he spent time learning to code (Python) himself so he could understand the challenges ahead.

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