How technology cracked open the financial industry

June 11, 2021, 11:00 PM UTC

Though banks still use pneumatic tubes to send documents and money between tellers and customers, technology in the financial sector has advanced rapidly in recent years. Fintech companies like Venmo are now household names.

Matt Harris, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures, first focused on the fintech sector 20 years ago, when it “generally meant vendors to banks [like Fiserv and FIS], and those companies were basically 100% of the universe that people thought of as financial technology.”

Those vendors remain part of the fintech world, Harris says, but the “more exciting set of fintech companies” are the ones that “actually compete with the incumbents in many ways.”

And “modern fintech,” he adds, started with Jack Dorsey’s Square, which “had this very design-minded, technology-driven founder who thought he could do better for, in his case, merchants, and indeed did do better.”

“That really showed the way for other founders who started exploring other parts of payments, and then eventually lending, asset management, wealth management insurance, and soon, the dominoes started to fall,” Harris says.

Harris joins Michal Lev-Ram and Brian O’Keefe, the hosts of Fortune Brainstorm, to discuss fintech and how the pandemic brought about massive growth in the category. Each week, the podcast explores how technology is reshaping our world.

Also on the show, Lev-Ram interviews Zachary Perret, cofounder and CEO of Plaid. And Brian O’Keefe talks to Cristina Junqueira, cofounder of Brazil-based Nubank, an online bank.

“Nubank was started out of this place of outrage, right?” Junqueira says. “Here in Latin America, especially in Brazil, we got used to paying some of the highest interest rates in the world, some of the highest fees in the world, and having one of the most horrible customer experiences in the world.”

Founded in 2013, Nubank now has about 40 million customers in Brazil, has launched in Mexico and Colombia, and is expanding its product line.

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