Why fintech_devcon is the only conference I attend

I have more than a decade of experience in engineering and data analysis. I’ve been the Lead Data Engineer at iDENTIFY, working in the fintech and banking space, for over four years. I pretty much live, eat, and breathe financial technology. But I don’t attend fintech conferences.

Except for fintech_devcon.

Not only did I go to 2023’s fintech_devcon, but I’ve been to every one since it started in 2021. It’s a don’t-miss conference for me—and remains the only fintech conference I attend—or really consider worth attending. Other industry events always seemed too salesy, or intended for executive networking, which isn’t really my cup of tea.

If you’re the same way—not really a conference person, but someone eager to learn and see what other developers, engineers, and fintech builders are doing, you should give fintech_devcon a try.

I highly recommend the conference to all my engineer and developer friends. Below are some of the things that make it a must-attend event for me, and why I think they’ll feel the same way.

Reasons to attend fintech_devcon

1. It’s built for developers by developers

First and foremost, this conference is specifically for technical people—developers and engineers like me. When Lee Easton, the President of iDENTIFY, first told me about fintech_devcon a few years ago, I was immediately intrigued. At the time, I felt like I was working in a bit of a vacuum, so I jumped at the opportunity to see what other tech people were doing in the financial space. My technical background was solid, but back then I didn’t feel like I understood the financial industry as well as I should. I was eager to learn.

At that first conference, meeting fellow developers was revelatory. Learning about their work, their challenges, and how they were bringing together the financial and technical sides of fintech really provided me with a lot of the context I felt I was missing. Also, I was pleasantly surprised to see that other engineers had solved some of the very same problems that I’d been facing.

Since then, the knowledge and connections I’ve gained have kept me coming back. This year was my third and I can’t wait for 2024.

2. It’s actually interesting

There are no sales pitches at fintech_devcon. It’s not that kind of conference. The sessions are tailored to engineers’ interests—everything from use cases for AI and LLMs, best practices for building with APIs, tokenization, data, etc. Some of the sessions are even hands-on workshops, where experienced developers lead you, step by step, through the process of building or integrating solutions.

They were all great, but if I had to pick a couple that stood out to me this year, I think I’d choose the following.

  • Double-entry accounting at scale by Alex Mooney. This was a methodical explanation of how transactions are processed. Turns out that Alex, like me, has a background in physics—which informed how he explained things. He offered the analogy of conservation—a concept I’ve long internalized—to explain accounting. This approach really clicked with me and I walked away with a deeper understanding of the payments industry.

  • How to conquer the curse of knowledge bias while building fintech by Julie Hubschman. As a data engineer, I’m always interested in new ways to look at knowledge—and how not to look at it. Julie had great advice about checking your assumptions when explaining things to others—as well as a deeper perspective about how we perceive our work in a larger context.

Like I said, though, every session was solid and I learned something from each one I attended. If you’re interested in seeing what was covered, there are videos available of all the sessions from the past three years. It’s worth mentioning that Moov never charges for or gates this kind of educational content—it’s just another way they’re all about sharing knowledge and helping the developer community.

3. It’s comfortable

I’m always pleasantly surprised at how much I have in common with the speakers and attendees (like that shared background in physics with Alex Mooney). Truth is, I find professional social interactions exhausting. But the environment at fintech_devcon has always been very welcoming and authentic. I find myself able to relax and actually enjoy meeting people at the sessions and during the various evening events and after parties. Even with big industry names (and Killer Mike!) who could, in other environments, seem more intimidating, they’re approachable at fintech_devcon.

Another reason fintech_devcon makes me feel comfortable has to do with the topic of money. It’s a subject that some of us don’t necessarily like thinking and talking about all day. But there’s a subtle sensitivity and authenticity throughout the culture of the conference—sort of a mutual understanding and solidarity about what we’re all trying to do. There’s a spirit of problem-solving and shared attitude about making money easier to access and move.

As I’ve said, I’m not much for other conferences, but the comfort I feel at fintech_devcon has helped me embrace the networking side of myself. It’s got me thinking that I might actually attend some other industry conferences—or maybe even speak at a future fintech_devcon.

4. It’s worth your time (and money)

A lot of conferences are full of product demos and sales pitches. Those might be useful if you’re looking to buy technology. But if you’re responsible for actually building tech, the typical financial services conference isn’t likely worth your time.

fintech_devcon, on the other hand, is definitely worth your time. This conference is arguably the best way to learn how others are addressing—or have solved—technical challenges in fintech. I urge anyone who’s been working in a vacuum—or who just wants to let some fresh air in—to attend this conference. You’ll learn a lot. In an industry as complex as fintech, it takes time and a lot of different perspectives to really level up your understanding. This year I feel like I unlocked a deeper understanding of some of the low-level mechanics involved in operating a fintech—including how to make ledger entries in real time. It’s taken years for me to grasp some of the trickier details around this stuff. It’s exciting when the pieces fall together.

Also, even though fintech_devcon is tailored to help teach and connect developers and engineers, anyone who works in the technical or product side of a fintech company would also benefit from attending. You’ll walk away with a better understanding of the technical aspects of your business—and you’ll make invaluable connections.

As for the price—I don’t go to a lot of conferences, but from what I hear, they can be extremely pricey. So many of them are tailored to executive audiences that they can get away with a larger price tag. But not only is fintech_devcon reasonably priced, but it actually has value. The amount I learn makes it well worth the price of admission. Add to that the food, the networking, and of course the swag—I got some really great stuff this year, so much so that I reached out to see if they had extras—and the event is a bargain.

Also, fintech_devcon offers discounts for students and startups—as well as a scholarship for worthy developers with financial need. When they say they want to support a strong and diverse developer community—and that they want fintech knowledge to be accessible to everyone—they really mean it!

I’ll be back!

I could go on and on about all of this—the speakers, the sessions, the laid-back atmosphere, the community, and everything I learned—but I think the biggest selling point I can offer is that I will be back.

I can’t wait for the next fintech_devcon in August 2024. I’ll be there—and I’ll keep coming back. And maybe I’ll even speak one of these years. Also, yes, they are already selling tickets and accepting speaker applications for next year’s event if you’re interested.

Hope to see you there!

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