I have had the pleasure of interviewing Jon Underwood. Jon is a social impact entrepreneur focused on Sustainable Finance, Blockchain & Community Capitalization.
He believes “We have so much capital globally, yet so many under-capitalized people, under-utilized talents, and capacities exist, that we need to find a new way forward to complement our current system, because we’re coming up short.”
He is focused on the evolution of Capital, Credit, and Currencies. During his experience working with Federal Reserve Stakeholders to deliver a faster Payment System, Jon began to understand the potential of a new decentralized infrastructure without the dependence of independent financial silos. He then piloted community-focused financial services with In-Store Retail Payments for small and medium-sized merchants. His pilot focused on the coalition of Loyalty Rewards Programs with multiple stakeholders (banks, credit unions, merchants, consumers, nonprofits) that develop a dramatic Social Impact
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When I first started sharing my ideas around creating a payment solution that also creates community capital and builds the strength of local communities I attended social and impact investing events. The investors I meet were excited about the vision and impact that my ideas would create but did not see how my Fintech idea would make money or scale. After receiving a significant amount of criticism from the social investment community I happened to casually talk to a venture capitalist about my idea thinking that he would only see the challenges. I was wrong, he immediately saw the opportunity of changing a paradigm and drawing acceptance and usage from the right consumers, businesses and financial institutions. The exact type of investors I was avoiding due to my focus on local sustainable capital was the one that saw the most opportunity.
What do you think makes your company stand out during these disruptive times? Can you share a story?
We are taking a new approach to financial services that can not only build local communities but make money doing it. The latest blockchain technology has created a new infrastructure that can help decentralize financial processes and give more power to the individuals and local businesses. This new technology helps us to recirculate capital that we already have into the local economy. Bringing together retailers, nonprofits and local financial institutions in a unique way. We help local financial institutions take existing investment and extend it to the local economy using our technology without additional costs.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Be super flexible and giving a lot of autonomy to your team. Create deliverables and let people work the way that is best for them. By giving your team a lot of flexibility and responsibility it helps prevent death by meeting and allows people to work outside of the traditional 9 to 5. Build your culture around the value that your team provides and show them by compensating them with more than just a salary. Share equity generously, its the capital you have so spend it with your employees.
Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 5 Fintech and Banking Trends Over The Next 3 Years”
- Crypto moves from speculation to business applications: Companies will find ways to stabilize crypto currencies that can be used in day to day financial transactions.
- Blockchain based banking: Banks will improve security and speed by building a new digital infrastructure.
- AI customer support: AI will be accessible by banks to provide improved one on one customer support digitally.
- Customer loyalty using blockchain and AI: Loyalty programs will use AI to deliver rewards that customers care about and will evaluate the data in real time to improve experiences. The blockchain will lower the cost for financial institutions to deliver tailor made rewards that are funded by the customer.
- Customer’s will be empowered my eliminating 3rd party services: Customers will take ownership of their data and improve security so that they no longer need to depend on credit bureaus and other services to manage their data. Also fin-tech services will use new data points and algorithms to evaluate risk that do not require traditional PII.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Let your loyalty to another human being come about in this way: there will be moments — quickly passing by — when he will seem to you filled and illumined by the true, primal image of his spirit.
Then can come, yes, will come, long stretches of time when your fellow-being seems clouded, even darkened. But learn at these times to say to yourself: The spirit will strengthen me; I will remember the true, unchanging image that I once saw. Nothing at all — neither deception nor disguise — can take it away from me.
Struggle again and again for the true picture that you saw. The struggle itself is your faithfulness.
And in those efforts to be faithful and to trust, a human being will come close to another as if with an angel’s power of protection.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My father worked for The United Way for 30 years and raised over one hundred million dollars for the organization. When I was young I asked my father what the United Way did. He said that people come across tough circumstances during their life. They might have lost their job or their family. They might have been the victim of a natural disaster or an unfortunate circumstance. The United Way is the community that supports them. They help people who are knocked off their feet and help them get back up again. Even though our company is built on the concept of giving back through a donation with every transaction, it was not until later on in the company development that I realized the impact that my father had on me. If we can contribute a small percentage of every transaction everywhere in the world we could raise over $100 million in a year, a month, a week, or even a day.
Originally published at medium.com