Marta Guasch and Saskia Tempest-Radford have just returned from MoneyConf. Here are their takes of the 5 recurrent themes from this year’s conference.

1.   The B Word

The blockchain hype clearly shows no sign of stopping. With over a third of the talks focused on the applications of this technology and its corresponding cryptocurrencies, and leading journalists consistently quizzing panellists on their predictions for the industry conference-wide, blockchain came up trumps again and again.

But fintech and blockchain are not only sharing the journey together. From fintech to the music business, it’s evidently going to have a profound impact on a variety of industries, disrupting current data storage by bringing more transparency to transactions alongside enhanced security and privacy.

Exciting times to come! With a huge potential to greatly simplify the financial services industry, it’s not hard to see blockchain driving a digital evolution for a while yet.

2.   Trust

From fake news to open banking, this year has been all about trust. MoneyConf was no exception. Banking has historically revolved around trust, but consumers are ever-changing, wanting to trust banks in a new way.

The trust economy was on display at MoneyConf in many forms. As anticipated in the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, technology is crucial for building trust. From emerging cryptocurrencies, to the integration of innovative fintech companies working with traditional banks, trust became the focus of the majority of talks at the event.

3.   The future is partnerships

Banks used to be dismissive towards new and emerging fintech companies yet now they’re realising that not all fintechs are here to displace them. Collaboration is key, and services could be better shipped off to strategic fintech partners.

With banks as larger, more traditional infrastructures, fintechs are often more able to offer higher levels of personalisation and speed for customers. Equally fintechs often lack the ability to scale sufficiently as they don’t have the brand recognition that many larger banks do.

Partnerships are a win-win situation for both banks and fintechs, and the recent regulatory changes such as Open Banking and PSD2 are starting to enable this cooperation, leading to an exciting state of transformation in the banking ecosystem.

4.   Women in Tech 

Gender imbalance was another hot area discussed at the conference. Low representation of women leaders in top firms and debates looking at how to diversify management teams was top-of-mind for most speakers. The solution? Still unknown. But prioritising diversification and preparing future leaders by encouraging women to get involved in the fintech industry can certainly make a difference.

5.   Increasingly cashless societies

Looking at the future of fintech, another key trend discussed throughout the conference was the move towards a cashless society. Banking is changing for both consumers and enterprises, and the growth of entirely online banks, such as Monzo or Starling, have established themselves as digital alternatives to high street banks.

Although finance leaders agreed that the future may never be 100% cashless, they do agree that consumers are consistently looking for more ways to pay, with contactless and online banking raising the stakes. The way payments are made within and beyond borders is continuously changing and will continue to change dramatically every day. Watch this space.