Book Excerpt: “Fintech 4 Good”, Part 1


By David Reiling, Author of “Fintech 4 Good”

DO YOU WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR WALLET, OR A DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD?

If you ask people to describe the factors that constitute a successful business, most of their answers will have to do with making money.

It’s not that the business world doesn’t care about helping people and creating a positive difference. Rather, corporate success has been closely tied to profits because doing good has largely been mutually exclusive from doing well.

In the traditional business landscape, every single dollar needs to be allocated strategically if you want to survive, let alone thrive. Oftentimes, each buck that isn’t contributing to your bottom line is one that your competitor is using to get ahead. Out of sheer necessity, many businesses (and especially startups) have had to put doing good on the backburner to stay alive.

Thanks to new technology, however, the paradigm of success is shifting. The entire financial world is changing at a million miles an hour, and with that comes a better way to measure and achieve success.

Now, through the power of financial technology (otherwise known as fintech), doing well and doing good are no longer mutually exclusive. In fact, they are combining forces to exponentiate success across the board. Helping others is just as important of a metric as making money – and we can now achieve both at the same time.

I’ve also had the honor of helping procure that change through Sunrise Banks.

As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) and certified B Corporation, and as one of the first Public Benefit Corporations in Minnesota (i), we’re proud to play our part in empowering everyone to achieve financial wellness.

Many of these fintech firms are making a solid profit, receiving prestigious venture capital funding, and experiencing hockey stick growth. Yet, at the same time, they are helping people in a very significant way and putting a ding in the universe. For instance, you’ll read about a firm that’s allowing people to escape triple-digit interest rate payments, and another that’s giving millions of immigrants desperately-needed access to affordable financial tools.

They’re able to achieve that by merging willpower, groundbreaking technology, and a desire to help those who need it most. What’s even more impressive is that all these fintech innovators started with minimal capital and turned a small startup into a national solution.

Before, serving individuals in such a positive way would typically be reserved for a charity or non-profit. And if you wanted to make such change yourself, you’d likely either need to donate to one or start your own. However, the intersection of tech and finance now allows nearly anyone to help society and make a good living at the same time.

Just as importantly, the fintech revolution is furthering financial access for all. Many tend to believe that important financial tools are solely reserved for the wealthy. With these changing times, that’s often not the case, and even more so because of fintech. The firms I’m covering are helping those who need it the most, rather than whoever can pay the most.

In fact, new laws are ensuring that fintechs are inclusive and able to spread their reach even further. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) just recently passed a law allowing select fintechs to apply for a special purpose national bank charter (ii). This should allow these fintechs to spread their business nationally all at once (instead of having to register by state) and also permit them to partner with traditional banks more easily. Alongside the benefits, these firms will be required to “demonstrate a commitment to financial inclusion (iii).” It just goes to prove that fintechs are already sparking national change. And the rulings will hopefully propel even more financial access for all.

Beyond telling you the stories behind this seismic shift (and covering some interesting financial topics), I also want this book to serve as an inspiration. As Steve Jobs once said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Financial problems that have plagued our nation for decades are now evaporating because innovators have been bold enough to take on the “impossible.” I firmly believe that anyone can achieve the same thing if they put their mind to it.

The following five fintechs (along with more to come) will illustrate that you don’t have to choose between making a difference in your wallet or a difference in the world. You can dare to be different by picking both…

Footnotes:

  1. https://sunrisebanks.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/BenefitCorporationPRFinal.pdf
  2. https://www.occ.gov/news-issuances/news-releases/2018/nr-occ-2018-74.html
  3. https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=a5f12d8e-bd3d-4b6c-9802-0683a14e9181

David Reiling is a social entrepreneur, continuously innovating in community development nance and nancial inclusion. He is the Chief Executive Offcer of Sunrise Banks and has been in the community development banking industry for more than 25 years.