Up Close & Unplugged With Danny Levy

As the Managing Director for Asia and ANZ at Money20/20, Danny Levy stands at the forefront of innovation in the global money ecosystem. Based in Singapore, Danny brings over 14 years of senior leadership experience to his role, where he has not only scaled multiple businesses but also secured record profits. Under Danny's stewardship, Money20/20 has seen transformative growth, setting new standards for premium content, sales, and networking in the industry at large.


Prior to his role at Money20/20, Danny led the APAC operation for Worldwide Business Research for a decade, leaving an indelible mark of success. Under his stewardship, the company expanded into new markets across Asia and ANZ, achieving unprecedented growth. Danny's entrepreneurial acumen was further showcased as he spearheaded the launch of a highly successful digital business, adding another feather to his cap of achievements.


Beyond his corporate responsibilities, Danny's influence also extends to digital media. As the host of the top 100 business podcast, Digital Transformation & Leadership, he brings insightful conversations and thought leadership to a global audience. Additionally, Danny moderates podcasts on Digital Transformation for the prestigious South China Morning Post.


This week, in conversation with the man who wears many different hats, TXP Talk sits down with Danny to get the low-down on work, leadership and Money 20/20 Asia’s upcoming edition in April…


Can you share a pivotal moment from your career that helped shape your approach to leadership?


Two come to mind. First, when I was 25 I was given the opportunity to move from the UK to Singapore and lead the Asia office for a UK events business I was working for at the time. Leaving behind friends and family to move halfway around the world was a massive decision and one that I didn’t take lightly. However, I asked myself would I look back at the end of my career and think, “not taking that opportunity to move to Singapore when I had the chance was a good choice?” I figured that would be very unlikely. So, I grasped the opportunity with two hands and have been in Singapore in leadership roles ever since (14 years).This was certainly a pivotal moment for me both in terms of my approach to leadership and my career. But, the lesson of grasping opportunities with two hands when they come up despite the uncertainty of where you might land has been something I’ve held onto in my approach to leadership as well. You play to win. Not by playing it safe not to lose.


Second, when the pandemic hit Singapore in early 2020 I was working as the Managing Director for Worldwide Business Research, a marketing leading large scale B2B events business. Everything was going very well and we had several well-established events running in Asia at the time - eTail, ProcureCon, Digital Travel Summit. The pandemic put a stop to everything and the brakes were put on the business overnight. This moment had another profound impact on my approach to leadership. Our traditional ways of running events that had been perfected over many years were no longer viable and we had to innovate and do things that would have been in the ‘too difficult basket’, at speed in order to survive.


Leading at a time when things were very uncertain and information changed on a daily basis was challenging. But, the key was being able to hold your hands up and be honest with your team and yourself that despite not having all the answers we were in it together. During this period, we digitized all of our large scaleB2B events, launched a new 1-1 meetings, and market research business. The business didn’t just survive, we went on to thrive, and when events returned to in-person the business was bigger and more profitable than ever before.


What role do you believe digital transformation plays in the future of businesses, particularly in the finance industry?


It’s clear that digital transformation will continue to be a pivotal force shaping the future of businesses, particularly in the finance industry across Asia. The region's rapidly evolving landscape, driven by technological innovation and shifting consumer behaviors, demands a proactive approach from financial institutions to stay relevant and competitive.


Digital transformation offers unparalleled opportunities for financial institutions to enhance operational efficiency and streamline processes. By leveraging cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and cloud computing, Asian finance companies can automate routine tasks, reduce overhead costs, and accelerate decision-making processes. This not only improves internal workflows but also enables them to deliver faster and more personalized services to their customers. Furthermore, digital transformation facilitates greater financial inclusion across Asia, where millions remain unbanked or underbanked. Through innovative digital solutions like mobile banking, digital wallets, and peer-to-peer lending platforms, financial institutions can reach previously underserved populations, empowering them with access to essential financial services. This not only drives economic growth but also fosters social development by bridging the gap between the financially excluded and the formal banking sector.


In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of digital transformation has been underscored even further. The shift towards remote work and digital interactions has accelerated the adoption of digital financial services, making it imperative for businesses in Asia to embrace digitalization to remain resilient in the face of unforeseen disruptions.


However, it's essential to recognize that digital transformation isn't just about adopting new technologies; it's also about fostering a culture of innovation and agility within organizations. Financial institutions must invest in upskilling their workforce and cultivating a mindset that embraces change and experimentation. Additionally, collaboration and partnerships within the fintech ecosystem are crucial for driving innovation and staying ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive landscape.


Digital transformation is a fundamental imperative for businesses in the finance industry across Asia. Embracing digitalization presents immense opportunities for growth, innovation, and societal impact. By harnessing the power of technology and fostering a culture of innovation, financial institutions can navigate the evolving landscape with confidence and seize the opportunities that lie ahead.


As the Managing Director for Asia and ANZ of Money20/20, what excites you the most about the upcoming Money20/20 Asia event in April?


First and foremost, it's the unparalleled opportunity to bring together the brightest minds, innovators, and leaders from across the finance, technology, and fintech sectors in Asia. Money20/20 Asia serves as a dynamic platform for networking, collaboration, and knowledge-sharing, fostering meaningful connections and driving impactful conversations that shape the future of the industry.


I'm particularly excited about the diverse lineup of over 200 speakers and thought leaders who will be sharing their insights and expertise on the most pressing issues and trends shaping the fintech landscape in Asia. From digital transformation and financial inclusion to emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, and regulatory developments, the summit agenda promises to be both insightful and thought-provoking.


Money20/20Asia also provides a unique opportunity for companies to showcase the latest innovations and solutions driving fintech innovation in the region. From cutting-edge startups to established industry players, the show brings together a diverse ecosystem of innovators, investors, and disruptors, providing a platform for showcasing groundbreaking technologies and forging strategic partnerships.


I'm also very excited about the unique immersive and interactive experiences thatMoney20/20 Asia has in store for attendees. From engaging partner summits and ‘hands on’ features like the Money Arcade to interactive lunches and product demonstrations, the show offers a rich and diverse programme designed to inspire, educate, and empower attendees to navigate the evolving landscape of fintech in Asia.


Overall, what excites me the most about the upcoming Money20/20 Asia event in April is the opportunity to be at the forefront of fintech innovation in Asia, driving meaningful conversations, fostering collaboration, and shaping the future of fintech in the region.


What are some key highlights or themes that attendees can expect from this year's Money20/20 Asia event?

Emerging Technologies: With the rapid pace of technological advancement reshaping the financial landscape, attendees can expect insightful discussions on the latest trends and strategies driving digital transformation across the industry. From AI to blockchain and cybersecurity, sessions will explore how financial institutions are harnessing technology to enhance customer experiences, streamline operations, and drive innovation.


Regulatory Landscape: As regulatory frameworks continue to evolve in response to technological advancements and changing consumer expectations, attendees can expect in-depth discussions on the regulatory landscape shaping the future of finance in Asia. From compliance challenges to opportunities for regulatory sandboxes and collaboration between regulators and industry players, sessions will provide valuable insights into navigating the regulatory environment in the region.


Ecosystem Collaboration: Collaboration within the fintech ecosystem is essential for driving innovation and driving meaningful impact. Money20/20 Asia will highlight the importance of partnerships and collaboration between startups, financial institutions, technology providers, and regulators. Attendees can expect opportunities to network, forge strategic partnerships, and explore collaboration opportunities that drive innovation and accelerate growth.

With your experience in scaling businesses and expanding into new markets, how do you see events like Money20/20 Asia contributing to the growth of the fintech industry in the region?


Money20/20 Asia serves as a catalyst for growth and innovation within the fintech industry, providing businesses with the resources, insights, and connections they need to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape. By participating inMoney20/20 Asia, businesses can position themselves for success, drive industry advancement, and contribute to the continued growth and development of the fintech ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.


How does Money20/20 Asia differentiate itself from other industry events, and what makes it a must-attend event for professionals in the fintech space?


Money20/20Asia sets itself apart from other industry events through its focus on the Asia-Pacific region, unrivaled premium networking opportunities with senior fintech decision makers throughout the three days, cutting-edge content and insights, innovative format and experiences, commitment to diversity and inclusion, and emphasis on collaboration and partnership. For professionals int he fintech space, attending Money20/20 Asia is essential for staying ahead of industry trends, forging meaningful connections, and driving business growth and innovation in one of the world's most dynamic fintech markets.


As someone deeply involved in the digital transformation and leadership space, how do you see technology continuing to disrupt and innovate the finance industry, especially in the context of events like Money20/20 Asia?


Technology continues to disrupt and innovate the finance industry, and Money20/20 Asia plays a vital role in facilitating discussions, showcasing innovations, and fostering collaboration to drive this transformation forward. By bringing together industry leaders, innovators, and stakeholders, Money20/20 Asia provides a unique opportunity to explore the intersection of technology and finance, identify emerging trends and opportunities, and shape the future of the industry in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.


What was the best decision you’ve ever made in your life? How did it impact your life?


I wouldn’t say it is one specific moment, but, throughout my career, I've experienced many moments where progress seemed slow, and the path forward appeared uncertain. During these times, I've learned to stay focused on my goals and remain resilient in the face of adversity. By staying committed to my vision and continuously putting in the effort, I've often found that unexpected breakthroughs emerge, even when I least expected them.


I've seen how moments of perseverance, when I refused to give up and instead doubled down on my efforts, have led to breakthroughs that surpassed even my own expectations. Whether it's securing a large strategic partnership, launching a successful new business or initiative, or overcoming a significant hurdle, I've learned that the most rewarding achievements often come from pushing through the tough times and staying committed to the journey.


I would strongly emphasize the importance of not giving up when faced with challenges. Instead, view adversity as an opportunity for growth and innovation. Stay focused on your goals, put in the hard work, and trust that your efforts will eventually pay off. Remember that sometimes, the most significant breakthroughs come when you least expect them, but only if you're willing to persevere through the tough times.


What are the top 3 vital must-have traits (to foster) to win at the game of life?


I’m not sure you can ever truly win at the game of life, I don’t really see it as a game to be won. There are many ups and downs in both your career and in life in general. The key for me has always been staying optimistic, loving my family and putting them first, and being able to take a step back and put things in perspective. These have always held me in good stead as I continue on my own journey.


In terms of business specifically three traits I would recommend nurturing are; resilience, determination and emotional intelligence. Life is full of challenges and the first two will allow you to come back from setbacks, adapt to change, stay focused on your goals, and push through obstacles when they come your way. Emotional intelligence is crucial, and one that is often overlooked. The ability to manage your own emotions as well as being able to flex to others and understand where they are coming from is essential. Building strong relationships, making sound decisions, and navigating difficult situations are not possible without cultivating your emotional intelligence.


Photos: Money 20/20

March 22, 2024