FinLab’s 2016 class kicked off the program quickly this year. The nine winners came together for the first meeting in San Francisco last week – less than two weeks after they pitched live before a panel of judges at CFSI’s EMERGE forum in New Orleans.
The two day meeting involved activities that were focused on improving understanding and empathy towards American consumers and discussions on how to improve consumer financial health. First thing in the morning on day one the companies participated in FinX, CFSI’s experiential simulation of the alternative financial services market. FinX is designed to give participants first-hand experience to the challenges faced by the millions of Americans who lack access to traditional financial services in a way that no presentation can.
Tasks involved cashing two checks – one payroll and one personal, wiring money to another group member, loading and using a prepaid card, among other challenges. The groups quickly learned how difficult it was to complete the tasks in the allotted 90 minutes (one group ran into so many obstacles that they were 45 minutes late returning) as well as shocked by how quickly the fees added up for each service. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to the companies presenting to each other about their products and learning about one another’s goals. The program for the day closed with a panel of founders from the first FinLab class who shared their insights about the program as well as advice with the group.
During the second day the group dove into financial health and impact before they heard from Danny Shader, the CEO of PayNearMe, who shared his insights and advice for how to navigate the road ahead. The group was then joined by Lab sponsor JPMorgan Chase and Lab partners Ideas42, IDEO.org, Promontory Financial Group, First Annapolis, Google Play, Paul Hastings, Bryan Cave and BPM as well as Lab Entrepreneur in Residence Ty Griffin for further discussion and one-on-one advice.
The Lab’s next meeting is in early August. There the companies will dive deeper into the insights from meeting one and further explore how to improve consumer financial health.