The Barefoot Innovation podcast, hosted by AIR CEO Jo Ann Barefoot, explores better solutions for financial consumers at the intersection of technology innovation and regulation. Join Jo Ann as she sits down with regtech and fintech CEOs, lawmakers, regulators, bankers, and academics, and more for candid discussions on the regtech space.

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A FINANCIAL HEALTH MOON SHOT: PAYPAL’S DAN SCHULMAN

What stands in the way of full financial inclusion and financial health? No CEO of a major financial company has thought as deeply about this challenge as today’s guest, PayPal’s Dan Schulman. More than anyone I can think of, Dan has been speaking on these themes for years and calling on us all to find innovations that can help. Today, he seems optimistic -- or at least determined. As nearly all our guests are doing, he points to the year of COVID as a turning point, both in breaking through to rapid new technology adoption and in galvanizing a real will to do better following the killing of George Floyd. Dan sees progress ahead.

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Barefoot Innovation Podcast Episodes

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July 2021

THE COURAGE TO STEP FORWARD: KENYA CENTRAL BANK DEPUTY GOVERNOR SHEILA M’MBIJJEWE

Kenya is the birthplace of mobile money. In 2007, long before most of the world had even imagined mobile electronic payments, Safaricom introduced M-Pesa, enabling Kenyans to load money into their phones and use the phone to pay for things. The rest is history. Spreading quickly throughout Kenya and far beyond, this innovation sparked a worldwide shift toward instant, mobile, affordable movement of money. And it helped inspire a whole generation of fintech innovators, who saw that cell phones were reaching nearly everyone in the world and could become, in effect, banking infrastructure. The phones were already in people’s hands. People already knew how to use them. The phone could carry additional services at incredibly low marginal costs. People who had little money, people for whom traditional banks were never going to build and staff a traditional branch, suddenly didn’t need one anymore. The world had changed.

July 07, 2021

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June 2021

THE REGULATORY ENGINEER: FDIC CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER SULTAN MEGHJI

I get the opportunity to work with regulators all over the world who are building a new, better regulatory model for the digital age. It makes me a good judge -- I know when something is exciting. And something exciting is happening now at the FDIC. (For listeners outside the United State, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is, among other things, our primary US regulator for small banks.) We’ve had the FDIC chairman, Jelena McWilliams, on the show twice. She is a remarkable leader who is driving an agenda of transformational change to modernize both bank technology and regulatory technology, at the same time. In 2019 she announced the creation of an innovation unit, FDiTech, and embarked on a search for a Chief Innovation Officer. This spring -- more than two years later, after an extremely diligent search -- she found him. Sultan Meghji has set out to change how bank regulation is done.

June 22, 2021

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June 2021

THE REGULATOR’S JOURNEY: AMY FRIEND ON THE UK FINANCIAL CONDUCT AUTHORITY

In 2014, two countries, on opposite sides of the world, embarked on a path to make themselves global centers of fintech. One was Singapore, where the Monetary Authority of Singapore, MAS, began building a uniquely creative and powerful innovation ecosystem. The other was the UK, where the Financial Conduct Authority kicked off an innovation program, often in collaboration with the Bank of England. In short order, both countries recognized that the same technologies that drive fintech also have to drive financial regulation. The whole system must transition to the digital age.

June 20, 2021

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June 2021

A FINANCIAL HEALTH MOON SHOT: PAYPAL’S DAN SCHULMAN

What stands in the way of full financial inclusion and financial health? No CEO of a major financial company has thought as deeply about this challenge as today’s guest, PayPal’s Dan Schulman. More than anyone I can think of, Dan has been speaking on these themes for years and calling on us all to find innovations that can help. Today, he seems optimistic -- or at least determined. As nearly all our guests are doing, he points to the year of COVID as a turning point, both in breaking through to rapid new technology adoption and in galvanizing a real will to do better following the killing of George Floyd. Dan sees progress ahead.

June 04, 2021

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May 2021

NETWORKED SUPERVISION: CSBS CEO JOHN RYAN

My guest today, John Ryan, is the man of the hour. He is CEO of the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, and CSBS is at the vortex of most of the currents of change swirling around the US financial system. What’s the future of banking charters? What’s the future for fintechs that want to operate nationwide? What’s the future for community banks? How will regulators keep up with the technology that’s transforming the markets they oversee? What’s the future of bank regulation itself? CSBS plays a key role in all of it. 

May 27, 2021

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May 2021

AROUND THE WORLD: HONG KONG UNIVERSITY’S DOUGLAS ARNER

Every now and then I do a podcast where I feel like I hit a vein of gold. This is one of them. It’s one of our shows where I think you’ll want to listen several times and take notes, or print out the transcript and mark it up. My guest is Douglas Arner, who is the Kerry Holdings Professor in Law at Hong Kong University, and the Director and Cofounder of the Asian Institute of International Financial Law.

May 02, 2021

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April 2021

COMMUNITY BANKS IN THE DIGITAL AGE: ABA CEO ROB NICHOLS

America has about 5,000 banks -- more than any other country. My guest today leads their national trade group. He is Rob Nichols, CEO of the American Bankers Association. He joined me for a conversation about how technology is changing banking, and especially community banks. While total banking volume is disproportionately done by large institutions, small community banks play a critical role in both our financial system, and in the life of the nation.

April 23, 2021

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April 2021

POWER OF ONE: MOJALOOP FOUNDATION’S PAULA HUNTER AND LESLEY-ANN VAUGHAN ON FINANCIAL INCLUSION

The Swahili word for “one” is mojaloop, and it inspired the name of the organization that is led by today’s guests. They are Paula Hunter and Lesley-Ann Vaughan of the Mojaloop Foundation. The open-source Mojaloop software was first developed in 2017 to support the financial inclusion work of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, premised on the realization that reaching financially underserved people with digital financial services will require the financial system to use open and interoperable solutions. Just four years later, more than 400 developers are collaborating to create Mojaloop software that is helping service providers open markets and accelerate progress in emerging markets.

April 08, 2021

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