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Women in Payments Europe 2023: Two days of celebrating women in financial leadership


It was another remarkable event for industry leaders to explore the rapidly evolving payments landscape at the Women in Payments Symposium EMEA. A wide array of timely and crucial topics were discussed at this year’s two-day event centered around the theme “Women – Driving the Pulse of Payments”. TFN was a media partner at the solicit event and here’s a roundup of all that happened last week at the two day event.

Day 1

The first day began with an inspiring session on ‘Leading Your Career to Success’ moderated by Cecilia Lek, Vice President, Account Management, Mastercard. As the payments industry undergoes rapid transformation, the panel discussed strategies for women to navigate the constantly changing landscape to develop and progress their careers. Four executives shared their career journeys, emphasising how they leveraged networking, mentorship, and sponsorship opportunities. They also addressed the obstacles and challenges they encountered and how finding fulfilment in their careers helped propel them to new heights.

Following that was a panel titled “Crypto, Blockchain and Web3 – What Will the Future of Payments Look Like Through a Crypto Lens?,” moderated by Dr Ruth Wandhöfer, an expert in the field of banking and one of the foremost authorities on transaction banking, regulation and fintech innovation. The panel delved into the necessary factors for the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, including a better user experience, stablecoins/CBDCs, regulatory compliance, and brand adoption. To reduce crypto volatility, there needs to be more transparency and data sharing within a compliant provider ecosystem. The panel also touches on the importance of a user-centric approach in Web 3.0, with a focus on data privacy and consent-based sharing. 

The day culminated with a Networking and Awards Cocktail, providing attendees with an opportunity to engage with peers and industry leaders. The event included an awards ceremony that acknowledged the achievements of exceptional women in the payments industry. The relaxed setting facilitated meaningful conversations and allowed attendees to reflect on the day’s insightful discussions.

Day 2

Hemlata Narasimhan, President of Elavon Europe at Elavon Europe, moderated an Executive Panel session on “Payments are Hot!” The panel explored the rapid shift towards digitalization; how collaboration between FIs, fintechs, and technology providers is becoming increasingly prevalent; and how to achieve career success in this exciting industry.

A series of breakout sessions ensued for the rest of the morning, including this one: ‘Are crypto and digital currencies a viable alternative to traditional payments?’ Traditional payment companies had been increasingly developing crypto products to transfer money, but were these really faster and cheaper? What could have been expected from CBDC adoption, and would it have modernised the banking landscape? Moderated by Hannah Lynch, Product Manager at Blockdaemon, the panel explored the benefits and challenges of cryptocurrencies and CBDC adoption for businesses and consumers.

A second breakout stream focused on ‘Accelerating diversity, equity and inclusion in the global financial industry – what’s next? Can ESG initiatives help drive the financial inclusion agenda?’ Moderated by Akansha Dimri, Founder and Editor-in-chief of TFN, the panel explored how Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are a priority for financial institutions around the world, and many have the basics in place. However, an estimated 1.4 billion adults are unbanked and a significant number of them are women living in rural areas. The panel discussed establishing access through partnerships with mobile network operators, microfinance institutions, payment service providers, and banks.

A third breakout session explored progressive leadership in 2023. The panel examined various aspects of leadership amidst uncertainty and unparalleled changes in the labour force. They discussed strategies to ensure a successful talent pipeline, promote diversity in leadership ranks, and address the skilled workforce shortage. 

Following these was another series of breakout sessions about ‘open finance’, closing the global financial inclusion gap, and the “Queen Bee” syndrome. Next came lunch, and after that, a panel on the changing face of payments, focusing on Gen Z’s impact on retail and banking services, moderated by Maria Campbell, COO of Griffin Bank. The panel unpacked influential innovations, discussed future-proof payment strategies, and explored how innovation could mitigate security challenges.

Another series of breakout sessions then came, before the final stretch of Day 2 saw an entertaining Metaverse game show that provided an interactive opportunity to test attendees’ knowledge and learn more about the Metaverse’s potential in fintech and payment innovation. The game show host was Nathalie Oestermann, COO of Outlier Ventures, who brought attendees into a parallel universe complete with VR, AR, avatars, and holograms. 

Then came a panel moderated by Lisa Scott, CEO of Europe,, on the cost of living crisis and changing customer needs and behaviours during challenging times. The experts explored new technology, brands across industries that have shown up for their customers and how to shift from promise to purpose and better serve underbanked and unbanked customers around the world.

To wrap up the event, Marieke Flament, CEO of the Near Foundation, gave a closing keynote on how the promises of crypto and Web3 are being delivered while the banking system is further weakened by the aftermath of SVB, Silvergate, Credit Suisse and others. Mass adoption of Web3 is rapidly becoming a reality, with nearly six in ten institutional investors (58%) having invested in digital assets globally. DeFi continues to grow, as Market research firm GWI suggests that as much as 10.2% of global internet users aged 16 to 64 own crypto. The future of payments will be shaped by the developments of this financial model. She shared how at least a third of Interbrand’s top 100 global brands have already entered Web3. 

Overall, the event was packed with valuable insights and a lineup of inspiring trailblazers from the EMEA payments domain and beyond; dynamic presentations; lively panel discussions, and valuable networking opportunities. As always, it was a springboard for fresh ideas and new connections, ensuring that those who attended left feeling motivated and equipped to make a lasting impact in the world of payments.

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