Day One: Money 20/20

Well, the number of attendees at Money 20/20 is astonishing, as a first timer this year. From speaking to fellow attendees such as Tom Groenfeldt, who writes for Forbes.com, consensus seems to be Benjamin Lawsky, the regulator from New York State, who spoke about his work on developing frameworks for virtual currencies like Bitcoin, was the most interesting talk so far.

His views on the potential importance of Bitcoin match that of others in the Silicon Valley. In fact, one of the more interesting talks on Bitcoin recently was at Dreamforce when  Marc Andreessen spoke with Emily Chang from Bloomberg West, saying to “short Apple Pay” and go long on Bitcoin — he’s a well-known investor in the Bitcoin ecosystem, in players like Coinbase.

Strikingly absent from Money 20/20 sponsorship list is Apple, or much in the form of direct reference to Apple Pay in agenda or keynotes, however as Bloomberg’s coverage of Money 20/20 stated aptly, this year the event might as well be called Apple Pay 20/20. Although the story in Bloomberg indicated Apple wasn’t present at the conference, and Apple declined comment, there are several attendees from Apple here in Las Vegas at the event, according to the the list of attendees from the organizer.

Although Apple may be less visible as an overt presence at Money 20/20, more striking is the absence of Square, at least from a key sponsorship perspective and in terms of the major keynotes and fireside chats.

We’ll be hearing from other players, such as Google Wallet (which is well represented at the event, and is a sponsor), of course.

And while mainstream media ran stories of Apple Pay being blocked (at least effectively, by disabling NFC on card readers) by retailers like CVS and Rite Aid, there were reports  Apple Pay signed up 1m users in the first 27 hours, 3m in the first week. Lots of ink spilled over MCX and whether they are behind the payment wars. Sure to be a topic discussed this week.

Also, former head of Google Wallet, Osame Bedier, was added as a last minute keynote speaker for Monday’s session, to presumably speak about the launch of Poynt. Should be interesting, and looking forward to hearing reaction from the Google team on the ground here in Las Vegas, as well as other presenters at here at Money 20/20.

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