Payments and FinTech professionals at the EWPN Awards Dinner (Image credit: @meiharel1)
Cybertonica‘s Market Development Manager Melike Belli attended the European Women Payments Network (EWPN) Annual Conference & Awards on the October 15th-16th in Amsterdam. Melike was recently appointed to the role of EWPN Country Ambassador to Turkey where she will develop a new programme from scratch to provide support to women in FinTech and payment businesses. In this blog post, she is sharing her impressions from this year’s event.
In 2015, Martha Mghendi-Fisher founded the European Women Payments Network in Amsterdam as a network for women in FinTech, cards, payments, banking and financial services in Europe. Since then, the EWPN has been organising regular workshops and events bringing women together for industry-focused sessions to learn about issues and trends, network with peers and celebrate women’s achievements from across the entire ecosystem. Thanks to these events and workshops, women are given an opportunity to be part of a large support network including female experts, leaders, entrepreneurs and role models helping their professional growth in business.
I had the pleasure to attend this years’ awards ceremony and conference in Amsterdam on the October 15th-16th and to meet amazing women in payments and FinTech industries. I was there representing my Company, Cybertonica, an award-winning fraud prevention and payment risk management business based in the UK. As the EWPN’s Country Ambassador for Turkey, I met my fellow ambassadors of different countries in Europe, such as Switzerland, Spain, UK, France and Israel, and exchanged ideas for developing the networks in the countries we are representing.
At the Awards Dinner held on the October 15th, the female talent in the payments and FinTech industry was under the spotlight and companies and female professionals were awarded across five categories. The big news from the Awards ceremony was that the EWPN is moving its 2019 conference to be run alongside Money20/20 in a sponsorship deal, signaling the EWPN’s further growth.
Martha Mghendi-Fisher, the founder of the EWPN, opening the conference
Martha Mghendi-Fisher’s opening speech at the EWPN conference focused on the importance of finding your tribe – having a supportive and passionate team sharing the same vision to achieve great success together. Martha shared her belief that women in the payments industry should create solutions and businesses enabling inclusive environments to influence future generations, she underlined:
“If you see a gap in the workplace, do something. Don’t wait for someone to change things, because you are already in there. Also, try to bring humanity to the workplace to improve things for everyone.”
Then, CEO of Paysafe Acquiring & Card Solutions, Andrea Dunlop and Terrie Smith, CEO of DigiSEq Limited had a fireside chat on the history and faces of financial services from a female point of view. The pair also discussed the importance of being honest about the challenges women face in business. Terrie advised:
“If I could go back in time, I would go out and communicate sooner, and create my network, rather than isolating myself. Also, I would own my achievements and recognise my own successes, before someone else owns them. The innovations I created often were credited to other people throughout my career. So, I can suggest everyone in this room to be loud about your successes and be confident in yourself.”
Later, Executive Board Member of the EWPN Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly and the industry expert David Birch had a conversation on the topic “Will Robots need Passports?”. David mentioned that the future will be about how to authenticate and identify people. He said the friction caused by poor authentication is overwhelming, and the industry needs to work hard to solve this problem. The pair then discussed the unconscious bias in AI and how the industry can make unconscious bias conscious or at least transparent.
Financial Inclusion & Women panel discussed the challenge of financial inclusion for women. Catherine Wines, Co-Founder & Director of WorldRemit talked about the importance of mobile money and M-Pesa and how it enabled financial inclusion by transforming individual mobile phones into a payment method in Africa 15 years ago. She said:
“Even though they don’t have a bank account, mobile money enabled unbanked people to access the system which was not available to them before.”
FinTech Funding panel focused on the access and availability of funds for FinTechs and shared that access to finance is the biggest barrier for women to entrepreneurship. The panellists also discussed the importance of having the right investors to back your business. Daria Dubinina, CEO of Crassula said:
“You have to do your due diligence to know what type of a company you are, so that you identify the type of investor you need. It is very crucial that you find the right match, an investor who will share the same values and vision with you as you are in it for the long run.”
Fostering Diversity in FinTech panellists talked about the importance of having diverse teams to build diverse products that will be used by different customer categories. In addition, Sylvie Boucheron-Saunier, Senior Vice President at ACI Worldwide focused on the importance of being happy at work, and said:
“According to a recent study, happy employees are 20% more productive than the unhappy employees. This ratio goes up to 37% in sales teams. Being happy at work affects employees’ productivity therefore the business itself.”
The conference ended with the last session from Charlie McMurdie, Former Head of Economic and Cyber Crime at Scotland Yard. She shared her experience and views on the impact of cyberattacks on businesses, especially the damage caused to company reputation, and the impact on wider society.
Charlie McMurdie, Former Head of Economic and Cyber Crime at Scotland Yard, delivering her speech on cyber security
The EWPN Annual Conference & Awards was a big success and definitely an eye-opener event. Massive congratulations to the co-founders, Martha Mghendi-Fisher, Nadja van der Veer and Silvia Mensdorff-Pouilly as well as the whole EWPN team! It was wonderful to meet the tribe of inspiring women in payments and FinTech. Cybertonica team received a full debriefing to inform our policy for future gender parity in the team. A good first step!
As the Country Ambassador for Turkey, I look forward to hosting our inaugural meet-up in Istanbul very soon. I plan to travel there for the organisation of the network soon and encourage all to support us in Turkey! Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be involved as sponsors or in any way!