17 August 2023 |

What’s Up In Fintech


On Thursdays, I share news stories and trending pieces I’m keeping tabs on. Consider it your shortcut to shifting through the noise in the fintech news world.

#1 These Women Tried to Warn Us About AI  

It’s no secret that artificial intelligence is the latest and greatest trend, but the thought leaders at tech giants like Google and Twitter have been leading the charge to raise awareness about the severe dangers of AI over the last decade. To be specific, brilliant female researchers of color, like Timnit Gebru, Rumman Chowdhury, Safiya Noble, Seeta Peña Gangadharan, and Joy Buolamwini, have been sounding the alarm about the societal discrimination and biases that AI can magnify, as reported in Rolling Stone

After all, an analysis of data sources that feed GPT-2, the predecessor to today’s breakthrough chatbot, revealed that less than 15% of Wikipedia contributors were women or girls, only 34% of Twitter users were women, and 67% of Redditors were men. These sources are where large language models (LLMs) get their training data (aka the data you use to train a machine learning algorithm or model). Even more disheartening, Gebru’s research proves that white supremacist and misogynistic views are prevalent in the training data, but it doesn’t stop there. 

Buolamwini’s project revealed that darker-skinned women were 34.7% more likely to be misclassified than white men at 0.8%. This resulted from the datasets being simply not diverse enough, as the systems were not given enough Black and brown faces to learn how to understand what they look like. 

Why It Matters: Leaders in AI – like Geoffrey Hinton – amplify hypothetical issues with AI instead of the bias and discrimination that is hurting real people right now. We must be aware of the consequences of bias in the automated systems used by 99% of Fortune 500 companies for hiring practices. AI may seem like a Westworld fantasy, but AI-powered discrimination is a pressing issue affecting real lives. From Amazon’s now-defunct AI recruiting tool that was trained on mostly male résumés to automated criminal sentencing algorithms, it’s clear that ‘garbage in, garbage out’ is the key to understanding the importance of accurate and unbiased data regarding machine learning. As artificial intelligence continues gaining traction, it’s time for us to take responsibility for our decisions about how these technologies are trained and where the data is coming from. After all, the lives of real people are at stake, and ignoring this will continue to perpetuate discrimination and biases we’ve longed to remove. 

#2 Over 60% Of Fintechs Paid $250,000 in Compliance Fines Last Year

Alloy just dropped a fresh report. According to their findings, 60% of fintechs surveyed say they’ve shelled out a cool $250,000 (or more!) in compliance fines. And a third of these fintech folks even coughed up over $500,000. Yikes, right? The more prominent fintech players are dishing out the most cash in fines — around 37% of the fintech giants with 1,000+ employees handed over half a million dollars or more in compliance fines just last year. 

Oh, and here’s the twist: 93% of these fintech heroes mentioned that meeting compliance requirements is a bit like juggling flaming swords. The rules, like the Bank Secrecy Act and all its anti-money laundering jazz, take much work to crack. 

Why It Matters: Well, fintechs are in the business of handling people’s hard-earned cash and financial moves. So, playing fast and loose with compliance isn’t an option. And it’s a real dance since bad actors sometimes move quicker than the regulators. So, fintechs are putting in overtime to prevent financial shenanigans. But it’s not just about the fines. 

These fintech companies are losing sleep over customer trust. Yep, a cool 34% said that customer confidence keeps them up at night, even more than the dreaded fines. Reputational damage is no small fry, with 25% feeling the heat on that front. 

And here’s the kicker: complying with the Bank Secrecy Act means financial institutions must be on the lookout for sketchy activity and report it. In fact, around a third of these fintechs are churning out anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 suspicious activity reports each year. It’s like a compliance marathon, and writing these reports takes some serious time—25% said it eats up a good 1-2 weeks. 

#3 Congresswoman Waters ‘Deeply Concerned’ About PayPal’s Stablecoin Launch

Rep. Maxine Waters from California had a few things to say about PayPal’s new stablecoin called PYUSD. She’s worried because there aren’t clear rules from the government about how these kinds of digital assets should be handled. As the top Democrat on the House Financial Service Committee, Waters highlighted the significance of PayPal’s massive customer base of 435 million globally, surpassing the online accounts of major banks combined. She stressed that federal oversight is vital to ensure consumer protection and mitigate potential financial stability risks linked to the stablecoin’s operations.

It’s interesting because, at the same time, the committee she’s a part of actually approved some rules for stablecoins like PYUSD. But here’s the twist: some Democrats are on the same side as Republicans about this, even though Rep. Waters disagrees. They’re trying to determine if these rules should become official, but we’re unsure how Senate Democrats will feel about them.

Rep. Waters doesn’t like one part of the Republican-backed rules. She’s not a fan of how they let state-regulated stablecoins (like PYUSD) do their thing without much supervision from the big boss, the Federal Reserve. She thinks this could complicate things for the central bank to keep the economy stable if many people start using stablecoins.

Conversely, Rep. Patrick McHenry from North Carolina, who leads the House Financial Services Committee, is totally on board with PayPal’s stablecoin. He believes that stablecoins could make our payment system way better and more modern if we set up some clear rules.
Why It Matters: The clash of opinions surrounding PayPal’s stablecoin launch reflects the ongoing debate over regulating digital currencies. With stablecoins gaining traction and reaching millions of users, oversight becomes paramount. Rep. Waters is all about protecting people and keeping things stable, while the contrasting perspectives highlight the broader challenge of finding a regulatory balance that encourages innovation without compromising economic safeguards. This legislative juncture could influence the trajectory of stablecoin development and shape the future landscape of digital payments.


A Week In The Life

Tune in every Thursday to keep in the loop on the best fintech events happening each week! Whether it’s an online meetup or a fintech conference, these gatherings provide amazing opportunities to network, learn and connect with our incredible fintech community. 

So, let’s fill up those calendars with all the awesome events out there – I’d love to see you at one, or even better, if you have one you’d like to share, please let me know! 


  • [Virtual] Live Chat w/ CEO of OnlyFans: When you hear the word “OnlyFans,” feminism might not be the first word that comes to mind. I’m sitting down with Keily Blair, CEO of OnlyFans, to explain why it should. In this live recording Keily and I discuss the implications of fintech being a predominantly male industry and why the inclusion of women throughout the design process is so important. Then, Keily explains how OnlyFans is ensuring that women have an equal seat at the table, from the C-Suite down and how the $250 billion creator economy is presenting new challenges to the way we think about traditional finance.


  • [ATX] fintech_devcon Kicks Off: A conference designed specifically for fintech developers and builders to unlock knowledge and bring about the next decade of financial innovation. 


  • [NYC] State of Fintech Market: Latest Trends in Funding: Our friends over at Rise by Barclays are hosting a panel to recap H1 while sharing perspectives on the trends, challenges and opportunities shaping the fintech ecosystem that will inform the next wave of funding decisions.



  • [NYC] Summer Stroll: Kick off Friday by walkin’ and talkin’ with members of the Fintech Is Femme community. RSVP for details. I’ll be there! Will I see you there??
    Hosted by Shadé Alcine 


Frances Zelazny

Co-Founder & CEO, Anonybit 

Meet Frances, she is co-founder and CEO of Anonybit, a revolutionary decentralized platform that eliminates data breaches and account takeovers. She’s been in the identity and biometrics industry for over 20 years, and is super passionate about addressing the root cause of fraud and identity theft, and enabling social and economic development through the use of strong identity systems.