2015 Innovators to Watch: 11 to 15

11. Reetika Grewal, head of payments strategy & solutions, Silicon Valley Bank 

reetika_grewalReetika Grewal (@rgcinco), unlike most bankers, considers disruption her friend. And well she might, since Silicon Valley Bank bank — founded back in the Apple II+ era — was built on providing banking services to venture-funded disruptors such as Plastiq. If any bank welcomes this stuff, it ought to be SVB, right? Grewal’s particular area of responsibility is the fast-moving, ever-changing payments space, and she has said she sees the context around transactions as tying the entire banking experience together. She has also spoken eloquently about the particular difficulties women face in an industry as demanding of one’s time as banking.

12. Chris Larsen, CEO, Ripple Labs

chris_larsen2Chris Larsen’s legacy as a fintech entrepreneur is nothing short of legendary: E-Loan, Prosper, and now Ripple Labs. In each case, Larsen (@chrislarsensf) was way out in front of the disruption. To do it once would be admirable. To do it three times is astounding. But Larsen has also humbled over the years — he started in fintech in the early 1990s, after all. He has also earned $34.4 million of blue-chip venture capital from investors for Ripple, like Google Ventures and Core Innovation Capital. That affords Larsen the opportunity to go big, bigger then he has ever gone before. He is certainly trying to do that with Ripple Labs and, hey, third time’s the charm.

13. Michal Panowicz, SVP & deputy head of digital banking, Nordea

michal_panowicz2Michal Panowicz’s (@michalpanowicz) crowning achievement to date can be summed up in one word: mBank. One of the world’s most innovative banks, the current incarnation of mBank was built from the ground up in the last three years and is now Poland’s third largest retail bank. “In 2012, I didn’t have a single line of code written,” Panowicz recalled recently. He checked in with Brett King and other visionaries and then was off to the races. Now he’s the deputy head of digital for Nordea, one of northern Europe’s largest banks. Nordea has an active digital customer base, but it’s no mBank. Panowicz will see to that, and he’s not intimidated by the scale or complexity of the bank, which was assembled through a series of acquisitions. “I like the challenge,” he said.

14. Mike Dudas, chief revenue officer, Button

mike_dudas2Looking to hear what’s going on FinTech but don’t know who to ask? No, we’re not talking about us. (Well, you can if you want.) We’re talking about Mike Dudas (@mdudas), CRO and co-founder of Button, a service that builds deep links within and between apps. A recent deal allows users to call an Uber from within Foursquare. Dudas worked in e-commerce at Google and then moved on to business development at Venmo, right when the acquisition train started rolling and Braintree bought Venmo and PayPal bought Braintree. Dudas is a major presence on Twitter and in the FinTech community generally, commenting on the news as it happens and generously promoting connections between friends — hey, just like Button!

15. Chanda Kochhar, managing director & CEO, ICICI

chanda_kocchar2Chanda Kochhar (@icicibank) is responsible for running ICICI, India’s second largest bank; in 2000, it became and the first Indian bank to list on the New York Stock Exchange. Under Kochhar’s direction, ICICI has launched a number of innovative initiatives, including a partnership with the U.S. company Social Money and integrations with various telecom providers in India to improve mobile payments functionality. “we will continue to focus on leveraging technology to deliver innovative and convenient banking solutions,” Kochhar said earlier this month. India has seen particularly robust investments in startups in 2015 in the mobile payments space, and ICICI has been active in seeking partnerships. India has low card penetration, so mobile payments rely on cash loading at retail agents. ICICI is working to extend its technology to these vendors to improve the experience of cash-reliant consumers, customers or not.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism, which makes him quite old. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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