We've had twenty guests give their two cents on the world of fintech and where we are all steering the future ahead on our podcast, Interchange. That’s forty cents, if you’re counting along.
We’ve chatted with some of the most prolific thinkers in the fintech space and announced some news along the way: We’ve launched new products and partnerships; we've probed deep into payroll; we've broached the subject of behavioral data, to name a few.
Now is a great time to take a look in the rear-view mirror and share key nuggets of knowledge that have been shared over our airwaves.
Strive for something bigger than you
Our first takeaway comes from our conversation with Dave Salvant and Songe LaRon, Co-founders at Squire.
Only recently has financial services become an industry for founders who want to make a positive impact on the world. History has often painted the industry in a negative light, but more and more, missionaries are joining the charge towards financial health in the United States. The Founders at Squire are a perfect embodiment of this as they strive for something bigger than themselves.
Every founder has a mark that they want to leave in the world. Sometimes it’s selfishly motivated, sometimes it’s altruistic, and sometimes it changes as both the company and founders grow along with it.
Dave shared that much of the initial motivation for starting and growing Squire was economic. Makes sense. Founding a company without economic motivations generally doesn’t work out in the long term. Dave continued to explain that his motivations have shifted now that Squire is almost a unicorn (I think we are calling them “soon-icorns” these days!) and much economic value has been created.
“It’s more so a lighthouse for folks — from the investor side and the entrepreneur side. To start something that can point to Squire; investors can point to Squire. That has become more important to me than monetary gain.”
Building the financial highways of the future
Lindsay joined us on Interchange to announce Atomic’s partnership with Bond to link embedded finance with payroll. Payroll APIs and Embedded Finance aren’t the simplest concepts to explain so we reached for the best metaphors we could and one really hit home.
The best metaphor we were able to conjure up for what we’re doing together comes in the form of classic, physical infrastructure. Think highways. And then all the necessary infrastructure that needs to exist to make them the efficient motorways we’ve come to expect. In this case, Bond is building the highway infrastructure by providing all the pieces of embedded financial products (KYC, Card Issuance, Bank Partner, Transaction Monitoring, etc.) on one superhighway; Atomic’s suite of payroll solutions are providing the on and off ramps. Together, we’re building the financial infrastructure of the future.
KYC with context
How we handle the KYC (Know Your Customer) process as an industry is a bit ironic at times. The process is designed specifically to ensure that someone is who they say they are, but we often ask questions that any fraudster could find the answer to online and we don’t take into account the behavior displayed by the person going through the ID verification process.
We had Jack Alton, CEO at Neuro-ID, on to help us understand more about why behavioral data matters.
Most sign up flows for financial products are pretty similar...and candidly pretty stale. Hand over your name, address, SSN, yada yada yada. It’s all important information to get the customer through the KYC process, but we’re missing a good deal of nuance. That’s where behavioral data comes in.
Neuro-ID can unlock the nuance of the behaviors that are happening during this process. Did it take the user way too long to get one piece of information that they should have memorized? Did they blow through everything, but couldn’t pass the SSN field without multiple failures?
These are broad examples of the context that Neuro-ID can layer on top of the classical KYC data to provide increased pull through rates and decreased fraud rates at the same time. There is more to ID Verification than simply answering a set of questions. The core question should always be, “Is this person who they say they are?” With the mind boggling amount of information on the dark web and identity theft getting easier and more prevalent every day, it’s time for our KYC and AML checks to go one step further.
Reduce the barriers to financial literacy
In our conversation with Kurtis Lin, CEO at Pinwheel, we explored the hurdles to making the right financial decisions in the US; one of the clearest obstacles is financial literacy. As we covered in the blog, over 53% of adults say thinking about their financial situation makes them anxious, according to OppLoans.com; additionally, 44% percent say discussing their finances stresses them out.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Kurtis helps us understand why.
Financial literacy is lacking throughout the United States. We don’t teach it in schools, we often don’t talk about money in our family units, and, in many cases, it’s not an easy subject to unpack.
“The promise of fintech in many ways is to lessen the barriers to entry to financial literacy,” Kurtis explains. He isn’t referring to a class that Americans should take or a certification we need to accomplish; he’s referring to technology taking us one step closer to the idea of self-driving money.
Self-driving money is a concept that’s been bantered about in the world of fintech over the past year or so. The idea is about as simple as it sounds: money that makes decisions on its own. Too much debt? Automatically consolidate your loans to a single payment with a lower rate. Want to buy a house? Start a long-term savings plan with the right allocation (cash, stocks, bonds) to get you there.
The right product, not the easiest product
Our last and final takeaway comes from our conversation with our very own VP of Strategic Partnerships, Marcus Lobendahn.
If everything is fintech and every brand is going to be a fintech, then they have to start somewhere, right? One thing Marcus notices as he speaks with brands large and small is the “they did it so we should do it, too,” mentality.
As VP of Strategic Partnerships, one thing he spends a lot of his time on is advising — advising to ensure that the brand is choosing. to embed the right product for their customers. If the end-user generally has a thin credit file, then rolling out a credit card right off the bat probably won’t work so great. On the other hand, if the end users generally have good credit and plenty of savings, then rolling out small dollar lending wouldn’t make much sense either.
If you’re not sure what would benefit your end-users the most or if you’re not sure where to start, reach out — Marcus would love to hear from you! Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to brainstorm on how embedding financial products could benefit your business.
If you care about leveling the playing field in finance or you’re building something novel, let’s chat! Reach out to email@example.com. We are always hiring so check out our careers page to become part of the team democratizing access into finance.