This year I have attended four major FinTech conferences – Money2020, Finovate London and New York, and Sibos Innotribe. I have met with hundreds of startups, talked with maybe a thousand people. Some thoughts:
All of them are growing – more companies, larger attendance – all in synch with the overall worldwide “boom” in fintech. Some formats are OK and continue to work well – Finovate model is scalable for now, Inotribe has been constantly evolving/changing – others have reached their limit – Money2020 was an organisational disaster in 2014, and clearly needs to evolve if it wants to survive past the current boom.
Panelists are a mixed bunch – Innotribe does a very good job selecting people that have something interesting to say (yes, that includes me ;-)), Money2020 has a large collection of “keynotes” and “panels” that are undisguised sales pitches. And no panels at Finovate, just short pitches and booths.
“Real” innovation is everywhere, again with different focus. Finovate is migrating to become a trade show for new fintech companies, so most company reps are in sales mode, less fund raising mode. Money2020 has something for each category, from large vendors to tiny, from selling to fundraising – the challenge is to navigate who is doing each… Innotribe is doing a good job of focusing on incipient fintech, however ignoring the mid-size players that are important market shakers.
Best value continues to be the physical presence of hundreds of people you want to meet in one location, accelerating networking, deal making, etc. I have even seen people that do not attend the conference itself, instead book a hotel in the same week and have lots of meetings in town since “everybody” is there anyway…
As for the innovation content, a lot of overlapping themes, although one can almost get the full picture at Money2020 – providing they can work 25hours per day during the conference. Finovate is strictly about companies, no panels, and it works well at current size, even with some me-too participants. Innotribe is doing the best job educating the audience in a more objective way, in line with the collaborative nature of its mission.
All provide an excellent way of getting the “pulse” of fintech innovation, and worth attending in 2015. See you there…