Money20/20 USA Monday wrap-up: Payments highlights

Money20/20 USA kicked off this weekend, live and in-person in Las Vegas. Banking Circle Group is on the ground for FinTech’s biggest conversations – here are the highlights from Monday.

Rising adoption of crypto payments

While the wider debate over the future of blockchain and cryptocurrency rumbles on, crypto is gaining real ground in the payments space, digital payments became de-facto during the COVID-19 pandemic and alternative payment methods are flourishing.

According to Jess Houlgrave, Head of Crypto Strategy at, there is real utility for crypto in creating a more efficient payments system for the future.

“With crypto, we have the opportunity to build payment rails that are on new technology, that are reliable, very fast, and very cost effective,” Jess said during a session on the Showtime stage.

“We are starting – and I really mean starting, because I think it is very early days – to see this as a technology being implemented in use cases for payments both on the B2B side, and the B2C and C2B side,” she went on to say. “There is a lot of efficiency we can gain from it.”

May Zabaneh, VP of Product, Blockchain, Crypto & Digital Currencies at PayPal, spoke about the value that crypto payments can bring for small businesses who are reliant on cash flow.

“There are a lot of things when you think about speed, cost and efficiency, that crypto has a potential to solve,” May said. “For us, it’s a super interesting time to think about how we can take this technology, leverage the potential of it, and then scale that to drive efficiency and inclusivity in the ecosystem.”

Benefits of stablecoin

The volatility of crypto assets is often cited as a hindrance in the journey to gaining widespread adoption. But the reduced levels of risk associated with stablecoins is helping to overcome some of those barriers. is seeing “huge demand” for its capability that allows merchants to be paid out in stablecoin rather than bank transfer, processing $1bn in settlements since the launch of the feature this year.

“When you think about stablecoin – and I think that’s really been a huge driver in the payments space for crypto adoption – you do eliminate this volatility risk, and that has obvious benefits for merchants and for businesses,” Jess explained.

May said that PayPal is interested in exploring the potential of stablecoins and is open to engaging with CBDCs. She also emphasised the importance of stability in crypto payments’ scalability, and in applying them to an e-commerce use case.

“In order for [crypto payments] to become mainstream, they have to be easily accessible and adoptable, and there has to be utility around them,” she added.

Future of blockchain and micropayments

In a separate session, JP Morgan’s Head of Payments, Takis Georgakopolous, sat alongside tennis champion Serena Williams who discussed her investments in the FinTech space through Serena Ventures.

According to Takis, blockchain technology has the “underlying capability” to be a payment method of the future, particularly when it comes to micropayments. In many emerging markets, there is already a great deal of innovation happening around micropayments, often bypassing the traditional banking and payments network and relying on mobile.

“When you go to places like Africa, you don’t have to go through the 55 steps that the US or Europe require, nor do you get stuck in sub-optimal solutions because people are used to them,” Takis explained.

“You can start from scratch – everyone has a phone and the phone becomes the payment method. It becomes instant payment and verification methods. We saw it in China with WeChat and Alibaba and we see it in Africa in exactly the same way. For me, that’s a very, very, exciting evolution of payments. It means that in the future, companies like ourselves will be much more easily able to support payments in those parts of the world.”

Banking Circle Group companies offer a range of payments services, including global payments and cryptocurrency settlements from Banking Circle, business payments from B4B Payments, and embedded finance services from YouLend