2017 Innovators to Watch: 32 to 38

32. Zach Perret, CEO, Plaid

The era of screenscraping may be coming to an end — and even if not, the time of open banking via API is upon us, and that is good news for Plaid. The San Francisco-based company burst onto the scene in 2015 with software to connect companies to transactional accounts. It now offers products for income and identity authentication, and real-time balance checks. Plaid recently inked a deal with Dwolla to upgrade the ACH experience, and is a friend and partner to fintech accelerators everywhere (including INV Fintech, our sister accelerator.)

Perret has become an evangelist for open banking, and Plaid is one of the foundational companies for the next generation of financial services that powers startups and insurgents without fighting banks.

33. Souheil Badran, President Alipay North America

With a hefty goal of signing 2 billion customers, AliPay — with 450 million global users — is now on to the U.S. market. The company partnered up with First Data to pilot its services to a select number of U.S. merchants, marketing the offering to Chinese travelers in the U.S.

But Chinese travellers are just the beginning, according to Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America. “We are always looking for where there is volume and where we can serve a lot of consumers. It is more than what’s next — it’s what have we done well in China that we can leverage well overseas. Lending, credit insurance, savings — all these things we are doing,” Badran told PYMNTS in a recent interview. “We are a network in our own sense.” 

34. Jennifer Bailey, VP of Internet Services, Apple Pay

Since Facebook swore off becoming a bank, all eyes are on Apple.

Every year, fans of the tech giant eagerly await the WWDC conference; this year too, Apple didn’t disappoint. The company announced its newest P2P payments service, which will allow iOS 11 users transfer money via iMessage starting this fall. The product comes with its own digital debit card, Apple Pay Cash, which will enable users to store the funds they receive, and use those for purchases via Apple Pay.

Jennifer Bailey, VP of internet services and head of Apple Pay, has been in charge of the payments service for the past (key) years, and, it seems, she’ll be the one leading the tech giant into the banking space.

35. Amber Baldet, Blockchain Lead, Chase

During Consensus 2017, Amber Baldet, blockchain program lead at JPMorgan Chase, described the development of Quorum as “explosive.” The bank launched Ethereum-based Quorum —  which will allow the bank to conduct hundreds of transactions each second —  last year. “The response has been overwhelming,” prompting the bank to devote a full-time team to sustain the effort, according to Baldet.

Earlier this year, Chase teamed up with other tech and banking giants to establish Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, which became one of the key factors in driving a 3,000% year-to-date price hike for Ethereum.

Whether driven by Chase’s solo blockchain endeavor, or the work done in Ethereum, the technology’s effect on banking will be “transformative,” Baldet noted. (DA)

36. Daniel Schreiber, CEO and co-founder, Lemonade

Insurance is clunky, paper-heavy, and costly, both for providers and for consumers–but this is 2017, which means we have the technology to change that, at least according to Daniel Schrieber, the co-founder and CEO of Lemonade.

Schreiber’s technology background has been put to use when it comes to building out the company’s innovative insurance platform. As one of the first insurtechs, the premise of Lemonade is simple–in a word, mobile. Users can rely on the mobile app to build out a rent or home insurance policy (which takes minutes at most), pay for that insurance each month (which is automated), and settle a claim (which Lemonade has settled in seconds). Right now, the insurtech is focused on expansion–no matter how cool the UX, it’s still an insurance company, and that means running state by state–and is currently available to New York and Illinois residents.

37. Micah Winkelspecht, CEO, Gem

Any startup that got Toyota’s attention, has ours too.

Gem — a blockchain-powered insurtech startup — demonstrated its healthcare claim management product at Consensus this year, simultaneously announcing a partnership with Toyota Research Institute (although, not too many details were announced about this partnership).

The startup aims to create one universal “story” for the healthcare industry, according to CEO Micah Winkelspecht. He said at a recent interview with IBTimes: “The result is one identifier, one story, one timeline. Patients, providers, and payers, all can see the patient’s health and claims data in real time, creating a continuum for care and payments and as a result, transparency and speed in reconciling claims and reimbursing patients and providers what they are owed, faster and more accurately.”

38. Ken Rees, CEO, Elevate

Turns out, betting on non-prime consumers pays off, Elevate can attest to that.

The company saw an extensive growth this year, especially for its Elastic product — a bank-issued line of credit, backed by Republic Bank — which has just surpassed $200 million in total outstandings.

Underbanked consumers have been a focus area for Ken Rees for decades. “Tens of thousands of our customers have appreciably improved their credit ratings with help from our reporting their successful payment history to a major credit bureau,” he said in a letter in March. “We believe that further improvements in technology, analytics and scale should benefit our customers. We are continually investing in advanced analytics that allow us to improve our underwriting capabilities.”

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