Fintech Meetup’s Virtual Format Evolves to In-Person Event; 30,000 Meetings On Tap in Las Vegas
Updated: Feb 10
By W.B. King
An “innovative, creative partnership experience” is how Fintech Meetup’s President and Co-Founder Jon Lear described the pioneering industry conference to Finopotamus.
Debuting in 2021 as a virtual event – a direct response to the pandemic – more than 2,100 attendees participated in approximately 19,400 15 minute one-on-one meetings. Last year, Lear noted that 25,249 meetings were scheduled for 2,255 participants from 1,097 organizations. One-third of participants were C-level and 54% were vice president and above.
What makes Fintech Meetup 2023 different? The event will take place at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas from March 19-22. Lear estimates that with more than 3,000 attendees expected, the conference will be the biggest industry event for the first quarter.
“Attendees can kick off the year in the right way and identify partners, which is really exciting,” he said, noting that the Fintech Meetup was created by the founders of Money20/20. “Fintech Meetup is the only event to use proprietary technology to create an incredibly efficient event that delivers real results and measurable ROI.”
Another differentiator, Lear noted, is that Fintech Meetup is offering credit unions with $100 billion or less in assets a free ticket and $750 to cover travel expenses. The response to the campaign, which ends February 24, he said, has been “excellent,” as many credit unions lack funds required to send executives to industry events.
Adding to the Tech Stack
Despite being an in-person event this year, the organizers haven’t abandoned the unique “meetup” philosophy as it’s estimated that more than 30,000 15-minute, in-person meetings will take place onsite during the conference.
“The ability to have access to so many quick meetings was of high value,” said MSU Federal Credit Union’s Chief Digital Strategy and Innovation Ben Maxim who attended the first two virtual conferences. “It was a good way to meet and vet fintechs quickly and then set up next steps.”
Over that two-year period, Maxim estimated that he had 20 “meaningful conversations” with fintechs with four or five “meetups” resulting in potential pilot conversations and/or adding fintech solutions to the credit union’s tech stack.
Maxim will head to Las Vegas for a Fintech Meetup hat trick. “I’m looking forward to the in-person aspect and having deeper conversations,” he said, noting that at the virtual conference, when the 15-minute meeting elapsed, the app automatically sent him to his next scheduled meeting.
“It’s cool to bring credit union people into one space, especially the ones trying to be innovative because when it was virtual you didn’t know what credit unions were there and maybe that was the piece missing for me the last two years,” he said.
Unification Equals Credit Union Survival
Over the course of the conference, attendees will have the opportunity to see 275-plus speakers covering the latest innovations in payments, banking and financial services industry, including dedicated sessions for banks and credit unions as well more than 65 industry-driven content sessions. Lear explained that along with 200-plus onsite sponsors and exhibitors showcasing the latest fintech innovations and solutions, there will be a number of “peer group discussions” led by bank and credit union executives.
Calling it the “mother of all collaborators,” Curql Collective President and CEO Nick Evens told Finopotamus that his company, along with Reseda Group, CU-2.0, Constellation and CMFG Ventures, are hosting a curated event on Wednesday March 22. The idea is to bring together credit unions and selected fintechs for a half-day of pitches and presentations.
“We are all doing similar things in the credit union industry, that being promoting fintech collaboration,” he said. “If credit unions choose not to collaborate with technology companies that can enhance their mission they may not be around much longer.”
The Des Moines, Iowa-based Curql Collective is a credit union-owned strategic investment fund providing funding for several fintechs that serve the credit union industry.
The noted five companies, he said, all believe that the future of the industry requires unification. “It is a special event where credit unions can carve out some of our own time among like-minded people and do some deeper dives on some of the fintech that are impacting our business models.”
When asked why he thinks it’s important for credit unions to attend this particular conference, Evens said credit union executives have to be more aware of what is “coming at them” from a technology perspective and also learn how best to collaborate with those fintechs that understand the credit union movement.
“They need to make decisions on what’s best for their members,” he said. “In other words, they do not have to go it alone when it comes to evaluating what is in the market technologically.”
MSU Federal Credit Union’s Maxim echoed these comments, noting that fintechs today are looking for “meaningful partnerships” with credit unions opposed to the notion held just five years ago that fintechs were looking to “eat our lunch.”
Finding the Right Partners
For Prizeout CEO David Metz, this year marks his second Fintech Meetup. He shared that his company will be hosting a happy hour geared toward connect likeminded credit unions, banks and fintechs.
“Innovation is always around us, so I’m looking forward to being in the energy and spirit of the conference,” he told Finopotamus.
The New York-based Prizeout is an ad-tech company working across the gaming, banking/credit union, gaming, crypto, gig economy, payroll and finance industries, Metz explained. The mission: to turn cash withdrawals into a growth solution for e-commerce and retail businesses.
The company recently integrated with Q2’s digital banking platform, which Metz noted, has “drastically” changed its approach to working with credit unions.
“As we ventured into the financial institutions space, we knew that trying to integrate with each credit union one by one, would be tedious. And while we are a technology company, our technology was not yet proven for the industry,” he continued. “By integrating with Q2, we not only gained access to their network of credit unions, we (more importantly) were able to build trust and credibility in a new industry.”
When Metz heads to Las Vegas in March, he plans on using Fintech Meetup as a versatile tool, allowing for further insights into the credit union space.
“We believe there is a huge opportunity in the financial institution space and are eager to explore it,” he said. “At the end of the day, every bank or credit union member/customer has a readily available balance and is looking to stretch their dollar further.”
As Lear and the team at Fintech Meetup prepare for the first in-person conference, they do so with unbridled excitement. Every year, he said the conference grows, drawing more and more attendees who develop meaningful tech partnerships centered on delivering best-in-class services to credit union members and banking customers.
“Whether you’re looking for digital account opening or customer onboarding solutions, payments or regtech solutions, or treasury and cash management solutions, Fintech Meetup has them all,” he noted. “You’ll find all the right partners to help you attract new customers and members as well as better serving your existing ones.”