Fintech Week: why getting out of the office proved just the tonic after years of WFH and cancelled events
We all know that too much sitting around is bad for you. Indeed, there are plenty of studies to prove it. So it’s important to get out, to break up the routine, so to speak.
That said, there are probably more than a few of us who, thanks to pandemic-driven WFH culture, have gotten a little bit too comfortable at our desks. After all, in today’s digital era, it’s easy to convince yourself that you don’t have time to step away from the screen.
But in a bid to break free of the chains that bind me to the workstation, I’ve decided to attend more industry events, to get out into the big wide world. And what better place to start this exciting new journey than the tremendous gathering that is Fintech Week London.
This year’s innovation extravaganza took place at etc.venues’ site in Houndsditch over five days in mid July, and featured a two-day core conference packed with speakers and thought leaders from across the sector, including Sarah Williams-Gardener from Fintech Wales, HSBC’s Rita Martins and Citi’s Ronit Ghose to name but a few.
Hot topics pointing to resilience and growth in financial technology
Talks by individual and panel sessions covered everything from crypto regulation and BaaS to decentralised finance, embedded finance and diversity.
Embedded finance is really gaining traction thanks to the increasing maturity of open banking regulatory frameworks, which is driving significant change across the financial landscape. 10x Banking Chief Client Officer Dr Leda Glyptis gave one of the event highlights with a keynote speech about the emerging business models that are leveraging open and embedded finance within the context of regulatory maturity, focusing on the monetisation options platform economics opens to the industry (we are planning to write about this in a separate article in the future).
Dr Glyptis has previously talked about change and opportunities that embedded finance can deliver. How we talk about these breakthroughs matters as well. For example, Fintech Week chair Chris Skinner, who gave a keynote speech titled ‘The Coming Age of the Fintech Industry’, prefers the term ‘invisible’ to embedded. He believes that the word embedded is an inside-out view when we need to be looking outside in.
In a recent blog, he said that “as a customer, I don’t think about your thing – it’s just there, seamlessly and invisibly doing its thing. The flat earth view is the inside-out view of embedded; the outside-in view is the customer view of invisible.”
It makes sense but ‘embedded’ is now firmly embedded as a term and that seems unlikely to change. So too is the trend for banks and fintechs to work together in growing invisible user experiences across a range of business and consumer use cases.
Decentralising the future, one innovation at a time
The other big theme I picked up on at Fintech Week was DeFi. A plethora of talks about the growth of Web 3.0, taking in crypto and open banking, demonstrated the exciting evolution happening in digital currencies.
Pretty much all Web 3.0 bases were covered. One session brought together thought leaders from the Financial Conduct Authority, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to explore how international approaches were evolving to serve crypto markets. Meanwhile, another talk featuring Mode’s CEO Rita Liu looked at the differences between centralisation and decentralisation.
Now, it’s fair to say it’s been something of a turbulent year in crypto, understandably attracting mainstream media attention and much chatter within the industry itself. But perhaps the most fascinating thing, as shown by Fintech Week, is the fact that crypto innovators aren’t wasting much time talking about woes. A resilient, optimistic bunch, they’re focussed on where technology is taking us next.
As far as I can see, business leaders in this space know that London is emerging as a global crypto hub and whatever challenges confront them this year, the direction of travel is one of growth and collaboration with innovators across the industry.
A changed man: why networking is the new WFH
Speaking of which, I’m pleased to say that getting out of the office did me a world of good. In addition to lots of learning, it was a much-needed opportunity to meet peers and contacts in person.
Since my return to the office, I’ve been keen to remind the team that while video conferencing tech has brought many benefits in recent years, meeting like-minded folk over a coffee at an event like Fintech Week is where inspiration happens and knowledge is gained.
In fact, there’s a key point here: the perception of what is happening in an industry that you gain from meeting people in the flesh compared to sourcing all your information online is often very different. You get detail, opportunities and above all optimism.
And that has got to be healthier than spending all of your time sitting in front of a screen.
What fintech events have you been to this year? We’d love to know what’s inspired you to innovate in 2022.
Founder & MD, FS Partnership