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

Fintech in China and Around the World:  Anju Patwardhan of CreditEase

Barefoot Innovation Podcast

Fintech in China and Around the World: Anju Patwardhan of CreditEase

Mallory Kwiatkowski


Happy New Year everyone! I am thrilled to be doing our first show of 2019, which I predict is going to be the breakthrough year for regtech in the United States, especially on the regulator side. So much is going on, and I’m excited to be able to help share that story with you as the year goes forward.

I want to thank everyone who has been listening to the show -- we’re actually coming up on our fourth anniversary this spring -- and also I want to invite you to help us continue growing it. If you enjoy listening, please subscribe to Barefoot Innovation wherever you listen to your podcasts and, importantly, please leave a 5-star review. That will help more people find us, which in turn will help us continue to connect and build this community of amazing people, including our guests and our listeners, whose innovations are changing the world of finance. Something I realized in 2018 is that the people driving financial innovation really are a community -- a movement. A big part of what Barefoot Innovation does is to help everyone find each other, and get to know each other. So, the more the better!

Our first 2019 show brings us a global perspective on fintech. My guest is Anju Patwardhan, Managing Director of the CreditEase FinTech VC Fund. Anju has an incredible background. I first met her when she was starting at Stanford as a Fulbright Fellow and visiting scholar, at a time when I was a senior fellow at Harvard. We made an instant connection and since then, we’ve often run into each other in interesting places around the world. Late last summer, we finally found time to sit down and talk at her office in San Francisco.

CreditEase is a Chinese company that incubates and invests in fintech, with an emphasis on expanding financial inclusion. China of course has been leading the whole world in the growth of consumer fintech, partly because of the ubiquity of mobile phones as a distribution channel. As Anju says (and as Peter Renton said in our show with him), the entire country is cashless.

In our conversation, she talks about these technologies creating potent new business models that can profitably reach massive new markets throughout the developing world. As we’ve discussed in other episodes (Podcast with Harish Natarajan, Podcast with Laura Spiekerman, Podcast with Greg Kidd), these markets are simply enormous. Anju talks about how “financial inclusion” used to be viewed as a nice goal for government and nonprofits but -- as she learned firsthand as a senior executive in two global banks -- some of these markets used to be too risky to be profitable. No more. These markets are the growth engines of today. Some of our listeners may underestimate the breathtaking scale and speed of the changes underway, including the potential for innovations in China to disrupt businesses throughout the world. Remember, these huge Chinese companies, and the B2C fintech sector there, were born digital. They can move really fast.

In our discussion, Anju zeros in on the need for fintech to reach beyond serving the “unbanked” and focus on bringing the full suite of financial services to the huge swath of the world that is “underbanked,” in that they now have access to a payments account but not yet to other financial products like loans, wealth management and insurance. This, she says, will be the next frontier of fintech growth, now that the phone has already, in essence, put a bank branch in everyone’s hand.

Anju co-authored a report called Financial Inclusion in the Digital Age, which shares a list of 100 leading technology companies promoting financial inclusion.

You’ll enjoy hearing Anju’s surprise at discovering how slow payments are in the US, and you will enjoy her musings about our regulatory structure. And I know you’ll be fascinated by her thoughts on how fintech is changing the lives of women throughout the world.


Link to Full Transcription

Financial Inclusion in the Digital Age, report co-authored by Anju Patwardhan

The Global Findex Database Report

Yirendai - The first company to do lending using a mobile app

Podcast with Sanjay Jain

Fair - A mobile app for car leasing

Branch - Micro-lending in Africa using mobile phones

Upgrade - Consumer lending, education, and literacy

A Financial System That Creates Economic Opportunities, US Department of the Treasury report

CreditEase Fintech Fund


Twitter @crediteasecorp @anjupatwardhan

More on Anju

Anju Patwardhan is Managing Director at CreditEase for its global Fintech Investment Fund and Fund of Funds. CreditEase, established in 2006, is a leading fintech company in China, specializing in Wealth Management, Asset Management, and Marketplace Lending.

Anju is a Fellow at Stanford University’s Distinguished Careers Institute (DCI). She was also a 2016 Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Scholar from ASEAN at Stanford, where her research focused on use of technology to support financial inclusion. She is a member of the World Economic Forum steering committee on ‘Disruptive Innovation in Financial Services.’ She has also served as FinTech Industry Expert at UC Berkeley (SCET) and on the advisory board of Government of Estonia’s e-Residency program. She is an experienced board member and has served on boards of banks, fintech companies, and nonprofit entities.

An alumna of the Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management, Anju has over 25 years of banking experience with Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) in global and regional leadership roles, including as Chief Operating Officer, Chief Risk Officer, and Digital Banking Head. Her last role at SCB was as the Global Chief Innovation Officer. She was a member of SCB’s global executive leadership team, member of its Global Technology & Operations Management Group, and member of the Global Risk Management Group.

We have wonderful shows coming up.

We’re going to have a special one on women in fintech, with some of the leading women in the industry.  We will have a lively (and funny) talk I recorded in London with my friend Dave Birch. We’ll talk with Walter Cruttenden, Co-Founder of Acorns and Co-founder and CEO of Blast. We’ll have two from Boston -- one on artificial intelligence with Steve Cohen of Basis Technologies and one with Lamont Young, who’s leading digital innovation at Citizens Bank. And we’ll have a fascinating talk with Brian Brooks, General Counsel of Coinbase.

We also have three great shows coming up with Washington officials. One is with Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, Craig Phillips, whose team issued the Treasury fintech report last year. We’ll have a conversation with Paul Watkins, who is leading the innovation initiative at the CFPB. And we’re excited to have a second episode coming up with the Chairman of the CFTC, Chris Giancarlo.

I’ll be speaking next week at the  FINRA Regtech Conference, on January 17th in New York.

Brett King’s new book, Bank 4.0, is out and can be bought on Amazon. I co-wrote the regulatory chapter with Brett, and we’ll have a show and events on that as well.

Again, please subscribe to Barefoot Innovation on your favorite podcast platform and very importantly, please please leave a 5 star review if you enjoy the show. I hope you’ll also follow along with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Come to for more information and to subscribe to the newsletter and get the latest podcasts as soon as they come out.

Until next time, keep innovating!

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*The views and opinions expressed during the Barefoot Innovation podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Barefoot Innovation Group and its employees. Barefoot Innovation Group does not verify for accuracy the information contained in the podcast series. The primary purpose of this podcast series is to educate and inform.