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One of my goals for Barefoot Innovation is to amplify the voice of America’s community banks about the future of financial innovation and regulation. Today’s guest is perfect for this. He is Bob Rivers, CEO of Eastern Bank in Boston. At age 200, Eastern is the oldest and largest mutually-owned bank in the United States. At the same time, it is one of the most “young” and nimble community banks in adopting new technology. Mutual savings banks were once common, especially in New England. Most have converted to stock ownership, but Bob points to Eastern’s mutual structure as a key advantage in its strategy, which includes a strong focus on social mission. He explains the bank’s roots in Salem, Massachusetts, serving people who had no bank, and describes how it evolved to emphasize empowering marginalized customers, including women. He also tells the story of his own rise to leading Eastern, from a start 36 years ago that included cleaning bank branches at night. It’s a classic community banking story, for both Eastern and its leader. What mainly drew me to Eastern’s offices, though, on a cold day in Boston last February, was its reputation for innovation. When people talk about community banks and the technology change that’s transforming banking, Eastern’s name always comes up. In this episode, Bob describes how their innovation strategy began six years ago, when he invited Eastern’s Chief Technology Officer, Don Westermann, out for “walkabouts” in Kendall Square, a Boston neighborhood noted for innovation. Bob and Don just introduced themselves, cold, to tech firms, hoping “to understand the mindset of the disruptive innovator” -- their goals and approaches, and also how to reach their networks. Two years into that process, they met PerkStreet Financial, which Bob describes as similar to Simple (we’ve done two shows with Simple CEO Josh Reich, who just stepped down this month -- they are here and here, still great listening.)  In Boston, PerkStreet was giving up (actually as a result of regulatory changes), when Bob met its CEO Dan O’Malley, and they went into business together. The resulting Eastern Labs set out to digitize the lending application process for small businesses, including on SBA loans. Three years later, Eastern spun off that enterprise as Numerated Growth Technologies -- whose website describes it as “Built For Banks, Incubated Inside A Bank.” Now Eastern has opened a new Lab 2.0 with plans for additional tech solutions. In our conversation, Bob gives a road map for how a community bank can undertake this kind of innovation -- how to position it, structure it, staff it, fund it, and run it; how much capital it needs; how to price the services; how much to integrate the innovation team with the bank versus leave it independent; and how to use tech-world concepts like agile design and minimum viable products, or MVP’s. He also explains how an initiative like this can radically transform a small bank’s ability to attract tech talent, and how it can remake the bank’s culture, itself. Bob also has views on how regulation factors into innovation. Notably, Eastern recruited Steve Antonakes, former Deputy Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Banks, to lead its enterprise risk function. Bob has a range of insights into what regulators are doing right, along with suggestions. This bank has cracked the code on one of the most critical challenges facing community institutions, namely how to partner with innovators to leverage the respective strengths and weaknesses of each. As he says, fintech startups used to see themselves as replacing lumbering old banks, but most now hope instead to work with them, because these two groups need each other. Few banks of any size can innovate the way startups can. Yes, banks have always innovated, but today’s changes, coming so fast, driven by trends erupting in the wider tech world, are simply not in basic banking DNA. Few banks can build a world-class, digitally-native user experience. Few can afford and attract the data scientists for new-generation risk analytics.  Conversely, though, very few fintechs can readily get the building blocks needed to scale up, like rapid, affordable customer acquisition, or accessing stable, low-cost funding, or deeply understanding financial products, markets and regulations -- all of which are strengths every bank can bring to the table. And the good news for community banks, specifically, is that they also have natural advantages over large banks, despite having less sophisticated technology, precisely because they’re small. They can be nimble. They don’t have to turn the proverbial battleship. They can chart and follow a new course, as Eastern is doing. Smaller banks see this logic, but most struggle to know where to start. Bob Rivers has the answer. It’s simply, start where you are and just move forward. You don’t need to figure it all out first. Really, you can’t. Instead, start small. Try things. Immerse in rapid learning. Talk to people. I’ll add, go to tech conferences and read tech publications. Do the walkabout! I recently spoke at a state bankers association conference. On the hotel elevator, coming down to the event before my talk, I chatted with a former bank CEO, now a director. When he learned my speech was on technology, he laughed and said, “I’m too old to learn it!” I told him I was going to try to change his mind about that, because, here’s the reality: banks’ CEO’s must lead this. They don’t have to be techies -- Bob Rivers isn’t. He says he still balances his checkbook with a calculator. But he’s leading his bank into a new digitized financial world, by knowing it needs to change and embracing innovation with boldness and imagination. More about today’s show Link to Full Transcript of This Episode Our podcast episode with John Ryan, CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, on banks and communities. My cover story in Texas Banker, with tips for community banks on digital transformation. More about Bob Rivers Bob Rivers is Chairman and CEO of Eastern Bank, America’s oldest and largest mutual bank with two centuries of service to the communities it serves. During Bob’s tenure, Eastern has built on its long legacy of community service and philanthropy by developing a robust advocacy platform in support of various social justice and sustainability issues. In 2014, Bob co-founded Eastern’s innovation venture, Eastern Labs, which earlier this year spun out Numerated Growth Technologies, a new fintech company offering a state-of-the-art small business lending platform. Bob has also been personally recognized for his work in championing social justice and sustainability issues by organizations and outlets like The Boston Globe, Boston Business Journal, The Partnership, Get Konnected!, Color Magazine, the Massachusetts Immigration & Refugee Advocacy (MIRA), Asian American Civic Association (AACA), Association for Latino Professionals For America (ALPFA), El Planeta, the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, The Theater Offensive and The Ad Club. Since the podcast was recorded, Eastern Bank has opened a new branch in Roxbury Crossing, the first bank in that community to open in 20 years, reflecting the bank’s work in underserved communities. More for our listeners We have many more great shows in the queue. We’ll talk with the CEO of another community institution, Mike Butler of Radius Bank, which is much smaller than Eastern and is pursuing a fascinating innovation strategy.  We’ll have two more episodes recorded this year at LendIt. One is a discussion of new research undertaken jointly by LendUp and Experian, on credit reporting, and the other is with my friend Greg Kidd of Global ID.  We also recorded two episodes at this month’s Comply 2018 conference in New York, with two regtech firms --, which offers machine-readable regulatory compliance, and Alloy, which has high-tech solutions for meeting the Know-Your-Customer rules in AML. Speaking of LendIt, I’m also going to be a guest on Peter Renton’s Lend Academy podcast, and he’ll be on our show as well, so watch for those. I’m also pleased to say we’ll have several leading members of Congress on the show in the coming weeks. In addition, we’ll record a very special show at the upcoming, global AML tech sprint being run by the UK Financial Conduct Authority in London this week -- which will be, in my view, the most important regtech development in memory...for reasons we’ll talk about. So, stay tuned! I hope to see you at upcoming events including: Financial Conduct Authority AML TechSprint this week -- May 22-25, London, UK (By invitation only) American Bankers Association Payments Forum, June 1, Washington, DC CFSI’s Emerge, June 6, Los Angeles, CA North Dakota Bankers Convention, June 11-12, Fargo. ND American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 26, Nashville, TN Money 2020, October in Las Vegas. Among other things, I’ll be speaking on the Revolution Stage about the revolution in...what else?  Regulation! Also, watch for upcoming information on my collaboration with Brett King on his new book on the future of finance -- we’ll have a show and events on that as well. As always, please remember to review Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, and sign up to get emails that bring you the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts, at Again, follow me on twitter and facebook.   Support the Podcast And please send in your “buck a show” to keep Barefoot Innovation going! 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Today’s show is a special treat because my guest is brilliant and funny and original, and he’s also a friend. Dave Birch is a London-based author, advisor and commentator on digital financial services and Global Ambassador for Consult Hyperion. We often run into each other in different parts of the world, and in December we found time to sit down and catch up in London’s old City.
I am especially thrilled about today’s guest -- California DBO Commissioner Jan Owen -- because this episode has been years in the making. I’ve known Jan for a long time, and as anyone who knows her will attest, she’s a breath of fresh air in the regulatory world. She’s candid, she’s outspoken, she’s thought provoking, and she's fearless in tackling thorny issues. We’ve been looking for a good chance to sit down and talk, and we finally found one this summer. As it happens, it turned out to be one of Barefoot Innovation’s most fun settings ever (and we’ve had some great ones, including beachside in Fiji at the AFI conference). Jan and I were both in Santa Fe in July for a conference and we decided to record our talk on an outdoor balcony, as a thunder storm approached. It was extremely windy, and we could smell the ozone and coming rain, and you’ll be able to hear the thunder booming, sometimes startlingly well-timed to punctuate Jan’s more pointed comments. We took our chances with the weather, staying outside as the sky darkened and dozens of lightning strikes forked down out of the clouds onto the mountains behind Jan -- I wish I’d gotten a photo of that.  In the end, we had to run for it as the rain began, first with big drops spattering the deck and then, ten seconds later, deluge! So the episode ends a little abruptly! Jan Lynn Owen is one of the most important financial regulators in the US because she heads the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO). Since California arguably leads the world in financial innovation, the DBO is at the forefront in addressing emerging regulatory issues around fintech. Importantly, state regulators, unlike most of the federal ones, oversee both banks and nonbanks. The US federal regulators dominate financial policy, but they don't directly supervise nonbank startups. That means they’re not in close touch with the cutting edge of innovation, which is not in the banks -- it’s in the nonbank startups. So having a regulator like Jan who understands both banking and fintech is invaluable. In our conversation, she shares her diverse background, including having been a banker and regulator. She describes the scope of the DBO, which is breathtaking -- 368,000 licensees, over 4,000 small business and small dollar lenders, over 300 payday lenders, over 400 nondepository mortgage companies - you get the picture. As you would expect, we had a lively discussion about the proposal by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) to create a fintech charter. Jan is famously opposed to it and I have been an outspoken advocate for it - we’ll link in the show notes to my debate on that topic with John Ryan, CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). Jan is of course a leader in CSBS and in our talk, she describes their efforts to modernize and streamline the state regulatory systems and licensing system in ways that she believes can meet the needs of the fintech sector without the OCC establishing a new type of federal charter. (Note that my discussion with Jan was recorded in mid-July, and so predated the OCC’s July 31 announcement that it is going ahead with the new fintech charter.) Jan points out that the fintech world has transitioned from seeking to avoid regulation to embracing it, in the realization that it helps their business model. She says this shift is putting healthy pressure on government to figure out how to regulate these novel companies, and she’s candid in saying that many of our financial laws and rules are old and out of date. In our talk, she invites input from anyone and everyone on how to fix them. The OCC fintech charter was not the only issue on which Jan and I disagree. If you read the news, you probably already know that she’s been outspoken in her skepticism about regulatory sandboxes -- and our regular listeners know that I think regulators really need them. Much of the issue comes down to how they’re designed, and we had a good conversation about the dos and don'ts of sandboxes, reglabs, and innovation hubs. The key is to give regulators a safe space to do easy experimentation, mainly to accelerate their own learning, while still assuring full consumer protection. (Since Jan and I spoke, the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection also announced that it will launch a regulatory sandbox.) Before we fled the rainstorm, I asked Jan to talk about a speech she’s been giving titled “Sex, Drugs, and Skinny Jeans” (a perfect example of her style). The “sex” topic is the #MeToo movement, including Jan’s personal experience with workplace sexual misconduct. The “drugs” issue is, of course, how to regulate the financial issues raised by legal marijuana in states like California, since federal law still bars banks from opening accounts for these cash-rich businesses. And “skinny jeans” is about the culture clash between traditional, suit-and-tie finance and the jeans-and-tee-shirt worldview of Silicon Valley. We’re going to have to bridge that divide, if we want to optimize the technology change coming to the financial world. Enjoy this thunderous episode with Jan Lynn Owen. Links LINK TO FULL TRANSCRIPTION Podcast with John Ryan - Conference of State Bank Bank Supervisors President Recent Speech at Lendit More on Jan Lynn Owen Jan Lynn Owen was appointed the first-ever Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. on July 1, 2013, following a merger of the departments of Corporations and Financial Institutions. Previously, Ms. Owen served as Commissioner of Corporations. Prior to becoming Commissioner, Ms. Owen was the principal at The Jan Owen Group; a strategic initiatives manager at Apple Inc.; vice president of government affairs at JP Morgan Chase; state director of government and industry affairs at Washington Mutual Inc.; and executive director of the California Mortgage Bankers Association. From 1999 to 2000, Ms. Owen was acting commissioner of the Department of Financial Institutions, following on her role as deputy commissioner from 1996 to 1999. She also served for several years as a consultant to the state Senate Banking Committee. Ms. Owen is an alumna of California State University, Fresno, where she earned her degree in Economics. More for our listeners We have great podcasts in the queue. We have a series focused on global developments in fintech and regtech, including Harish Natarajan of the World Bank and Anju Padwardhan of CreditEase and Stanford University, who talks about fintech developments in China. From London, we’ll have a talk with P.J. DiGiamarino of JWG and the Regtech Council. We’ll also have a really thought-provoking show with Peter Renton, who leads LendAcademy and the LendIt conference series. We have a regtech firm coming up, Alloy, which has high-tech solutions for meeting the Know-Your-Customer rules in AML. And we’ll have a show with the co-founders of Earnup. So, lots to look forward to! The fall conference circuit is exciting. Some of the places I’ll be speaking are: Finovate Fall, September 26, 2018, New York, NY NFCC Connect, October 2, 2018, Dallas, TX Online Lending Policy Institute, October 9, Washington, DC P20 Conference, October 10, Atlanta, GA American Banker RegTech, October 15-16, New York, NY Money 2020, October 21-24, Las Vegas, NV Singapore Fintech Festival, November 12-16, Singapore LendIt Europe, November 19-20, 2018 in London ABA/ABA Financial Crimes Conference, December 2-4, Washington, DC Regtech Rising, December 3-5, London I’ll also be speaking at several events hosted by US regulators this fall. It’s great to see so many of them really digging into the issues surrounding fintech and regtech. Also, watch for upcoming information on my collaboration with Brett King on his new book on the future of finance -- we’ll have a show and events on that as well. If you listen to Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, please leave a five star rating and also remember to send in your “buck a show” to keep it going. Come to for today’s show notes and to join our email list, so you’ll get the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts. As always, please follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Support our podcast Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
What if regulation, as we know it, might disappear? Regulation will never stop, of course, but what if some of it will take on a new form, shaped by technology?  What if we’re entering into a new era of what we could call “digitally-native” regulation, that’s as agile and intuitive about regulation as digitally-native consumers are about consumer technology? Of all the shows we’ve ever done, I think this is the most mold-breaking and thought-provoking. My guest comes from the agency that is leading the world in modernizing financial regulation for the digital age, and he leads the team that’s doing it. Nick Cook is the head of Regtech and Advanced Analytics for the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority. The FCA’s innovation leadership is world-renowned, especially for their Project Innovate and its “regulatory sandbox,” which allows careful testing of new financial technology that could benefit consumers. Less well-known, though, is a newer initiative, launched about 16 months ago, to explore regtech. As we’ve discussed in other shows, the term “regtech” is used in two ways. It refers both to regtech for regulators -- technology to enhance their own activities, and to regtech for the industry, to improve or streamline regulatory compliance. The FCA is working on both halves of this equation, and true to form, they’ve invented an innovative way to explore it. They aren’t using a sandbox for regtech (although the Bank of England has a sandbox-like “Fintech Accelerator”). Instead, Nick’s team has been convening what they call “tech sprints.” They invite a diverse set of participants -- banks, fintechs, tech companies, lawyers, consultancies, academics and others -- to come together for problem-solving exercises designed like hackathons. Sometimes for a day or two, and sometimes longer, they work on how new technology could be applied to a regulatory challenge like “digitizing” the rule book or streamlining regulatory reporting. Nick and I recorded this discussion at the Regtech Enable conference in Washington in December, where he had just shared an update on their work from the stage. At the time, they were in the midst of a two-week sprint that had two objectives. The first is to try to make regulatory reporting requirements “machine-readable,” and therefore much easier to navigate, including for innovative companies that often struggle just to know what rules apply to them. The second -- even more profound -- is to explore whether some regulations can also be made “machine-executable” -- could regulatory guidance, in some cases, be issued in the form of computer code, and therefore be self-implementing? This is an idea that’s been under discussion for about a year, including at a regtech roundtable I hosted last spring as a Senior Fellow in the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Business and Government. The same conversations have included a second concept the FCA is also pursuing, namely that new, high-tech regulation should be introduced gradually and should be optional for the industry. Gradual rollout would enable policymakers to start small and learn, while voluntary adoption opens up a practical road to changing our complex system with minimal disruption.   The FCA’s tech sprint on machine executable reporting ended a few days after we recorded this podcast. They will be sharing its results in the coming months, so be sure to watch for it! Let’s step back and think about what’s underway here. Finance is being transformed from analog to digital design. And, right behind it, so is regulation. Digitization will do for both -- for finance and financial regulation -- what it does for everything else. That is, it will make them faster, better, and cheaper, and will create a new foundation on which people will innovate further, in ways we cannot yet envision. A striking thing about my talk with Nick is how different he sounds from traditional regulators. It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why, but I think it’s mainly the comfort he displays with uncertainty. The same trait was evident in my earlier podcast with Christopher Woolard, who heads the FCA’s innovation strategy. Somehow this agency manages to be simultaneously bold and humble. They know they don’t have this all figured out. They even know they can’t figure it out by themselves. But they also know they can move forward, and that the way to do so is by engaging a community of diverse experts to work together. As Nick says, that can be scary, but the risks come way down, for regulators and everyone else, when solutions are developed collaboratively by people who believe in its potential to make regulation better. I hope this episode finds its way to many regulators, including those in the US where our agencies are actively exploring innovation agendas. Nick says regtech should be easier for regulators than fintech change is. For one thing, the companies leading it are generally not regulated entities, which makes them easier to work with. In addition, no consumers are affected by regtech experimentation. It’s about how the regulators can do their own jobs better, and/or can enable financial companies to do the same. As he puts it, regulators can, therefore, put “a toe in the water,” in regtech, and then move forward. My friend Andrew Burt of Imuta and Yale Law School helped design the FCA’s December sprint and has put out a white paper on it. And here is the FCA’s great video on how tech sprints work. So, I’m not naive. I’ve been a bank regulator, a U.S. Senate staffer, and I’ve worked in regulatory compliance for decades. Technology won’t magically make regulation easy. These solutions won’t fit some types of regulation, and where they do fit, they will inevitably create new problems. We all know all that. Still...Digitally-native regulation. Think about it. More on Nick Cook Nick leads the FCA’s RegTech activities, including the FCA’s TechSprint events - the first events of their kind convened by a financial regulator. He is responsible for creating the FCA’s Analytics Centre of Excellence to drive the organization’s use of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.  Nick is the FCA’s representative on the European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) Financial Innovation Standing Committee and an advisor to the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator Programme. Nick joined the Financial Services Authority (the FCA’s predecessor) in 2009, initially in its Enforcement and Market Oversight Division. Prior to joining the regulator, Nick qualified as a chartered accountant at KPMG Forensic. Other links Podcast with Sanjay Jain on the “India stack” technology Podcast with Miles Reidy on regtech More for our listeners Just before Christmas, I finished my 7 week, three-continent “World Tour.” I think 2017 was the pivotal year for moving both fintech regulation and regtech toward becoming priority issues at regulatory agencies throughout the world. 2018 will take it all to the next level. We’re starting the year with amazing shows in the queue. We’ll have a fascinating London conversation with the charismatic CEO of Starling Bank, Anne Boden; another with Innovate Finance CEO Charlotte Crosswell; and another with a group of amazing innovators working in Europe and Africa, including Ecobank. In the U.S. we’ll have one with Cross River Bank CEO Gilles Gade; with Michael Wiegand, who heads the Gates Foundation’s work on financial services for the poor; with Financial Services Roundtable CEO Tim Pawlenty; and with Nerd Wallet CEO Tim Chen...and many more! I hope to see you at upcoming events including: OCC Bank Information Technology Conference, January 9-12, Washington, DC Innovate Finance Global Summit, March 19-20, London, UK Bank Director, The Reality of Regtech, April 18, New York Texas Bankers Association Annual Conference, May 3, Houston, Texas Comply 2018, May 16, New York As always, please remember to review Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, and sign up to get emails that bring you the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts, at Again, follow me on twitter and facebook.  And please send in your “buck a show” to keep Barefoot Innovation going. And keep innovating! Support our Podcast Jo Ann Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. 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In 1967, the Beatles sang: "I get by with a little help from my friends." That sentiment captures something at the heart of many people's financial lives today, and it embodies the idea behind the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), the oldest and largest nonprofit credit counseling organization in the U.S. I have known Susan Keating, NFCC's President and CEO, for about 30 years. I've been wanting to record a Barefoot Innovation episode with her, because the NFCC is on the front lines of the topics we're exploring here. They work directly, personally, with the people who are not thriving in our consumer financial system. The reasons people don't thrive are complex. We've talked about a lot of them, and I find it's easy to get excited about new technologies or regulatory challenges impacting them, and to lose sight of the real people who are immersed in these struggles. Helping these people is the driver behind much of the search for better solutions by industry, government, and the innovation world, and it's good to pause and think about who they are. As we discussed with CFSI's CEO Jennifer Tescher LINK TO IT, the so-called "underserved" market is enormous -- estimated between 70 and 140 million Americans -- and covers a huge percentage of the middle class. It is also heterogeneous. Data from NFCC, CFSI and others is breaking the old stereotype of a monolithic "low and moderate income" category whose problem is just not being able to afford traditional financial services.  Many underserved consumers, in fact, can afford to pay for high-cost financial services, and are doing so, but are stuck there due to a wide array of issues. Some of their problems are caused by their own errors and difficulties. Some are caused by the difficulties of serving them through the business models and cost structures that prevail in the industry today. Some are a mix of both. Both of these kinds of problems are ripe for improvement today, thanks to the innovations we discuss here on this show. I think, though, that we'll still have a big gap between new financial solutions and the people who need them, unless we build some bridges -- add in some glue -- in the form of human beings who can help people learn to use new technology. NFCC is one of the key organizations able to do this. Susan talks about all this in our conversation. She describes the massive scope of the challenge; the "new face of poverty" in the United States; the NFCC's focus on "breadwinner moms;" and its key new initiative for helping people manage student debt, with a insight into the daunting scope of that challenge. Susan's background: Susan began her banking career in 1974 at First Bank System in Milwaukee, where she became Senior Vice President of retail banking. In 1988 she joined MNC Financial in Maryland and later became President and senior banking executive for Maryland when NationsBank (Bank of America) acquired MNC in 1993. She went on to become the highest-ranking female CEO of a US-bank holding company, as President and Chief Executive of All First Financial from 2000-2002. Then in 2002, she was appointed to the Group Executive Committee of AIB (Allied Irish Banks plc), which is responsible for developing corporate strategy and overseeing management of AIB Group. In 2004 she took on the role of NFCC President. She thought is was a short term move but, to her own surprise, she's still there twelve years later, caught up in the mission. Upon reappointment after her first three-year term, she said, "The NFCC is uniquely positioned to serve the many consumers who are struggling to make ends meet and find their way to a better financial future. I am deeply committed to doing all that I can in order to lead the efforts in the years ahead." Susan also serves on Bank of America's National Consumer Advisory Council; is a board member of the Council on Accreditation; and participates in the Financial Regulation Reform Collaborative, a non-partisan group committed to finding solutions for reforming financial services regulation. NFCC: Last fall I had the honor of joining the NFCC's board on the occasion of the organization's 50th birthday. Today the NFCC works with 90 member agencies through more than 750 offices in communities nationwide. Its certified counselors counsel and provide financial education to three million clients annually, focusing on issues that include seniors and the military and guidance relating to financial literacy, mortgages, and credit cards. It recently launched a key initiative on helping people with student debt, and in helping illuminate that magnitude of that challenge, and plays an invaluable role in consumer financial research overall. Here are some links: 2015 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey 2015 State of the Financial Counseling and Education Sector Student Credit Counseling initiative  Enjoy my conversation with someone on the front lines -- NFCC's CEO Susan Keating. And please note: The video series is launched!  Please come to my new site  where we have launched my video briefing show. It's a practical guide for financial companies trying to figure out how to thrive on disruption-to thrive through the twin, intertwined challenges of technology disruption and regulatory disruption. We're off to a terrific start with the series. The next video will be called, "The 5 Tech Trends." I made it because I think financial people often underestimate the disruption underway, because we tend to think of fintech as a financial topic. In reality, it's mainly a technology topic. That means the forces shaping it lie mainly in the tech world, not the financial world. That in turn means they are mostly over the horizon, outside the field of vision of busy people focusing on finance. I've been spending a lot of time in that world, and am creating this video to explain what these five huge drivers are, how they are converging, and how they will transform both consumer financial services and financial regulation. Again, fintech is way more about "tech" than "fin." I'll also have a light-hearted short video for your entertainment, brought to you from my very own kitchen. I'm going to demonstrate an extremely odd little gadget that contains a big lesson for innovators. Coming episodes: Last but not least, come back next time to Barefoot Innovation, when my guest will be the visionary CEO of Opportun, Raul Vazquez. Among other things, he is totally fascinating on the topic of how he personally keeps up with technology. Up next in the queue after Raul, we'll have a short update with Simple CEO Josh Reich, and then an interview with the founder and CEO of Betterment, Jon Stein. See you soon! As always, please donate to my free podcast series (which seems to be trying to take over my life) and please write a review of it on ITunes! Support the Podcast Subscribe to Our Mailing List Be sure sign up for email notifications on the videos and podcasts and major blog posts if you haven'tdone so yet, at Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
This episode takes us fully into grappling with how innovation is impacting community banks and how to respond, through a conversation with one of the most thoughtful and thought-provoking people in the field. The community bank is a unique feature of the U.S. financial system, and Brian Graham, CEO of Alliance Partners, is both one of its most eloquent advocates and an innovator with new ideas on how small banks can compete in the digital age.  In 2011, he and his colleagues founded BancAlliance as a collaborative solution that enables community banks to access attractive lending markets typically dominated by larger banks, through use of a shared lending platform. The mission is to empower member banks to diversify prudently into high-quality loans that meet all commercial and regulatory standards – without changing the nature of the community bank. Brian’s team initially focused on large commercial loans. Then, in February of this year, they expanded to consumer credit with the announcements that BancAlliance would partner with Lending Club to enable member banks to offer co-branded personal loans to their customers through Lending Club’s online platform. The program gives community banks and their customers access to the benefits of the Lending Club’s low cost of operations, paired with the banks’ low cost of capital, to help drive down the cost of credit for consumers., The Wall Street Journal noted that, even after Lending Club’s partnerships with Alibaba and Google, the arrangement with BancAlliance might be its “biggest one yet.” CEO of Lending Club, Renaud Laplanche (whom I interviewed in Episode 5), said, “Community banks are the lifeblood of American communities. This program will help them level the playing field with national banks by offering affordable, consumer-friendly loans to their customers. We’re excited to make Lending Club’s low cost of operations available to community banks, for the greater benefit of their customers.” BancAlliance’s network includes over 200 banks in 39 states, with assets ranging from $200 million to $10 billion. In aggregate, BancAlliance would rank fourth in branch count among all U.S. banks and 14th in assets. I have been a longtime optimist about the future of community banks, until the last few years. Small banks today face the twin challenges of innovative technology and regulatory burden squeezing the industry’s business model from two directions at once. Brian’s vision offers a potential model for addressing both. In our conversation, Brian makes the case for the value of community banks; offers advice to them for thriving through technological disruption; and makes suggestions for regulators (including on “suitability). He also describes a proposed new “bill of rights” for small business borrowers – he’s been involved with a coalition working on this with the Aspen Institute. Brian also offers insights into how technology, after decades of favoring consolidation and large players, is suddenly creating advantages for small ones, through the unbundling of tech solutions and through unexpected developments like Square, transforming the small business lending market. Brian was previously a partner at Blue Ridge Capital Management, held various leadership positions at CapitalSource and Fannie Mae, and served in the government and investment-banking sectors. He holds a graduate degree from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford University. It was a pleasure to host him at my former abode in Washington, DC -- the day before I began packing up to move to Boston for my new fellowship on Regulation Innovation at Harvard! It was a very fitting finale for my Washington days and a launch into my “year at the frontier” of fintech innovation. Enjoy the conversation, and as a bonus, click the following for The Small Borrowers’ Bill of Rights and an argument from the Aspen Institute on why we need one. Also, remember to watch my website for the Regulation Innovation video briefings on these same topics, coming soon! Please subscribe to the podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and searching for "Jo Ann Barefoot", or in iTunes. Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Today’s guest is Colleen Briggs, Executive Director for Community Innovation and Corporate Responsibility at JPMorgan Chase. Colleen leads a visionary effort that is part of JPM’s commitment to building “more inclusive growth,” globally, by finding innovative models that build financial access and economic expansion. Our timing is great because just last week, the Center for Financial Services Innovation announced its new class of winners for the Financial Solutions Lab competition. The Finlab is funded by a $30 million, five-year commitment from JPMorgan that Colleen oversees, aimed at finding, supporting, and scaling innovative ways to promote consumer financial health. This is part of a $1 billion program that the bank has undertaken globally.   Here is a link to the JPMorgan press release on this year’s competition, which includes an overview of the winners, and here is a further article by the American Banker. Colleen comes to this work from a diverse background at nonprofits, on Capitol Hill, and now in the private sector, searching for better solutions for lower-income financial consumers. In listening to her, I was struck by the degree to which she has her finger on the pulse of the trends underway, both globally and in the U.S.  She shares insights on how to make it profitable to serve low income customers; how to win the trust of consumers who are wary of digital products; on the failures of traditional financial education; on the primacy of behaviorally-based product design; on the need for new business models; on how to build partnerships between banks, fintechs and community organizations; on how innovative cultures can take root in big banks; on platforms that can get new solutions to scale; on the business opportunity for banks -- and their corporate customers -- from building global inclusion; on mixing high tech and high touch and the limits of automation; and on how to shift the whole marketplace. She has wise advice for all the players. Since we recorded this episode, I’ve become the board chair at CFSI. Last week we held the Emerge Forum in Orlando, where a record audience talked about exciting new ideas for financial health. There was huge enthusiasm there about the new Finlab winners. In a sign of the maturing of the fintech startup world, three companies in this year’s class are reaching beyond the typical millennial customer base and instead building new tools for seniors. Watch for their progress. Here are my other podcasts with the Finlab and past winners Digit, Ascend, and Bee.   More on Colleen Briggs Colleen Briggs is Executive Director of Community Innovation within the Office of Corporate Responsibility and Global Philanthropy at JPMorgan Chase & Co, a global leader in corporate philanthropy with $200 million invested in communities annually. She is responsible for helping establish and execute the firm’s global philanthropic and corporate responsibility financial capability, including the Financial Solutions Lab, and community development strategies, including PRO Neighborhoods. The Lab is a $30 million, five-year initiative that convenes leading experts in technology, behavioral economics, and design to improve consumer financial health. PRO Neighborhoods is a five-year, $125 million program that works to increase the availability and accessibility of vital economic opportunities in vulnerable neighborhoods across the country. Colleen also manages the Foundation’s portfolio of global financial inclusion grants, impact framework and grant guidelines and works with the lines of business to share best practices to improve the firm’s products and services.     Prior to joining, Colleen was the Economic Policy Advisor to Senator Debbie Stabenow. In this role, Colleen managed the Senator’s economic portfolio, including policy related to financial services, tax, small business, job creation, community development, manufacturing, and housing. Colleen managed the Dodd-Frank market reforms for the Senate Agriculture Committee, and helped draft the Recovery Act, TARP, the Dodd-Frank Act, and healthcare reform. Colleen is a member of the Asset Funders Network Steering Committee and the Innovations for Poverty Action Policy Advisory Group. She earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. More links Some organizations Colleen mentioned: Neighborhood Trust / FlexWage / Lending Club / LendStreet / Propel And more for our listeners Please remember to review Barefoot Innovation on ITunes, and please sign up to get emails on new podcasts and my newsletter and blog posts at   Also go to to send in your “buck a show” to keep Barefoot Innovation going. Please also join my facebook fan page, and follow me on twitter. Support our Podcast - Send "A buck a show" And watch for upcoming podcasts. My guests include Christopher Giancarlo, Acting Chairman of the CFTC; Brett King, founder of Moven; John Ryan of Conference of State Bank Supervisors; and a special series we recorded at the American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference this month. The ABA show includes a conversation with Promontory CEO (and former Comptroller of the Currency) Gene Ludwig and Alistair Renee of IBM Watson, who have teamed up to bring artificial intelligence to compliance through regtech. See you soon! Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Lending Club and its founder, Renaud Laplanche, rank high on nearly every list of fintech disruptors. They are the biggest player in “marketplace lending” – online matching of borrowers with people and institutions willing to lend to them. Marketplace lending (which has evolved from “peer-to-peer” or P2P lending as more institutions join in as funders) is one of the fastest growing innovations in consumer finance. In December, Lending Club did the largest U.S. tech IPO of 2014, at nearly $900 million. Their success is attracting interest from every direction. Last year they announced a partnership with Chinese tech giant Alibaba. At the same time, they are partnering with BancAlliance, to connect with its network of 200 community banks in 39 states.  Renaud is French-American. He has an MBA from HEC and London Business School and a JD from Montpellier University. He practiced law at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York and then founded the enterprise software company TripleHop Technologies, selling it to Oracle Corporation. In 2006, he began work on his disruptive ideas, leveraging his unusual combination of software, entrepreneurial and legal skills to create something truly different. Business Insider named Renaud the "best start-up CEO to work for,” and he won the Economist Innovation Award in the consumer products category in 2014. He lectures at Columbia Business School and is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization. On top of all this, Renaud holds two world speed sailing records, including crossing the English Channel in 5 hours and 15 minutes just this spring  – Alas, this is a topic we didn’t have time to explore, but clearly it’s no coincidence. Renaud has been covered in leading publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, BusinessWeek and Barron’s and has been featured on CNBC, Bloomberg, ABC News, CBS News, and Fox Business News. We are delighted he could join us for Barefoot Innovation.
If I had to choose just one episode of Barefoot Innovation to introduce listeners to the series, this is it. My guests are Jesse McWaters of the World Economic Forum and Rob Galasky of Monitor Deloitte, who co-led the WEF's landmark research project on financial technology (executive summary here).  Switzerland-based WEF focuses on public/private collaboration and is best known for hosting the annual global forum in Davos. When I first read news accounts of this report, I reached out immediately to Jesse and (new father) Rob to ask them to join our dialogue. It took some time to get together, but we finally met at the WEF offices in New York. It was more than worth the wait. They launched their study of the global evolution of fintech at the Davos meeting in 2014. By the summer of 2015, they had crystallized the keys to understanding it. Their work is built on extensive interviews and on the technique I increasingly see as the key to progress -- convening disparate participants. They held six meetings with traditional financial institutions, disruptive innovators, and regulators in the same room, grappling with the coming change. In their early meetings, the financial industry executives were interested in fintech and wanted to monitor it, but were not worried - Jesse and Rob call them "tepid" about its urgency. By the end, this view had reversed. My guests use words like "bewilderment," "paranoia," "enemies" and "invading the fortress" as they describe the financial industry's rising concern. They also see these concerns starting to give way to hopefulness about the opportunities. The 193-page study has a global scope, emphasizes the developed world, and looks at eleven areas where innovation is driving transformation. What's working? Here are some of the insights Jesse and Rob share in our conversation: While today's banks feel besieged by disruptors on all fronts, the study shows that innovators are actually mainly targeting specific spots where two key factors intersect - that is, where high friction and customer frustration exist in products that are highly profitable. One participant said they are, "skimming the cream." Recognizing these points of vulnerability can guide traditional companies in what to defend and where to allocate capital. The emerging models have certain key attributes -- they are platform-based, modular, data-intensive, and "capital-lite." The disruptors focus on "shadow" or "fringe" areas, avoiding the heavily regulated core world of deposit-taking financial institutions. They are serious about complying with regulations, but strategically choose the rules to which they will subject their businesses. They are using established assets to scale up, a la Uber, rather than investing in a long, expensive process of creating their own products and infrastructures. They are actively partnering with established institutions for this leveraging of both existing assets and infrastructure and also "regulatory permissions." (Interestingly, this is drawing some major investment companies into retail markets for the first time.) They are focused on controlling the customer experience, using their superior platforms and data analytics. A key subset are "mission-oriented" entities creating inclusive and affordable services to consumers and small businesses. Jesse and Rob mentioned Active Hours and LendUp as U.S. examples, in addition to the huge global potential in emerging markets. Advice to industry: Jesse and Rob discuss how all this is impacting the traditional industry, including this advice: Don't count out banks as an "old world industry." Address the twin pressures of having aging legacy operating systems and processes, clashing with the high demands of today's consumers, especially millennials. People increasingly want personalized, bespoke, low-cost services and are ready to trust online providers. Review and clean out the accumulation of old policies and procedures that prevent banks from creating a great customer experience. Don't make the mistake of viewing fintech as a one-year budget issue. Create a new enterprise-wide, multi-year investment model that is not controlled by the current owners of the business line P&L's. Explore merging models for learning, partnering, and "coexistence." Evaluate the wisdom, or folly, of essentially "outsourcing R&D" to the venture capital world until it figures out the winners and losers. Consider that financial institutions may be major players in shaping what will win and what will lose, especially since they have capital. Use their suggestions on how do innovation inside a traditional company. Expect upward age migration of fintech adoption - don't expect to retain even older customers to the end of their lives in old-style products. Watch for big changes in insurance offering options for bespoke, advisory, concierge models and radically new value propositions (they mention Oscar in the U.S. and Vitality in the UK). Understand the likely sequence in which products will be forced to change, and why - they explain this in our discussion Impacts on consumers: Rob and Jesse predict big changes for consumers, including vastly more choice, hugely better customer experience, better pricing, and much better insight into and control over their own financial lives. They also see rising risks and regulatory needs, including that consumers will be harmed by unsuitable, high risk products. Advice for regulators: Jesse and Rob also have insights for and about regulators. Some of the regulators who joined their meetings were among the most thoughtful people they encountered, but they also warn of a very wide delta between the "leaders and laggers" in the regulatory world. They predict likely regulatory arbitrage if that gap does not close quickly. They also emphasize the need for "regulatory sandboxes" (on that point, watch for our upcoming Barefoot Innovation episode on sandbox innovation with Nitish Pandey of BMO Harris). What next? The project plans to leverage its convening power to tackle further priorities. One is exploring the revolutionary potential of block chain technology and distributed ledgers, including and beyond bitcoin. Another is seeking innovation in managing digital identity, including expanded roles for banks. Might our bank someday help us buy a bottle of wine by sending not only the money, but by verifying our age! Enjoy the episode! References: Here are some of the resources and companies we discussed in this episode: World Economic Forum Full WEF report on The Future of Financial Services ActiveHours (accessing pay that's already earned) LendUp (online lending)                                                                                 Transferwise (payments innovation)                                       Oscar (health insurance in U.S.)                                                  Vitality (health and life insurance in U.K.)    Please subscribe to the podcast by opening your favorite podcast app and searching for "Jo Ann Barefoot", or in iTunes.                         If you enjoy our work to bring together thought provoking ideas and people please consider a contribution to support the site. Donate
Amidst all the collective angst about our political discourse, I found myself, one afternoon last fall, in a meeting with the leadership team of the government affairs group at the law firm, Arent Fox. One partner, Jon Bouker, is a Democrat. Another, Dan Renberg, is a Republican. And as we talked, they kept making me laugh. Watching them interact, watching them brainstorm together, watching them riff on each other’s points, I realized we could all use a little more of whatever makes them effective. So I asked them to come on the show, along with fintech expert Kate Flocken from the firm’s emerging technologies group, to share with you, our listeners, the secrets of how to get things done in a polarized and partisan environment.
In the early days of Barefoot Innovation, one of my guests said something very provocative, that I knew would not sit well with some of our listeners. I considered whether to edit it out. Someone on my team pointed out that my website features a quote from Carl Sagan about the importance of truth-telling, and we decided that it’s the essence of this show to have a wide range of guests and let them speak as they want, without editing, and with the understanding that it’s their opinions rather than mine. It’s a good thing we have that policy, because otherwise, I would have quite the project figuring out what to do with my very lively conversation with Bill Harris, the former CEO of Paypal and Intuit, and Founder and Chairman of Personal Capital. Bill and I got together, in a little office I was using at Harvard, and had a very far-ranging conversation. By the time we finished, I told him I’ll probably have to offer equal time to all the people he -- shall we say, critiqued -- during our talk.   Seriously -- if anyone Bill mentions would like to come on the show to offer opposing views, please reach out. A lot of Bill’s outspoken views these days focus on the controversy over customers’ right to use and share their financial data. Much of today’s most promising innovation works by having people give permission to a fintech to access their bank account, so that the fintech can help them save, invest, or manage their money. This is the model behind everything from Mint (podcast with them is coming soon), to Digit (see our past episode with Ethan Bloch). For the past year or so, banks have been raising concerns that these arrangements can be risky to customers because the fintech may have inadequate security, and/or because there may weak controls on how the fintech uses the data. The innovators are countering that many of them have better security than banks do -- basically because they have new technology rather than the aging, siloed IT at most banks. They also argue that the potential risks can be managed, including through best practice by data aggregators like Yodlee. Bill is part of a newly-formed fintech group on Consumer Financial Data Rights  (which I have advised) and which is trying to build consensus on how to provide consumer protection while also assuring that consumers can access and use their data freely. The core argument is this information belongs to the consumer, rather than to the company that’s holding it. There are huge stakes in this, because data is the life’s blood of financial innovation. Regulators and the financial community must assure that it’s protected and not abused, but also have to enable it to flow freely, with the consumer’s permission. If it doesn’t, most of the best innovation underway with wither and die. In our discussion, Bill talks about this challenge, including the fact that the Dodd-Frank law authorized the CFPB to set out guidance on it. (Here is the CFPB’s request for information on the data rights issue.) Even more basically, he talks about the underlying problem, which is how to actually secure consumers’ data and establish reliable identity verification. Bill has helped to found three major security companies and shares his deep thinking about a security world beyond passwords (which he calls “stupid”).  He also warns against universal data security standards that are rigid or one-size-fits-all. And he offers a vision for how we will really solve identity authentication and security problems -- through the phone. We talked about his current company, Personal Capital, which provides personal financial management software to about 1.3 million users, for free. For customers that want more help, the company then provides fee-based investment advisory services tailored for people with complex financial situations. It arose from Bill and colleagues deciding that people’s biggest financial challenge is the “chaos” that leaves people leading “unexamined financial lives.” Personal Capital has designed a solution that is simultaneously high-tech and high-touch. Bill has wide-ranging views (including some praise) about new models emerging in investment management and robo-advising. (Here is the earlier podcast I mention in our talk, with Jon Stein of Betterment.)  Our discussion also included a look into how Bill starts businesses and scales them up, and about the challenges of legacy bank IT systems (stuck together with “bubble gum and sealing wax”). I think you’ll especially enjoy his stories about past adventures, including the early days at Intuit, and the hair-raising startup of PayPal with Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, in a “small second floor thing over a bakery on University Street outside of Stanford.” And listen closely as he recounts an intriguing dinner conversation with Steve Jobs, about financial services. More for our listeners: Watch for our upcoming shows, including Colleen Briggs of JPMorgan Chase; Wai Lum Kwok, who leads the regulatory sandbox in Abu Dhabi; Jonathan Dharmapalan, founder of eCurrency; Al Ko, who leads Mint; and the one and only Brett King, among others. Please review Barefoot Innovation on ITunes. Also sign up to get emails when the new podcasts come out and to get my newsletter and blog posts at And go there to send in your “buck a show” to keep Barefoot Innovation going. Support our Podcast - Send "a buck a show" I hope you’ll also join my facebook fan page, and follow me on twitter. 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Today’s episode is like a crystal ball glimpse into the future of banking, narrated by my guest, Anne Boden, the thoughtful and charismatic Founder and CEO of Starling Bank in the UK. Anne has years of experience at large banks, including in IT roles. At one of them, she led an effort to develop an innovation transformation. It brought her to a critical conclusion:  that the only way to create a really innovative bank is to start “from scratch.” When the UK government in 2013 responded to the financial crisis with a new type of charter, Anne founded Starling. Starling was the first of what the UK calls “Challenger Banks,” designed to foster increased market competition. It is also a “digitally-native” bank, built as a fully digital business, for the digital age. Starling is mobile-only. It operates on open platform principles and leverages the new personal data rules in Europe. These say that financial data belongs to the consumer, not the bank, and require companies to implement the customer’s instructions to share account information with any entity the consumer chooses. Among other things, this makes bank accounts “portable,” and also give customers the right to terminate such arrangements and to control how the data can be used. Building on this is a new emerging business model that is, again, essentially a platform. In Starling’s case, they take deposits and do payments, and then they operate what they call a “marketplace” with specialized partners that offer their customers everything from mortgages to insurance, to an array of financial management tools. One result is efficiency.  Anne says 100 or 150 people can do work that needs 10,000 at a large bank. Another is innovation. She talks about how hard it is to seed and propagate an innovation culture at traditional banks, and why they can’t just buy the technology they need and plug it in. As she puts it, “some poor CIO somewhere has to be brave enough to press the button.” Anne also notes that the as the platform model disaggregates traditional functions, the front end of the chain -- the customer relationship and interface -- might separate off and end up in the hands of Google, Facebook or Twitter. Our conversation included her insights on how this new model will evolve; the roles of each partner; why Starling chose to become a bank instead of offering a prepaid card; and how hard it is to do that -- the high attrition rate among those that attempt it.   Starling customers (who, by the way, are not just millennials) have a new kind of financial life. They can simply ask Starling, by voice, whether they can afford to buy a car. They can opt to have bank statements itemize by a given shop, right down to the cheese sandwich and the diet coke. Anne says they could add calorie counts to that and can integrate it with health information from the fitness app, and suddenly, money, lifestyle, and health are integrating in new ways. More on Anne Boden Three decades ago, Anne Boden pioneered the UK’s first same-day payment service – and in the process transformed the future of electronic money. Today, that revolutionary zeal continues to inform her work at Starling Bank, the mobile-only current account app she launched earlier this year. Recently recognized as one of the Global Power Women in FinTech, Anne’s worked at a senior leadership level across some of the world’s best-known financial heavyweights, among them Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland. It was during her tenure as CEO of Allied Irish Banks, however, that she began to explore the exciting potential of financial technology for transforming customer’s everyday lives. At heart a tech startup with a banking license, Starling is a challenger bank built on a foundation of disruptive emerging technology, competing with traditional legacy banks and helping people develop a healthier relationship with their money. More for our listeners Upcoming shows will include Cross River Bank CEO Gilles Gade; Michael Wiegand, who heads the Gates Foundation’s work on financial services for the poor; NerdWallet CEO Tim Chen; and the CEO’s of two community banks -- Eastern Bank and Radius bank. And there’s much more in the pipeline!. I hope to see you at upcoming events including: CFSI’s Fintech and the Federal Government: How Policymakers and Startup Companies are Exploring Financial Innovation, March 15, U.S. Senate, Washington Innovate Finance Global Summit, March 19-20, London, UK Regulation and Innovation in the Age of FinTech, with FSD Africa, Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance and RegHub, March 22-23, London, UK Lendit Fintech USA, April 9-11, San Francisco, CA Bank Director, The Reality of Regtech, April 18, New York, NY Texas Bankers Association Annual Conference, May 3, Houston, TX Women Corporate Directors Global Institute, May 10, New York, NY Comply 2018, May 16, New York CFSI’s EMERGE, June 6-8, Los Angeles, CA American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 26, Nashville -- I’ll be moderating a general session panel on regulation and AI, and also teaming up again with the ABA for some special podcasts. As always, please remember to review Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, and sign up to get emails that bring you the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts, at Again, follow me on twitter and facebook.  And please send in your “buck a show” to keep Barefoot Innovation going! Support our Podcast Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
I’ve been looking for a chance to do a podcast with today’s guest for months. Colin Walsh is the founder and CEO of Varo, an online tool that aims to make it easy and affordable for consumers to manage their financial lives. Colin and I first met at last year’s fintech conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and I’ve enjoyed, ever since, watching the rapid growth of his startup. Varo was still in development when we talked and is now in private beta, with plans to launch next year. I find them especially interesting in many ways, including that they raised $27 million this year; that the founders are very experienced banking executives; and that they are creating an ambitious product to meet multiple consumer needs at once. Maybe my favorite thing is that they are creating the Varo Bot, a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to actually take the initiative to help customers manage daily money tasks easily and well. The move toward fintech solutions that are proactive instead of reactive is a real breakthrough, because it attacks one of the biggest obstacles to consumer financial health -- people not really understanding how best to manage their money, or just not thinking about that question before, rather than after, they spend or borrow. Varo is solving for that. Colin has two and a half decades of leadership experience with global brands in Europe and the US, including as an EVP at American Express, Managing Director at Lloyds Banking Group, and an EVP at Wells Fargo. In this episode Colin explains his motivation in undertaking a fintech startup after years at big companies. He talks about why Varo’s initial focus is simple, transparent mobile tools for millennials. He talks about the power of starting from a clean slate, with no legacy of what he calls “bad revenues,” and no challenges caused by having data “trapped in silos,” which is a major problem for banks. He also has thought-provoking advice for both banks and regulators. Here are some links: Varo is at He also refers to the book Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir on consumer decision-making behavior. I know you’ll enjoy hearing his insights. And more for our listeners: To help you keep up with innovators like Varo, I’ve been launching a series of social media channels that feature all my podcast guests as well as my blog posts and speeches. Sign up for my new monthly newsletter at, head to my new facebook fan page, and please follow me on twitter.  I have some big news coming up – I’m co-founding a RegTech venture, so don’t miss hearing about it! Also, please send in your “buck a show” to support Barefoot Innovation. We now have thousands of listeners around the world, and we need support to keep the show coming and keep it timely, with my little band of part-time helpers. Support our Podcast Meanwhile, be sure to come back next time, when my guest will be the CEO of Ripple, Chris Larsen. Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Today’s show is the first in our COVID recovert series. My guest is Thomas J. Curry, who served as the US Comptroller of the Currency from 2012 to 2017. For listeners outside the United States, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, or OCC, is the US regulator of nationally-chartered banks.
Today’s show is a bonus episode, giving a glimpse of an important project that’s underway. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have funded an initiative to think through the future of central banks and how they will, and should, advance the goal of financial inclusion. To lead the work, the foundation selected two leading thinkers in the space. Michael Barr is the Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. He was previously  Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Financial Institutions, in addition to being a law professor (I’ll link in the show notes to our earlier episode with him). Adrienne Harris is a professor at the Ford School and a former (give her old title in Obama White House). They have teamed up to undertake a deep reimagining of central banks, decades and even a half century out.
Today in our special series on financial regulation in the pandemic and beyond, we are honored to have with us the Chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Jelena Mc Williams. She opens a fascinating window into how the FDIC is conducting off-site examinations in the crisis, and especially into the impressive speed with which banks are adopting technology to handle flows of information. She is hopeful that we will be able to find silver linings in how these unprecedented challenges are accelerating technology adoption, and laying the groundwork for a better financial system.
Some organizations are so interesting that we come back to them more than once. Among US regulatory agencies, the most fascinating may be the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Last July we ran a podcast conversation with the Commission’s Chairman, Christopher Giancarlo, which goes into greater depth about the role of the CFTC and it also contains Chairman Giancarlo’s thought-provoking statement that the top priority facing every regulatory body is to convert the rule book from analog to digital design. The CFTC is at the forefront of regulatory innovation in part because its leader is so passionate about the importance of it. In that spirit, they recruited the perfect person to lead the LabCFTC innovation project -- today’s guest, Daniel Gorfine. Luckily for us, the CFTC was able to attract Dan into government from the fintech sector – I first met him when he was at OnDeck – and he’s been bringing an innovator’s mindset and working models to this venerable government agency. This episode has three very meaty topics, each of which could have been a whole show. First, Dan talks about the vision and work of LabCFTC, sharing insights about how it’s organized that I know other regulators will find helpful. He talks about how they track and facilitate innovation in the financial markets, including a “primer” they issued on rules applying to cryptocurrency. He also explains how they explore new technology for use by the agency, itself -- they call that CFTC 2.0 -- as well as “Digital Reg,” an internal think tank for rapid learning and sharing of tech insight. Second, Dan talks with me about an exciting initiative they’ve just launched, issuing the first-ever CFTC Science Prize Competition Act challenge. They discovered this law empowering agencies to run competitions to solve regulatory problems in science and technology, and they decided to crowdsource ideas on both the problems to tackle and the process to use. Public comments are due July 24. In our conversation, Dan throws out some of the ideas he and his colleagues have thought of -- maybe regulatory data visualization tools, or machine-learning for market surveillance, or machine-readable and machine-executable regulation -- but they want to hear from you. Our listeners are among the most thoughtful people anywhere on regulation innovation, so please comment. You could even become CFTC Innovator of the Year! Our third topic is one that rarely surfaces in the innovation dialogue, and solely needs discussion: the legal and procedural obstacles to government agencies that want to embrace innovation. We could call the topic, government modernization. Think about it. If you were a federal agency wanting to keep up with technology innovation, you would want to be able to do a few things. You would want to be able to try out new technologies, hands-on. If the innovation was something you might adopt for your own agency, you would want to test it before you had to commit to a major procurement budget and procedure. You would also want to be able to brainstorm with a wide range of people, learning from them, thinking through ideas with them. All of this is stunted today by well-intentioned rules that were designed long ago -- for good reason -- to prevent inappropriate influence, backroom deals, and the like. Dan talks in particular about the Anti-Deficiency Act, which restricts procurement activities and prevents the CFTC from being able to try out new kinds of tools. Another issue is the procurement process itself. I met a few months ago with people from a different agency, showing them some innovative technology that could make their regulatory work easier, and one of them said, “If we decided today that we should adopt this, we would have it in seven years.” I’ve talked with other agencies that cite the Federal Advisory Committee Act, with its restrictions on meetings, and the Administrative Procedure Act, which structures the rule-making process and, at some stages, limits interactive dialogue. Agencies have raised concerns about various “government in the sunshine” rules, which again make it difficult to talk informally. Some can’t readily attend a breakfast or lunch event. They have to ask about the value of the meal being served and if it’s more than, I think it’s $15, they can’t eat it, or they have to go through paperwork to pay for it. And of course, there are complex approval processes for participating in various kinds of forums. More than any show we’ve done, this one puts you in the shoes of the regulatory agency and shows how their hands are tied by procedural prohibitions and requirements. I’d love to see someone do a study, maybe a graduate thesis, on how rules that were written in an older, slower era may now undermine the ability of regulators to keep up with exponential change in technology. We could use suggestions on updating them for the digital age. And remember, it’s an issue much broader than finance. I’ve been in and around Washington for decades and can remember the bad old days before some of these rules were created -- indeed, I remember some of the bad old practices that led to them. Still, we don’t need to straightjacket our regulators. Other countries have a much more fluid discussion between agencies and industry, and also have the ability to try things. One model is the Bank of England’s Fintech Accelerator, which explores new technology for the bank itself. And Dan and I both participated in London last month in the amazing AML Tech Sprint run by the UK Financial Conduct Authority -- which is a stunning model of innovative regulatory process. Its leaders were my guests on the last podcast we posted (which my friend Peter Renton of LendAcademy and LendIt called the “most fascinating discussion he’s ever heard on the future of financial regulation” -- if you missed it, check it out). Meanwhile, here’s some great news. Just a few days ago, Congressman Austin Scott (R-GA) introduced the CFTC Research and Development Modernization Act, H.R. 6121. Dan refers to it in our talk – it’s bipartisan legislation to address some of these hurdles at the CFTC. We’ll link to it in the show notes. The bill would permit the Commission to collaborate on projects with fintech developers. It would also allow it to receive “gifts” for R&D purposes, including software to try out, subject to common sense safeguards. The bill echoes work by Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), who has sought to facilitate innovation by all the financial regulatory agencies. And the US agencies, themselves, are all moving ahead, too. The CFPB’s Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, plans to launch a regulatory sandbox. The FDIC held a tremendously impressive technology forum. Five US agencies attended the UK tech sprint. Regulation innovation is coming, and no one is more thoughtful about it than Dan Gorfine. More links Our Podcast with Christopher Woolard of the UK Financial Conduct Authority Our Podcast with Nick Cook, the FCA’s head of regtech FinRegLab, which is leading regulatory innovation in the US Link to transcription of this episode (Note that transcripts may sometimes contain errors and that transcript timing notations do not match the posted podcast) More on Dan Gorfine Daniel Gorfine is Chief Innovation Officer and Director, LabCFTC at the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. LabCFTC is dedicated to facilitating market-enhancing financial technology (FinTech) innovation, fair market competition, and proactive regulatory excellence and understanding of emerging technologies. Daniel is also an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown University Law Center where he teaches a course on ‘FinTech Law & Policy.’ Daniel was most recently Vice President, External Affairs & Associate General Counsel at OnDeck, and previously served as director of financial markets policy and legal counsel at the Milken Institute think tank where he focused on technology-driven financial innovation, capital access, and financial market policy. Earlier in his career, Gorfine worked at the international law firm Covington & Burling LLP and served a clerkship with U.S. District Court Judge Catherine C. Blake in the District of Maryland. A graduate of Brown University (A.B.), Daniel holds a J.D. from George Washington University Law School and an M.A. from the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. More for our listeners We have many more great podcasts in the queue. We’ll talk with another community bank CEO, Mike Butler of Radius Bank.  We’ll have two more episodes that we recorded this year at LendIt. One is a discussion of new research by LendUp and Experian, on credit reporting, and the other is with Greg Kidd, Founder of Global ID.  We also recorded two episodes at last month’s Comply 2018 conference in New York, with two regtech firms --, which offers machine-readable regulatory compliance, and Alloy, which has high-tech solutions for meeting the Know-Your-Customer rules in AML. Speaking of LendIt, I was a guest last week on Lend Academy podcast, and Peter Renton will be on our show soon as well, so watch for those. I’m also excited we’ll have several leading members of Congress on the show in the coming weeks. So, stay tuned! The summer conference slowdown is nearly upon us, but I hope to see you at upcoming speeches and events including: American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 26, Nashville, TN Money 2020, October in Las Vegas. Among other things, I’ll be speaking on the Revolution Stage about the regulation revolution Also, watch for upcoming information on my collaboration with Brett King on his new book on the future of finance -- we’ll have a show and events on that as well. If you listen to Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, please leave a five-star rating on the show to help us build it. Also please remember to send in your “buck a show” to keep it going, and come to for today’s show notes and to join our email list, so you’ll get the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts. As always, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Support our Podcast And tell me what you’re thinking about digitizing regulation. Let’s widen this dialogue to more people and more and more ideas! 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My guests today are two of the most thoughtful people in the United States on the topic of regulatory compliance. They are the chief compliance officers of Citigroup and Wells Fargo – Kathryn Reimann and Yvette Hollingsworth Clark. Our listeners include a lot of people who are not fascinated by the topic of regulatory compliance, to put it mildly. The fact is, though, that compliance has shifted, rather suddenly, from being boring to most people, to being fascinating. And whether it fascinates you or not, it has become absolutely critical to whether financial companies can thrive. Becoming great at compliance – both effective and efficient -- has become mission-critical competencies for every financial company, large and small. Let’s step back and think about what’s happening.  Technology is disrupting finance, which means that it’s also disrupting financial regulation, which therefore means that it’s also disrupting compliance, inevitably. It will completely change how financial companies implement the massive set of regulatory requirements that pervade every aspect of what they do. This is going to be – already is – a wrenching process. For better or worse, consumer financial protection regulation has always been hypertechnical. built mainly around highly prescriptive rules. Congress passes laws, the regulatory agencies issue regulations to implement them, and the industry implements the regulations. I’ve spent much of my career in this field and have watched it mature into a major function – major cost center – in every bank, into a profession of experts, and into an industry of technology vendors and consultants and lawyers who help financial companies follow these rules. With a few exceptions, the system is about getting the details right. That’s still true, of course. We still have voluminous, detailed rules aimed at consumer protection. But the financial crisis shifted the ground under this whole system, by supplementing the traditional “rules-based” system with a new “principles-based” overlay that aggressively requires that financial products be not only “compliant,” but also “fair” – able to meet heightened prohibitions on practices that are unfair, deception or abusive (which we in the compliance world, with our habit of using acornyms, call, “UDAAP.” And then, as if that weren’t a big enough change, the financial world has now also been hit with a second huge wave of change, in technology innovation. And it’s even more challenging than the shift from rules to principles, because it’s coming faster, and it’s even more unknowable than regulatory change. All this means we’ve entered into a state of permanent uncertainty. The products and market and technology are changing too fast for the legislative and regulatory process to keep pace. The regulatory process can’t, and won’t, provide clarity on exactly what the industry has to do. Instead, it will review what has been done and will, after the fact, penalize actions that are judged to have been illegal because they’re subjectively determined to have been unfair, deceptive, abusive, or discriminatory in effect. The result is that financial companies are going to have to build a whole new kind of compliance model. They won’t have the luxury of waiting for clear-cut rules. They’ll have to figure out for themselves how regulators may react to rapid change, and make their own decisions, in the absence of clear guidance, about what is risky. This requires a full overhaul of the traditional compliance model. For one thing, it means deeply, actively engaging the CEO, the board, and the business-side leadership of every company in proactively managing regulatory risk. They can’t delegate it and assume that their experts and technology will take care of it. They have to make their own decisions, and they have to do it not reactively, but proactively. Again, they’ll have to think for themselves. And they’ll also have to adopt a new generation of regtech solutions, which are starting to emerge to improve outcomes and cut costs. There’s a lot to say about what’s ahead on all this, but for today, we’re going to pick the brains of two of the most impressive leaders anywhere in the compliance world.  Yvette Hollingsworth Clark is the chief compliance officer of Wells Fargo, and Kathryn Reimann leads this work for Citigroup. I’ve known them both for years, and I was lucky enough to catch them together while we were all at the same event, and carve out some time to talk. Listen to their views on how compliance is changing, the impact of technology, and the need to bring a “fairness” lens to absolutely every regulatory question. They talk about how to do that, including how to integrate teams that can bake it into daily decision-making. They talk about the challenges arising because of the accelerating the speed of change. And they discuss the challenges of working with old legacy IT systems that were created long before today’s regulations and technology. They talk about the need for a level regulatory playing field for banks and nonbanks, how to work with regulators, and advice for regulators. They also talk about their own journeys – Kathryn notes that when she started working as a lawyer, the compliance profession didn’t even exist. We’ve come a long way. These are people who are pioneering new ways of tackling compliance. They’re doing it in some of the world’s biggest, most complex, and most highly-regulated companies, but their insights apply to every financial company – large and small, and old or brand new. Also…. Vote for my panel on the SXSW PanelPicker! I need your help getting my panel selected for inclusion in South By Southwest – SXSW – the huge technology conference that runs in Austin TX each year in conjunction with the famous music and film festival. I attended SXSW (“South by,” as people call it) for the first time last year, and it was absolutely fascinating. It’s unique among the conferences I attend, in that it’s broader than finance. It’s about technology overall. I believe fintech is more tech than fin, in the sense that it’s being driven by enormous and converging technology trends. We in the financial realm tend to underestimate how big these are and how fast they’re moving, because we think of them in terms of the financial products they’re reshaping – but they’re much bigger than those. SX is a great place to go to learn and think about these wider trends, while also seeing the most interesting new things emerging in fintech, as well. So I have proposed a panel discussion there on RegTech – the shift toward using new generation technology to get to win/wins on regulation, by reducing regulatory costs and burdens while improving outcomes for customers at the same time. I’m calling the panel REGULATION INNOVATION and my amazing guests will be Josh Reich, the CEO of Simple; Jennifer Tescher, CEO of CFSI; and Adrienne Harris of the White House. Last year, SX received 4,600 proposals, so, I need you to vote for the session on the SX Panel Picker. Voting opens up on Monday, August 8 and closes September 2. Please Google the SXSW PanelPicker during that time period, and vote for session called Regulation Innovation. And then plan to come to SX, which is 3/6-10 in Austin. I’ve been thinking maybe we should take a group of financial folks. What do you think? You can vote for it HERE   Support the podcast Please support the show! Last but not least, thanks so very much to those who have sent in your “buck a show," as we call it, to support Barefoot Innovation. Donations are essential to keep the show going, since it’s taken on a life of its own and requires a massive effort to produce. And also, please be sure to like the show on whatever ITunes or wherever you listen to it. We’ll see you soon with some incredibly interesting new guests – startups, banks, and even someone from Harvard. Til next time! As Kathryn rightly states, such an overhaul of the system requires updating perspectives of themselves and of their hires. It also requires a great degree of inter-departmental collaboration and communication. This is something that I have seen to be true all across the map of regulation - open dialogue is essential. In a previous podcast, Thomas Curry, the Comptroller of Currency and head of the taskforce on responsible innovation agrees. Kathryn and Yvette explain that compliance officers have a very tough job ahead, and I couldn't agree more. They have to balance a fine line between assessing and preventing massive risk from such huge amounts of data sharing while not becoming an obstacle to innovation. As Yvette states, we want to use innovation to regulate innovation. Important links: Citi Wells Fargo Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
We have a very special show today. I realized – rather late – that we should do an episode on the CFSI financial solutions lab competition. It’s belated, because the contest is open, now, for its second year of applications, and the deadline is April 7 – just a few days from now.  My guests are Ryan Falvey, who heads the lab, plus three of last year’s 9 winners. They are Sheri Atwood of SupportPay; Jerry Nemorin, of LendStreet, and Quinten Farmer of Even. They explain how the competition works, what they are looking for this year, and, from the standpoint of last year’s winners, what they have gotten from participating in the program. FINLAB:  The FinLab is investing about $5 million each year in the contest winners, who also receive a huge array of expert advice and access to networks and resources. Here’s the information on the competition and how to apply by April 7: And here is an overview of the full list of last year’s winners. For today’s show, we’re featuring these guests: RYAN FALVEY As a Managing Director at the Center for Financial Services Innovation, Ryan oversees the Financial Solutions Lab, bringing together innovators from the fields of technology, behavioral economics, nonprofit services and design to provide guidance, share best practices and develop scalable financial products. He loves to help organizations solve hard problems. Prior to joining CFSI, Ryan was at Silicon Valley Bank, working with leading technology firms to develop innovative payment products and solutions. He also served as the Strategy Group Lead at Enclude Solutions, overseeing its global strategy consulting work in over 30 countries and supporting the development of several of the world’s most successful mobile-enabled financial products. Ryan has a graduate degree from Yale and an undergraduate degree from UCLA.  Twitter: @TheFinLab, @CFSInnovation Personal Twitter: @Ryan_Falvey SHERI ATWOOD Sheri Atwood, Founder and CEO of SupportPay by Ittavi (acronym for “it takes a village"), is a former Silicon Valley executive, single mom and child of a bitter divorce. Atwood, who was raised by a single mother and was the only person in her family to attend college, married at 19, completed her undergraduate degree in less than 4 years and completed her MBA 10 days before her daughter was born. When Atwood herself divorced at 25, she was the youngest Vice President at Symantec. Before SupportPay, there was no easy way for parents to exchange child support -- and Atwood was so determined to create a solution that she taught herself to code and is today an expert in front-end development. Atwood was named “#5 of 50 Women in Tech Dominating Silicon Valley” and a "Top 40 Under 40 Executive in Silicon Valley."  Website: Twitter: @SupportPayApp Personal Twitter: @SheriAtwood JERRY NEMORIN Jerry is founder and CEO of LendStreet. He previously worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in its Global Corporate & Investing Banking division, helping major companies restructure their debt during the financial crisis and raise money from the high yield debt market. Jerry is now putting that expertise to use in a way that helps consumers in financial distress deal with their debt and rebuild their credit. Jerry has been a speaker, guest, and advocate for responsible lending and sustainable financial services on Capitol Hill and industry events such as Finovate, SWIFT Innotribe Competition, Experian's Vision Conference and Credit Suisse Impact Investing Conference. Jerry recently served as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Darden School of Business Incubator. He began his career in Tyco's Treasury group and received a B.S. in Finance and Exercise & Sports Science from the University of Florida and an M.B.A. from the Darden Graduate School of BusinessAdministration at the University of Virginia. Website: Twitter: @LendStreet Personal Twitter: @JNemorin QUINTEN FARMER Quinten Farmer is Co-Founder at Even. Previously, Quinten ran Client Operations at Taykey, a venture-backed advertising technology company, and was Vice President of Operations at Onswipe, a New York-based startup. Quinten studied Computer Science at Columbia University, and also founded the Open Loans Project, a nonprofit working to bring transparency to the student loans industry. He founded Even to help employers enable workers to even out timing mismatches between paychecks and expenses, especially in volatile or disruptive situations. Website: Personal Twitter: @Quintendf Also, be sure to come to the CFSI Emerge Forum on Consumer Financial Health, in New Orleans, June 14-17. The new contest winners will be announced, and there will be an amazing lineup of speakers and events focused on technology solutions to building consumer financial health and well being. As always, please donate to my free podcast series (which seems to be trying to take over my life) and please write a review of it on ITunes! Support the Podcast Subscribe to Our Mailing List Be sure sign up for email notifications on the videos and podcasts and major blog posts if you haven't done so yet Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
It’s always extra fun when we have a show where the guest talks about the days when Jack Dorsey hacked him and lived in his backyard. For today’s conversation, I’m joined by my friend Greg Kidd, Co-founder and CEO of globaliD. I’m predicting right now that this one is going to be a Barefoot Innovation fan-favorite. Greg has an unusual background. He was involved from the early days of Ripple, Twitter, and Square. Unlike most Silicon Valley innovators, though, he’s also been a banking consultant and worked for the Fed Reserve Board. He is famously a big thinker (I like to tell him that people sometimes have no idea what he’s talking about, although I promise that doesn’t happen in this show).  I remember the first time I met him -- we walked into a party at the same time one night in San Francisco, and were still talking, barely inside the door, two hours later. This is actually the longest episode we’ve ever done, because he’s just fascinating to listen to -- I couldn’t tear myself away. We recorded it this spring in globaliD’s space at the Digital Garage in San Francisco, where Greg shared his vision of what’s ahead in finance, commerce, and technology. We talked about the magnitude of the shifts he sees, and his passionate belief that new technology should be used to empower people, not control them. The secret to that, Greg says, is decentralization. He thinks blockchains and distributed ledgers are as revolutionary as the internet was. And he thinks, above all, that we should decentralize control over people’s identities. As he says, government-issued identities are inherently insecure -- they create huge centralized “honeypots” of data that attract hackers -- and they can invite misuse by government itself. Greg's firm globaliD is building an alternative. Its software can be downloaded to the phone to create an individual token of identity that can attach a unique name, which then can collect identity proofs, or “attestations,” based on the person’s electronic footprint and relationships. The individual can customize how to share identity information for different purposes, shielding sensitive information for some uses and revealing it in others, in order to protect privacy. Because the underlying information lives in the individual’s device, not a government or corporate database, it’s relatively secure from cyber-attack. As mobile phones approach ubiquity worldwide, this kind of system can also expand financial inclusion by authenticating millions of people who lack traditional credentials and therefore can’t enter the mainstream financial system. We've done other shows on this (I suggest re-listening to the one on the India stack and Aadhaar card with Sanjay Jain). Governments throughout the world are working on this, especially in countries where much of the population (often, especially, women) lack documents and therefore can’t satisfy the bank Know-Your-Customer regulations. A few years ago I ran into Greg in Fiji at the annual summit of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion. He was speaking there on how to use mobile phone-based data to help refugees identify themselves to authorities, to make it easier to screen people even in the midst of mass migrations and humanitarian crises. The US needs updated identity methods too. Our analog-era systems like social security numbers are no longer secure -- too often buyable on the dark web. Digital solutions will be coming here soon. Greg also gets excited about making innovation work with regulation. He says we don’t have to end up in George Orwell’s world, nor in Mad Max’s, as he argued in this memorable piece. I promise this episode will leave you with some new ideas. Links Link to Episode Transcription Podcast with Anne Boden More on Greg Kidd Greg Kidd is the CEO of globaliD and the former chief risk officer at Ripple. His work taking his own startup public (Dispatch Management Services) on the Nasdaq is book-ended by time at Booz Allen, Promontory, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. He was an initial investor and advisor for both Twitter and Square, and his investment firm Hard Yaka continues to back many fintech and regtech companies. His leadership pursuits include work at Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). More for our listeners We have many more great podcasts in the queue. We have a wonderful episode with the California banking commissioner, Jan Owen (which is extra exciting because we recorded it outside with lightning and thunder through the whole thing). We’ll also have other regtech firms, including, which is creating machine-readable regulations, and Alloy, which has high-tech solutions for meeting the Know-Your-Customer rules in AML. And we have one with the co-founders of Earnup. There are many more in the works. The fall events schedule is filling up. Some of the places I’ll be speaking are: Finovate Fall, September 26, 2018, New York, NY NFCC Connect, October 2, 2018, Dallas, TX P20 Conference, October 10, Atlanta, GA American Banker Regtech Conference, October 15-16, New York, NY Money 2020, October 21-24, Las Vegas, NV Singapore Fintech Festival, November 12-16, Singapore LendIt Europe, November 19-20, 2018 in London ABA/ABA Financial Crimes Conference, December 2-4,  Washington, DC Regtech Rising, December 3-5, London If you listen to Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, please leave a five star rating on the show to help us continue to grow. Come to for today’s show notes and to join our email list, so you’ll get the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts. As always, please follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. support our podcast Meanwhile, keep innovating! Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Brett King and I see each other often, partly because we often speak at the same conferences and partly because we’re both on the board of the Center for Financial Services Innovation. For some reason, though, we went for over a year trying unsuccessfully to find time to record a podcast. So we we ended up getting together in London. We both participated in the wonderful Innovate Finance Global Summit at the Guildhall, in the old City, where we carved out some early morning time, met at a restaurant and, and over plates of hearty eggs and bacon and mushrooms and tomatoes, had a conversation unlike any previous one in the fifty-four episodes we’ve done so far on Barefoot Innovation. As most listeners know, Brett is a four-time best-selling author of an acclaimed series of books on the future of banking and hosts the global podcast and radio show, Breaking Bank$ -- on which I enjoyed being a guest in May. He is also the founder of the fintech firm Moven. He is a prominent media voice, and he is certainly the most popular speaker anywhere on the future of financial technology, both for his insightful content and his entertaining, unforgettable style. In recent years, Brett has also reached beyond banking to become an overall futurist, especially in his book Augmented, looking ahead at how technology will change our lives. I usually introduce each show by pointing out some highlights of my guests’ comments and sharing some of my own thoughts about them. With Brett, though, I’m going to skip that, because the whole discussion is a highlight. My suggestion is that you listen to all of it, and then listen again. And maybe take some notes, because this might be the easiest way to get a glimpse of the future of finance, from someone who has been exploring far beyond the mapped frontiers for many years. On that note, be sure to watch for his next book, Bank4.0, which will go even further in predicting a transformation of finance. More on Brett King Brett King is a four times bestselling author, a renowned futurist and keynote speaker, the host of "BREAKING BANK$, the First Global Fintech Podcast" and the founder of Moven, with its concept of a downloadable bank account that incorporates mobile payments and banking capability, along with a gamification based money management system. King was voted as American Banker's Innovator of the Year in 2012, and was nominated by Bank Innovation as one of the Top 10 "coolest brands in banking". His books Augmented, Breaking Banks (based on the podcast), BANK 3.0 and Bank 2.0 have al ranked as a finance bestsellers and have been released in several languages in 19 countries. King has been featured on FoxNews, ABC, CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, ABA Journal, Bank Technology News, The Asian Banker Journal, The Banker, Wired magazine and many more. He contributed regularly as a blogger on Huffington Post. He has spoken to more than a quarter of a million finance professionals in over 40 countries in the last 3 years alone. Breaking Banks Book Bank 3.0 Book Branch Today, Gone Tomorrow Book Bank 2.0 Book More for our listeners I hope to see you at events where I’ll be speaking this year, including:  Finovate in New York September 13; Money 20/20 in Las Vegas in October; SourceMedia’s Regtech Compliance Transformed, in New York in October; Fintech Connect Live in London in December; and others -- watch the website. I’m also speaking at a lot of regulator events. For all the regulators listening, it’s great to see you all at these, and I’m glad that there are more and more of them.   For everyone, remember to review Barefoot Innovation on ITunes, and please sign up to get emails that bring you the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts, at Please also join my facebook fan page, and follow me on twitter @JoAnnBarefoot. Support our Podcast And watch for upcoming podcasts. These include a special series I recorded from the floor of the ABA’s annual Regulatory Compliance Conference, including one with Gene Ludwig and Alistair Renee of IBM’s Watson Financial on how artificial intelligence and machine learning will transform compliance. We’ll also have a provocative discussion with John Ryan of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors. We have a lively discussion with prominent regulatory attorney Andy Sandler. We’ll  hear from Sanjay Jain, who helped build India’s revolutionary “tech stack” project to capture customer identity on more than a billion people. And we’ll talk with Sopnendu Mohanty, the Chief Fintech Officer of Singapore. Meanwhile, keep innovating! Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Barefoot Innovation has been in hiatus in recent weeks because my father passed away. I was in San Francisco and got a call saying he was suddenly ill and might not live through the day. I rushed for a redeye and flew all night home to Boston, where my son Matt met me and we drove to Harford in the wee hours. My brother and sister had rushed to our Dad too, and he had held on. In fact he began to do better, regaling us with stories in the ICU, bringing his sharp engineering mind to analyzing his medical situation, and enjoying us singing to him (we’re a singing family). We had hopes he would recover, but a few days later, he worsened and ultimately did not pull through. He was 95 years old. His name was Glidden Sweet Doman. And he was a remarkable innovator. He’s being widely remembered as the last of the great helicopter pioneers, and he was also an important inventor in wind energy. Those two industries share the same technology – the wickedly complex science of rotor dynamics. This very special episode of Barefoot Innovation is a conversation I recorded with him last Thanksgiving but had not yet posted. I got the idea of doing this podcast after watching a video of a talk he’d recently given at the New England Air Museum, which has two of his Doman Helicopters on permanent display. Listening to his lecture, I kept noticing parallels with the themes we discuss on Barefoot Innovation. It occurred to me that it would be fun to do a show inviting insights from someone who, nearly a century ago, began innovating in a field that’s very different from finance, but that was being similarly transformed by new, fast-changing technology. Glid Doman was born in the village of Elbridge, New York, in 1921. His father, Albert Doman, brought electricity to that part of the state in 1890 (you can still see historic sites related to it), and was an inventor of the electric starter and electric windshield wiper. My Dad’s uncle, Lewis Doman, invented the player piano. His half-brother Carl Doman pioneered both aircraft and automobile engines and became a senior executive at Ford. His half-sister Ruth Chamberlain was the first woman architect in the region. My family is loaded with the genes for invention and entrepreneurship. For my Dad as a boy, the most exciting field of invention was aviation. Airplanes were barnstorming farm fields. Airlines did not yet exist. And my Dad, who avidly read Popular Mechanics, built an airplane in his back yard (you’ll hear in the podcast whether he ever made it fly). Aviation was the new technology then, the way digitization and mobile phones and blockchains are the tech frontiers today -- or genetics or robotics or 3D printing. Aviation was full of novel engineering challenges that were not yet understood. Flight was also inspiring bold predictions about how our lives were going to change, some of which were hilariously wrong – a good lesson for people like me who like to try to forecast tech impacts. For instance, in clearing out our parents’ attic in recent days, my siblings and I found a magazine cover story advising on women’s fashion for the coming trend of traveling by helicopter. This little podcast touches only a tiny fragment of what made my Dad fascinating, and has nothing on his great life partner, our late mother, Joan Hamilton Doman. They met because she was the only woman in the 50-person University of Michigan flying club in World War II – and she was its top pilot. They had an amazing six decades or so, built around family and his work. He knew all the aviation greats from Igor Sikorsky to Charles Lindberg. He was featured on aviation magazine covers and traveled throughout the world. He was enlisted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab to help design a “space sail” to rendezvous with Haley’s Comet (ultimately not deployed). He’s been honored by his alma mater, the University of Michigan aeronautical engineering school. And when his helicopter company didn’t reach scale, he pivoted to wind energy and invented a superior rotor design for wind turbines, using the same insights he’d developed working with helicopters. He led the design of two colossal experimental turbines funded by the Departments of Energy and Interior and installed in Wyoming. When he “retired” at age 65, he and my mother moved to Rome where he led international engineering teams in designing huge turbines in Europe. And then, in his 80’s, he started a new wind energy venture of his own.  Right up to his death, he continued to be engaged with an affiliated firm, Seawind Technology, which is actively working to deploy his “Gamma” rotor designs on offshore wind turbines in Europe and other parts of the world. Decades before computers could model the movements of rotor blades, my Dad used a combination of intuition, math, physics and relentless measurement to understand, correctly, the movement of spinning blades. For both helicopters and wind turbines, my Dad created massively simplified rotor designs and drastically reduced the stress on the blades as they rotate. This captures huge efficiency gains and virtually eliminates blade failure, the bane of most rotor systems. As he explains in our talk, one key to this was to realize that the commonly-used three-bladed rotor design is inherently unstable.  Wind turbines, he argued, should have two blades and helicopters – because they have to fly forward – need four. Our conversation elicited a lot of my Dad’s thoughts about how to work with young, little-understood technology, as both an engineer and entrepreneur. While we didn’t cover all the ground I’d hoped to, you’ll hear him imparting Lean Startup-type wisdom. As a young engineer, for instance, he used a jackknife to cut open the balsa wood of a Sikorsky rotor blade to install measurement gauges on it and figure out what it was doing. He bought a postwar helicopter body for a dollar. He got hold of a Chevrolet clutch to use in his helicopter engine. His team invented do-it-yourself wind tunnels. It’s an MVP approach – a minimum viable product – in which they methodically identified, isolated, and intensively tested issues and reaped what today we call “rapid learning” and “fail-fast” lessons. As they figured out answers, they quickly pivoted, trying to succeed in an industry where, unlike today’s fintech, entrepreneurs needed huge amounts of capital. (In our recording, he talks about how easily his enterprise raised money, but that pattern did not hold over the decades.) Our conversation only touches on a few of these lessons (and nothing about the wind business), but shining through it is his defining trait, the one that made him most successful, which was unbounded and insatiable curiosity. Mainly, this episode shares his secret to being an innovator – and to having a wonderful career. His advice:  find organizations that have a lot of interesting problems, and go there and figure out how to solve them. For those intrigued with the technology history of the twentieth century, I’m attaching early chapters of a biography that my brother, Steve Doman – also an aeronautical engineer -- is writing about our father’s journey. Here, also, is an overview and short video on Doman Helicopters created by my sister, Terry Gibbon (she too is an entrepreneur, with her own video company).  And here is a short video of one of the wind turbines. To prepare this episode, I re-listened to the recording just a few weeks after his passing. One thing I notice is that, as we had this conversation after our Thanksgiving dinner last fall, my Dad’s comments kept making me laugh. Whenever he said goodbye to people, he always added the advice, “keep smiling.”  Words to live by. Let me share two updates about me and the show. First, I’ve become involved in a very significant project aimed at helping prepare our U.S. financial regulatory framework for the challenges raised by innovation. I’m going to stay in my Harvard fellowship for a second year, still writing my book on innovation and regulation, but will also be devoting much of my time to this initiative, which I’ll tell you more about as it develops. One result of the new project is that I’ve decided to suspend the Regulation Innovation video series we launched earlier this year. I expect to reactivate it when I have time to create the videos.  Meanwhile, they are still available, still for free, at Please do check them out. As I said when we started the series, I think the articles that accompany these videos might be the most important writing I’ve ever done. Second, we will soon be back from the Barefoot Innovation hiatus, and what a line up we have!  We’ll have CFPB Director Richard Cordray; Digital Asset Holdings’ Blythe Masters; National Consumer Law Center’s Lauren Saunders; the prize-winning founders of Bee, Vinay Patel and Max Gasner; Harvard professor and behavioral economics scholar Brigitte Madrian; Funding Circle’s U.S. CEO Sam Hodges; QED Investors co-founder and venture capital wise man Caribou Honig, and the chief compliance officers of both Citi and Wells Fargo, Kathryn Reimann and Yvette Hollingsworth Clark, together.  And those are the ones we’ve already recorded! We have many more exciting people in the scheduling queue. This is why we ask you to send in “a buck a show” – the show has turned into a major enterprise, just because we have so many fascinating people to talk with. We’ll try to speed up production as best we can, I’ll look forward to your continued feedback. Meanwhile, keep smiling.  Jo Ann Click below to donate your "buck a show" to keep Barefoot Innovation going and growing. Support the Podcast Subscribe to Our Mailing LIst Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
This is the most unique, and the most consequential, show we’ve ever done. If our thousands of listeners all think about it and especially if you share it widely, it has the most potential to actually change the financial regulatory world for the better and also in turn, therefore, to improve the financial world, too. It goes right into the heart of the most important work, being done by the most innovative people, on redesigning regulation for the digital age. My guests are Chris Woolard and Nick Cook of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. We sat down to record it on the last night of their enormous, ambitious, mold-breaking tech sprint held in London a few weeks ago. This regtech sprint, the fifth one they’ve done, focused on how to use new technology to combat financial crime. The sprints -- which are hackathons -- play a dual role, both sparking new ideas on specific regulatory challenges and also innovating in regulatory process, itself. I’ll set the scene for you. It was a Thursday night, dinner time, in the London offices of EY, in the Canary Wharf section of the city on the Thames, just a few blocks from the FCA’s building. EY generously offered their beautiful training facility for the sprint, because the FCA’s building is too small to hold the 400 people who were there by the end, or even the 260 who had been there for three days, working feverishly, day and night, to invent new solutions for money laundering. Those people had arrived on Tuesday morning and had self-formed into sixteen small teams, usually with total strangers, in a format mixing organizations and most importantly, mixing knowledge and skill types. Regulatory experts and AML experts and lawyers had worked elbow-to-elbow with tech experts, brainstorming ideas together and then translating these, live, into computer code, using test data provided by the participating tech companies. We sat down for this recording in a quiet conference room, just as the main gathering began to shift into post-conference socializing and bonding and celebrating over food and drink. It was one of those special moments where everyone feels elated and excited, and at the same time, completely drained. For me, as I think I say two or three times in this show, the sprint was the most fascinating and inspiring thing I’ve ever experienced. I hope that listening to it will inspire you to take up the FCA’s challenge to build on it in your own country and with your counterparts in other countries, and perhaps to take up their offer to help. People came to the sprint from all over the world, including, I’m especially happy to say, a substantial contingent of both regulators and financial companies from the United States (and also a new nonprofit, FinRegLab, with which I’m affiliated and which is building an empirical testing environment for regtech concepts in Washington). The FCA is at the forefront of a global regulatory awakening about the need to innovate regulatory models as technology increasingly outpaces the speed at which government can change. Its most famous innovation is its Regulatory Sandbox, which enables fintech innovation to be tested in a controlled experiment under the regulator’s close scrutiny and is being emulated throughout the world. Less well-known is their equally important innovation on the regtech side, for which they invented this creative new format, the regulator’s TechSprint.   Both the sandbox and the sprints have three key elements essential for regulatory innovation. First, they make collaboration happen, especially between the regulatory and tech worlds. Second, they enable very fast learning by the regulator, through direct, hands-on experience. And third, and most crucially, they use experimentation. They provide a safe space for trying things out, testing, learning, shaping -- quickly and cheaply. They apply the techniques that technology innovators figured out years ago, about the need to start small, try something, adjust as you learn, and if some ideas are going to fail, let them “fail fast” in a controlled setting where critical lessons can be learned early, and no harm can be done. These ideas are hard for people to grasp in the abstract, especially the notion that regulators need to get comfortable with learning through trial and error because there’s no other way to learn fast enough. I’m a former bank regulator and I know this idea is completely alien to regulatory culture and tradition, which have been designed, for good reason, to be careful and thorough and deliberate. A couple of years ago, a senior U.S. bank regulator told me that her agency had figured this out by spending time on the FCA’s website, reaching this epiphany that, the regulator doesn’t need to have all the answers -- even can’t have all the answers on tech change, before moving forward. It’s really the other way around. You have to move forward, to get to the answers. Chris and Nick describe the very same process -- as Chris calls it, the light bulb turning on, suddenly realizing it was riskier NOT to move, even though you’re not sure exactly what to do and what will happen. To me, the most interesting thing you’ll hear in this show is their voice as they describe this journey, the struggle toward creating a new way to work. Again, this was the fifth tech sprint. Be sure listen to my two earlier FCA shows, one with Chris that explains the FCA’s regulatory sandbox and one with Nick on regtech. The regtech one featured the breakthrough, two-week sprint held last November, successfully proving that regulatory reporting requirements could be updated directly, computer-to-computer, by issuing a rule change in the form of code, rather than words. That one was like a regulatory moonshot -- it could eventually change regulation, itself. This new sprint last month, by contrast, focused on the specific use case that’s most ripe for regtech transformation -- anti-money laundering. The UN estimates that there’s $1.6 - $2 trillion in annual global financial crime, and that we catch less than 1 percent -- despite spending tens of billions of dollars each year. And it’s getting worse. The criminals and terrorists today use sophisticated technology and operate as networks, while banks and governments use old technologies, with data trapped in silos. As Chris and Nick said, it will take a network, to beat a network. Chris also said that a million children are trafficked, each year. There’s a moment, in our conversation, where Nick says the sprint brings people to realizing that collectively, we can actually DO something about money laundering -- and you can hear the tone of excitement in his voice. For decades, we couldn’t really do much better, because we’ve had analog-era technology. Today we can use digitally-native tools. We can use them to fight crime and also to tackle nearly every other aspect of financial regulation -- all the areas where problems are so hard to solve. Financial inclusion. Consumer education. Preventing discrimination and predatory finance. Identity verification. Risk assessment. Financial reporting. New technology can make it all work better, and cost less, at the same time -- something that in the past was completely impossible. Believe it or not, I’m actually curbing my enthusiasm for this. This is the tamped down version. I think this is a regulatory revolution, beginning to move. Please listen to this episode, share it with everyone you know, and join in the dialogue. More on Chris Woolard Christopher Woolard is Executive Director of Strategy and Competition and an Executive Board Member of the Financial Conduct Authority. He’s responsible for policy, strategy, competition, market intelligence, consumer issues, the Chief Economist's department, communications and the Innovate initiative. He is chair of the FCA's Policy Steering Committee and a non-executive board member of the Payment Systems Regulator. Christopher joined the FCA in January 2013. Previously he was Group Director and Content Board member at Ofcom. He has spent most of his career in regulation or policy development including working at the BBC and in government as a senior civil servant. He is a Sloan Fellow of London Business School. More on Nick Cook Nick Cook leads the FCA’s RegTech activities, including the FCA’s TechSprint events - the first events of their kind convened by a financial regulator. He is responsible for creating the FCA’s Analytics Centre of Excellence to drive the organization’s use of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence.  Nick is the FCA’s representative on the European Securities and Markets Authority’s (ESMA) Financial Innovation Standing Committee and an advisor to the RegTech for Regulators Accelerator Programme. Nick joined the Financial Services Authority (the FCA’s predecessor) in 2009, initially in its Enforcement and Market Oversight Division. Prior to joining the regulator, Nick qualified as a chartered accountant at KPMG Forensic. More for our listeners Full interview transcript. We have many more great podcasts in the queue. We’ll talk with another community bank CEO, Mike Butler of Radius Bank.  We’ll have two more episodes recorded this year at LendIt. One is a discussion of new research by LendUp and Experian, on credit reporting, and the other is with my friend Greg Kidd of Global ID.  We also recorded two episodes at last month’s Comply 2018 conference in New York, with two regtech firms --, which offers machine-readable regulatory compliance, and Alloy, which has high-tech solutions for meeting the Know-Your-Customer rules in AML. Speaking of LendIt, I’ll also be a guest on Peter Renton’s Lend Academy podcast, and he’ll be on our show soon as well, so watch for those. I’m also excited we’ll have several leading members of Congress on the show in the coming weeks. So, stay tuned! I hope to see you at upcoming speeches and events including: CFSI’s Emerge, this week in Los Angeles, CA North Dakota Bankers Convention, June 10-12, Fargo, ND American Bankers Association Regulatory Compliance Conference, June 26, Nashville, TN Money 2020, October in Las Vegas. Among other things, I’ll be speaking on the Revolution Stage about the regulation revolution Also, watch for upcoming information on my collaboration with Brett King on his new book on the future of finance -- we’ll have a show and events on that as well. If you listen to Barefoot Innovation on iTunes, please leave a five star rating on the show to help us build it. Also please remember to send in your “buck a show” to keep it going, and come to for today’s show notes and to join our email list, so you’ll get the newest podcast, newsletter, and blog posts. As always, please follow me on Twitter and Facebook. And tell me what you’re thinking about digitizing regulation. Let’s widen this dialogue to more people, and more and more ideas! Support our Podcast Subscribe Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates. Email Address Sign Up We respect your privacy. Thank you!
Luz Urrutia, the global head of retail at Oportun, has been carrying the same credit card in her wallet for 30 years. Having moved from her native Venezuela to the U.S. to study finance at Georgia State University, Luz was thrilled when she landed her first job in the banking industry – only to have her credit card application rejected by the same bank where she worked! Having little or no credit can make adjusting to life in a new country extremely onerous. In our conversation, Luz points out that anything from getting a job to renting an apartment and hooking up utilities is often impossible without a FICO score. Currently, almost half of the Hispanic community in the U.S. is underserved. Luz decided years ago to help the 25 million individuals who represent the un- and under-banked in her community by offering responsible credit-building and affordable loans. Before moving to California to broaden her mission, Luz co-founded and served as President and Chief Operating Office for El Banco de Nuestra Comunidad in Atlanta. Since then, her career has been characterized by a relentless drive to use technology and creative techniques to “score the unscorable” and serve those overlooked by traditional financial institutions. Oportun, formerly Progreso Financiero, was founded in 2005 with the same goal of empowering underserved Hispanic consumers. Its proprietary technology platform scores applicants, even those who do not have credit, and enables Oportun to provide a highly personal experience with back-office efficiency. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA, the customer experience at Oportun is designed with the Hispanic customer in mind. This experience is disseminated through a network of more than 160 stores in five states, often conveniently co-located with or near Hispanic grocery stores, are open 7 days a week into the evening, and staffed by team members who speak Spanish. In recognition of Oportun’s goals of increasing economic opportunity for its clients, promoting community development, and serving low-income or underserved communities, Oportun was certified by the United States Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution in November 2009 and re-certified in October 2013. I spoke with Luz at the Center for Financial Services Innovation’s (CFSI) EMERGE conference in Austin, on whose board she has served since 2004 (full disclosure, I am also on the board). Luz has often been recognized for her commitment to improving the lives of underserved financial consumers, including being named as 2009’s Latina Business Woman of the Year and American Banker’s “Community Banker of the Year” in 2006. Perhaps the greatest reward for Luz, however, is the joy she feels pursuing her mission every day. In our interview you can gladden in her words imbued of passion and excitement (you’ll just have to trust that they were accompanied by a brilliant smile!). I am happy to offer this episode of Barefoot Innovation as a pick-me-up for anyone who needs a reminder of the unique work being done throughout the industry to use innovation to enhance the lives of financial consumers, and what revolutionary breakthroughs a strong drive to help one’s community can render. To learn more about Oportun Financial, click here. You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes HERE or open your favorite podcast app and search for Jo Ann Barefoot.
Stoyan Kenderov and I had a truly rich and candid conversation about the evolution of banking innovation and regulation, and though he appears ten episodes into Barefoot Innovation, it was Stoyan who first suggested I record our thought-provoking discussions and offer them as a series of podcasts. Thank you, Stoyan, for your encouragement! In this interview, we travel everywhere from communist Bulgaria to the emerging coding culture of mid-1990s Germany to today’s nucleus of innovation, Silicon Valley. In his current capacity, Stoyan leads Business Development and inorganic growth partnerships at Intuit’s Consumer Ecosystem Group and its product brands Mint, Mint Bills, and Quicken. As a child who literally disintegrated every toy he and his brother were ever given, Stoyan was born a natural disruptor. His vast curiosity has already taken him half way across the world, and he is ready to pass on his vision and wisdom to the new generation of financial consumers. (It was a real treat to hear how an innovator is teaching his young daughters about financial responsibility!) Stoyan and Intuit incorporate cutting edge behavioral research to create products that are simple, easy-to-use, and shorten the learning curve of traditional financial instruments. Year after year, Intuit is recognized as one of Fortune’s “100 Best Companies To Work For” and Fortune World’s “Most Admired Software Companies.” With the acquisition of Check, and the creation of Mint Bills, the company now offers users a way to search for and set up bill reminders, see what bills are due and pay them with a single click so that they never miss a payment. agrees that getting started with Mint Bills is easy; maybe Mint Bills can even help consumers forget that “bills are the worst!” Prior to Intuit, Stoyan held executive positions at payments, telecommunications, and mobile companies such as Amdocs, XACCT Technologies, KPN-Qwest and pioneering German, Dutch and Austrian Internet service providers. He co-founded two start-ups and participated in four successful exits. He is an advisor and mentor at Village Capital – the financial services accelerator and impact investor, and he also invests personally in early stage financial services start-ups in Europe, India and the US. I so enjoyed this conversation with Stoyan, and I hope you are as Intuit as I am. And, finally, here’s a bit more to exercise your financial (and listening!) skills: Pop quiz! One of the following is not a startup mentioned in this episode: Vouch, Digit, Even, Gather, Sweep, SavedPlus, Float, Simple, Karma, Acorns, Robinhood, and Coinye.    See my previous blog post for more on serving the “underestimated” consumer and how behaviors can change under conditions caused by shortages of a key resource like money, time, or food. Professor BJ Fogg of Stanford’s behavior model and how to motivate and trigger responsible consumption. The CFPB’s Project Catalyst. The Center for Financial Services Innovation’s brief on household cash flow challenges. You can subscribe to the podcast at iTunes HERE or open your favorite podcast app and search for Jo Ann Barefoot.
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Podcast Details

Apr 6th, 2015
Latest Episode
Jun 30th, 2020
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