Two financial events took place in Vegas at the end of October 2019. At The Venetian and Sands Expo, Money 20/20 attracted all the big players in finance. MasterCard was there, as were Visa and American Express, PayPal and J.P. Morgan, as well as all the players that support those traditional payment and banking systems.

The agenda at Money 20/20 was long and varied. Several people talked about extending banking to the legal cannabis industry. There were discussions about reaching people in developing markets and extending payment systems to e-commerce and social media platforms around the world.

The themes covered at the event ranged from commerce and payments innovation to alternative lending channels, regulation, and the consumer experience. The blockchain was mentioned too, though only by a few vendors. The event took what it described as a “deep dive into each facet of this disruptive technology” but made clear that it didn’t expect consensus.

At the same time, at the Cosmopolitan Hotel down the road, it was Vegas Blockchain Week. Speakers talked about crypto investing, the pros and cons of decentralized and enterprise blockchains, dApps, and the role of the blockchain in industries like healthcare and gaming.

Money 20/20 had all the big names and the biggest companies. But it was Vegas Blockchain Week that had all the big ideas.

You must obey

The people who spoke at Money 20/20 were talking about finding new ways to do old things. They were representatives of giant financial corporations that determine how much money flows through the economy and under which conditions. Those companies set the rules and they determine the prices for obeying those rules. As long as they’re in control, they can dip into those financial flows and take out funds as freely as they want.

It’s no wonder that businesses like banks and credit card companies are so keen to look for ways to hold onto their positions. They know the world is changing and they know they have to change too. They don’t want it to change without them. What they don’t realize is that the world no longer needs them.

The future of money

That’s because the future of money was at the other conference down the road. That’s where people were building a new financial system, one that’s decentralized and democratic. Blockchain-based finance isn’t dependent on some large entity that sets interest rates or that can decide how much a currency is worth. It’s transparent and clear. Everyone can see exactly how the system works, and they can see what they’re paying for.

When a seller pays a fee for their transaction to be collected into a block, they know who’s receiving their money and they can understand the service they’re buying. That’s never been clear of the much higher fees charged in the banking industry.

They can also participate in this new financial system because anyone can, but no one can control it. Once the rules for a cryptocurrency have been set, they need consensus to change—and if people don’t like the change, they can simply switch to using a different coin. Cryptocurrencies offer a new way to move value, one that has no need of traditional bankers’ gatekeepers and toll booths.

It’s also built for the way the world does business today. The traditional banking and financial system really doesn’t manage international borders well. Try to send money overseas, in any direction, and the fees suddenly spiral. That’s a problem as businesses in places like China and India continue to sell around a connected world and complete more and more global transactions.

The businesses at Money 20/20 were looking for Band-Aids to put on an old system that’s no longer needed and no longer appropriate. The future of money is in the other Vegas, in blockchain crypto and digital assets.