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

Barefoot Innovation Podcast

Filtering by Tag: Innovation

Episode 2 - "The Cheerful Disruptors" with Josh Reich and Shamir Karkal from

Jo Ann Barefoot

Episode 2 is my lively conversation with the irreverent co-founders of Simple – CEO, Josh Reich, and Shamir Karkal, the company’s CFO.

Simple is a Portland, Oregon start-up offering a simplified, consumer-friendly account for saving and making payments.  Last year it was acquired by the global Spanish bank, BBVA, which has been making bold moves in tech innovation.

Our discussion captures the clear voice of the disruptors who are challenging traditional banking. Josh and Shamir describe the famous email that led to their venture, including why Josh’s friends thought he’d gone crazy (hint: it has to do with regulation). They explain their own very unbankerly backgrounds, and talk with passion about what they think is wrong with mainstream banking, including why it’s so hard for banks to change. 

They made me laugh throughout -- there’s a moment where Josh is explaining the company’s funny style and says, “she had this wicked, wicked sense of humor.

I think my favorite thing in our talk is how they tell their customers’ stories about Simple making their lives better.  The key is helping people save, including by highlighting a number labeled “Safe to Spend,” rather than the account balance.  Simple idea, isn't it? And powerful.

I feel like Simple might be on track to crack the code on the core problem that bedevils financial consumers: how to get regular people actively engaged. Most people are very interested in what they use their money for, but bored by the money itself -- a fact that leads them into mistakes. Simple is trying to change that.

After we turned off the microphone, Josh said one more thing that has stayed in my mind ever since.  I’ll share it in my postscript at the end of the podcast.

You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes HERE

Show Notes

The companies:

You can find full information on Simple here, and on BBVA here.

My guests:

Josh Reich, CEO & Co-Founder  — Josh’s career has spanned marketing analytics and quantitative finance, including running a data mining consulting firm, a quantitative strategy group at a $10 billion fund, and core components at the mortgage lead market, Root Exchange. Four years ago, Josh founded Simple, formerly BankSimple, a company that is working to radically redesign banking by using modern technology to help people worry less about money. Josh has a BSc. in mathematics and statistics from the University of Melbourne, most of a medical degree, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Follow him on Twitter at @i2p

Shamir Karkal, CFO & Co-Founder  — Shamir is a software engineer turned finance and banking expert. Prior to Simple, Shamir was a consultant with McKinsey & Co. specializing in strategy consulting for financial institutions in Europe, the Middle East, and the US. Prior to McKinsey, Shamir was a software engineer. He has a bachelor’s in computer science, a master’s in information technology, and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University.

Follow him on Twitter at @shamir_k

FAQ’s about Simple:

 Here are the two firm’s announcements about BBVA acquiring Simple:

Here and Here


Please note that the views expressed by guests on Barefoot Innovation are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Jo Ann Barefoot or Jo Ann Barefoot Group LLC, nor do we endorse any product, service, or company discussed.

Episode 1 - Raj Date

Jo Ann Barefoot

Launching Our Podcasts:  Barefoot Innovation

I’m thrilled today to announce two innovations for my blog – first in what we’re sharing here, and second, in how we share it with you.

Welcome to our brand-new podcast program, Barefoot Innovation, and to our first episode -- a conversation with Raj Date, former Acting Director of the CFPB and now Managing Partner at Fenway Summer LLC.

Raj has given us the ideal launch into our series, because these podcasts are designed to be a search -- for ideas on how to do better for financial consumers.  We’re seeking out better products and practices, smarter regulation, new kinds of business models and cultures, new ways to empower consumers, and above all, new technology, which is suddenly making it both possible, and necessary, to rethink today’s system.

We’re conducting our search through conversations. We’re finding the most fascinating people in the field. That includes, importantly, lots of people who don’t know each other – who barely even know about each other – but who are actually working on the very same challenges from different angles, amidst rapid change. We listen to them, mix their insights, and through the mixing, germinate new ideas.

Finding new ideas is urgent, because consumer financial services is the first industry to face technology-driven disruption while being both essential to everyone, and massively regulated. The changes coming will be both good and bad – which means they will, inevitably, disrupt the regulatory system, too – with all its enormous complexity.

Everyone involved in serving and protecting financial consumers needs new strategies, now, to navigate the years of upheaval ahead. To do that, people must look beyond their niches, at the whole landscape that’s changing around them.

Barefoot Innovation makes that more easy, and more fun.  We've built it for:

  • Industry and regulatory people who want to understand the fintech world
  • Fintech innovators who want to understand the regulatory world
  • Tech companies – ditto, and
  • All the people working toward financial inclusion and fairness

We will talk about it all. Mobile payments, big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, the internet of things, voice technology, behavioral science and manipulation, personal financial management (PFM), online companies and channels, marketplace lending and investment, Bitcoin and crypto-currency, and emerging new business models and cultures. We’ll explore all the related regulatory trends in fairness, fair lending,  inclusiveness, transparency, suitability, privacy, data security, risk-assessment, compliance innovation, banking system access, principles-based regulation, enforcement, and regulatory complexity and cost.

We’ll talk with start-ups, venture capital people, bank executives, non-banks, global tech firms, compliance leaders,  lawyers, regulators, ex-regulators (like me), policymakers, advocates, academics -- the whole spectrum.

Every podcast will provide some practical advice, some long-term insight, and some fun.

(And some will bring you surprises.)

So, for today, please listen in on my conversation with Raj Date as he shares his thinking on technology, competition, regulatory risks, advice for banks and non-banks, and some suggestions for regulators.  Join me for Barefoot Innovation, Episode One.

Here is the URL to subscribe:

You can also find the podcast by opening your favorite podcast provider (iTunes, Overcast, etc.) and searching for Jo Ann Barefoot or by clicking HERE.

Listen and enjoy!

Please note that the views expressed by guests on Barefoot Innovation are their own and do not reflect the opinions of Jo Ann Barefoot or Jo Ann Barefoot Group LLC, nor do we endorse any product, service, or company discussed.