Most of my industry information has come from doing the IMTC Conferences for the past 10 years, from the panels and roundtables that I moderate or participate in. IMTC, as most event companies, had a rough year as we postponed IMTC LATAM in Buenos Aires, IMTC EMEA in London and IMTC ASIA in Vietnam. We decided not to postpone IMTC WORLD 2020 and do a virtual event. As I told my team, we had no idea what the outcome would be and we knew that we had to be creative and build from the ground up an event where, at the very least, it would be a learning experience that could shape our future.
We all have learned many lessons in 2020; we have probably implemented changes in our lives and in our work. Some may be temporary, some might be permanent, some we might not yet know. I think 2021 will be a year that will makes us better understand where we are all heading. Decisions that we take in 2021 will be probably more significant that the ones we took in 2020.
Our Virtual Event
I have to say that we are very satisfied with the results of our virtual IMTC WORLD 2020. We had close to 400 participants, 150 of them were the speakers and panelists that joined with their opinions and presentations. We learned that statistics were not easy to measure and that next time we need to fine-tune them. We had three Zoom rooms besides the main stage that presented information continuously: 80 hours of content in the Zoom rooms and an average of 200 attendees per room per day. The second day of the event we topped 877 participations; yes, one person going in and out counted as two. Two courses had together 500 students finishing the course even though most of them did not take the online test to be certified. The Compliance Course “The Shift to Digital” by Carolyn Dicharry had the most views but the other three, by Brandi Reynolds, Cruz Vargas and mine, were also very popular. Since all the sessions were recorded, participants are still viewing the conference sessions and the IMTC is releasing sessions to share with a wider public this wealth of information. If you were not a conference participant but have read this blog up to this point, then answer this email and request a free pass to watch the videos of the sessions or take the courses. If you take that step, you deserve it.
Not all participants were very happy with the event, I must admit. Participants that enjoy having the opportunity to discuss business face-to-face were understandingly unhappy, especially because IMTC WORLD has been a true gem since 2010 for face-to-face networking. These colleagues understood our limitations and provided great feedback that will contribute in our quest to provide better virtual networking tools. We also learnt that virtual participants are different than presential ones and we need to adjust expectations and marketing for that; we learnt that digital skills varied tremendously causing our customer service some trouble. And frustration by some. Most sponsors were satisfied with their investment although I must also admit that some participated to support our work and our efforts in such a difficult year, and we are extremely thankful for that. Some sponsors were unsatisfied with the software we used for our trade fair and we are actively demoing other vendors for the future. We had to humbly apologize.
We also learnt that virtual events need different team members that we had, different skills that I also learnt that I do not have. I am sure you might feel the same when we have been thrusted forward into learning so many skills in so little time.
I am thankful for 2020 for all the lessons we learnt. We launched our PNET virtual community and if you are a not a member yet, join now. We reached 930 members on December 31st. Our App is being developed and we should launch it in February or March. I am thankful that our consulting arm, Mohr World Consulting had the best year of its 20-year history. We did not see it coming and we have been blessed by a large number of new clients that we are helping with their needs as well as companies that are looking for us to present their services to our clients: fintechs, white label companies, payment processors, B2B firms, mobile wallet providers and banks. Without our consulting services we could not have maintained IMTC through this difficult year, even with the US Cares Act program that helped us survive.
Overall, we are thankful because we are more prepared for the future, for a 2021 that we still do not know what will bring. We have agreed on doing hybrid events and we already set the dates for the events in 2021 in Buenos Aires, London and Miami, where we will have Regliance in June and our WORLD event later in the year. Our IMTC WORLD 2021 at the Hard Rock Resort in November 2021 will be waiting for you in Miami. We will keep you posted with all the information.
Predictions for 2021
Our colleague Dan Webber’s blog1 on his 6 predictions for 2021 for the International Money Transfer and Cross-Border Payments industry (IMT &CBP) will serve as the basis for 2021 predictions for the industry. I am tagging along his good remarks. More comments were part of a Webinar hosted by our good friends and IMTC sponsors RemitOne, a leading money transfer software, on January 272 with co-panelists Nadeem Qureshi, CTO of USI Money and Walter D’Cruz , CEO of Moneo Solutions.
Six Predictions +1
1) Cash will still matter and to prove it, FXC provides a great chart showing the share of Cash vs. Digital of the major players in the industry. This is, as we said previously, because not all the growth from digital comes at the expense of cash.
2) Mobile and wallets will grow and although I agree, the growth is still very much confined to certain regions of the world. But it is moving forward everywhere and in many countries growing as informal channels shrink.
3) Consolidation will continue, a trend that slowed down in 2020 and only saw WorldRemit acquire Sendwave and Fleetcor acquiring AFEX, the NY based B2B company. I do expect 2021 to bring more mergers and acquisitions in our industry. As consultants we are actively looking for companies in the industry considering selling or merging.
4) Pricing will remain volatile with companies reacting differently to realities in the market, moving FX rates to try to acquire market share or increase revenues. I do not believe that digital channels in the sending markets are driving prices lower and with their perceived success in 2020 I don’t foresee pricing to consumers going down anytime soon.
5) Cross-border e-comm continues growth amid the general growth of this sector in domestic markets. The ease of cross-border payments and cross-border shipping (which has kept the airplanes flying) will continue to impact this growth. Cross-border ecommerce also fuels P2P money transfers, as migrants are actively participating in trade with their own countries, sending money one way or the other and fueling the growth of alternative international couriers, competing with the pricey UPS, DHL and FedEx.
6) More “X”-as-a-Service offerings are probably the one that I have been mostly invested in as part of my consulting work. White Labeling services in the IMT &CBP industry is fairly new and we are thrilled to be involved in developing Raas – Remittance-as-a-Service solutions, PaaS – Payment-as-a-Service solutions (cross-border payments that is) and CaaS – Crypto-as-a-Service solutions. Helping companies enter the US or Europe – and other countries, holding the hand of a RaaS, PaaS or CaaS provider, is the consulting assistance that I have been spending most of my time in 2020. And surely in 2021!
+1) Partnership in Steroids: Partnering has always been essential in the IMT &CBP industry: sending companies in origination and distribution companies in destinations. Now, to make it in this industry, to develop services, increase distribution, open channels, be more efficient, reduce costs, partnering is the game of the game. The increase in solutions, mostly coming for the tech solution side is astounding. There is so much diversity that it is very hard to keep up and be open to the potential benefits they might bring to small and medium sized companies – and large companies as well (although vendors will seek those first). As consultants for the industry we need to know what is available in the market as our practice shifts more and more on bringing these solutions to the table.
It will be, indeed, a very interesting 2021. In a new report by Oxford Economics3, commissioned by Western Union, respectfully challenges World Bank forecasts (“a further 7.5% slowdown in 2021 may be exceeded“). One of the conclusions reads: “Positive economic trends, sender economy recovery, sender resilience, and high demand for remittance from receiver countries could combine to support unexpected strength in remittance flows“. We hope we can see the pandemic in the rearview mirror soon and see if the forecasts and predictions hold.
1 http://bit.ly/3rN7J6B – 6 Predictions for 2021 in cross-border payments
3 http://bit.ly/3cy3cjv – The Remittance Effect: Global Citizens Emerge as Economic First Responders of the Developing World