Financial technology, or FinTech, is a rapidly expanding market segment filled with companies that are irrevocably changing the way consumers, businesses and financial organizations interact with each other worldwide.
As I researched some of the more dynamic and inspirational FinTech CEOs for this piece, I noticed that certain personality traits emerged. These leaders are all interested in financial problems and want to fix them, whether it's by changing existing technology or completely bypassing it. They have a passion for helping people and recognize that by doing so there is benefit for more than just those persons they are directly assisting.
Here are 10 amazing FinTech CEOs who are changing the way of the finance industry works.
1. Claire Cockerton, Innovate Finance
Working as a serial entrepreneur, Cockerton has been part of a large technology accelerator in Europe known as Level39. She has offered thought leadership on financial services and firmly entrenched herself within what has been somewhat of a male-dominated space. Besides having a global leadership position in financial technology, until a few months ago she was CEO of Innovate Finance. This UK organization is focused on increasing the country’s position in the global financial service market through technology.
She also serves as a technology ambassador as part of the London Mayor’s, "London Tech Ambassadors Group." Much of her FinTech has revolved around the creation of smart cities that link their operations, including finance, through technology platforms for greater efficiency.
2. Stephen Ufford, Trulioo
Ufford says he likes to fix things and has done it four times so far, with four different startups, including Trulioo, a company working to build online trust by verifying identities. The firm also helps financial technology companies follow a wide range of international regulatory compliance requirements, including Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) rules. His other companies have also served the FinTech space, including consumer credit reports and consumer identity management.
3. Karl Martin, Nymi, (formerly Bionym)
Martin has his eye on the growth of wearable computing devices and how these might be used for authentication purposes. This includes a wristwatch called Nymi that aids consumers and businesses unlock their mobile banking apps when they have ineffective or easily-breached passwords. The technology uses biometrics, including identifying people by their heartbeats.
4. Jeff Stewart, Lenddo
Stewart recognized that the global financial crisis took away loan opportunities for millions, while people in developing countries never got a chance, despite much hard work. He took a chance in lending to them with Lenddo, which has done 10,000 e-loans to 500,000 global members. This software solution is helping individuals obtain credit through a new online model for microfinance, as well as helping to create and strengthen a new middle class worldwide.
5. Shivani Siroya, InVenture
Siroya is another female force in the world of FinTech as CEO and founder of InVenture. Her company helps small business owners access financial, intellectual and social capital through mobile tech.
This platform helps grow tiny companies into larger enterprises that can eventually generate jobs for their communities. Siroya's background includes assistance for small businesses in India and Mexico, as well as work with major organizations like Citigroup, HealthNet and the United Nations Populist Fund.
6. Giovanni Dapra, MoneyFarm
Dapra created MoneyFarm to raise the bar in ethical money management advice. In his work with large banks, he saw how certain financial advisors received incentives to recommend specific mutual funds or simply weren't transparent about their commissions.
Moneyfarm works with an online community of 12,000 users who want to create an investment portfolio with independent advice from experts who don't get a commission. It is changing how people invest and encouraging many to return to financial markets.
7. Kristo Kaarmann, TransferWise
TransferWise is giving banks a run for their money by letting businesses, expatriates and students who are studying abroad access and move their money on a global platform. Historically, there have not been many comprehensive ways to execute these types of transactions for expatriates. Kaarmann comes from a financial services background and has partnered with Taavet Hinrikus, who was part of the start-up group behind Skype.
TransferWise has attracted big investors, such as Sir Richard Branson, as well as Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, who were behind PayPal. Recently, Kaarmann helped the company raise $58 million in new funding to expand operations.
8. Reynolds Bish, Kofax
Bish and his company, Kofax, are trying to decrease the use of paper in mortgage transactions. Their software is used to provide paperless borrower documentation for the lending process. The company’s profitability is growing as mortgage companies and banks continue to adopt it. Kofax development teams are also working on creating a full mortgage automation platform that could simplify the home-buying process even more someday.
9. Julien Arnold, Numbrs
Julien Arnold is the disrupter behind this mobile app that is designed to help consumers get better at staying on top of their finances and learn to enjoy the banking experience more. One of the most difficult things with finance and technology is to create something user-friendly. The Numbrs app helps people see all their account data in one place and designs it in a way that is very appealing visually.
Using design and behavioral science to create a solution for financial consumers hasn't been done much before. The app also lets users see what effect future transactions might have on their fiscal health. The idea is that this may redirect behavior for smarter financial decisions.
10. Jack Dorsey, Square and Twitter
Dorsey is well known for using a hands-off approach that puts decisions in the hands of a talented team while he focuses on fundamentals and provides an environment for the team to grow. His belief in hard work, agility and continual movement has turned Square into a FinTech success story.
The focus on continually fixing and rebuilding aspects of his companies has often resulted in momentum that, in the case of Square, is now changing the mobile payments industry for small businesses. This popular solution lets people accept debit and credit payments on the go. It also lets everyone migrate to paperless receipts.
These CEOs are revolutionary, in part because they are trying under-appreciated, risky or unproven approaches that in some cases have already massively altered an entrenched financial services industry. They have also changed the lives of many consumers, businesses and industry players. It should be very interesting to see how these FinTech disruptors change the very nature of commerce on the planet in the years to come.