David Ehrich is Co-founder and Executive Director of AIR - the Alliance for Innovative Regulation, a non-profit that helps bank regulators embrace and leverage technology. David has worked in banking and payments for 20 years at McKinsey, American Express where he was a GM in the prepaid group, and JPMorgan Chase where he was the head of credit card strategy. David is the architect of the Bank On National Account Standards for bank accounts with no overdraft fees and he is a Co-Founder of Petal, a NYC-based fintech credit card startup pioneering the use of cash flow underwriting to help consumers who lack a history of credit. David has an MBA from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and a B.S. from Cornell University.
I enjoy finding the opportunity in the white space, enrolling people in a new vision, and creating organizational alignment to execute a new idea. I focus on solving problems through holistic thinking, connectivity, and collaboration. I enjoy the creativity of problem solving that makes the “impossible” → possible.
My mother was an interior designer, my sister a performance artist, my brother an old-time musician and producer of several traditional music festivals. Two of my nieces are a woodblock printer and a cajun musician, and my partner designs eyewear. I am surrounded by creativity - so it seems unlikely that I would have landed in financial services. And while I have been a general manager at American Express and the head of credit card strategy at JPMorgan Chase, as a seasoned strategist, thought-leader, marketer, product manager, and operator, I have always leveraged my creative side and gravitated to “intrepreneurial” roles where I have had broader control and actively shaped a value proposition.
I took my first step toward entrepreneurism when I met a tour director in the central square of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico: I came home, quit my job, took a month-long tour management course, and worked on the road for the next five years, leading 46 global itineraries on 4 continents. I spent these years living abroad -- I completed a graduate degree at the Sorbonne in Paris; lived in Yogyakarta to study traditional Indonesian gamelan music; and immersed myself in a Spanish language program in Madrid (so I could communicate with my family of origin).
My first startup experience was to drive an emerging conversation about the concept of the gay market. At a boutique market research firm, I defined the segment by creating a panel of 50K LGBT households, followed by launching OUT magazine, the first national LGBT publication to target the market. Since then, I have served on several LGBT nonprofit boards, but my most fulfilling experience has been as a founding member of the committee to establish the Stonewall National Monument, created by President Obama in 2016.
So, I find myself drawn to challenging conversations where I can have impact: in the US, we have a robust banking and consumer credit system for most, but something is very wrong when there are an estimated 100 million people who are “credit invisible” or “thin file”. Without access to fairly priced credit, they cannot build family wealth through homeownership. At American Express, I worked to serve low and moderate income consumers by developing a mass-market prepaid product; and at JPMC, I focused on exploring alternative products for unbanked and underbanked consumers.
What I discovered is that the financial system needs more innovation. I left corporate financial services to lead Bank On, a nonprofit coalition of 70 municipalities where I was the architect of the National Account Standards, a product development roadmap for bank accounts with no overdraft fees. Understanding that overdraft is often another form of small-dollar credit, I also co-founded Petal, a fintech credit card startup pioneering the use of cash flow underwriting to radically expand credit access with safe and affordable lending to consumers who have little, or no, credit history.
From my personal experience as an innovator, I see a growing chasm between the private markets driving technology and the ability of the regulatory environment to keep up. As the financial services continue to leverage new technology at exponential speed, the regulatory community will have to employ new models of collaboration and increase the speed with which it engages innovation. This intersection of innovation, technology, and regulation is a new frontier for financial regulation with the promise to maintain safety and soundness, ensure consumer protection, achieve financial inclusion, and stop financial crime. We created AIR to help bridge this opportunity and catalyze new approaches to transform the regulatory system from what is today a largely analog to a digitally-native design.