2016 Innovators to Watch: 6 to 10

6. Max Levchin, CEO, Affirm

levchinSome members of the PayPal mafia are off building spaceships or suing media brands into nonexistence, but Max Levchin? Still in fintech. His company Affirm is in an underserved, unsexy space — point of sale financing. But trust Levchin to sex it up — he raised $100 million this spring and promptly bought the highly regarded budgeting app Sweep. This points to broad ambitions for Levchin and co., and why not? Affirm is looking to serve the people, mainly millennials, who are disenchanted with banks and generally speaking, are not attractive as bank customers.

Levchin believes banks are broken, but not the business of banking. Affirm is old-school in its underwriting and its loans on the balance sheet: “Because we are an on-balance sheet lender meaning we take on the full risk of our loans and we do not have revolving accounts or late fees,” Levchin said. “The only way we make money is if we lend to people who we believe have the ability and intent to repay us.”

7. Jennifer Bailey, Vice President, Internet Services, Apple Pay

baileyApple’s Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month made it clear that iOS 10 will offer some serious possibilities on the payments front. All eyes on Apple Pay, and Jennifer Bailey, who oversees it.

Perhaps the most heralded update is that Apple Pay is coming to the web for Safari users – watch out PayPal. The adoption of Apple Pay (or any other mobile wallet) hasn’t met the expectations yet. Will the web button be any different? We will see. Apple also opened up Siri, Maps and Messages to developers, so we are also keeping our eyes out for any new Apple Pay applications in those spaces.

8. Steve Ellis, Head of Innovation Group, Wells Fargo

ellisLast summer, Wells Fargo brought together its various innovation efforts — its internal innovation lab, research & development, its startup accelerator, its payments strategy group, its design delivery group, and its social strategy team — under one metaphorical roof, and Steve Ellis, formerly head of wholesale, was chosen to lead it. Why? As head of the bank’s wholesale services group, Ellis was responsible for the industry’s first corporate mobile banking app and Wells Fargo’s first startup accelerator. He is currently building out his team from the initial 20 to a projected 130 — and trying to get them together under one actual, physical roof. Ellis told Bank Innovation he wants to focus on building out the bank’s API suite and next-generation commerce. Entrepreneurs running mortgage tech startups should probably try to get a meeting with him.

9. Luvleen Sidhu, Chief Strategy Officer, BankMobile

sidhuIn the FI vs tech game, BankMobile can proudly claim to successfully straddle both worlds. Led by Chief Strategy Officer (and millennial) Luvleen Sidhu, the branchless bank aims to win over millennials with Facebook contests, a lifestyle blog, campus trips, and frequent focus groups (comprised of millennials, of course). The strategy seems to be working: BankMobile has just announced of a two-million-customer milestone in less than two years since the official launch.

My mission here was to create a new standard for banking. We had to really change the model upside down, and deliver a ‘wow’ experience,” Sidhu told Bank Innovation previously. What’s on her agenda next? Hitting a 1-billion customers mark — no, seriously — and going international. That definitely calls for a “wow”.

10. Patrick Collison, CEO, Stripe

collisonPatrick Collison founded Stripe with his brother John to address a glaring defect in online payments — namely, that setting up stores and shopping carts to sell online was complicated and painful. Stripe first focused on helping website developers get paid, and not surprisingly, those developers made great evangelists for spreading the product outside the community. Commonly referred to as a genius, Collison is deeply involved in issues related to financial access and inclusion, which led to the creation of products such as Stripe Atlas.

“The promise of the internet is that geography should be largely irrelevant,” he said in a company post. “But that’s not yet true: the majority of the world’s population lives in a country where they don’t have access to high-quality banking or payments infrastructure.” Stripe Atlas allows companies located anywhere to incorporate in Delaware and accept payments. Not bad — and it took an Irish expat to figure that one out.

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