MoneyConf organisers may hold more events in Dublin
Fintech conference at RDS attracts more than 5,000 attendees from 84 countries
Web Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave gives the opening address on the first day of MoneyConf at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Web Summit co-founder and chief executive Paddy Cosgrave has said the events organiser may hold other conferences in Dublin following the opening of its fintech-focused conference in the capital.
Mr Cosgrave was speaking on the first full day of MoneyConf at the RDS. Some 5,137 attendees from 84 countries are attending the event, which has relocated from Madrid to Ireland.
With Web Summit having departed Dublin under a cloud two years ago when the flagship conference moved to Lisbon, Mr Cosgrave said it was great to be back with MoneyConf.
“Dublin is a fantastic city for hosting events up to 20,000 people,” he said, adding that MoneyConf will be based in Ireland for the foreseeable future.
The Web Summit previously cited capacity issues as one of a number of problems that led it to move its flagship conference to Portugal in 2016. The tech conference began in 2009 with less than 400 attendees and was attracting about 30,000 before it moved to Portugal. It now expects to attract about 70,000 attendees to this year’s event in November.
Mr Cosgrave didn’t add further detail about Web Summit’s future plans but said the RDS had a “huge opportunity” to hold more regular events in the science and technology field.
Among the key speakers at MoneyConf on Tuesday was Joe Lubin, co-founder of the popular cryptocurrency ethereum.
“The internet is awesome, but it is broken,” Mr Lubin told attendees.
Outlining the ways in which blockchain technology is set to bring about a revolution in terms of online security, he said the internet was inherently unsafe because it wasn’t developed with a natively-built money or identity construct at its heart.
“We have built a world of internet services that have turned out to be wonderful in so many ways, but they have outgrown the architecture of the internet and the web,” he said.
Mr Lubin said a more trustworthy, collaborative infrastructure, built on a public blockchain, would lead to “a radically free market architecture with low barriers to entry”.
Elsewhere, Sarah Friar, the Co Tyrone-born chief financial officer at Square, the payments firm established by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, said there may be plenty of hype around financial technology, but the reality is that most people still make payments offline.
“Today, 20 million small businesses in the US don’t accept electronics payments. In the UK, which is beginning to be a burgeoning market for us, 50 per cent of small companies don’t accept them,” she told attendees at MoneyConf. Founded in 2009, Square now handles more than $50 billion in transactions annually.
Ms Friar said banking had not been as disrupted as other industry sectors by digital transformation. However, she added that change is afoot, with start-ups leading the way.
“It is always harder for the incumbents to truly disrupt. They tend to come from tech stacks that are older, so it is much harder for them to be nimble and quick-footed,” she said.
“When we work with the banks it is slow-going. Even getting a non-disclosure agreement signed can be a three-month extravaganza, which hardly bodes well for the pace at which the sector is going to innovate,” Ms Friar added.