Greetings from the city of lost wages! I’m in Las Vegas attending the Money 2020 Expo. Rich is the irony that the future of money is to be found in the city that is totally unhinged from reality! It’s to the hyper-oxygenated air of faux-gilded palaces and concrete pyramids that mere mortals come to escape financial reality and allow the travails of life to fall away. This is where we can dream of jackpots and shiny toys, where anyone can run the tables and walk away with $1M for a $20 wager. It is in Vegas that HelloWallet meets Goodbye Wallet.
So what is the point of Money2020? This is about the future of money. My first thought on reading the conference title “2020” was: “is this about where money will be in 8 years?” But then I quickly realized after reading the conference agenda that placing a time horizon on the future being contemplated this week is irrelevant to the purpose. 2020 is about clarity of vision. Of course we all escape to Vegas to see clearly! Ensconced in this temple of luxury, I join this gathering of financial and technology wizards who are ready to imagine the money eco-system of the future.
It’s hard to believe that it was not even 60 years ago that workers in San Francisco and Fresno came home from work one day to find in their mailboxes envelopes with little plastic cards courtesy of Bank of America. So began an epic tale that transformed the meaning of credit in the lives of ordinary Americans. From the northern CA hills that brought us gold, we now had an abundance of plastic and a quenchless thirst to drink from the fountain of the American Dream. Aided and abetted by a banking industry looking for new avenues of growth, a nation of savers was converted into a mass of credit hungry consumers. The gluttony was underway and would continue pretty much unabated until 2008 when the combination of negative savings rates and a credit fed housing bubble culminated in the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Let’s get back to Money2020. How clearly can we see today in light of what happened yesterday? Have we learned from our past mistakes? What is the course being charted by these money savants? Is there something revolutionary going on here in Vegas or is this really about looking for the next card trick? To be sure, there is some really cool stuff going on here. The bells and whistles of money transactions and consumer payments and investment management are all getting an upgrade in our emerging mobile world. Plastic is losing ground to digital. The wallet stuffed thick with credit and debit cards, photos of the kids, and 3 months of receipts, is giving way to wafer thin silicon. No doubt, there is a convenience and organizational simplicity that is a good outcome from all this creativity. But sadly, I must confess that Money2020 is just another stop on the money eco-system evolutionary journey that charts the history of how we spend money. From precious metal to currency to plastic and now to bytes, the topic of the conversation is no different today than it was 60 years ago. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow the quest to make it easier for consumers to part with their hard earned money continues. And in the city of lost wages, the future is now!
At HelloWallet, we believe there is a different future. We believe that dreams become reality not based on a gamble, but based on a belief that how you interact with your money is about making choices that are informed and conflict-free. Our focus is not on the instant gratification of a commercial transaction, but the empowerment that comes with a clear vision of how you spend your money today and what it means to be on the path to achieving a more financially secure tomorrow. This is our 2020.
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