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Jo Ann Barefoot explores how to create fair and inclusive consumer financial services through innovative ideas for industry and regulators

Try Something New: Lend Academy and LendIt Founder Peter Renton

Barefoot Innovation Podcast

Try Something New: Lend Academy and LendIt Founder Peter Renton

Mallory Kwiatkowski

peter renton.png

Today’s show is coming to you from London. I’m here to speak at the LendIt Fintech Europe conference, and I’m delighted to say that my guest is the cofounder of the LendIt Fintech conference series, Peter Renton, who is also the founder of Lend Academy.

This is Thanksgiving week, a fact that of course does not resonate over here -- nor did it in Singapore, where I spent last week at the Monetary Authority’s enormous fintech festival (it attracted nearly 40,000 people). I’m circumnavigating the globe on this trip, and every conversation I’ve had is adding to the palpable sense of excitement that’s rising, worldwide, about the digital transformation of finance.

No one understands that transformation better than Peter Renton. Now and then we have a guest who understands the entire financial innovation landscape, and Peter is one of these. LendIt holds conferences on three continents, including one in China, and his work takes him everywhere. He sees everything that’s going on.

So, of course, I asked him what he thinks are the most exciting things happening in fintech today (I should note that we actually recorded this conversation a few weeks back).  

The first trend he cites is that big banks are finally figuring out how to play in fintech, in larger numbers and new ways. As examples he points to Chase’s Finn mobile bank, and especially to Marcus at Goldman Sachs. The latter has caught the attention of every large bank by aiming to combine the advantages of a sophisticated major institution and brand with the advantages of a from-scratch startup that can innovate nimbly -- since Goldman never had a traditional retail bank. It’s a fascinating experiment.

Another theme Peter emphasizes is financial inclusion, which has also become a major focus of the LendIt events. As we’ve discussed many times on the show, cells phones are bringing financial access to nearly everyone on earth (Peter notes that there are now more cell phones than people). Beyond that, technology is driving expanded financial inclusion by generating alternative data that can help people qualify for financial services even if they don’t have traditional credit histories. He cites examples like Lenddo using new data to determine if customers are good credit risks, without having any financial data whatsoever.  

A highlight of our conversation is Peter’s description of how China is “leapfrogging” the financial services model of countries that have more mature systems. They have skipped over checking accounts and plastic cards and instead jumped straight from cash to ubiquitous mobile payments. He tells of using his phone to buy a 15 cent banana from a street vendor, and even of encountering beggars on the street who take mobile payments as well. He also describes the enormous scale of the Chinese fintech players, beyond anything anywhere else in the world. As he contrasts their new, constantly updating technology with the archaic, Cobol-based tech stacks in US banks, you can envision a new competitive marketplace in the years ahead.

Our conversation covers many other issues, from how blockchain technology might change the world, to predictions for Big Tech entering financial services, to the future of AI in finance. I especially love the advice he offers to  banks, startups, and regulators, alike. He says, “Try something new.”

Peter’s own story is fascinating, beginning with a family business in Australia, moving to the US, investing in marketplace lending, falling in love with the P2P premise, and then deciding to start a conference and fintech media firm. That includes a podcast show, which I’m pleased to say I’ve been a guest on. His journey has made him wise about the whole transformation underway, and made our conversation dense with insight.


Link to Full Transcription

Lend Academy Podcast with Jo Ann Barefoot



Amazon and Their Push Into Fintech - Article by Peter Renton

My Podcast with Chris Woolard and Nick Cook

My Conversation with Chris Larsen of Ripple at Lendit

My Podcast with Chris Larsen

More on Peter Renton

Peter Renton is the founder of Lend Academy, the leading news and educational resource for the marketplace lending industry. He is also the co-founder of the LendIt Conference, the world’s first and largest conference series dedicated to the fintech and online lending industries.

In 2018 those brands combined to form LendIt Fintech News, Powered by Lend Academy.  Its offerings include the Lend Academy podcast launched in 2013 and the longest running investor forum.

Peter is also the author of The Lending Club Story, about the world’s largest P2P lender. He has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg, Fortune, NPR, CNN, Fox Business News, the Financial Times, and dozens of finance blogs and other publications.

More for our listeners

We have more great podcast episodes in the queue. The next episode is a talk with the co-founders of EarnUp. We’ll also talk with Anju Patwardhan of CreditEase and Stanford University, and with Walter Cruttenden, Co-Founder of Acorns and Co-founder and CEO of Blast. And we’ll have an extended talk we recorded last week in Singapore with Sopnendu Mohanty, the Chief Fintech Officer of the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

I’m about half-way through my fall “world tour,” with more great conferences coming up including:

Also watch for upcoming information on my collaboration with Brett King on his new book, Bank 4.0, which you can now buy on Amazon. I co-wrote the regulatory chapter with Brett, and we’ll have a show and events on that as well.

If you enjoy listening to Barefoot Innovation, please be sure to post a review! It will help new listeners find us. Please also follow along with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook and come to for more information and to subscribe to my newsletter and get the latest podcasts as soon as they come out. And don’t forget to send in your dollar a show, to keep it all going.

Until next time, keep innovating!

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