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8 Steal-Worthy Engagement Strategies From Money20/20 Europe

The fintech conference merged cutting-edge technology with memorable moments of human connection.

Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 Europe
Money20/20 Europe's stunning Na.i.ture Stage was originally conceived with a tree canopy to provide shade from the glass ceiling. The nature theme was then used to tie into the broader 2024 event theme of "Human x Machine," with the team imagining what a tree- and plant-based stage design would look like if created by an AI.
Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

AMSTERDAM—It can be easy for a financial conference to feel a bit dry. But the planners behind Money20/20, billed as the world’s largest global fintech (financial technology) event, work hard to flip that idea on its head. Case in point: the most recent edition, Money20/20 Europe, which took place in Amsterdam June 4-6.

“We believe, because our customer feedback and behavioral science tell us, that incorporating fun as useful and purposeful moments into the show has a hugely positive impact on energy, mood, motivation, and stress release,” explained Mark Slade, Money20/20's global vice president of creative, who cited studies by Oxford University’s Saïd Business School and the Department of Economics at the University of Warwick that highlight that happiness can make people up to 13% more productive at work.

“Our focus on creating experiences that make our attendees happy creates the conditions for more effective meetings, more deals, more partnerships, and better business outcomes,” he said. Here are some ways the group leaned into those concepts during the show.

1. A standout stage design that merged technology and nature

A clear highlight of the show was the stunning Na.i.ture Stage. While most stages at the event were designed based on the types of content they’d host, the Na.i.ture Stage was initially conceived to provide the audience with a shaded area due to the glass ceiling.

“We looked at different options and decided that a tree-based canopy would be the best solution,” said Slade. “This was then tied back into our stage content program and 2024 show theme—"Human x Machine"—by imagining what a tree- and plant-based stage design would look like if created by an AI.” The resulting stage was a hybrid design featuring black steel and LEDs for the roots, plus tree trunks and real plants and foliage for the bushes and canopy.

To further lean into the "Human x Machine" show theme, the team built an experimental AI co-host called Aiana—complete with her own persona and fintech expertise—who came to life as a digitized, blooming flower on the stage screens between the content sessions. Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 Europe"The name of the stage was the final and toughest part to get to,” said Slade. “Our creative director's wife stepped in and came up with Na.i.ture Stage!"Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeTo ensure the stage was as sustainable as possible, all the plants used were replanted in local greenhouses after the show.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

2. Other attention-grabbing stage designs

The Na.i.ture Stage wasn't the only standout stage moment. Others included the Exchange Stage, which hosted some of the most influential voices in fintech throughout the week. “We created it using stacked shipping containers (visually impressive but economical!) with a two-story stage, which encompassed an elevated DJ booth and music gig-style lighting to feel exciting and high energy for both our speakers and the audience,” said Slade.

The Summits Stage, meanwhile, also leaned into the show’s "Human x Machine" theme. The structure was created using an exposed truss and LED panels to form the outline of a mountain peak, while small, moving screens filled the backdrop of the stage and created a subtle dynamic that evoked the idea of the digital mountain breathing or pulsing. Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeA giant industrial robot arm at the Summits Stage was rigged with a large screen, and the team created video content that transitioned between a mountain and a billowing flag at the summit and a giant eye that roamed and probed the audience during the intervals.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

3. Rewards for moments of connection

What better way to get attendees engaged than by literally giving them a prize for it? “To get the best possible ROI from Money20/20, you need to be curious and embrace discovery—whether that is using the app to book meetings with fintech leaders that will help grow your business, seeking out the latest insights and opinions from our content stages, or finding cutting-edge innovations and making new connections with exhibitors,” said Slade. “Our gold merch coins are the embodiment of this.”

The coins were rewarded to guests who asked questions during programming sessions, or who interacted with activations like The Coin Safe, which could only be opened through moments of networking and human connection. Those curious who got their hands on a physical coin could then scan the QR code on the back for the location of the Merch Store, where coins could be exchanged for limited-edition merch.Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 Europe"To get the best possible ROI from Money20/20, you need to be curious and embrace discovery," said Slade. "Our gold merch coins are the embodiment of this."Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

4. A refreshed layout and easy-to-understand wayfinding

“We altered the floor plan for this year’s show with an eye on our future growth and to create new spaces for our expanding fintech ecosystem to shine,” explained Slade, noting that they wanted to find ways to help attendees navigate the new layout and also have compelling reasons to explore the entire show. 

“To begin with, we deliberately scheduled the opening keynote address at the Na.i.ture Stage—partly because we wanted everyone to meet our brand-new AI host, Aiana, and see a gorgeous living stage full of plants, but also because we knew that by doing so, attendees would have to walk nearly the full footprint of the new layout in making their way to that stage,” he said. 

Beyond the new layout, the team also unveiled improvements to its show app, Money20/20 Connect, which features a map of the show and indoor GPS, helping attendees orient themselves quickly wherever they are on the floor and then find their route to their next meeting or content session. 

“And on top of that, we placed huge physical 'you are here' maps of the show at strategic locations, staffed by our amazing brigade of Money20/20 helpers who were all briefed on the fastest ways to get from A to B,” said Slade. “The result was a show that had great energy in every hall, and loads of great lessons learned for how to improve it even more for 2025.” Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeEpisodes of Money20/20's MoneyPot podcast were recorded at the show.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

5. Carefully curated content

The event featured more than 200 content sessions and 100+ speakers. "The real fun began when our content team spent three days together, presenting their favorite applications and debating the nuances of why their preferred sessions belonged on the agenda," remembered Ian Horne, Money20/20's head of content for Europe. "Some decisions were easy, some took weeks of deliberation, and in other cases, sessions and speakers were pulled apart and reassembled (figuratively!) when the potential for a spicy conversation or meeting of minds was identified."

To Horne, the key was making sure each content decision could be matched up with an actionable point for the audience, or offer genuine thought leadership and take an important conversation to a new place. "Beyond that, we put careful consideration into producing an agenda that was diverse, both in terms of speaker representation and our selection of topics," he said. Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeVarious photo ops were available throughout the show.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

6. Fun, interactive moments

Throughout the show, guests encountered experiential moments like photo ops, DJs in the walkways, nail art stations, and swag stations with personal styling. “We know from customer feedback that integrating interactive, memorable, and meaningful experiences increases audience engagement quite significantly for a lot of our customers,” said Slade. “Key to our experience design is purpose—every activation or Easter egg that we put into the show has intention, [whether it’s to] heighten energy, help the audience amplify their attendance on social networks, provide a useful service, optimize networking environments, or create unexpected opportunities for serendipitous connections.”

Live artwork was another way the team kept guests engaged. Ruki Chiki, an artist and senior designer for Money20/20, was in charge of coordinating the creative for the event’s RiseUp & Amplify Stage, an invite-only initiative that empowers women, nonbinary individuals, minorities, and underrepresented communities across the industry. Each year, the RiseUp & Amplify Stage features a live artist component; as the content unfolds onstage for three days, an artist paints an original piece on the stage wall backdrop 

“The artwork design should evoke positive emotions of empowerment, unity/togetherness, diversity, and equality—in recognition and celebration of the inspirational stories unfolding onstage,” said Slade. “Our Money20/20 Europe 2024 artist was Sandy van Helden, a Dutch illustrator based in Amsterdam. She is known for her curvy lines and bright colors that bring stories to life in a playful yet sophisticated manner. Her piece, ‘Lift Each Other Up,’ celebrates unity, support, and understanding, aiming to eliminate gaps and promote equality across all fields of work.” Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeA DJ was stationed in the walkways to keep energy high as guests moved throughout the space.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

7. Headline-grabbing announcements

“I think the sheer volume of partnerships announced at the show this year was a real highlight,” added Geraint Jones, global vice president of marketing for Money20/20. “We’re seeing an ever-increasing number of tie-ups being announced from our stages—partly because we attract 300-plus international media like the Financial Times, CNBC, Wired, MailOnline, Sky News, and Reuters.”

Among the headline-grabbing moments? Bunq’s announcement that it’s the first bank in Europe to leverage AI in open banking with Mastercard. “It was just one of the many big pieces of news the industry is choosing to break with increasing frequency from Money20/20,” Jones said, adding that plenty of new business is generated at the show, too. “It’s increasingly the case that the businesses that prepare carefully for the show weeks in advance, lining up meetings and making connections in Money20/20 Connect well before our doors open, are the businesses that really see the ROI from coming along. We’re the place where money does business—and those who prep well are getting the most business done.”

8. Standout activations from exhibitors

“We also love seeing our exhibitors' activations every year," said Jones. "This year in particular, you can see how much they value being at Money20/20 through the outstanding quality of their spaces. More and more clients are using our show to accelerate deals, build partnerships, and raise their profile—and the best ones are using their stands and activations as multifunction spaces, featuring dedicated meeting rooms, podcast booths, and content spaces.” Event Engagement Ideas From Money20/20 EuropeAn on-site swag station came complete with personal stylists to help guests choose their items.Photo: Courtesy of Money20/20

Up next, Money2020 heads to Las Vegas in October for its annual U.S.-based edition. “Expect to see and hear from folks who are out there on the front line of integrating AI into fintech and financial services workflows—and leading the charge on innovation,” Jones teased. 

The event will also spotlight new features for the Money20/20 Connect app, the ‘Connect’ proposition that helps attendees accelerate deals and build partnerships, and the brand’s podcast, MoneyPot. There will also be a “Money’s Got Soul”-themed closing event headlined by En Vogue. Plus, Jones added, “Aiana, our AI co-host and newest member of the content team, was a big hit in Europe and she has expressed a desire to come out of the box in Las Vegas—so that’s exciting!”

MONEY20/20 EUROPE VENDORS:

Venue: RAI Amsterdam
AV, Technical Creative Direction & Stage Builds: Satis & Fy
Branding: Partnion
General Contractor: GES
Creative Fabrication: GDC, Studio43, Goed Bezig Producties

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