FinLab 2016 goes to D.C. & NYC

Maria Lajewski & Asad Ramzanali

The Lab’s highest rated meeting last year was a two-day series of high-profile events in D.C. and New York City. Many of the Lab winners cited this meeting in their evaluation of the program as the most valuable to their business. As Ethan Block, CEO of Digit told us, this kind of access FinLab provides “has been phenomenal as it has allowed Digit to be involved in conversations directly impacting the future of fintech.”

This year, we returned to Washington, D.C. and New York City with our 2016 class for another round of much anticipated and highly impactful meetings to close out calendar year 2016.

Washington, D.C. – Day 1

The Lab spent a total of 10 hours in D.C. Our first stop was the White House. Lab companies participated in a special briefing with Adrienne Harris, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy at the National Economic Council. Harris and the FinLab companies candidly discussed a range of policy implications in the financial technology sector and opportunities ripe for fintech innovation.

Next, the FinLab companies had 30 minutes to shuttle themselves over to the Bipartisan Policy Center, which graciously hosted a Regulatory Roundtable discussion with over 30 senior representatives from all major financial regulators at the federal level. The impressive turnout was equally matched by the level of engagement in the room. FinLab companies provided a deeper look into the mechanics and consumer impact of their products, and also shared some of the regulatory hurdles hindering their ability to scale. The exchange of questions, comments and feedback positively reinforced the critical role CFSI and the Financial Solutions Lab play in bridging the divide between regulation and financial technology.

Following the roundtable discussion, several Lab companies attended one-on-one meetings with key regulators and congressmen, including other regulatory agencies and offices of key members of Congress. After a short break, the Lab companies reconvened for a second roundtable discussion with consumer advocates, civil rights organizations and national advocacy groups. Attendees included AARP, Consumer Federation of America, CFED, Credit Builders Alliance, National Disability Institute, National Urban League, World Disability Institute and many more.

The day concluded with an evening reception where FinLab companies were able to meet and network with a broader set of influential D.C. stakeholders across the policy and advocacy communities. With luggage in hand, we then departed to take an Acela express straight to Penn Station in New York City.

New York City – Day 2

Lab companies spent the next day at JPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan. Senior leaders at the bank discussed a variety of topics with the Lab companies, including how the bank views the future of banking, evaluates and executes partnerships with fintech companies, and sources and assesses strategic investments, among other topics. Lab companies often tell us that getting this level of expertise and insight from industry leaders is a really valuable resource the Lab is able to provide.

Lab companies also got to hear more tactical advice on either how banks apply Community Reinvestment Act credits or how human resources departments are starting to think about financial wellness benefits for employees. Next, each company met with three different JPMC senior executives that oversee areas relevant to the companies. The day ended with a reception with JPMC employees, nonprofit partners, and other ecosystem partners of both CFSI and JPMC. Several Lab companies also had separate meetings with various JPMC employees, organized by their assigned JPMC mentors.

Overall, the two-day meeting served as a reminder that the fintech ecosystem is more than startups and VCs. Incumbents, regulators, consumer advocates, and many others have important roles that early stage startups often overlook.

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