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Rob Frohwein, Co-Founder, Kabbage

How well are financial companies adapting to the rapid pace of fintech development? What fields are furthest ahead of the game, and what sectors are being left behind?  

It appears that banks have reacted most swiftly to the adoption of distributed ledgers and blockchain. The field of online lending is advancing more slowly and, specifically, the banks' ability to leverage their own data in connection with the provision of loans to small and medium sized businesses and consumers.  

What challenges do you see for fintech development and disruption, both from a user's perspective and from a regulatory standpoint?  

There are a couple of concerns that have always existed.  First, many banks move slowly because of their perception of the application of regulation on innovation and how their existing policies derived from these regulations relate to fintech. Frankly, the later of these issues is the bigger one.  Most banks do not differentiate between regulation and bank policy. Unfortunately, they assume the policies within the bank read interpret the regulations precisely but, in reality, the policies were adopted without regard to financial innovation. The banks' policies should and must be reviewed in light of technology developments.

What impact do you think Brexit will have on the broader financial technology industry in the UK?  

Currently, we've not seen a tremendous impact but the lack of certainty of exactly what Brexit means to banks definitely slows down the progress of fintech expansion within banks. The sooner we gain clarity on how the exit process will occur and how banks will react the better.

What will you be discussing at The Economist's Finance Disrupted Conference on January 25th 2017 in London?  

My thoughts these days primarily surround what will define online lending companies going forward. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of companies that have entered the space over the last few years, but it's hard to differentiate one from the other. And, often, that differentiation is on a distribution channel or particular market segment, which calls into question the legitimacy of these companies. However, we believe that the companies that have truly differentiated themselves with unique technology and ongoing access to varied data will not only survive, but thrive going forward.  

Where are the most promising areas for collaboration within the fintech ecosystem (whether it be with encumbents and/or other fintech companies)?  

Again, it feels like niche plays in the market form the basis of some interesting relationships between online lending companies and bank partners, but ultimately, the technologies provided by the fintech to the bank need to be impactful to the bank's future. Therefore, licensing data platforms that enable banks to better offer existing financials services and blur back against companies that would seek to encroach upon the banks' existing fee bases would be most beneficial to all parties.

To learn more about the Finance Disrupted event, please click here.