Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator 2017 cohort


Fintech is pretty much still a buzzword around down here, but in lots of other countries, what were once fintech startups are now fully fledged companies. It’s taken us a while, but hey, we’re at the bottom of the world, give us a break! It’s great that we’ve got a pretty sweet hub of startups that we know are gonna make some killer waves anytime soon, but there are some rad people around the world who’ve been doing this for a while. Let’s check out what some of these well-seasoned fintech peeps are up to.

Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Assets Holding

Introducing Blythe Masters. Also credited as the creator of the credit default swap, Blythe has an impressive history in the world of finance. She spent 27 years at J. P. Morgan Chase, rising too Managing Director there at the age of 28. Since then, she’s added a ton of other things to her resume. Most recently are her movements in the world of fintech. As the CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, Blythe has overseen the acquisition of Hyperledger, a startup that applies the basic technology of bitcoin (aka blockchain) to financial markets. It’s got the potential to eliminate errors and costs in traditional trading, as well as enhancing transparency and traceability, a choice example of how larger financial corporations are working with not against fintech.

Blythe sees the massive potential to improve the system by utilising these amazing developments. Digital Asset Holding’s have attracted lots of attention (not to mention dollars) from some of the world’s biggest financial and technology firms like Citibank, Goldman Sachs and IBM. And that’s just the start. Blythe’s also potentially solved the problem of blockchain privacy concerns, with fingerprint technology. In Blythe’s own words,  Digital Assets exists to “build what will be the common fabric or infrastructure” of finance. If this means the reduction of waste spent on latency, redundancy and error, and a more sophisticated, less complicated way to trade and invest, then power on, sister!

Mike Cagney, SoFi

SoFi? So fine! Alright, I probably could’ve come up with a better joke but let’s cut to the chase here. If you haven’t heard of Mike Cagney, founder of SoFi (Social Finance Inc.), get your head out from under a rock. SoFi is an online personal finance company that provides student loan refinancing, mortgages and personal loans.

The best part is, they ignore your credit score. Okay, okay. Credit scores have their use for sure. But SoFi are much more interested in you as a customer, your spending patterns, career prospects, how much you could potentially be earning. “The true way to think about the market opportunity here is around lifetime value of the customer, not around transactional economics”. They’re kinda setting up their own lending criteria. You could say that Mike doesn’t play by the rules. Better yet, he makes his own. He’s also really outspoken about the glowing future of fintech. Mike’s ambitious. He’s got his eyes set on a more than just mortgages and loans, but wants his customers to switch their checking accounts over too amongst many other plans: something he realises will be a challenge, but one that he’s not afraid of. Having raised over $1.4 billion to date, SoFi isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Baiju Bhatt , one half of Robinhood

Robinhood is made for millennials, by millennials. Boasting investors like Snoop and Nas, this is investment for the young and hip. What’s not to love? Founded in 2013 by Baiju Bhatt and Vladimir Tenev, Robinhood has revved up how you invest. Robinhood provides a user-friendly app for free tracking and trading of stocks. Traditional brokerages charge per trade to cover the usual kinds of overheads like staff and marketing spend. What’s great about Robinhood is that it’s overheads are so low. It’s lean, engineering focused and doesn’t have a physical HQ, which basically means the customers win. They ain’t gonna charge you a cent for per-trade. Cha-ching!

Baidu reckons that “at Robinhood, we view commission fees as arbitrary mark-ups like taxes, which discourage participation in the financial markets.” Robinhood has been so successful that it’s pushed big time broker Charles Schwab to lower their commission fees, a trend we hope will continue. On top of that, they’ve built a platform for other developers to offer zero-fee trades in their own apps. For the Robinhood devotees, they’ve launched a Gold option, where a $10 monthly premium is paid for a bunch of perks like zero-wait on trades and borrowing advantages. Bright and optimistic, Baidu isn’t just a fresh face. He’s well aware of what needs to happen for expansion into China and abroad. With all the verve of a millennial, we reckon Robinhood is in for the win. Avo on toast anyone?

Of course, this is only a tiny little taste of the cool people that are out there in the fintech world, making a huge change, one startup and app at a time. If there’s one thing we can glean from them all it’s that you have to be young. Just kidding. It’s that they all have the firm belief that the infrastructure of finance can and will be changed. And they’ll keep disrupting til it is. We hope you will too.

We’re kinda killing it too. Come to our Demo day to find out more.

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