Three FinTech Themes for 2019

Chicago’s Hyde Park is a world away from LaSalle St., the city’s financial center. I’m willing to fly halfway across the country and even around the world to learn about new FinTech companies and trends.

Going to a part of the city I rarely visit shouldn’t seem so out of the way. Yet it did – but it was even more worth it to get another view of Chicago’s entrepreneurial capital.

On Feb. 15, the Polsky Center at the University of Chicago hosted FinTech startups and investors as part of its excellent Entrepreneurial Outlook 2019 series. Panelists identified three points of focus for FinTech startups in 2019.

1. Work with the regulators. If you are staring a FinTech firm, talk to regulators. They will listen, and many of them want to be educated by you. “Regulators should be on your mind from Day 1,” said Cliff Nelson, an associate at DRW Venture Capital.

2. The underbanked are a rising market. Financial services firms focus on customers with money. They always have and will continue to. “It’s been the nonprofits who focused on underbanked consumers. Now investors are seeing that there’s a market for them,” said Samara Mejia Hernandez, an early stage investor at MATH Venture Partners.

3. Focus on the customer. Technology is not the focus of a great startup. It’s the means a great startup uses to solve problems that customers have. Wherever customers have a poor experience in financial services, technology can be applied to help.