Money20/20 Recap: Key Takeaways from Day 1

money 20/20 europe

It’s finally here and it’s back with a bang! The flagship event in the fintech calendar, Money20/20 promised to be bigger and better than ever after a few years of Covid uncertainty – and it definitely hasn’t disappointed. 

FinTech leaders have gathered at Money20/20 since 2012. It’s where the community unites to create new and disruptive ways to move, manage, spend and borrow money  – and this year is no different. With online and in-person attendees, the first day has got off to a great start!

Join us at the end of every day of this year’s event as we dig into the top takeaways and wrap up the key insights live from Amsterdam.

The rising threat of cybersecurity attacks

Cybersecurity threats have been increasing in recent years, with the pandemic having a significant impact.The progress of digital transformation has allowed cyber criminals to take advantage of new ways of targeting organisations and companies now working remotely.

As the criminal underworld becomes increasingly intelligent, hatching remarkably complex and convincing plans to attack financial institutions, businesses and individuals, our focus on preventing these attacks must not falter. Additionally, the ongoing war in Ukraine has led financial and regulated organisations to feel the veritable, and looming, threat of Russian (and its supporters) sanctioned cyberattacks. 

In a panel discussion this morning with Tink and VISA, the CEO of VISA Europe shared her fears of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks:  “To do cybersecurity well, you have to be constantly paranoid. […] this thing never stops, it always continues. It evolves all the time.” 

Anti-money laundering and fraud continue to merge in relation to cybercrime and cyber-enabled financial crime. Unscrupulous individuals are often seeking to launder illicit funds generated from cybercrime through the financial systems.

Having invested an estimated £9bn in cyber defences over the last five years and citing close to 1000 employees dedicated to combatting cyberattacks and bad actors, VISA is certainly leading the charge in fighting online crime. But, as one of the world’s leading banking institutions, it is, of course, expected that they have the best, most rigorous defence mechanisms in place to keep their customers safe. 

As discussed at length in this morning’s panel, the methods enlisted by criminals to engage in online transgressions aren’t static. It’s critical to keep in mind that the complex schemes perpetrated by these bad actors will only evolve and develop as markets, businesses and individuals become more and more reliant on the Internet. 

Mounting pressure on social media companies to combat financial criminals

Another popular topic on the Money 2020 agenda discussed how fraudsters continue to evolve the methods of committing financial crime online. So much so that pressure is mounting on the internet companies – social media platforms, in particular – to do more to prevent cybercrime from occurring on their watch. 

Any number of financial crimes can start on social media. From selling goods on Facebook marketplace which never materialise, to money launderers enlisting ‘money mules’ and using their bank accounts to wash the proceeds of crime, and advertising fake investment schemes. 

In this afternoon’s headline session with Anne Boden, CEO of Starling Bank, she shared the reasons why they had refused to place any digital ads with Meta (Facebook adverts) for this very reason.

“Starling decided not to place any ads with the Meta platform until they decided to put better controls in place because those platforms are taking revenue, taking fees from criminals. And unless we actually resolve that problem, we’re going to have substantial fraud taking place in the financial system. Therefore, we’re urging all social media companies to ensure that fraudsters do not pretend to be financial services companies on their platforms.” 

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has actively demonstrated its concern over the use of social media to advance scams and other financial crime. In 2020, 1204 warnings were issued by the FCA about possible scams, up 100% year-on-year, according to a report from Bloomberg.

The future economy built by creators

While some may have thought them an unexpected guest at Money20/20, OnlyFans certainly left nothing to the imagination as they stood their ground and championed their platform as part of the very foundation for the future economy: an economy built by creators via sites like OnlyFans, Etsy, TikTok and Instagram. 

According to Vox, someone with 10,000 to 50,000 followers can earn anywhere between £30,000 and £80,000 per year. Influencers with millions of followers, on the other hand, can earn tens of thousands of pounds per post. Top influencers can make hundreds of thousands of pounds to millions per year.

OnlyFans alone is allowing creators from all genres to earn over £6 billion in revenue by sharing the content they create with their fans. 

This morning’s headline session saw their Chief Strategy and Operations Officer and Chief Financial Officer take to the stage to change the audience’s perception of the ‘side hustle’ and encourage financial institutions to recognise that content creators are, and will be, a critical part of the future global economy.

While the debate over the kind of content shared on OnlyFans continues, the proliferation of illegal content involving underage performers, trafficking or censored material continues online as a whole. Such activities rarely exist in isolation, and often are linked to other criminal activities including money laundering and financial crime. As such, financial institutions found to be dealing in illegally-earned funds risk enabling money laundering to occur and could face their own visit from the authorities.

The company’s CFO, Lee Taylor explained their viewpoint on the perceptions of content creators, like those on OnlyFans, from across the financial sector: “We’re desperate for the financial community to recognise that it’s not a side hustle, it’s not an extra bit of earnings. People are making a living through legal content on the site, so who are we to draw a line as to what is acceptable and what’s not? […] we want financial institutions to look past the perception and to come and look at what we do and how we do it.”

On stage at Money20/20, Taylor also explained more about the robust KYC measures in place which must be satisfied in order to generate funds as a creator of OnlyFans. “I’ve had many meetings recently where we start off in a room with an MLRO who is extremely knowledgeable and almost has a glint in their eye of: ‘I’m going ask all these horrible questions!’. 45 minutes later, they’re in shock and awe – I think we were told we could package up our KYC procedure and sell it to the banking markets.”

Meet the NorthRow Team

If you’re at Money20/20 this week, please stop by and visit the NorthRow team on stand E66 in Hall 7! Or, if you (like me!) are keeping up-to-date with all the latest Money20/20 news from a distance, follow along to our live updates over on LinkedIn or pop back to our blog at the end of each day for a roundup of the most fascinating topics from the event.

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