November 14, 2023
Today’s show is a special one, recorded live at the Annual Conference of the National Bankers Association in Washington, D.C. The NBA is the trade group representing minority depository institutions, led by the visionary Nicole Elam.
MDIs carry a special designation under U.S. law. These financial institutions began to be chartered just after the Civil War, with the goal of providing banking services to newly freed slaves. Over the century and a half since then, they have played a vital role in serving communities of color throughout the United States, leveraging their deep understanding of the unique needs of their markets.
AIR is working with the NBA and its nonprofit foundation, the National Bankers Association Foundation, on an initiative called MDI ConnectTech. Our goal is to help these institutions, all of which are small, to remain competitive in today’s high tech world of financial services. Most small community banks and credit unions have a technology disadvantage both in delivering the digital customer experience that people expect today, and in back-end operational efficiency. Both large banks and fintechs have the ability to invest in more sophisticated technology and to capture efficiencies that translate into a marketplace advantage. The MDI ConnectTech project is working with a cohort of banks and credit unions to identify these institutions’ most critical needs and to create roadmaps to technological competitiveness. One outcome may be to establish a shared services function to support MDIs in identifying, selecting, installing and maintaining new tech.
We’re also hopeful that if we can find good roadmaps for MDIs, we can probably find the roadmaps needed by most community institutions, which generally face the same tech challenge.
The NBA’s annual conference this year was a huge success, featuring top speakers from the agencies, congress, and industry. I moderated a panel on the Changing Face of Banking with three great innovators: Alexandria Currie, who is Program Director of MDI ConnectTech at the National Bankers Association Foundation; Rohit Mathur, who leads Bridge Built by Citi – Citi is a major funder of MDI ConnectTech; and Brandon Andrews, Co-Founder of Gauge. I think we were all a bit starstruck by Brandon, because, among other things, he helps cast the TV show Shark Tank.
I know you’ll enjoy hearing our conversation about whether and how minority banks can be competitive in the digital age.
Alexandria, a visionary leader with a decade of expertise in the financial services realm, seamlessly blends a profound understanding of finance with a sharp focus on technology. Currently serving as the Program Director for MDI ConnectTech at the National Bankers Association Foundation, Alexandria has been a driving force in the industry, excelling in project management, product development, and strategic product management.
A two-time graduate of Florida State University, Alexandria brings an academic rigor and intellectual depth to her work, underscoring her commitment to excellence. Her journey has been marked by a commitment to financial equity advocacy, championing inclusivity and fairness in every financial endeavor.
Beyond her technical acumen, Alexandria is known for her prowess in critical thinking, innovation, and strategic planning. She envisions and implements solutions that not only meet current challenges but also pave the way for the future. With an unwavering dedication to shaping the financial landscape, Alexandria stands at the forefront of progress, ensuring that technology and finance seamlessly intertwine to create a dynamic and equitable future.
Rohit is the Head of Bridge built by Citi, where he led the ideation, prototyping and creation of the platform. He has worked closely with banks and SMEs to understand their pain points and create solutions through the Bridge platform. Bridge (www.bridgebuiltbyciti.com) has grown from a few states and key banks in 2021 to national coverage with over 65 banks in 2023. Rohit is passionate about working with regional, local and community banks to improve access to capital for underserved communities.
Prior to Bridge, Rohit was a Senior Transactor in the Loan Syndications team managing the Central Mid-Corporate market. He started his career at Citi by helping to set up the SME Healthcare Finance team. Rohit has an MBA from Georgetown University in Washington DC and prior to graduate school was a management consultant with Ernst and Young.
Brandon Andrews is co-founder of Gauge; a mobile market research platform changing the way successful companies make decisions. As a founding team member and Chief Marketing Officer, he drives branding, communications, and sales/marketing strategy for the company, engaging consumers, influencers, and Fortune 100 brands.
As Senior Consultant at Values Partnerships, Brandon leads the company’s work on technology and entrepreneurship, including leading a nationwide casting tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to ABC’s, Shark Tank, and advising and supporting businesses. He was also a consulting producer on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome, a seed-capital show on ABC. Brandon partners widely with equity crowdfunding platforms to educate and advise entrepreneurs and investors to promote diversity.
In addition to working with entrepreneurs, Brandon has helped lead nationwide engagement campaigns including Fences (2016), ROOTS (2016), and Concussion (2015).
He worked with NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment to refresh their Erase The Hate campaign, including building the first accelerator for organizations fighting hate. In 2015, he worked with A+E Networks, iHeartMedia, and the United Way to develop the Shining A Light Concert for Progress on Race in America, Shining a Light Fund, and Conversations on Race in America documentary.
Previously, Brandon worked on public affairs, technology, and real estate communications at MWWPR. He spent 5 years on the staff of the U.S. Senate where he handled technology, small business, and defense policy. He is Chairman of the DC Commission on National and Community Service, and serves on the DC Commission on Fashion, Arts, and Events. Brandon also serves on the Board of Advisors of the OpenGov Foundation, an organization that builds tech tools to bridge the gap between citizens and government.
He provides commentary on policy, politics, and technology on TV, radio, and the web. A former Division-1 track athlete, Brandon is a graduate of Oral Roberts University.
I hope you enjoyed today’s special show. For a transcript of the panel and more information on the speakers and on MDI ConnectTech, please come to RegulationInnovation.org.
It was wonderful to see so many of you at Money 2020 last month. For me, it’s incredibly gratifying to have so many people come up to say that they love the show and that they follow everything we put out at AIR. Money 2020 was terrific this year, with a huge turnout and a noticeable turn toward going deep in the big topics, including the regulatory ones. The fintech world has changed incredibly since Money 2020 started. It’s had big ups and downs over these years, with lots of successes and failures, market shake out, crypto winter — right after the conference we got the guilty verdict on Sam Bankman-Fried. Fintech innovations are now permeating traditional banks, and fintech activities are gradually coming inside the federal regulatory perimeter, raising hugely complex questions. I want to make a shout out to the conference content leads, Zach Pettet and Richel Morrissey, for making this year’s Money 2020 a wonderful kaleidoscope of all the big issues.
And regulatory issues permeated the agenda, on both speakers and topics. Regulators didn’t used to come to fintech events – they went to banking conferences. I was actually involved in getting the first federal regulatory agency head to speak at Money 2020 – I did a fireside chat with Richard Cordray, the Director of the CFPB, about a decade ago. It’s great to see all the nodes of the financial ecosystem integrating, with everyone learning from each other.
Next up for me is the Singapore Fintech Festival! I’m leaving next weekend and am so excited about it. I serve on the board of Elevandi, a nonprofit created by the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and now the organization that runs the conference. I believe SFF is the largest financial conference in the world – last I heard, the size is around 60,000 people. This year’s event is occurring at such a pivotal time in global finance and financial regulation. It’s also special in that it will mark the retirement of MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon, who in his 12 years at the helm has been one of the world’s most consequential leaders in shaping the world of digital age finance.
I’m also excited that our AIR team will be hosting a special SFF roundtable on how Generative AI will impact consumer financial protection in emerging markets. What risks will it create, what benefits could it bring, and how should regulators use it? We are exploring these themes and will be putting out a paper.
I’ll look forward to seeing lots of listeners in Singapore!
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