Friday, February 7, 2020

New bank account, who dis?

IMTFI Director Bill Maurer talks about fintech apps in this Dope Labs podcast by Zakiya Whatley, Titi Shodiya & Jenny Radelet Mast

Interview Transcript Excerpt:

Zakiya: FinTech is all around us and it can feel like these apps have been around forever, but that's not exactly the case.

Titi: Yes, so our first question for Dr. Maurer was when did all of this stuff start popping up?

Dr. Maurer: This really kind of hit the scene in a big way in 2008 and 2009 with the launch of the iPhone.

Zakiya: Yes, the iPhone launch in the U.S. in 2007. But the iPhone 3G came on the scene in 2008.

Titi: Revolutionary.

Zakiya: Changed everything.

Dr. Maurer: All of a sudden people have this really cool device that fits in their pocket and is basically a terrific interface into a whole bunch of different applications are a whole kind of appecology grew up around the iPhone and similar devices. And people in Silicon Valley and in the banking industry and payments industry started realizing, hey, this device, this suite of devices and apps could really change people's relationship to their money into the existing financial and banking infrastructure.

Zakiya: I love that he describes this as ecology because we've talked about ecology on a couple of different episodes.

Titi: Yes.

Zakiya: And so the ecology is just how different things usually in biology we say how different organisms interact with one another. But now we're saying, how do these different apps talk to each other? How do people want to access the information now that they have a smartphone? So it's really cool to think about this in the context of more of a relationship.

Titi: Yes. So these apps have created their own special environment.

Zakiya: That's right. So the first category we're walking through is personal finance. These are apps like Mint, Credit Karma, You need a budget, and even your personal banking app. Generally, they help you manage your spending and saving.

Dr. Maurer: These apps basically serve almost as like training wheels. Right. So it's like training wheels on a bicycle that teaches you a little bit about budgeting and investing or savings. It's usually not enough to get you where you need to go, but it gives you basic skills and a basic vocabulary. So then you can start talking to other people, to friends, to your parents, or even walk into your credit union or bank and start asking better questions.

Titi: And these apps or services can be really good for helping people make smarter financial decisions. This help comes primarily in two ways. The first is by data visualization or giving people charts and graphs to show them what they're really doing with their money.

Dr. Maurer: For so many people. Money is just coming in and going out and they're not really being mindful about it or paying any attention to where things are going.

Listen to the full podcast and read full transcript to learn more about algorithmic bias, personal finance, and gender & credit. Links below.

Via podcast: or online at (Lab 021: New Bank Account, Who Dis?).

Full transcript:

For further reading, view Filene Research Report: "The Lessons of Fintech Apps: Design Matters for Personal Finance​"

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