Money20/20 USA 2019 Roundup
Recently our CEO Mark Richard and our CTO AJ Holloway traveled to Las Vegas for the annual Money20/20 Conference at the Venetian. Upon their arrival back home, I sat down with them to ask them a few questions about the event.
Jason Wiseman: Welcome home! I was hoping that you could first tell the readers a bit about what Money20/20 is all about.
AJ Holloway: Thanks. Money20/20 is an annual event that focuses on “fintech” or financial technology. The folks you typically see involved in an event like this are going to be credit card payment processors, banks, tax processors, and the like. Think Mastercard, Intuit, and Paypal.
Jason: That makes sense – really anything that has to do with money and technology. Was there anything you learned at the conference that surprised you? What did you see that you weren’t expecting?
Mark Richard: We were both quite surprised to learn how much emphasis there was on Identity Verification. We know that customers demand convenience, but with convenience comes an increased opportunity for fraud and room for bad actors. Identity verification has become critically important to prevent fraud while still allowing quick and easy account registrations.
Jason: What do you mean by identity verification? Is this like our ID Validator product?
Mark: Well, there are two types of identity verification. One is where the identity is compared with an ID document, such as a driver’s license or passport. The second, and where Martin Data offers a solution, is a comparison of the applicant’s information with a high accuracy database. As you mentioned, Martin Data offers unique solutions in identity verification, by providing not just pass/fail responses, but also warning flags to trigger further investigations where warranted. It was good to see the market need for identity verification products is robust, and that Martin Data offers unique and valuable solutions in this space.
AJ: Another surprise was the interest in data to verify businesses. We offer two solutions in this space. One is our dual-soured business database, which provides detailed information about every business in the US. The second very unique product is the Cannabis-Related Businesses Database. This is a monthly subscription production which provides a list with full details of the approximately 5,000 cannabis-related businesses in the US. Both of these offerings from Martin Data had high interest from numerous attendees
Jason: I’m sorry, but cannabis related businesses? Why is that important?
Mark: Well, under federal law, cannabis is still illegal and the federal government considers income from these to be illegal income. Naturally if your income is from an illegal source, you’re not eligible for certain federally-backed loans. Beyond that, some businesses just refuse to interact with any other business they consider to be immoral. Regardless of how you feel on the subject, it can be very useful to identify whether a business is related to the cannabis industry.
AJ: It’s a strange new world, isn’t it?
Jason: Absolutely! So back to the “tech” part of “fintech”: What evidence did you see that technology has been changing the way the financial industry operates?
AJ: The major technology changes involved artificial intelligence. Whether in scanning for fraud activity, in facial recognition, or in modeling the way an individual interacts with their phone apps, artificial intelligence seems to be the hot area of implementation into fintech products and technology. Interestingly, while blockchain was the buzzword last year, it was not as much of a technology emphasis this year.
Jason: Ok, two things: One, modeling the way we interact with our phones? And two, I still don’t understand what blockchain is.
AJ: Haha, yes – lots of people are not attempting to detect fraud by using machine learning to track how you use certain apps on your phone. This way, when someone else uses your phone, it can say, “why don’t you enter your PIN one more time – just so we can verify it’s actually you.”
Jason: Interesting – and blockchain?
AJ: In short: it’s a way of making financial transactions verifiable against a public register while, in most cases, keeping the parties anonymous. It’s not really something we do here.
Jason: I still don’t get it, but never mind. Mark, what were some of the unaddressed needs you saw at the conference? Was there anything people asked about that nobody seemed to have a solution for?
Mark: The major unaddressed needs in the market seem to revolve around verifying businesses. Like I mentioned before, person identity verification methods are now well established in the market, but business verification products are not readily available. A lot of folks discussed their business financial products, such as banking, loans, or factoring – but the process of verifying that the business is legitimate and, in some cases, determining they are stable enough to receive credit, is still tediously manual work.
AJ: Exactly! The demand exists for a business verification product to parallel the person identity verification product. This is Martin Data’s next product development undertaking.
Jason: I can’t wait to see what you come up with next! Keep me posted!