White House hosts fintech summit

White House hosts fintech summit

The White House has brought together stakeholders from across the financial technology ecosystem for a summit as it seeks to harness fintech's power to advance its economic policies around issues such as financial health and inclusion.

Held last week, the summit saw fintech startups, more established financial services firms, investors and policy makers discuss how the technological revolution sweeping financial services "can help advance our financial well-being and economic prosperity," says special assistant to the President for economic policy, Adrienne Harris in a blog.

"Technology has always been an integral part of financial services - from ATMs to securities trading platforms. But increasingly, technology isn’t just changing the financial services industry, it’s changing the way consumers and business owners relate to their finances, and the way institutions function in our financial system," says Harris.

While regulators grapple with how to approach new areas such as cryptocurrencies and P2P lending, the summit was keen to emphasise the importance of government in fostering an environment for innovation, ensuring firms "have the capacity, resources, and room to create products, services, and businesses that ultimately advance our nation’s economic competitiveness".

Participants talked about how fintech can boost financial inclusion and financial health, bringing basic services to the underserved and providing tools that help people make smart decisions about their finances, and ultimately improve their overall well-being.

Meanwhile, there was also a discussion on how big data can help prevent fraud, assist consumers with managing their financial lives, and prompt access to credit for underserved populations, although the risks to privacy and civil rights were also raised.

Another topic up for discussion was how fintech can be used to help small businesses - a vital part of the US economy, responsible for creating nearly two thirds of net new jobs in the country each year.

A panel explored how SMEs can benefit from marketplace lending, payments processing systems that assist with accounting and inventory management, and fraud protection and cybersecurity products that help protect the business and its customers.

Daniel Gorfine from OnDeck, a marketplace lender focussed on SMEs, which attended the summit, says: "We applaud the White House’s effort to raise discussion around the potential of FinTech to the national level, and look forward to continuing to engage with policymakers to ensure that the most important stakeholders — small businesses and consumers around the world — continue to benefit from further innovation."

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