Panel Says FinTech Must Practice Empathy to Serve Communities Excluded From Mainstream Finance FinTech takes center stage at 2017 Future of Wealth summit

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Hopes are high for FinTech. Many see this marriage of finance and technology as a means for underserved communities – long ignored by traditional banks – to secure the credit and capital they need to claim their piece of the American Dream.

Nikitra Bailey of the Center for Responsible Lending.

FinTech leaders and experts discussed the advantages and challenges of this sector at the 2017 Future of Wealth Summit. Nikitra Bailey, executive VP at the Center for Responsible Lending, moderated the “Applying Big Data to Real World Problems: The Case of FinTech” panel. She said the emergence of FinTech has the finance world abuzz.

“There is this scare right now that FinTech firms will come along and they will drive out mainstream banking,” Bailey said.

Jennifer Tescher of the Center for Financial Services Innovation.

Jennifer Tescher, president of the Center for Financial Services Innovation, said traditional banks are safe for now but that the innovation sector has a real opportunity to attract large swaths of consumers by designing products and services that help enrich and empower low-income communities.

“That is not only the right thing to do, that’s actually where, ultimately, the money is going to be made; that’s where the opportunities lie,” Tescher said.

Ramona Ortega of My Money, My Future, Inc.

Ramona Ortega did “the right thing” when she developed My Money, My Future, Inc., to serve as a mobile financial advisor for Millennials of color. She said her product is a successes because she knew the needs of this community first-hand.

“It is not that the apps don’t exists, it’s just that they are not being marketed and targeted in a way that makes sense for (people of color) to access them. People don’t buy what they don’t know,” she said.

Irum Musharraf of PayActiv.

Both Ortega and Irum Musharraf, director of Impact & Analytics at PayActiv, Inc., said it is vital for FinTech developers to have empathy for the consumers they want to serve, especially if those consumers have been historically marginalized and shutout of opportunities for advancement.

“Listen to the end-user and understand their problems,” said Musharraf, whose company works with employers to give their employees access to their earnings whenever they need it. “Collect the right data and then design with that empathy in mind for the underserved.”

Jotaka Eaddy of LendUp

Jotaka Eaddy, head of Government Affairs for LendUp, challenged the FinTech sector to buck the status quo by creating services that lift consumers out of the ranks of the underserved. LendUp’s mission is to do just that, she said, adding that these days of financial volatility calls for long-term solutions, not quick fixes.

“People have gone from having a career, to having jobs, to now having tasks,” Eaddy said.

Watch the entire enlightening discussion here.

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