Last week the sixth annual LendIt USA conference took place in San Francisco. Officially known as LendIt Fintech USA 2018 this event was, in my opinion, the best we have ever produced. As I do at this time after every LendIt event, here are my thoughts on some of the ideas that were shared by the keynote speakers as well as a summary of the rest of the event.
The opening keynote, for the second year in a row, was delivered by Scott Sanborn, the CEO of LendingClub. He gave a different kind of presentation this year. He didn’t talk much about LendingClub at all, instead choosing to focus his keynote on financial health and the looming crisis that maybe coming. He gave us all something to consider beyond just disruption, he said we should think about three key areas: financial inclusion, regulatory innovation and customer alignment. He ended with a call to action for the industry. He wanted everyone to focus on what problem you are solving and what you can do to help restore financial health to all Americans.
For the first time ever we had the CEO of Quicken Loans, Jay Farner, on stage at LendIt. Quicken Loans has become the largest mortgage lender in the country, bigger than all the banks. It was interesting to hear Jay talk about innovation. He said it is not enough today to just be faster. You need to fundamentally rethink the process, do it in a new and different way. This is where good entrepreneurial businesses will succeed because they start with a blank sheet of paper. He said there is no reason a mortgage should take longer than 10 days.
Long time readers of Lend Academy will know the name Chris Larsen. He was the co-founder and former CEO of Prosper. He left Prosper in 2012 to start Ripple, his most ambitious startup yet. Ripple is trying to revolutionize the way money is sent around the world. As he said in his discussion with Jo Ann Barefoot in finance, when it comes to moving money, we are living in a pre-internet world. It takes days to send money around the world and yet email moves instantly. It is inevitable that this will change and when it does Chris said there will be a Cambrian explosion in innovation and economic development.
Max Levchin first made a name for himself as a co-founder of PayPal but today he is most well known as the CEO and co-founder of Affirm. Affirm is attacking point of sale financing, a space that is somewhat fragmented with few big incumbent lenders. In his discussion Max said that software is eventually going to eat the credit card. We are going to move to payments made by phone but we have more work to do on the software side before that becomes the standard way people pay. Interestingly, he also attacked the APR (annual percentage rate) standard as a bad way of judging credit products. We need to reinvent a way to compare financial products that is not just focused on the APR.