19 October 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 Big Moves For Equity & Transparency In Venture Capital 

Most Surprising Things About Moving From NYC to LA

In a bid to tackle the glaring disparities in venture capital funding, two influential states, California and New York, have unveiled game-changing initiatives.

First up, California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed Senate Bill 54 into law, a milestone moment set to kick in by March 2025. The essence of this law is simple: venture capital firms must publicly disclose the diversity of founders they back. 

This will shed light on who’s truly championing diversity and who’s falling short. It applies not just to California-based VC firms but also to those getting investments from California residents. 

The push for this law comes from the stark reality that support for Black-owned businesses, female-founded companies, and LGBTQ+ founders remains shockingly low. In 2022, Black-owned businesses witnessed a staggering 45% drop in funding, while female-founded companies secured less than 2%.

This move is a game-changer, empowering underrepresented groups, making sure they aren’t just getting lip service from fund managers who express interest but don’t deliver the funds.

And what happens in California often sets the tone for the entire nation. With over 40% of the $246 billion in venture capital funding in the United States in 2022 coming from California, this law carries global implications.

In the Big Apple, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has launched the Venture Access Alliance. This alliance brings together 70 investors with one clear mission: to amp up diversity in New York City’s booming tech scene. 

Why It Matters

These initiatives aren’t just about doing the right thing; it’s good business sense. NYCEDC’s report shows that diverse founding teams deliver higher returns to investors, with a 30% increase compared to white founding teams. 

It’s not just about transparency; it’s a pivotal moment that could usher in a new era of inclusion and fairness in venture capital. As the United States grapples with issues of equity and diversity, California and New York’s forward-thinking may be the catalyst needed to drive transformative change.

So, keep an eye on the Golden State and the Big Apple – they’re setting the stage for a more equitable and diverse future in the world of venture capital. That’s great news for our fintech ecosystem. 

#2 The Power of Financial Inclusion, Fintech, and Climate Change

Why climate change is a feminist issue | The Independent

Climate change is no longer a distant threat on the horizon; it’s here, and it’s affecting the most vulnerable among us. This week, I stumbled upon a compelling article penned by Mary Ellen Iskenderian, the President of Women’s World Banking, which delves into a pivotal facet of this challenge: access to financial services for women. 

But why should we pay heed, and how can fintech offer a lifeline in our fight against this global crisis?

Iskenderian’s words hit home like a sledgehammer: financial access is not just a luxury; it’s a prerequisite for mitigating the devastating impacts of climate change, especially on marginalized communities. 

Women, predominantly those whose livelihoods rely on agriculture, bear the brunt of climate-induced shocks. Equipping them with financial tools isn’t just a social service; it’s about survival and resilience.

Iskenderian rightly applauds leaders like World Bank President Ajay Banga for embracing both gender equity and climate action. It’s high time we realized that empowering women is not just a social justice issue but a strategic necessity in the climate battle.

Why It Matters

Iskenderian’s article doesn’t just throw out a problem; she offers actionable steps:

  1. Universal Identification for Women: National identification documents should prioritize women, ensuring they have formal financial services and ownership rights.
  2. Womens’ Education: Education is the key to confidence and financial literacy for women. It’s a cornerstone for financial inclusion.
  3. Gender-Disaggregated Data: Data is our compass. Collecting gender-specific information is pivotal for tracking women’s financial inclusion progress.
  4. Closing the Digital Gender Gap: Equal access to mobile phones and the internet is a lifeline for women, enabling financial transactions and control over their finances.

The role of fintech companies and tools in advancing ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investing is critical. But there’s a twist. We’ve heard the hype about ESG, but the truth is, it’s not a silver bullet. If we solely focus on environmental issues, it can lead to diminished returns. 

Enter gender-lens investing (GLI). It goes beyond just women-founded companies and ventures into companies that offer women-centric products and services and provide inclusive workplaces. Diversity isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a driver of growth.

While market-driven solutions are vital, let’s not forget that government intervention is a powerful force. We need policies and regulations that foster sustainability, reward clean technologies, and champion gender equality. Aligning our efforts with government policies can help us make a tangible impact in the fight against climate change.

In essence, the nexus of money, technology, gender equity, and climate change is where we must stake our claim. It’s an opportunity to act swiftly and decisively in the face of a looming environmental catastrophe. 

To guarantee clean air for generations, we must prioritize women’s financial inclusion. Period. 

#3 IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva Issues a Call for Action 

IMF chief says Africa must do these three things to increase trade | CNN  Business

Kristalina Georgieva, Managing Director of the IMF, recently championed the cause of financial inclusion, shedding light on the 1.4 billion adults left out of the formal financial system. 

But this isn’t just about money; it’s about sparking entrepreneurship, boosting consumer demand, and revving up the economy.

One crucial point is that women, proven to be excellent entrepreneurs, are often left out of financial services. Bridging this gap empowers women, fuels gender equality, and drives economic growth.

Why It Matters

The ripple effect of financial inclusion extends across society. It acts as a safety net during economic shocks, helping families endure tough times. It also equips governments to provide timely support.

The key to this mission is digitization. It cuts costs, widens access, and speeds up progress. Georgieva’s call to policymakers worldwide is simple: “How can we move faster?”

She offers a four-step plan: determined governments, financial integrity, digital innovation, and better data. Fintech firms like Ntropy are already doing their part by providing data for informed decisions.

In today’s fast-paced world, let’s harness speed and connectivity as strengths. Learning together can turbocharge our journey to a more inclusive financial landscape.


A Week In The Life

Tune in every Thursday to keep the loop on the best fintech events each week! Next week, we’re diving into Money20/20, prioritizing women’s contributions in fintech for its full potential. I’m thrilled to share my curated agenda – think of it as a special Fintech Is Femme track, featuring sessions that you shouldn’t miss.

Money20/20 boasts numerous influential women speakers, and the list below highlights sessions that caught my attention for their insights. Many exceptional sessions aren’t listed, so check the agenda. (Note: Excluding invite-only events I’ll attend!)

I look forward to connecting with you at one of these sessions or events!

SUNDAY 10/22

  • [LAS VEGAS] Join me at the Financial Access Summit, San Polo, Level 3, for a day of fintech inspiration. Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of financial inclusion, and how we, as fintech leaders, can make inclusivity profitable for everyone.

Here are some sessions you won’t want to miss:

  • 10:30 – 11:00: “Bringing Fairness to Financial Services” with Naré Vardanyan of Ntropy and Gavin Nachbar of Column Tax to discuss collaboration between the public and private sectors. I’ll be moderating!
  • 11:05 – 11:30: “Living on the Edge: Democratizing Banking” – Discover the future of distributed banking with Steve Nogalo of NCR and Maria Smith of Walgreens.
  • 14:30 – 14:35: Don’t miss Amber Porter‘s passionate talk about “Wealth Inequity IS Health Inequity.”
  • 14:38 – 14:53: Dive into “De-Dollarization” with Amanda Wick, and why digital finance is essential.
  • 14:56 – 15:26: Learn how to avoid a Fintech Breakup with insights from Karen Redwood, Luke Bailey, Michael Spelfogel, and Kayla Kelkar.
  • End your Sunday with a bang – join me and my friend Alex Johnson at the Mirage’s VIP Capri Room from 5-7 PM. It’s a chance to connect, converse, and enjoy the company of 150 fintech enthusiasts!

MONDAY 10/23

  • [LAS VEGAS] 🎙️ 12:50 – 13:30: Join me at the MoneyPot Podcast Booth for the Humans of Fintech Podcast as we dive into all the reasons why great startups have female leaders and areas we’d love to see more women building featuring Sasha Pilch, Fin Capital, Emma Zhang, PactFi Inc, Kathryn Petralia, Keep Financial.

Throughout the day, you might spot me with a camera crew, courtesy of my friends at JPMorgan Chase. Exciting things are happening! 

Here are some must-see sessions:

  • 09:30 – 10:10: Uncover the balance between “Consumer Protection” and “Financial Inclusion” with a panel of remarkable women in fintech including Cleve Mesidor, Blockchain Foundation; Jo Ann Barefoot, Alliance for Innovative Regulation; Delicia Reynolds Hand, Consumer Reports; Lule Demmissie, eToro US.
  • 10:10 – 10:40: Emilie Choi, COO of Coinbase, talks about the new world of digital financial services and cryptocurrency.
  • 10:45 – 11:15: Hear from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce about cryptocurrency regulation and market structure.
  • 11:55 – 12:35: Explore “New Rails to New Worlds” with Ryan Rugg, Jennifer Parker, Kalyani Bhatia, and Pegah Soltani.
  • 12:00 – 12:40: Discover “A Marketplace Differentiator” with insights from powerhouses Lia Cao of JPMorgan; Stefan Jensen of Sephora and Pawan Modani of Walmart eCommerce
  • 12:10 – 12:45: “Generational Wealth Transfer” and modern wealth management with friends Dani Fava, Sarah Kirshbaum Levy, Tanya Van Court, and Hasan Malik.
  • 15:20 – 15:40: Unmask the multi-billion dollar scam industry with Mariana Van Zeller and Johnny Ayers.
  • 15:35 – 16:05: Dive into “Emerging Payments” with Debbie Smart, Ahon Sarkar and Elena Whisler.
  • 16:10 – 16:22: Lucy Ingham discusses “The Pitfalls of X’s (Twitter) Payment Plan” including all the missteps of Elon Musk
  • 16:55 – 17:30: Explore “The Era of Value” with Stuart Sopp and Immad Akhund from Current and Mercury.

End your day at the Industry Night at TAO from 9 PM to midnight!


  • [LAS VEGAS] Rise and shine! Join me early at 7:30 AM for a panel discussion on closing the gender wealth gap. Let’s explore how fintech can make a difference. RSVP here!

Afterwards, find me at The Exchange stage as I spend the rest of the morning as a live commentator. Think the movie Dodgeball but for Fintech (no balls will be thrown, ever). 

Here are some other exciting sessions:

  • 09:45 – 09:57: “Fintech will save the world with ‘millions of small things'” with Kelly Fryer of Fintech Sandbox.
  • 10:35 – 11:00: Stephanie Ferris, CEO at FIS, talks about leading through changes with Eva Reda, President of American Express.
  • 10:35 – 10:55: Discover “Digital Financial Services for the Next Billion” with Shivani Siroya and Kanyi Maqubela.
  • 11:00 – 11:12: Get insights on the future of payments from Kim Robbins, Chief of Enterprise Services at the Federal Reserve Financial Services.
  • 11:15 – 11:45: Join the discussion on “Data for Good” with Nicole Elam, Liz Pagel, Raul Vazquez, and Gal Krubiner.
  • 12:05 – 12:30: Explore the tipping point of “Embedded Finance” with Emmalyn Shaw and Itai Damti.
  • 14:15 – 14:27: Find out how “Embedded Investing Can Save Banks Billions” with Dani Fava.
  • 16:00 – 16:05: “Black in Fintech” – a passionate talk by Sofiat Abdulrazaaq.
  • 17:00 – 23:00: Join me for “Founder Admissions” with Zach Anderson Pettet, Dimitri Dadiomov, Prajit Nanu, and stand-up Netflix comedian Paul Virzi. (Rated R). 


  • [LAS VEGAS] 🎧 Let’s wrap up our fintech journey with some music at 10:30 AM. Elizabeth Song from Spotify will reveal how “Financial Culture Sounds to Gen Z.”
  • 10:35 – 11:15: Explore how TikTok is driving “Financial Empowerment” with Vivian Tu and Nikki Scott.
  • 10:50 – 11:30: Dive into “Fintech Diversity” with Women CMOs – Elise Brown, Jennifer Tramontana, and Sheri Chin.
  • Throughout the event, I’ll be part of the RiseUp and Amplify cohort, championing diverse leaders in fintech. 

Let’s make this week unforgettable! 🚀🌟


Cristina Ciaravalli, Unit 

2022 Inspiring FinTech Females | NYC Fintech Women

In my latest conversation on Humans of Fintech, I take a beat to talk with Cristina Ciaravalli of Unit and This Week in Fintech about her storied career in the fintech industry, from her early beginnings working for Goldman Sachs to meeting and falling in love with tech startup, Plaid. 

We also chat about the differences between working for an organization like Goldman versus working for fintech startups and discuss what, exactly, drew Cristina to Plaid. 

Then, we pivot into dissecting how regulation makes banking as a service fundamentally different from fintech, before diving into the latest trends in fintech in Latin America.