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 Biden’s Executive Order: A Game-Changer for Equitable AI
The AI arena just got a major jolt of accountability and fairness.
In a commendable stride towards equitable and accountable artificial intelligence, President Biden dropped an executive order on Monday that’s like a referee blowing the whistle on the AI game, and it’s about damn time.
This order isn’t just a piece of paper collecting dust; it’s got some real teeth.
It’s all about watching AI models that could play fast and loose with national security. The rules are straightforward: they’ll govern how data is collected and secured, and who better to do that than the National Institute of Standards and Technology?
But that’s not all. The order also nudges all federal departments to lay out their AI plans while making sure they’ve got the security part covered. In Biden’s words, it’s all about “responsible innovation.” That’s a promising start.
And hey, the U.S. isn’t flying solo in this AI regulation party. The G7 nations (shoutout to Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the U.K.) announced their own set of international AI guidelines. The European Union is also cooking up some AI laws, potentially including a “no entry” sign for harmful AI services.
Why It Matters:
Well, it’s about making sure AI plays by the rules regarding the government’s potential to foster equitable and responsible AI.
Irresponsible use of AI can exacerbate discrimination, bias, and other abuses in critical areas such as justice, healthcare, and financial services. To address these concerns, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken necessary steps, such as publishing the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and issuing an Executive Order directing agencies to combat algorithmic discrimination while enforcing existing regulations to safeguard people’s rights and safety.
Dr. Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League, points out that the executive order has some powerful components, especially regarding Civil Rights. Tying federal funds to AI systems that follow strict criteria? That’s a game-changer.
But there’s more work to be done. The power balance between the government, industry, and academia is still up for debate, and more work is needed to involve civil society in regulatory discussions. And let’s remember to address bias and make sure artists get their fair share.
For fintech leaders, we must move beyond the sensational headlines and focus on mitigating the immediate and emerging harms of AI while keeping an eye on the future.
In a nutshell, President Biden’s executive order is a big step toward a more fair and secure AI world. It’s a clear signal that AI needs some rules, and it’s time for responsible innovation. But the journey ahead will take teamwork, oversight, and a good dose of common sense to navigate the twists and turns of the AI game.
Also, Dr. Joy Buolamwini released her book Unmasking AI, which looks to be the perfect read for understanding how to protect what is human in a world filled with machines.
#2 Revolut Taps Francesca Carlesi as CEO of UK
Leadership changes have been making quite a splash lately. The latest wave of transformation comes from the British fintech giant Revolut, which names Francesca Carlesi as the new CEO of its UK division. But what’s the story behind this move, and why does it matter? Let’s break it down.
Revolut, once crowned the UK’s most valuable startup with a staggering $33 billion valuation in 2021, is on a mission to become a “global financial super-app.” They’ve been eagerly waiting for over two years, hoping to secure a UK banking license, but the approval is still pending. While waiting, they decided it was time for a new captain at the helm.
Carlesi, the newly appointed CEO of Revolut UK, brings a wealth of experience. With a background in banking at heavyweight institutions like Barclays and Deutsche Bank, as well as stints at McKinsey and Bridgepoint Capital, she’s no stranger to the financial world. She also co-founded Molo, a fintech startup that uses real-time data validation to make instant credit decisions. Impressive, right?
Carlesi’s arrival in December marks the departure of James Radford, who stepped down from his role as UK CEO earlier this year. This leadership shuffle is undoubtedly intriguing, and it’s not just limited to Revolut.
Why It Matters:
In the fintech landscape, a pattern is emerging, with women taking the reins and steering these financial ships into exciting new waters. Stephanie Ferris, Eva Reda, Liza Landsman, Sarah Levy, and more have recently assumed prominent roles in fintech companies. It’s a remarkable shift that signals a new era in the industry.
This trend is part of a broader transformation. Remember earlier this year when reports shared that female CEOs are finally outpacing their male counterparts named “John” among S&P 500 companies? The numbers don’t lie: 41 women are at the helm of these companies, a new record, compared to 23 CEOs named John or Jon. This is a clear — even if small — sign of progress.
So, the appointment of Francesca Carlesi at Revolut is not just another leadership change; it’s a piece of a giant puzzle that reflects the evolving landscape of finance and corporate leadership. It’s a reminder that diversity and fresh perspectives are shaping the future of fintech and the corporate world.
#3 Woman-Led Fintech Startup YouTrip Raises $50 Million Series B
It’s heating up in Southeast Asia. The latest player making waves is YouTrip, a fintech company led by Caecilia Chu, the founder and CEO, and it’s been making some exciting moves worth a close look. Thanks to this Forbes story for the heads up on this one.
Here’s the TLDR:
YouTrip announced Thursday that it secured $50 million in a Series B funding round from a new investor, Lightspeed Venture Partners. This significant injection of capital pushes YouTrip’s total funding to an impressive $105.5 million, and it’s a testament to their compelling approach in the fintech world.
YouTrip is all about trust, and they’ve got a unique approach to it. They’re not trying to be a one-size-fits-all global player; instead, they’re targeting the local market with a laser focus. In Southeast Asia, where diverse currencies and exchange rates are part of daily conversations, YouTrip addresses the real pain point: finding the correct foreign exchange rates.
What sets YouTrip apart is its offering of virtual and physical debit cards that support payments in over 150 currencies. By collaborating with local currency exchange providers, they claim to have eliminated foreign transaction fees and those pesky “hidden charges” that often pop up when you’re spending overseas. Their app is a currency-exchange powerhouse covering ten currencies, including the Singapore and U.S. dollar.
With over 1 million downloads on the Google Play store, YouTrip is gaining traction. Even more impressive is that they’ve already hit profitability, and their revenue is rising. But, as they say, the show must go on. YouTrip is gearing up for regional expansion, starting with Malaysia and setting its sights on Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
One aspect of their expansion plan is YouBiz, their B2B service. This initiative offers corporate multicurrency cards to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with at most 1,000 employees. So far, more than 3,000 businesses have joined YouBiz, many of which are led by existing YouTrip users.
Why It Matters:
YouTrip is making a significant impact in the financial technology space, and they’re doing so with a distinct focus on local, personalized service. As Southeast Asia’s financial technology scene continues to evolve, YouTrip’s unique approach, combined with its impressive consumer product and foray into B2B services, makes it a notable player in the field.
But, of course, they’re not alone in this race. Global fintech giants like Wise and Revolut are making their moves in Southeast Asia, and local players like Thunes and Airwallex are also vying for a piece of the pie. Traditional banks have entered the game as well, further intensifying the competition.
Southeast Asia’s fintech revolution is just starting, and with a female-led CEO like Caecilia Chu at the helm, YouTrip is poised to make a significant impact. The competition is fierce, and it’s a race worth keeping an eye on.
In the fintech sector, it’s not just about the destination; it’s about the journey and the innovation along the way.
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
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] Trust in fintech and product dev with Anaid Chacon of Argyle: Still recovering from Money20/20? Well, I’ve got content to keep you covered if the event circuit is a little overwhelming. Check out this session with Argyle’s SVP of Product Development as she shares the blueprint for how we can create a more trustworthy experience for users.
- [NYC] Fintech Coffee: hosted by Rise by Barclays, Received, and This Week in Fintech, is a monthly gathering for Fintech enthusiasts to gather around and talk about everything Fintech.
- [VIRTUAL] Finding Fundraising Success in Fintech: Fintech fundraising can be challenging – but it doesn’t have to be so damn hard! Join me along with Maia Monell, Co-founder at Nav.it in this 45-minute session as we delve into the world of fintech fundraising, providing you with invaluable insights to address these challenges head-on. Discover funding options and the art of building investor relationships that can transform your fintech venture. Save your seat here!
HUMANS OF FINTECH
Meet some of fintech’s most influential women. Sasha Pilch, Principal at Fin Capital, Emma Zhang, Founder and CEO of Pactfi, and Kathryn Petralia, Co-Founder of Keep Financial, join me live from Money20/20 to discuss the importance of female representation and how to build B2B companies that secure funding.
With women making up less than 30% of the fintech workforce and only 8% holding leadership roles, something needs to change. These inspiring women share their experiences and insights on how to break through the barriers and create a more inclusive industry.
From the importance of storytelling and confidence to the need for more female VCs and founders, this roundtable discussion covers it all, touching on the power of male allies and sponsors in supporting women in fintech.
Join us for this candid and insightful conversation as we celebrate the achievements of women in fintech and pave the way for a more diverse and inclusive future. Tune in here!