Through the power of financial technology (FinTech), succeeding and doing well are no longer mutually exclusive. In fact, they are combining forces to exponentiate success across the board. Helping others is just as important of a metric as making money.
But, what is FinTech and how can it help to make a difference in your world?
Reiling has been recognized as one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business” for the past four years and earned an Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
As a social entrepreneur with a long history of innovation in community development finance, Reiling’s visionary leadership has positioned his social enterprise for long-term financial sustainability and positive social impact.
Sunrise Banks, based in Minneapolis, is devoted to helping millennial entrepreneurs take full advantage of their financial burdens and turn them into a “frictionless approach,” as he also outlined in a recent Forbes interview.
In our conversation, Reiling pointed out that with most companies, “providing value” or “doing good” is an addition to corporate responsibility.
“With most companies, if you’re doing well, it’s going to subtract from your margin or bottom line,” he explained.
“But, our entrepreneurial mindset and mission is different than most companies. What we’ve recognized is the better we do from the mission-side—volunteer and community engagement, the better our business is. The more risk taking on new innovations to provide people with more accessibility to credit, the more business has come in. Our business model is not addition/subtraction, but multiplication.”
Meet the 5 “FinTechs”
In the book, Reiling identified five FinTech companies to keep in mind when thinking about how to approach your financial wellness—
Self Lender aims to “create a simple way to establish credit history for the first time.” The platform offers an online credit-builder loan for people to establish credit history through a “savings-secured” loan.
In other words, when you take out a credit-builder loan, you aren’t entitled to those funds right away. Rather, you receive the money after you pay off the loan. The loan itself is deposited in a certificate of deposit (CD), until the completion of the loan term.
The idea of student loan forgiveness is music to millennials ears. According to Peanut Butter, a student loan repayment company, Americans hold $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, which comprises of the majority of the debt crisis.
The company provides access to information that helps employees learn strategies in paying back their student loans and helping to answer questions like when it does or does not make sense to refinance their loans.
Offered by Employee Loan Solutions, True Connect, is an employer-offered small dollar loan alternative which works through the employer payroll system. Borrowers cannot take more than they can pay back, and those payments are taken from checks over the course of the loan.
For many immigrants in the U.S., lacking a credit history prevents them from realizing and accomplishing their vision. NOVA enables immigrants to share their credit history from their home country with financial service providers and others.
Through EarnUp, consumers are able to automate their loan payments, with the company making those loan payments for you, allocating funds in the best way possible to help them escape debt quicker.
How Millennials Fit Into Fiscal Wellness
In the 21st century, the millennial generation has changed everything—from social media and marketing, technology and entertainment, to finance and management.
GritDaily: What role do you see millennials play with respect to fiscal management?
David Reiling: I love the millennial demographic because you are changing the game and the rules in how we play today. A checking account is nice, but it’s not the savior product to some financial wellness. I find that millennials are open to new technology in ways of looking at their financial world. Like everyone, they need financial education, tools, and help, and want someone to make it simple.
Depending on what your day to day transactions are, it’s complicated and full of jargon. Millennials are pushing us towards technologies that make finance simpler. They can combine things, create budgets, manage student loan debt, and help people optimize how they pay their bills. This builds confidence and more accessibility.
They are tech-savvy and aren’t afraid to try things. That opens us to technology and the willingness to try different things, providing for one less barrier we must overcome.
GD: Recognizing many of these new technologies, what challenges are still What are the bigger challenges with respect to the fiscal space, keeping in mind evolution of blockchain technology and digital currencies?
DR: Unfortunately, there are still dangers out there—there are still several options in terms of what products and services to use. I think in some ways like crypto, which seems sexy, they also serve as a distraction to the everyday financial wellness. It’s like buying a lotto ticket—the gamble and volatility.
It doesn’t help pay student loan debt on a regular basis or build your credit history. I think there’s a lot of new things to try, but at end of the day, we do our best within the industry to protect people’s data, keeping it secure and safe, as well as their money. Those are two basic tenements of building trust.
Choose Your Own Fiscal Wellness Adventure
But this is no ordinary book—this is one of those reads where you can put it down, do your own research, and come back to it later on when you are ready.
GD: What inspired you to take your experience in this space into a book?
DR: Sunrise focuses mainly on low- and moderate-income communities and target populations. Whether you are in a low-income, on-bank, or wealthy individual, everyone struggles with their confidence and control around their financial situation. Particularly, managing their own financial wellness. Part of that is the actual money and the psychology and tools to do it. Bringing this into the world with the financial companies we work with, in many ways, they empower people to take control over their financial situation.
This is done by providing access to the system in a very convenient and easy way. The inspiration for this is demonstrated by the beauty of technology to really help people gain control and become a bit more financial well in their life, again monetarily and psychologically thinking about how money intersects with their life.
GD: Let’s talk about your latest book, Fintech 4 Good. For those picking up a copy, how would you advise readers to approach reading the book? Is it an instruction manual?
DR: I would look at the Table of Contents and choose your own adventure, so to speak. I would find the thing that interests me the most, take a quick read, and then pick your next chapter. This allows you to personalize your approach to reading. The one theme I stuck with throughout—all of these things in one-way shape or form, will impact people’s credit history. It’s underplayed how important credit history is, not only in getting access to credit and financial services, but to insurance—your landlord and employer pull this. Having a fundamental decent payment history can lower your costs, provide more access to things, and helps the individual on a positive financial wellness path.