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First day of Money20/20 is all about generative AI

Day 1 of Money20/20: Generative AI dominated conversations at the start of the conference—unsurprisingly given it’s the hottest payment trend of the year.

Here’s what we heard on-stage and one-on-one with industry leaders about the future of genAI and how payments providers should respond.

Are we on the cusp of a utopian or dystopian revolution?

  • Generative AI can bring a lot of good to the world, IPG’s chief digital responsibility officer Sheila Colclasure said during one session about preparing for an AI and emerging tech revolution. In financial services, for example, it can eliminate risks from the banking industry by more accurately reporting credit.
  • Across all industries, it can boost productivity, competition, and economic growth. More utopian visions of AI also involve solving problems like disease, climate change, and poverty.
  • But there’s also a dark side to genAI. The technology can discriminate, hallucinate, and make biased decisions. Copyright and intellectual property rights are also as yet unresolved.
  • The tech could usher in a “post-truth” world, Colclasure cautioned. GenAI-created deepfakes are proliferating and becoming nearly undetectable. This can leave it hard to trust anything beyond person-to-person interactions.

There is, of course, a large middle ground between the unlikely extremes of utopia and dystopia. But to find a healthy approach to AI, early action from governments, corporations, and other leaders will be vital.

How can financial institutions get ready?

  • Companies must set the tone at the top, according to Andrew Reiskind, chief data officer at Mastercard. Leadership needs to set guardrails that align with their corporate responsibility programs.
  • Once those are in place, different parts of the organization can learn how to operationalize genAI—it needs to be a multi-stakeholder effort.

What’s next? AI needs human expertise and supervision, Heidi Hunter, chief product officer at GBG Americas, argued in another panel.

Some tout genAI as a magic key that can solve every challenge, but the reality is far from that. The technology itself needs advancements, and it must resolve biases and discriminatory practices. Right now, Hunter said, genAI is only as good as what you put into it.

Mastercard’s AI approach: Insider Intelligence caught up with Mastercard’s Reiskind after his panel to get more insights into Mastercard’s AI strategy.

Democratization of AI: Mastercard has been using AI for more than 10 years, Reiskind explained.

  • It uses AI to fight fraud and extrapolate insights from data.
  • Mastercard also uses genAI to construct fake data to test fraud solutions.
  • But what has changed in the past year, according to Reiskind, is the democratization of AI capabilities. Everyone has access to it. And skills like coding are becoming less essential because AI can do it.

Now, extracting insights from AI data is the real skill humans need. And using AI is an efficiency play that can help companies focus on building better products.

Top use cases for genAI in payments: Fraud prevention is the most valuable genAI use case for Mastercard, Reiskind said. It can complement existing fraud tools to identify suspicious behavior more quickly and flag potentially fraudulent transactions for further investigation.

Other payment players will say personalization is the top use case, Reiskind noted, particularly in the commerce experience. It can create product recommendations, promotions, and payment options tailored to customer preferences and behaviors. This can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty—boosting conversion rates in the process.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Payments Innovation Briefing—a three-times-weekly recap of top stories reshaping the payments industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.