GlobalFintechSeries Interview with David R. Smith, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Jelli Finance Co.
Great innovation even in fintech won’t rise to the top without adequate investment funding says David Smith, Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Jelli Finance Co. in this chat with GlobalFintechSeries. Catch the whole QnA where David talks about wearable tech making an impact in contactless payments and how digital currencies will evolve in the global finance marketplace.
Can you tell us a little about yourself David? How did the idea behind Jelli come about and what are some of the innovations you are working on for the near-future?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. But after business school, I elected to work for a number of Fortune 500 companies, like Procter & Gamble, Eastman Chemical Company and others. When I was let go from my first fintech role working at Green Dot, my entrepreneurial heart won out and I began a period of working for a number of small startup companies in the fintech space. I was exposed to all sides of the industry from program management, to processing, to banking, to the networks and many of the service providers. I held various positions in marketing, finance, and product management. From my experience, I saw that many of the products of these companies operated in silos and their customers were isolated from one another. I wanted to create a universal finance platform where everyone could connect on all money-sharing matters, hence, Jelli was born.
What are your top predictions for the digital banking space, how do you feel digital banking solutions will evolve in the next few years? Can you talk about some of the game changing digital banking solutions in the marketplace today?
To me, PayPal and Venmo began the revolution to connect these silos I mentioned previously. They introduced an easy way for people from different banks and financial institutions to digitally send money to each other, in the same way email introduced a way to send digital messages to one another. But like digital messaging didn’t stop with email but evolved into social network platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, I believe fintech is going to evolve in the same direction, creating ways for consumers to more easily connect on all things regarding their finances. Group investing, group funding, peer-to-peer lending, and group payments, I believe, are a number of ways we will continue to see changes in the future. I believe the large networks like Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover will be challenged as well. Why pay fees to ride the network rails when peer-to-peer or peer-to-merchant payments can be nothing more than an intra-bank transfer if both have accounts at the same bank.
What are your thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 on fintech and digital banking- how will this pandemic influence the future of this segment?
Clearly, the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically increased the use and desire for contactless payments. Easier and more efficient ways to pay will be introduced as we go forward. The days of plastic debit and credit cards are numbered as the need for physical cards to make payments at terminals will vanish. The costs associated with producing, fulfilling, and mailing plastic cards to consumers will disappear as well, thus making it easier for new fintech companies to join in the efforts to find less costly solutions for payments. Wearable technology will grow and expand providing consumers with methods other than their cell phones to make contactless payments.
How according to you will emerging tech like Blockchain/AI transform digital banking solutions and capabilities further, over the next few years?
Government-backed currencies offer security to some while great insecurity to others. I feel that there will be a split in consumer demand between cryptocurrencies and government issued currencies. As different geopolitical forces play out in the world, you will see this demand fluctuate with particular focus on the US and China and the strength of the US Dollar. Cryptocurrency, or digital currency, is starting to be used with cross-border remittance as a quick and easy way to convert currencies due to its unregulated nature. I believe the creativity of cryptocurrency and blockchain will expand into all areas of ecommerce and payments. AI will change the way merchants market to consumers giving them a bigger bang for the time that they devote to ads by providing more relevant material based on their purchase patterns and a limitless supply of behavioral data available on individuals from; the movies they watch, to the places they shop and travel, to the sites they browse, to the speed they drive their car, it’s endless.
Given the overview of what fintech looks like today in 2020 and this evolving space: how would you describe this market in the next decade?
Sometimes the coolest products don’t provide the best solution for consumers. Or one company just has a better marketing plan than another company, but not necessarily a better product. One thing is for sure, investment money will determine what consumers will see in the marketplace over the next 10 years. New startups will need to prove out to Venture Capital firms why their products are the best. And I feel that VCs have the responsibility to consumers to invest in what’s best for users, the marketplace and the world, not just what’s the best for their near-term profits. Great innovation won’t rise to the top without investment funding.
Before we wrap up, would you like to share specific finance management or business tips for Marketing and Sales or Finance teams struggling through this uncertain time due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
I would just say, stay the course, tighten the belt, cut short-term costs where you can and ride out the wave. It will eventually die down and things will return back to normal, or a new version of normal. The travel and large-group entertainment industries have been hit hard, but that pushes consumers other directions like in-home entertainment and ordering delivery. Be creative, scarcity truly does drive ingenuity.
Jelli is “A Sweet Way to Bank.” It revolutionizes banking with real-time JelliJARS for easy budgeting and JelliCASH Rewards, Powered by Dosh. Comparable to the cash-envelope system, users can create as many JelliJARS as they need to organize and segment their money for easy budgeting. JelliJARS can be shared with friends, family and co-workers, making them ideal for group-funding projects, social events, and shared expenses. Qualifying purchases made with the JelliCARD Visa Debit Card earn cash back rewards. Cash back offers are available directly in the JelliAPP as JelliCASH Rewards, providing a great way to help Jelli users spend within their budget.
David R. Smith is the Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder of Jelli Finance Co.