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Women in Fintech Series: Deanna Oppenheimer

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Women in Fintech Series: Deanna Oppenheimer


Breaking Banks and Finextra continue their series of Women in FinTech with the illustrious Deanna Oppenheimer.

Very few have made as big a splash in the financial industry as Deanna Oppenheimer,  Known for having a customer centric vision of banking, and welcoming the new players and innovation in the financial services field, Deanna founded Cameoworks LLC, a retail and financial services advisory firm that helps startups in FinTech find their footing and meet up with the global players that can help make their ideas a reality.   She is uniquely qualified as someone  with an unusual combination of banking, retail, innovation, brand, and communication skills.

From 2005 to 2012, Deanna worked at Barclays PLC, where she transformed the Global Retail and Business Banking divisions.  Initially, her position was chief executive of U.K. Retail and Business Banking, with 30,000 employees serving 15 million customers through contact centers, online and mobile banking and 1700 branches.  In 2009, she became vice chair of Global Retail Banking, sharing best practices across Europe and Africa. In 2010, she added the role of chief executive of Europe Retail and Business Banking, helping to stabilize the business lines during the Euro crisis. Customer satisfaction improved from last-place among U.K. banks to first-place under her leadership.

Previous to Barclays, Deanna was employed, from 1985 to 2005, at Washington Mutual, Inc., the largest savings and loan institution in the U.S.  She was marketing director and, later, president of Consumer Banking, where she helped transform the lender from a regional to a national player. During her tenure, Washington Mutual, Inc. was named Best Retail Bank in the Americas by Lafferty International and Top 40 Store Concepts in the World by Retail Industry Leaders Association.

In 2007, Deanna was named Britain’s Business Communicator of the Year and in October 2010 was voted American Banker magazine’s Second Most Powerful Woman in Banking. Her previous corporate board experiences include non-executive director roles at Catellus, a leading U.S. development company, and Plum Creek Timber, the largest private landowner in the U.S.  In November 2014, Deanna was voted one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence, an annual award given to women leaders who have an enormous impact on the community.

Her non-executive director board roles include Tesco PLC, where she chairs the remuneration committee,  Tesco Bank, AXA Group, NCR Corporation, and The Joshua Green Corporation.  Additionally,  she is a senior advisor to Bain Consulting, Brooks Running,  Anthemis Group and Finsphere.

Deanna lives in Seattle with her husband and they have two adult children. She graduated with honors from the University of Puget Sound in Washington State; she is past chair of trustees for Puget Sound and a recipient of the Ernest T. Stewart National Award for university volunteers.  She also has attended the Executive Education program of the Kellogg School of Management.

Catch Deanna’s interview with Liz Lumley of Finextra on Breaking Banks– Customer Relations: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Ripple Labs Raises Massive $28 Million Series A Round

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Ripple Labs Raises Massive $28 Million Series A Round


Co- Produced by Ian Kar at FinTechToday and Breaking Banks:

Ripple Labs, the innovative startup focusing on the distributed ledger and supports of the popular Ripple protocol, has raised a $28 million Series A round, the company announced in a press release today.

There are a number of interesting participants in the round, including IDG Capital Partners, the venture capital divisions of CME Group and Seagate Technology, Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang’s AME Cloud Ventures, and ChinaRock Capital Management. Smaller participants in the round include Bitcoin Opportunity Corp., Core Innovation Capital, Route 66 Venture, RRE Ventures, and others.

According to the press release, the mixed group of investors is intentional, they “supports the vision for Ripple to enable an Internet of Value (IoV) by powering the real-time, secure settlement of funds for banks and multi-national companies worldwide.” Not only are these investors involved in banking, but also have experience as market makers (an arbitrage service for market liquidity), corporate finance, and other potential uses for the Ripple protocol, like forex.

“Our mission is to modernize decades-old payments infrastructure with IP-based technology so value moves around the world as freely, easily, securely and transparently as information on the web today,” said Ripple Labs CEO and co-founder Chris Larsen. “Financial institutions, market makers and corporations are laying the foundation for this Internet of Value, contributing and providing liquidity for global payments. With investors like CME Group and Seagate joining the fold, we’re well positioned to accelerate adoption amongst these key customers.”

Li Feng, partner at IDG Capital Partners, will be joining Ripple’s Board of Directors, along with Baidu, Tencent, Xiaomi, and CreditEase.

What Is Ripple Labs?

Ripple Labs uses a distributed, open source, ledger to carry out secure, instant, and nearly free transactions around the world. It supports its native currency, Ripples (XRP), but also fiat currency, cryptocurrency, and other units of value like frequent flier miles.

Because of the different units of values supported and the instant global transfers, the Ripple protocol has a ton of potential in the eyes of entrepreneurs and investors. For instance, users can use the protocol to sell frequent flier miles for dollars or bitcoin; send money to family across the world instantly and for free, which is quite a painful process; and easily and quickly turn fiat currencies into cryptocurrencies, and vice versa. There are a few of high profile startups operating on the Ripple protocol as well, including Epiphyte — a startup that creates enterprise software solutions for financial institutions to securely integrate with cryptofinancial networks and one of the winners of the 2014 Innotribe Startup Challenge.

While Ripple Labs has seen a plethora of praise over the past few years — including a spot on the coveted 50 Smartest Companies list by MIT Technology Review and praise from members of the St. Louis Federal Reserve — the company came under some regulatory heat recently. FinCEN, a bureau of the Treasury Department and the federal body that regulates virtual currency, fined Ripple Labs $700,000 for violating the Bank Secrecy Act. CoinDesk has more details here, but, primarily, Ripple Labs failed to register as a money services business before selling XRP, which cause the company to not properly implement anti-money laundering procedures. However, FinCen and Ripple Labs announced a settlement, which includes the fine and other stipulations, including biannual compliance audits through 2020.

Women in FinTech Series- Amy Nauiokas, President of Anthemis

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Women in FinTech Series-  Amy Nauiokas, President of Anthemis


Breaking Banks and Finextra continue their series on Women in Fintech, profiling Amy Nauiokas, President of Anthemis.

Amy Nauiokas is so accomplished in so many different interests, it is hard to believe how down to earth she is.

She is Founder and President of Anthemis Group SA and Founder and CEO of Archer Gray, LLC a media production, financing and venture investment company. She is a visionary executive, venture capitalist and producer; a recognized leader in innovation, strategic management and results across a variety markets and industries.

As a venture capitalist, Amy identifies and invests in early stage technology companies focused on the disruption of media, financial services and marketplaces. Her early investments include Zoopla, the UK’s leading property research website, Climate Corporation, which was acquired by Monsanto in October 2013 for $930m, and Simple, which was acquired by BBVA in February 2014 for $117m.

As a producer, Amy has achieved considerable commercial and creative success. Projects include the Broadway musical Once, winner of 8 Tony Awards, the 2014 Sundance Film Festival selection Little Accidents, the 2013 Sundance Film Festival selection The Inevitable Defeat Of Mister And Pete, and the 2015 Sundance Film Festival selections Diary of a Teenage Girl and Ten Thousands Saints.
Amy was previously CEO and Managing Director of Barclays Stockbrokers, the UK’s largest electronic retail broker with £10 billion assets under management. Before joining Barclays, Amy was Senior Managing Director and Partner at Cantor Fitzgerald.
Amy is a member of the New Markets Women’s Advisory Board at Credit Suisse, a Board Observer for SeedInvest, the leading equity-based crowd-funding platform and a Board Member of Smart Pension LP and media platform We are Colony.

Catch Amy’s interview with Elizabeth Lumley of Finextra on Breaking Banks- Smarter Bank.

Women in Fintech Series: Claire Cockerton, CEO of Innovate Finance

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Women in Fintech Series: Claire Cockerton, CEO of Innovate Finance


Breaking Banks and Finextra continued their profiles of Women in Fintech with Claire Cockerton of Innovate Finance. Claire, originally from Canada, has become a champion of FinTech development in the UK and a huge proponent for tech innovation in the financial sectors. Please catch Claire’s interview on the February 26th episode of Breaking Banks and read the interview here:
FINEXTRA: What is Innovate Finance?

CLAIRE: It is a new industry organisation, a ‘movement’ we call it, that is dedicated to accelerating tech-led transformation in financial services. We are focused on supporting new FinTech businesses and entrepreneurs who have come to the UK with new business models and technologies. We are helping them transform the sector making it more diverse, more inclusive, and more competitive.

So our work involves lobbying, it involves policy and regulatory roundtables; it involves driving more investment into our member firms as well as showcasing career development opportunities in FinTech. It is a very new industry and our organisation is dedicated to creating this rich, lively flourishing FinTech ecosystem in the UK and showcasing it to the world.

FINEXTRA: What sets the UK apart as the capital of FinTech?

CLAIRE: Many reasons. If can go backwards, I would say history, we have such a strong financial services sector. We are such an epicentre of financial services to start with. Then geography. We can trade with East and West we are seen as a gateway to Europe.

I would also point to our talent and I don’t just mean financial services talent – I mean technology, entrepreneurial, design talent. We have this wonderful community here in Tech City and beyond … that is really showcasing our multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, multi-generational, talent bed.

We also have a simpler regulatory environment for some of these young companies to navigate and we historically set some forward looking policies in this space. Equity-based crowdfunders, for example, flourish here. The alternative finance space is so important not just to FinTech but for driving economic recovery. If you are a young restaurateur or fashion designer you can now access new alternative forms of financing. I can pitch my business on a crowdfunding site and get seed funding from a bunch of people. That is an incredibly powerful financial tool in a macro economic sense that is potentially driving our recovery in other industries as well.

That is FinTech supporting other tech and other business

FINEXTRA: Is it important that the UK has the same funding culture that we see in more established centres like Silicon Valley?

CLAIRE: It is a good question. It is one of our priorities as an organisation to look at the investment landscape here in the UK and to try and think about new ways we can drive greater investment into the FinTech sector. It is different here in the UK then it is in the US. It is different for a number of reasons.

The US and Silicon Valley has gained a reputation for having a greater appetite to risk; of not wanting to miss out on the next greatest company or deal. That is a great approach to take to developing a tech ecosystem. And here in the UK perhaps, culturally, we are a little bit more concerned about making the right choice or concerned with the losses we could incur…

FINEXTRA: Would you say that Silicon Valley is concerned with short term gains, while the UK takes a more long term view?

CLAIRE: I think there are these subtle cultural differences about how we make our investment decisions. We tend to be a little bit more conservative here, but that is changing. In the last two or three years we are really embracing the entrepreneurial culture the creative culture the ‘build it yourself and go out there’ and I think that entrepreneurial culture is also spurring that investment landscape as well.

I also want to say we don’t have to look like Silicon Valley. They have their own brand or tech cluster. And our cluster has our own unique attributes that we need think about.

FINEXTRA: What is your background?

CLAIRE: I studied architecture at the University of Toronto. I came to the UK five years ago after I sold my first business. I have always had an entrepreneurial drive. I grew my first business in the first year at university in sustainable architecture. I grew it over seven years, then sold it to a competitor. I then came over to Imperial Collage to do an MBA.

FINEXTRA: Entrepreneurship is in your back ground?

CLAIRE: Absolutely, I sometimes attribute it to growing up outside in the countryside in Canada where my Mom kicked me out of the house for six hours and said: “Go have fun in the wilderness!” I think that in part fostered a sense of independence and imagination which I think entrepreneurs really need.

FINEXTRA: What about the FinTech sector surprises you?

CLAIRE: I suppose what has been a surprise and a delight has been this great momentum over the past two or three years that we are seeing here that we are seeing in London and the UK…this movement towards change. We want a different financial services sector. Consumers are fed up. We want better products and services, lower cost, we want accountability. We want to be able to make our own choices about how our own capital gets used when we put it into a bank. This momentum has been a great inspiration to me.

FINEXTRA: What advice would you give a new FinTech startup?

CLAIRE: Go for it. There is nothing as exhilarating and mind boggling as trying to take your idea to the marketplace. We all want to leave a legacy and leave a mark.

My advice is: Just go for it.

Women in FinTech: Clare Flynn Levy, founder and CEO of Essentia Analytics

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Women in FinTech: Clare Flynn Levy, founder and CEO of Essentia Analytics


If you go to as many conferences as I do in the financial services and technology space (or FinTech for the hashtag friendly) you are used to bumping into the same people over and over again. You are also familiar with looking out into the sea the exhibition hall, and rows of the plenary sessions to be met with a recurring sight. Waves of dark suits worn by middle aged men. It’s financial services, with a tech edge – the alpha males of the alpha male dominated industries – what are ya going to do, right?

But my thoughts have always been, although women as indeed outnumbered in the industry (I just need to look at Finextra’s audience demographics to see that) that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a huge number of smart, hardworking, innovative thinkers in this space – who happen to be female – and aren’t getting the exposure they deserve. Their voices are being drowned out by the waves upon on waves of ‘men in dark suits’. (Who by the way, are wonderful people when you get to know them on an individual basis 😉

I had been chatting with a few people in the industry about doing some sort of ‘Women in FinTech’ series over at Finextra, either as videos or blogs. As luck would have it, Brett King gave me a call a few weeks ago offering a chance to run such a series on his VoiceAmerica Radio Show, Breaking Banks profiling interesting women making waves of their own in the FinTech space. Bring it on, I thought.

Many in this industry harp on about ‘disruption’. Well, in financial services and tech – there is nothing more disruptive than a female voice. So every month in my blog pages, we will be profiling an awesome ‘Woman in FinTech’.

To kick off our first Breaking Banks/Finextra Women in FinTech series, I sat down with Essentia Analytics founder and CEO Clare Fynn Levy. You can listen to the series on Breaking Banks now.

You can read a transcript of the highlights of my interview below or you can listen to the full interview now.

Clare Flynn Levey, CEO and Founder of Essentia Analytics ‘A Fitbit for Fund Managers’

Finextra: For the sake of our audience, what does Essentia Analytics do?

Clare: We make software that helps investment professionals understand their own behaviour patterns so they can see where their strengths and where their weaknesses lie. So they can focus on more of what they are good at and less of what they are not.

The end game is to make more money.

Finextra: What was your lightbulb moment?

Clare: The seeds were planted when I was a fund manager myself. I was a long only tech manager during the internet bubble and then I was long short tech hedge fund manager during the burst of that bubble. It was really fun on the way up, less so on the way down. I went from, everything I touch turns to gold to nothing I do seems to be making a difference and it was really confusing.

I had a strong view on where my competitive advantage lay and yet it wasn’t showing up in the data on my performance. Really what I needed was more date, rather than just a measure of the outcome. I needed to be able to dig deeper into where I was adding value and how I was adding value and whether my investment process was working.

Finextra: How is Essentia Analytics different from other decision support tools?

Clare: Traditional decision support tools monitor data from outside – what other people are doing. We look inward. If your bad habits or lack of self-awareness are causing you to not maximise your own skills or engage in investment decisions that are inefficient, than no amount of outside data will help you.

We look at what aspect of the decision process are adding or destroying value. Why did you make this decision or why did you decide to not buy this particular stock?

A bit like a Fitbit for fund managers.

Finextra: Is fund management behind the curve?

Clare: Yes, I think the enterprise in general has been behind the curve. There hasn’t been a demand from fund management, who work to long term mandates where there hasn’t been a treat. Only recently have we seen a tipping point. For example, there have been some press concerning hedge funds not performing, especially in regards to fees.

Finextra: When will there be a tipping point for behavioural analytics to go mainstream in enterprise environments?

Clare: When actual individuals are being empowered by the data and it is not used as stick to beat them with or to sell advertising. We all have a huge amount of data collected about us and we are not getting the benefit of that data.

This industry is very concerned with compliance. People are frightened about having data collected about then. But they see how it would benefit them, things will change.

Finextra: What surprised you most about becoming an entrepreneur?

Clare: Running a tech start up is an emotional roller-coaster. I was aware of that, but knowing it and loving it are two different things. But there are a lot of high highs, so I am having a lot of fun with it.

People are approaching us, to work with us. It is not just about money. And in the fund management industry that is a change. Money is part of it, but it is about the intellectual challenge. To change the world for the better.

Finextra: What have been your biggest challenges?

Clare: Funding the biz model is harder than we thought it would be – as provider of a software as a service enterprise offering. That early stage fund raising is so different from the investment world I come from. What we are doing that not something that the average generalist will understand. They get the concept, but they can’t related to it.

Finextra: What advice would you give a FinTech start-up?

Clare: The best thing we did was that we started the company with a client on day one. We were ready to go to clients who has an interest in behavioural analytics. They provided us with a certain level of legitimacy from day one.

Upcoming interviews will include Innovate Finance CEO Claire Cockerton and Kitty Parry, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Social Media Charter.

View the official article at Finextra.

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