Live from Money 20/20 2017

by Tracy Kraft, VP of Marketing

There’s no better time of the year for us at Marqeta than Money 20/20! We get to visit with so many customers, partners and ecosystem participants and see first hand the innovations coming to market, as well as get to talk a bit about our own work. The show has kicked off once again and we’re bringing you our insights on what we’re seeing and doing.

There’s no doubt that the startup ecosystem is alive and well. We see it every day from our home base in Oakland, but, here at Money 20/20, it’s great to be surrounded by seemingly the entire fintech community. Our own CEO Jason Gardner spoke on a panel yesterday, “Where’s the Tech in Fintech?. He was joined by Kabbage co-founder and Head of Operations Kathryn Petralia, PlaidCEO Zach Perret, NEA Ventures’ Ben Narasin and Propel Venture Partners’ Ryan Gilbert on stage to talk about what Ryan termed “the harder questions of the industry.”

The answer to this can be seen in how far startups have come in recent years. Both Zach and Jason acknowledged that seven years ago when both companies were getting going there wasn’t a lot of innovation happening. It was clear, however, that cash was on the decline and APIs were ascendent. Each startup on the panel has their own APIs and works with developers as a means to drive industry innovation.

“We prioritize on the user experience,” said Kathryn, adding that Kabbage is using technology to bring services to small businesses that they normally don’t get access to. It’s part of the recipe for success of Kabbage, which has loaned $4 billion to 130,000 small businesses.

Zach saw an opportunity to bring new underlying infrastructure to developers to build new products and services. So far, 10,000 banks have built on Plaid, and to further accelerate innovation, Plaid recently did a reverse pitch asking for ideas from startups and received 200 different proposals in what is surely a positive sign of things to come.

Long-time fintech investor and new NEA partner Ben Narasin noted that consumer and business financial behavior has fundamentally changed and this has gone a long way to creating opportunities that haven’t existed before. He compared it to how consumer and business behavior fundamentally changed in the early 1990s as the Internet emerged and information suddenly became, in his words, fast, free and perfect. “The same thing is now possible for transactions,” he said.

Jason said that even more innovation and change is coming as more terminals become NFC enabled. Apple confirmed that later on Sunday when Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Apple Pay, took the stage to talk about the progress of Apple Pay. Three years after first launching, Apple Pay now supports 4,000 issuers in 20 countries covering 70 percent of card payments with 67 of the Top 100 U.S. retailers accepting Apple Pay. “Tens of millions of customers love using Apple Pay because it’s fast, secure, and private,” she said.

Later in the evening, Stripe President John Collison, which operates on the acceptance side of the financial ledger, said they recognized early on that if all commerce activity were to migrate online, developers would be incredibly important to creating a new reality. “They are building these products,” he said.

In a panel with Affirm’s Max Levchin and Khosla Ventures’ Keith Rabois, both members of the PayPal Mafia, Max noted that if a fintech focused startup wants to make it over the long term, they need to expand their offerings into new areas. Also an investor in Marqeta, Max said the most interesting startups are the ones taking risk to do innovative things.

We saw some risks taken over the past 24 hours during the always-exciting Money 20/20 Hackathon when 500 individuals cranked on 122 projects. We were especially impressed with Omnipark from The Silver Logic, the Visa challenge winner who won the Grand Prize for their hack on creating a marketplace between parking spot owners and drivers in urban areas. Congratulations!

Also uplifting, we heard from a couple of top executives about fintech as a force for good. First Data CEO Frank Bisignano talked about how his team mobilized after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to provide free mobile credit and debit card readers to eligible business owners impacted by the storms. And then Mastercard Chief Product Officer Michael Miebach called on the industry to raise the bar when it comes to “creating real life impact in the lives of the unbanked and underserved.”

As always, the first day of Money 20/20 was filled with deep insights, analysis and great discussions. We’re excited about what today holds. Come by and see us at Booth #901!!