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Appetite for Disruption: The Business and Regulation of FinTech

Many opportunities and challenges are at the intersection of technology and financial services. And FinTech itself is rapidly evolving as businesses continuously innovate and new ideas come from unexpected places. At the same time, government regulators are trying to keep pace. Troy A. Paredes and Lee A. Schneider explore this disruption by engaging the leaders who are changing what FinTech is and how we think about it. In this biweekly podcast, Troy, former SEC Commissioner and founder of Paredes Strategies LLC, and Lee, general counsel at Block.one and co-founder of Genesis Block, LLC, discuss today’s –and tomorrow’s – exciting and impactful FinTech topics. With their guests, they explore business and regulatory developments and technology trends, giving listeners new perspectives to take back to Main Street, the Hill, Wall Street, and the boardroom.
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Appetite for Disruption: The Business and Regulation of FinTech
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Oct 26, 2020

The GraniteShares CEO finishes our conversation sharing his thoughts about the differences between public companies and private companies and how public markets can force companies to have more discipline.  He also offers insight into some of his ideas for ongoing innovation and our financial markets.  Stay tuned at the end as Troy and Lee discuss where technology might be headed.  As a reminder, nothing said in this or any other episode is investment, legal, or any other advice of any kind.  

Oct 12, 2020

William Rhind is founder and CEO of GraniteShares, a recent entrant in the exchange traded funds space.  As William explains, financial innovation -- and associated disruption -- continues.  That disruption could come from new goods or services or whole new business models.  He also touches on themes we hear from other entrepreneurs around the challenges of a startup.  But thinking differently about things is often where the innovation begins.  As a reminder, nothing said in this or any other episode is investment, legal, or any other advice of any kind.  

Sep 28, 2020

Educating the World about Emerging Technologies.  We return with Sunayna Tuteja to hear her views on the importance of education, as firms and investors approach new financial services and emerging asset classes.  This involves learning from investors and customers to help create the tools and materials they need.  A disciplined approach to innovation can make a big difference when it comes to results and impacts.  Stay tuned at the end for Troy and Lee’s discussion.  As a reminder, nothing said in this or any other episode is investment, legal, or any other advice of any kind.  

Sep 14, 2020

The Pivot to Emerging Technologies in Financial Services.  We welcome Sunayna Tuteja, who heads TD Ameritrade’s digital and emerging technologies efforts.  Her vision of technology as democratizing finance and creating financial inclusion fits in with the overall founding ethos of Ameritrade.  She thinks carefully about what the problem is, why is it worth solving, and why is her team uniquely qualified to solve the problem.  Often these problems are about removing friction to allow clients to take charge of their financial future.  By breaking down all types of barriers, Sunayna and her team are innovating in ways that are core to what we hear from most FinTech entrepreneurs, even within the context of a large organization.  As a reminder, nothing said in this or any other episode is investment, legal, or any other advice of any kind.  

Aug 24, 2020

Special episode!  Do you know the way to Sacramento? We are joined by three people from Sacramento for a discussion about the efforts the city and the state of California are undertaking to help create economic inclusion by closing the digital divide, bridging the skills gap, and encouraging innovation in FinTech and beyond.  Barry Broome, President & CEO of the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, Commissioner Manuel Alvarez, Commissioner of the California Department of Business Oversight, and Ciaran McMullan, President & CEO of Suncrest Bank, discuss the different forces at play and programs they are developing.  There are lessons in leadership, attracting talent, and public-private partnerships in the approach they are taking, which combines practical solutions and dedication.  Troy and Lee offer some thoughts at the end. 

Aug 10, 2020

We continue our conversation and broaden the idea of narrative to other areas of the world, especially as impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.  James talks about financial inclusion, big data, and regulation, all from the standpoint of delivering positive messages and then achieving that promise.  He also discusses the need for empathy and explanation throughout the hero’s journey.  Troy and Lee share their thoughts at the end.

Jul 27, 2020

James Robert Lay is a branding and marketing expert and author who focuses on financial services and particularly digital financial services.  James encourages his clients and the entire industry to change the story around their products and services to highlight common themes from storytelling, such as the hero’s journey, rags to riches, and failure followed by a guide bringing you to success.  Even though financial services is increasingly about technology, James emphasizes the human aspects of financial services and the importance of connecting with clients as people rather than portfolios.  You are the hero in your financial story!

Jul 13, 2020

Special Episode!  SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce.  Insights into a regulator's thinking.  Before she was nominated for a new term, Hester Peirce, a Commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, sat down with Troy and Lee for a wide-ranging discussion.  Commissioner Peirce provided her thoughts (with the disclaimer that they are her’s alone) on topics including blockchain and cryptoassets, capital formation, the consolidated audit trail and privacy, artificial intelligence and the future of fintech, and areas she believes deserve more focus.  Her themes of humility in the regulatory process, analysis of data, and not protecting people out of opportunities provided an overlay for all her comments.  We greatly appreciate her work and public service.  Crypto Mom delivered!  We discuss our reactions at the end. 

Jul 6, 2020

Blockchain Entrepreneurs Roundtable, Part 2:  Tavonia Evans, Karen Hsu, and Bea O’Carroll, entrepreneurs using blockchain and cryptoassets, continue the conversation with a focus on how to create opportunities and products for underserved communities and the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses and their customer bases.  There is also a great sense of community that runs through the entire conversation.  For them, this is partially about developing an inclusive ecosystem through the democratization of economics and value.  They all seem far away from the perception that blockchain is all about scams.  Stay tuned at the end for Troy and Lee’s discussion about what they learned from these dynamic guests.  And just a reminder that nothing in this episode is investment advice or advice of any other type.

Jun 22, 2020

Blockchain Entrepreneurs Roundtable, Part 1:  Tavonia Evans, Karen Hsu, and Bea O’Carroll, three entrepreneurs using blockchain and cryptoassets in various ways, talk about the joys and challenges of starting a new company, especially in a nascent space.  They all have similar motivations of creating inclusion and helping different groups gain access to opportunities, such as financial services.  But each has chosen her own business path.  Tavonia is building a blockchain ecosystem to help people of color.  Karen is using blockchain’s transparency to create analytics products and services.  Bea is trading cryptoassets for clients with the goal of bringing them to many more people of all backgrounds and economic means.  A lot of what they want to accomplish is consonant with the original goals of blockchain.  And just a reminder that nothing in this episode is investment advice or advice of any other type.

Jun 8, 2020

Chris Giancarlo (former CFTC Chairman) and Daniel Gorfine (former Director of LabCFTC) join us to talk about making a central bank digital currency (or CBDC) version of the US dollar.  The Digital Dollar Project has carved out a large task for itself in trying to bring the dollar fully into the digital realm from the physical realm.  There are many implications, from how people will pay for things to how monetary policy in the country will work.  One key result could me more financial access and inclusion for those who are unbanked or underbanked.  There are also big design questions and issues, such as privacy, law enforcement, payment rails, and how to transition practically to a CBDC.  With the Project's recent white paper, our guests and their team tackle these core topics.  A fascinating idea and effort that we found inspirational.

Jun 1, 2020

As we hear from Melissa, she and her colleagues are working hard to try to get things right, balancing many interests.  LabCFTC provides an opportunity for innovators and regulators to interact.  Although the U.S. does not have a regulatory sandbox program, Melissa describes ways to work with regulators.  Melissa mentions the idea of “launch, learn, tune” several times, and that mindset seems like it can be a good approach for both innovators and regulators when done prudently.  The CFTC also has been active in responding to COVID-19, and there is information on its website to explain these initiatives.  Stick with us until the end to hear Troy and Lee chat about the regulation/innovation interface, including the case for more technologists at financial and other regulators.  COVID-19:  Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the virus, and we applaud the workers on the front lines as they strive to bring the world through this troubling time.

May 19, 2020

Melissa Netram heads LabCFTC, an office within the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged with understanding FinTech innovation and interfacing with the creators of new products and services.  She comes to the job with significant experience in regulatory policy around tech from her time in the private sector and previous government roles.  In leading LabCFTC, Melissa both educates and innovates, seeking the right balance between regulatory requirements and moving technology forward.  Consider signing up for LabCFTC’s office hours and meeting with her and her team as you move your project forward!  COVID-19:  Our hearts go out to everyone impacted by the virus, and we applaud the workers on the front lines as they strive to bring the world through this troubling time.

Apr 20, 2020

We return with more thinking from Clara about how to accomplish trust and safety on the internet.  There are many players involved in the discussion, including government agencies, the press, brands, and think tanks, all of whom are committed to the health and welfare of society on (and off) the internet.  All have ideas about the right rules and outcomes.  One core point that Clara emphasizes is how anonymity allows people to engage in conduct they otherwise might avoid if they were identified, and there is little doubt that the internet allows people to gain much more information, including algorithmically biased information, than ever before.  The next few years will be consequential as people without access to the internet get online and as the world becomes increasingly digital.  Even through all of this, Clara remains optimistic, which gives Lee and Troy hope, as you will hear in our post-interview conversation.

Apr 18, 2020

COVID-19 shorts No. 5. Balaji Srinivasan paints a fraught picture of the world as a result of the virus, with advances in medical technology in the face of financial system difficulties and restrictions on movement. He sees the further rise of blockchain, cryptoassets and decentralized platforms but at the cost of central governments.

Apr 17, 2020

COVID-19 shorts No. 4. Samantha Radocchia talks about what she is seeing in the crisis world, where she sees technology and innovation heading and insights for the future of blockchain, cryptoassets and decentralized platforms.

Apr 16, 2020

Title: COVID-19 shorts No. 3. Brad Schneider talks about the world of data during this time of crisis, the role he sees for better data in the future and what might happen to contact tracing data once this troubling time ends.

Apr 15, 2020

COVID-19 shorts No. 2.  Prof. Sylvester Johnson talks about what he is seeing in the world of academia and AI, what innovations will come out of the crisis and what insights he has gained during this troubling time.

Apr 14, 2020

COVID-19 shorts. Mike Novogratz talks about what he is seeing in the world, where he thinks things are going and what insights hit him during this troubling time. 

Apr 6, 2020

Who are the policy makers of the internet?  Clara Tsao, an expert on content moderation and trust and safety on the internet, says that the people establishing the rules for what is (and is not) allowable content on a platform and the protocols for enforcing those rules are the policy makers.  Given the breadth of what’s on the internet (almost limitless content, potentially), the “line drawing” to decide what’s ok and what’s not ok is very difficult with lots of room for second-guessing.  Figuring out a policy about when it’s permissible to show something that might be risqué or how to balance free speech with protecting society from information that could incite terrorism or other physical threats presents key questions that Clara mentions.  Actually applying the rules once they are in place to particular situations is an especially difficult task.  Clara wakes us up to the complexity of trust and safety on the internet.

Mar 23, 2020

We delve further into the world of data and the integrity of information with Adaptive Management CEO, Brad Schneider (no relation).  More data is often better because you can look for agreement among the data and the difference observations that diverse data provide.  This can help cancel out some of the bias that can affect an individual data source.  All three of us speculate about how choosing a restaurant based on reviews might involve data analysis and thinking about what question is relevant (no statement or viewpoint about any restaurant review provider is intended).  The granularity of data matters too, as more granular data can illuminate more granular insights.  Listen in to our thoughts at the end after Brad took off.   

Since we recorded with Brad, Adaptive was acquired by Knoema, a knowledge management company.  Brad has started NoMad Data, which focuses on helping investment firms and corporations find and use novel sources of data to improve their visibility and efficiency.

Visit afdfintech.com for more information.  You can follow us on Twitter at @AfDfintech.

 

Mar 9, 2020

Alternative data can help us answer questions.  The world of data is a lot larger – and a lot more powerful – than many suspect.  As Adaptive Management’s CEO and a longtime data junkie, Brad Schneider (no relation) spends his time thinking about sources and uses of data so Adaptive can provide useful datasets and analytical tools for its financial services and other clients.  Adaptive’s clients can access and piece together all sorts of novel data to better understand what’s happening.  The expectation is that better data will result in better decisions.  The normalization and standardization of data is key so that the data can be easily read, compared, and integrated – in other words, so that the data can be used effectively. 

Since we recorded with Brad, Adaptive was acquired by Knoema, a knowledge management company.  Brad has started NoMad Data, which focuses on helping investment firms and corporations find and use novel sources of data to improve their visibility and efficiency.

 Visit afdfintech.com for more information.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @AfDfintech.

Feb 24, 2020

Bringing blockchain to securities settlement isn’t easy.  As we discuss with John, a couple of years ago, it felt like everything would move to blockchain in the near future.  As Bond.one realized it would take some time, the business has shifted focus to doing the hard work of education and learning how to integrate with legacy technology systems.  The combination of legacy systems and heavy regulation have led Bond.one to focus on developing centralized blockchain solutions, although John likes to follow the DeFi movement for its innovations.  John also talks about other industries where he sees the potential for blockchain.  Troy and Lee chat at the end about some ideas from John’s remarks.  AfD Conference!  Troy and Lee are going to host a conference in late April or early May!  Details to come, so please check afdfintech.com regularly.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @AfDfintech.

Feb 10, 2020

John Mizzi is the Chief Strategy Officer at Bond.one, a technology company helping to revolutionize settlement of debt securities using blockchain.  And it’s not easy!  John explains how their original vision became more realistic to incorporate blockchain and smart contracting where they decided it was most practical and sensible given many pragmatic issues.  John sees blockchain as the future of back-office infrastructure, although it will take time to get there.  To move things along, they are focused on education and taking concrete steps to improve things but without trying to do everything all at once.  It’s an interesting take on how to think about real-world applications of distributed-ledger technology.  AfD Conference!  Troy and Lee are going to host a conference in late April or early May!  Details to come, so please check afdfintech.com regularly.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @AfDfintech.

Jan 27, 2020

We continue unpacking with Dr. Mitchell the concept of intelligence and the importance of justice and ethics, including when it comes to computers.  In working on her book, Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans, Professor Mitchell had a few surprises about both the successes and limits of AI, and offers some cautionary notes as we increasingly look to machines for answers and to do things for us.  Computers do things by brute force computation whereas humans use analogies, that is, drawing from prior experience to inform other judgments in different contexts.  One way to think about this is that hard computations are easy for computers; but easy things for a person, like describing what’s going on outside your window, is very difficult for a computer.  Plus, just because a computer does one thing exceptionally well, it may do other things poorly.  Troy and Lee share some of their own thoughts at the end.  AfD Conference!  Troy and Lee are going to host a conference in late April or early May!  Details to come, so please check afdfintech.com regularly.  You can also follow us on Twitter at @AfDfintech.

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