5 Most Influential People in Banking in 2018

A lot was said and done in the world of banking and fintech in 2018. In the midst of all the competition and collaboration, leaders emerged from all corners of the industry.

Here are Bank Innovation’s five most influential people of the year, determined by editors’ choice, in no particular order:

  • Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase

The CEO of the U.S.’s largest bank had a busy year in the spotlight — launching a neobank, forming a healthcare consortium, and continuing to bash bitcoin (He was right on that one, as it turns out.) JPMorgan Chase leads rivals in the mobile banking race, yet it went ahead and launched a new bank brand, Finn, this summer. Expect other banks to follow suit in 2019. Chase continues to lower its number of branches as well (but still had over 5,000 as of 3Q18 earnings) and move the money into digital — its tech budget is near $10 billion per year. In January, Dimon joined Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett to announce the creation of a healthcare company designed to rethink healthcare for their employees, and maybe the rest of us too. The new company has a CEO, Dr. Atul Gawande, but apparently still lacks a name. Dimon had to (almost) eat his words on bitcoin earlier this year, and he admitted he regretted calling the cryptocurrency a fraud in 2017. But by October, with the entire cryptocurrency world in freefall, Dimon, fed up with the whole business, said, “I didn’t want to be the spokesman against bitcoin. I don’t really give a shit.”

  • Eric Jing, Ant Financial

In June, Ant Financial raised a cool $14 billion, and its pre-IPO valuation is close to $150 billion, placing it among the largest financial services companies in the world. Jing, the executive chairman and CEO for the Alibaba-affiliated online payment behemoth, attracted quite a bit of attention in November for criticizing “fake fintech,” or “scams under the cover of fintech” that don’t address real problems. He called for “differentiated regulation” to punish these companies and protect “genuine” ones, while touting his company’s efforts to open funding pipelines to millions of small and micro businesses. In December, Jing was appointed to the United Nations’s newly launched Task Force on Digital Financing, which will recommend strategies for large-scale digital finance flows to meet the agency’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • Jay Clayton, SEC

Everyone wants to know where this Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is going to land on crypto. Clayton’s agency has denied multiple bitcoin ETF applications, citing risks of fraud and manipulation and challenges for investor protection. He said at CoinDesk’s Consensus Invest conference in New York in November that he needs to see better market surveillance and custody for cryptocurrencies before he can be comfortable with the idea of an ETF. During the Q&A with Clayton, which drew the largest and most attentive crowd of the conference, he made the statement that bitcoin is more akin to the dollar than a security, and received an enthusiastic round of applause. On initial coin offerings, Clayton offered some free advice: “If what you’re doing is starting a venture, and you’re funding that venture by issuing tokens, you should start with the assumption that you’re conducting a securities offering.”

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