EXCLUSIVE – Everything in banking is changing: fintechs are solidifying their place in the financial ecosystem, as challenger banks, online lenders, and blockchain technology providers become essential functions to keep the industry moving forward.
As the innovations of these startups seems set to continue, 2017 seemed to mark the year that banks set themselves with the current instead of against: the last year saw a rise of fintech partnerships, funding, and new projects with the banks, many of whom are adjusting their innovation budgets to make room for the advances of younger players.
All of this innovation has one thing in common, whether it starts at a legacy bank or a fintech: a dynamic, tireless leader to move it forward. That’s why Bank Innovation has compiled its annual list of the ten most innovative CEOs in banking: from younger upstarts, to those who have become the face (and fulcrum) of their institution, all of these CEOs have demonstrated a unique effort for progress in financial services.
Please have a look at our 2018 list of top CEOs below.
George Avetisov, HYPR
His solution? Put the customer in charge of his own data by providing decentralized authentication through methods like biometrics.
Since founding Hypr in 2014, Avetisov has been steadily growing the company, bagging numerous partnerships with financial players like Mastercard, as well large insurance companies such as insurance company Aetna.
Hypr offers decentralized authentication solutions to mobile payment companies, financial institutions, banks, insurance companies, and more. It provides technology for consumer data to be stored on the consumer’s devices as opposed to a centralized data repository, something that’s becoming increasingly relevant to the world today, according to Avetisov. Hypr’s technology ensures that the consumer authenticates access to their data. That authentication can be in the form of biometrics, PINs, passwords, or other methods.
With headquarters in New York, Hypr was able to secure $2 million in a Series A funding round last October led by Mastercard itself, bringing its total funding to $8 million.
But Avetisov’s goal is not secure more funding, instead he told Bank Innovation, that this year he will be focusing on building partnerships with banks, FIs and insurance companies. The industry cannot deny that such a solution is sorely needed.
Jamie Dimon, JPMC
With projects in digital lending, banking, payments, and blockchain, JPMorgan Chase didn’t break its fintech momentum at all in 2017, and so far, only seems to be gaining speed in 2018. The bank is headed by dynamic banking persona Jamie Dimon, a fixture of the bank for a decade (and he is planning to be a round a little longer, it was announced this year).
Under Dimon, whose remarks on everything from politics to bitcoin made headlines over the last year, JPMorgan Chase has become a solid presence in the changing world of fintech. The bank launched a new millennial-facing banking service, Finn, and grew the mobile active users on its branded banking app to over 30 million, establishing itself as the incumbent bank with the most popular mobile banking service. The bank didn’t put all of its faith in mobile, however, investing a healthy $20 billion to build out bank branches–which will undoubtedly be more tech-heavy than the old-world branches.
As well as mobile, Dimon also grew JPMorgan’s partnerships, with everyone from digital lender OnDeck to the Zelle network, a network where the payment volume has been steadily expanding (though among the banks, Bank of America seems to be getting the brunt of the benefits in terms of added users).
Altogether, Dimon demonstrated that JPMC isn’t afraid of the changes fintech is bringing to the financial ecosystem, which is why he finds himself on this list.
Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs
Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Wall Street stalwart Goldman Sachs, was not known as an innovator until quite recently, but in 2016, Goldman launched Marcus, a Lending Club competitor that has since grown into a full-fledged digital retail bank. Blankfein said last fall that he expects Marcus to deliver a cool $1 billion in revenue over the next three years — coincidentally, about Blankfein’s net worth. The move struck many as curious, but in the wake of the credit crisis, additional restrictions put on trading made lending more attractive for many banks.
But that isn’t the whole story. While some analysts criticized Blankfein for straying outside his bank’s core expertise, Goldman’s wholesale business with its time-tested algorithms and sophisticated risk tools actually has distinct advantages for the new fintech venture. “What’s an important element for that business is digital distribution, algorithmic risk management, distribution,” Blankfein said at Davos. “Making a credit decision for five people wasn’t in our wheelhouse. Making a credit decision for five million people absolutely is.”
Beyond Marcus, Blankfein joined Twitter in the summer of 2017 (@lloydblankfein) and began tweeting about hanging with Square/Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and cryptocurrency:
Still thinking about #Bitcoin. No conclusion – not endorsing/rejecting. Know that folks also were skeptical when paper money displaced gold.
2:09 PM – 3 Oct 2017
To clarify, Blankfein was not reported to have been involved in the creation of paper money, which is often dated to 7th century China. But Blankfein is no stranger to China: Goldman is investing $5 billion in U.S. companies with the China Investment Corporation, but Blankfein is also looking toward Big Tech for partnerships: He’s reported to be working on a deal with Tim Cook to offer loans to people looking to finance their next iPhone. No one saw that coming. And that’s what makes Blankfein an innovator — none of his recent moves have been predictable. Who could have guessed a year ago that he’d be tweeting about bitcoin?