Fintech Leaders | Disruption Guide Fintech 2022

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Expert's Voice

Expert comment by Brian Lucciani, Head of Rise New York, created by Barclays

It’s the best time for innovators

With all the information that is available today, the ratio of signals-to-noise is critical to understand for anyone passionately working on innovative projects to make their company better. A company doesn’t have to be large to have the ability to reach users, customers, and partners wherever in the world they are and identify their problems to offer them unique solutions.

The role of corporate innovators

Innovators regularly go one step further, though, and create disruptive value. A corporate innovator is a person who builds things, who isn’t theatrical but is insatiable in their drive to find creative solutions to essential business problems.

Corporate innovators, in particular, sit at the intersection of these two personas, helping large enterprises embody an entrepreneurial mindset in their day-to-day activities. The role of corporations in supporting global innovation cannot be understated, especially in finance which so personally affects every person’s day-to-day life.

The corporate innovation function is uniquely positioned to transform organizations – to bring new ideas, cultures, and technologies into existing processes to ensure long-term success.

Innovation comes in many forms

Innovation is best described through examples, not definitions, though. So, as corporate innovation in fintech is a match across a variety of Barclays products and efforts, let me share a few initiatives that help us drive change.

Firstly, the Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis is a venture fund and studio for female fintech founders launched at Rise New York in 2019. The Lab recently expanded into the UK and Europe to invest in a more representative generation of global fintech founders.

Secondly, in Q1 this year, we launched Rise Start-Up Academy, a digital skills-building accelerator targeted at idea-stage and early-stage fintech founders. Our first class of founders are addressing emerging fintech trends including wealth equality, climate, the future of money, and more.

This is an equity and cost-free program delivered virtually over 20 weeks to support founders from across the globe. Third, Rise is proud to have scaled our digital ecosystem and network to be truly global and hybrid-first via an online membership called Rise Connect. Rise Connect is a global, virtual network of fintech leaders shaping the future of financial services, with support from Barclays’ network of employees, clients, and partners, together with selected industry experts.

These examples underline and depict how I understand corporate innovation.

Impactful Corporate Innovators

Two decades ago, companies in the financial services industry could thrive by simply creating a successful product and periodically making incremental improvements. Innovation, customer centricity, and agility were ultimately buzzwords and low on the C-suite priority list. That was until a raft of disruptive startups emerged and set in motion the transformation of an industry.

Fast forward to the present day and organizations from payment service providers to investment brokers to the oldest financial institutions are striving to harness the value of innovation. And the impact of COVID-19 has only served to further cement its importance.

But it’s not easy, and despite the best intentions, many companies struggle.

A BCG survey of 1,500 innovation executives found that only 20% of companies were ready to operate their innovation programs at a consistently high level of efficiency and effectiveness. As a result, many would likely fail to realize their ambitions.

It also showed that the most innovative companies excel by setting ambitious targets that align with corporate strategy, effectively managing projects and performance, and fostering an innovative culture. And it’s their corporate innovators that keep them on track and pushing towards the next cutting-edge development.

What is corporate innovation?

Over time, the meaning of innovation has become so diluted that companies often fall into the trap of innovation theatre – going through the motions of innovation practices in a way that creates no value to the business. So what exactly is corporate innovation?

By definition, it’s the ability of a business to generate value through new ideas or approaches and improved solutions. It requires a strategy of out-of-the-box thinking and can include several different types of innovation.

For example, disruptive innovation involves creating a new business model to disrupt the current business models of competitors. Radical innovation uses new technical competencies to bring a product to market but the business model remains constant. And architectural innovation takes it a step further by generating value through a new business model and disruptive new technology.

How fintech innovation has transformed the financial services industry

Fintech innovation creates new ways of using technology to improve the delivery of financial services, often in competition with traditional methods.

While fintech has been around for decades, the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 kickstarted a revolution that changed the face of financial services. Fintech startups, armed with better technology and a customer-centric ethos, targetted small, underserved segments of the market and began to capitalize on the backlash against incumbent financial institutions.

Since then, they have transformed all areas of the industry, including banking, payments, blockchain and cryptocurrencies, lending, and wealth management. As a result, incumbent financial institutions have found themselves under pressure to embrace innovation and develop similar capabilities or risk losing market share.

Some have responded by creating internal innovation teams and increasing investment in innovation, while others have adopted a collaborative approach. A number of leading banks now sponsor or host fintech incubator and accelerator programs, and many more have entered into partnerships with fintech startups to acquire and integrate their expertise.

What’s the role of a corporate innovator?

By its nature, innovation is notoriously difficult. Top corporate innovators are able to recognize and exploit promising opportunities while simultaneously overcoming the obstacles that stifle innovation. In achieving this, they perform several key roles.

Creating an environment that promotes innovation

As leaders, corporate innovators are responsible for building a culture that nurtures innovation, which may require creating an innovation unit separate from the main business. Chief innovators hire great people with the right qualities, and within the team, they empower employees, encourage experimentation, and embrace failure as part of the process.

Building a robust system

Rather than suffering from a lack of ideas, many innovation teams struggle with too many and don’t have the resources to pursue them all. Therefore corporate innovators must build a reliable, repeatable system to quickly identify the best ideas, evaluate their viability, and either kill or develop them further.

Managing relationships

To ensure a successful flow of innovation, chief innovators must collaborate with numerous people outside the innovation team. At the board level, they work with senior executives to promote the company’s innovation agenda, ensure adequate investment, and align their work with the overall corporate strategy. They also coordinate with relevant teams or business groups to develop potential opportunities and hand off successful projects.

Meet corporate innovators with the biggest impact

Let’s take a look at the ten corporate innovators with the biggest impact on fintech. To compile this list, we created a shortlist of 30 corporate innovators based on factors like their experience, current position, and achievements throughout their career, such as industry awards. We then asked our panel of judges to vote for their top ten corporate innovators.

Judging Panel Members

The committee consisted of Amy French, Director at Level39; Radosław Sałek, Senior Account Manager at Google Cloud; Jörg Howein, Chief Platform Officer at Solarisbank; Can Osman Yildirim, Growth Partner Development Manager at Amazon Web Services; and Sean O'Connor, Fintech Sales Team Leader at Netguru.

Please note that the data the voting took place in February 2022.

Disruption Guide Fintech Jury - Corporate Innovators

1. Ken Moore

Chief Innovation Officer, Mastercard

Ken Moore has over 20 years of experience in the finance industry, working in over 15 countries and is currently the Chief Innovation Officer at Mastercard. Prior to Mastercard, Ken was Head of Citi Innovation Labs at Citibank.

Location Website Social Media
Dublin, Ireland LinkedIn

2. Maria Mileder

Global Head of Innovation, Paypal

Maria Mileder joined PayPal in 2009 as a Compliance Analyst. She is currently the Global Head of Innovation for the payment processing giant. Maria enjoys solving complex problems, especially when it involves a large and diverse group of people.

Location Website Social Media
Campbell, United States LinkedIn

3. Philip Garner

Head of Innovation, Lloyds Banking Group

Philip Garner joined the Lloyds Banking Group as a graduate trainee in 2009. He then undertook several roles in strategy before becoming Head of Innovation in 2019. Philip is responsible for growing a portfolio of new businesses in response to market trends.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom LinkedIn

4. Ainhoa Campo Nieto

Global Head of Open Innovation, BBVA

Ainhoa Campo Nieto joined BBVA in 2010 as a Business Discovery and Valuation Manager and is now its Global Head of Open Innovation. She manages BBVA's relationship with the fintech ecosystem to promote potential partnerships between companies and the bank.

Location Website Social Media
Madrid, Spain LinkedIn

5. Vanesa Meyer

Head of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, Visa

Vanesa Meyer spent 16 years with Mastercard before joining Visa as its Vice President and Head of Innovation and Design at Visa Latin America and the Caribbean. She's responsible for co-creating new payment and commerce experiences.

Location Website Social Media
Miami, United States LinkedIn

6. Claire Calmejane

Chief Innovation Officer, Société Générale

A leading figure in digital transformation, Claire Calmejane is the Chief Innovation Officer at Société Générale. She is in charge of leading the digital, AI/data transformation and new venture business. She was formerly the Transformation Director at Lloyds Banking Group.

Location Website Social Media
Paris, France LinkedIn

7. Lee Fulmer

Chief Data Officer, UBS

Lee Fulmer established the Innovation Labs for UBS Investment Bank in 2018 and is currently its Chief Data Officer. The award-winning lab brings together experts to deliver new business opportunities. Previously, he was the Chief Technology Officer at JP Morgan.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom LinkedIn / Twitter

8. Christian Bornfeld

Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, ABN AMRO Bank

As the Chief Innovation & Technology Officer of ABN AMRO, Christian Bornfeld facilitates and leads the evolution of the bank. Prior to his current role, he had leadership roles in Nordea Bank and the Danske Bank Group.

Location Website Social Media
Amsterdam, Netherlands LinkedIn

9. Don Relyea

Chief Innovation Officer, U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank's Chief Innovation Officer Don Relyea has been with the bank since 2019. Previously, he worked for BBVA, Barclays, and Verizon and has spent 26 years designing and developing award-winning customer experiences for various industries.

Location Website Social Media
Dallas, United States LinkedIn / Twitter

10. Adrianne C. D. Kadzinski (ex aequo)

Group Head of Innovation, Credit Suisse

Adrianne C. D. Kadzinski has been with Credit Suisse since 2016 and is currently its Group Head of Innovation. With her team, she helps leaders design and connect purpose, vision, strategy, innovation, risk, and culture to implementing actions.

Location Website Social Media
New York, United States LinkedIn / Twitter

10. Steve Suarez (ex aequo)

Global Head of Innovation, Global Functions at HSBC

Steve Suarez manages multiple innovation units at HSBC, the only European bank in the global top 10 of the Banker’s Top 1000 World Banks ranking. Steve has more than 18 years of experience in the financial services space. Now he uses his skills and knowledge to empower HSBC teams to create innovative solutions in the most seamless and efficient way.

Location Website Social Media
London, UK LinkedIn / Twitter

Successful Startup CEOs

We already know the fintech industry is on the rise. According to Fortune, as much as 90% of Americans use some kind of fintech app or platform to manage their finances. Who are the people creating the companies that are apparently even more popular than social media and video streaming platforms?

Let’s take a closer look at the CEOs behind one of the fastest-growing industries.

Understanding the role of a fintech CEO

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) is the highest-ranking executive position in a given company. In startups and small fintech companies, the role of the CEO is most often held by the founder or the co-founder of the business.

CEOs usually have the power to make most of the major decisions in the company and, in most cases, act as the public face of the business.

Responsibilities of a CEO

Chief executive officers can hold many different responsibilities, depending on the type, structure, and size of the company. Some CEOs, especially from smaller companies and startups, will be more hands-on and involved than others, who will focus on crucial operations only.

Generally, CEOs are in charge of all major business operations, which may include:

  • Determining the direction of the company by defining its core strategy
  • Setting business goals that should be achieved by various team members
  • Helping with choosing and recruiting core team members
  • Staying on top of the trends and the company’s competitors
  • Communication with the board
  • Representing the company
  • Building relationships with key business partners
  • Monitoring crucial operations and their outcomes
  • Motivating the team to do their best

Top traits of a great Chief Executive Officer

What makes a strong and successful startup CEO? Of course, there is not a single recipe for a great CEO, but there are certain character traits that make some leaders more successful than others.

Great initiative and leadership skills

Being a good CEO often means leading the team through thick and thin. Whether the times are good or a bit harsh, chief executive officers are the ones that employees look up to. Their ability to inspire and unite the team is crucial to the company’s success. After all, many times it is the mission and the team that motivate the staff to do their best.

The ability to see potential in others

While the CEO's main job is not to hire people, they usually have a lot to say about the qualities that the HR team is to look for in new candidates, especially if they are being hired for high-level positions. A strong team makes a strong company, so a CEO should have the ability to recognize the potential in others.

Proficiency in communication

It is quite often that CEOs are responsible for building relations with business partners, investors, and other companies. In order to fulfill their role, they need to be good communicators who realize the vision behind their company — both to the outside world as well as in front of their employees.

Flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly

Good CEOs need to stay quick on their feet and keep up to date with what’s going on in the market. They need to be flexible enough to make changes as they go — in business, especially fintech and startup, nothing is constant for long.

Staying passionate about business

Being an executive responsible for so many different areas of the business can be tiring, to say the least. Motivation, persistence, dedication, and determination often come from a single place of passion. To be a great CEO usually means being passionate about the job.

After learning some more about their responsibilities and traits — who are the CEOs that the fintech industry should look up to? Who are the most innovative, successful, and inspirational leaders in the industry in 2022.

Based on our research and industry sources, we’ve created a list of 30 esteemed fintech CEOs, who then became the subject of our judging panel’s vote. Meet the judging panel and discover the list of top 10 fintech CEOs to follow in 2022.

Judging panel members

The committee consisted of Stephanie Bowker Head of Marketing at Spendesk, Jörg Howein, Chief Platform Officer at Solarisbank; Amy French, Director at Level39; Osman Yildirim, Growth Partner Development Manager at Amazon Web Services; Tom Brammar, CEO at Stackin'; Jakub Czerwiński, VP CEE at Adyen; Radosław Sałek, Senior Account Manager at Google Cloud; and Pawel Stężycki Senior Innovation Consultant at Netguru.

Please note that the voting took place in February 2022.

Disruption Guide Fintech Fintech CEOs Jury

Top fintech startup CEOs

1. Sebastian Siemiatkowski

CEO and Co-founder, Klarna

While the market is booming with buy now, pay later solutions, Swedish entrepreneur, Sebastian Siemiatkowski, launched Klarna in 2005 back when it was a very revolutionary concept. 15 years later, and he’s still incredibly passionate about his business, striving to achieve more and more with every passing year. Sebastian’s determination has made Klarna a leader in its category — from what was once just a simple idea of making it easier for people to shop online. Now, Klarna is one of the most popular BNPL solutions, collaborating with companies such as H&M, Ticketmaster, ASOS, and Footlocker.

Location Website Social Media
Stockholm, Sweden Linkedin / Twitter

2. Zachary Perret

CEO and Co-founder, Plaid

Together with William Hockey, Zachary Perret co-founded Plaid, the company that connects over 11,000 financial institutions across North America and Europe. Their customer list includes Venmo, Microsoft, Expensify, and Betterment. Prior to co-creating Plaid, Zachary was a consultant with Bain & Company, where he met his co-founder. Before that, he also spent four years as a research fellow and trustee at the Duke Board of Trustees, where he engaged in a project that used software control systems for optical microscopy.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

3. Anne Boden (ex aequo)

CEO and Founder, Starling Bank

Anne Boden is the founder and CEO of Starling Bank — which began as a startup bank and is now one of Britain’s most promising fintech companies. Her business mission is to lead the charge to deliver fair and innovative financial services. Before launching the bank in 2014, Anne was the COO of AIB Group. She’s been working in finance for four decades now. She graduated from Swansea University and has a Computer Science degree and an MBA from Middlesex University.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

3. Patrick Collison (ex aequo)

CEO and Co-founder, Stripe

Patrick Collison has been an entrepreneur since his teenage years. Before launching Stripe, he started Auctomatic — an auction and marketplace management system. When the company was acquired by Live Current Media, he and his brother Patrick got working on Stripe, the financial services and SaaS company ​​serving businesses of all sizes (from startups to large established institutions) with software and APIs to accept payments, send payouts, and manage their businesses online.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

4. Devin Finzer

CEO and Co-founder, OpenSea

Devin Finzer is the CEO and co-founder of OpenSea. Based in the US, it is the first peer-to-peer marketplace for blockchain-based assets. Before co-founding the online, non-fungible token marketplace, he co-created Claimdog — a solution aiming to support people in receiving owed funds — which was later acquired by Credit Karma. Prior to launching Claimdog, he interned at Google and worked for Pinterest as a software engineer. He graduated with degrees in Computer Science and Math from Brown University.

Location Website Social Media
New York, United States Linkedin / Twitter

5. Nikolay Storonsky

CEO and Co-founder, Revolut

Nikolay Storonsky co-founded Revolut in 2014 and is the current CEO of the company. He stands behind the company’s great success, becoming the most valuable British fintech company in just six years. According to data from Revolut’s site, the company currently has over 18 million personal users, 500,000 business users, and supports more than 200 countries with 30+ in-app currencies. Prior to launching Revolut, he was a trader at Credit Suisse and Lehman Brothers.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

6. Brian Armstrong

CEO and Co-founder, Coinbase

Bio: Brian Armstrong is the co-founder and CEO of Coinbase, the online platform for buying, selling, transferring, and storing digital currency, that provides services to more than 35 million customers in over 100 countries. In 2018, Brian created, which is a non-profit organization with the mission to financially empower people by distributing cryptocurrency globally. Before co-founding Coinbase, he was a software engineer at Airbnb. During this period, he used his spare time to write code that allowed cryptocurrency trading. He is the first cryptocurrency executive to sign The Giving Pledge.

Location Website Social Media
San Jose, United States Linkedin / Twitter

7. Alexandre Prot

CEO and Co-founder, Qonto

Alexandre Prot is the co-founder and current CEO of Qonto, the online payment institution for freelancers and SMEs. Since its launch, the company has raised €622 million from the world's largest investors such as Valar, Alven, the European Investment Bank, Tencent, DST Global, Tiger Global, TCV, Alkeon, Eurazeo, KKR, Insight Partners, Exor, and Gaingels. Before launching Qonto, Alex co-founded three other companies — Wimdu, Smokio, and Smartven. Prior to this, he worked for Goldman Sachs and McKinsey & Company. He holds an MBA from INSEAD.

Location Website Social Media
Paris, France Linkedin / Twitter

8. Kristo Käärmann

CEO and Co-founder, Wise

Kristo Käärmann is the co-founder and CEO of Wise, the London-based fintech company that provides money transfer services. Under his leadership, the company acquired more than 10 million customers and transfers north of £4.5 billion every month. Prior to Wise, he worked as a management consultant for Deloitte. He worked with European banks and insurance companies to modernize their processes and systems. He also gained some experience in companies such as PwC and EGreen. Kristo was chosen as one of the World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers 2015.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

9. Vladimir Tenev

CEO and Co-founder, Robinhood

Vladimir Tenev is the CEO of Robinhood, the US fintech known for commission-free trades of stocks, exchange-traded funds, and cryptocurrencies via its mobile app. He co-founded the company together with Baiju Bhatt with a mission to democratize investing. Before launching Robinhood, he launched two other financial companies. Vladimir has a bachelor’s from Stanford and a master’s from UCLA. He has been recognized on the Forbes 30 under 30, Inc 30 under 30, and Fortune 40 under 40 lists.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

10. Brad Garlinghouse

CEO, Ripple
Brad Garlinghouse is the CEO of Ripple, the enterprise blockchain company whose goal is to simplify the process of moving value. Prior to Ripple, he was the CEO and chairman of Hightail, a file collaboration service. He also worked for other tech companies, including AOL and Yahoo, where he held the position of Senior Vice President. Brad has 22 years of leadership experience and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

Top Fintech CTOs

These are the leaders behind fintech’s technological success — the ones responsible for guiding research and development processes and ensuring the right technology track for their companies.

Let’s take a closer look at the role of Chief Technology Officers and find out which top fintech CTOs to follow in 2022.

Understanding the role of a fintech Chief Technology Officer

A fintech Chief Technology Officer (CTO) holds the highest executive position for decision-making around technology, and is responsible for leading the company’s technology (or engineering) department. A CTO is in charge of managing and developing various business processes — from establishing procedures and policies to developing strategies, ensuring customer satisfaction, hiring the right talent, and undertaking research and development measures.

Their job is to lead the department and optimize and align processes and technology infrastructure with the needs of the company, employees, and customers in mind.

Most sought qualities of top fintech CTOs

Given the great number of responsibilities put on CTOs, a fintech Chief Technology Officer must also have a stack of certain qualities to be able to perform their job well. Some of the essential ones include:

  • A solid technical background
  • Proven project management skills
  • A deep understanding of technologies relevant to the company they work for
  • Powerful networking skills
  • Willingness to learn about new technologies and the ever-changing market
  • Strategic thinking and planning skills
  • The ability to understand customer needs
  • Recognition of market dynamics

Of course, it’s nice to see talents with university degrees in computer sciences or mathematics, yet it’s also common for CTOs to have a business studies background instead. After all, many of the listed characteristics are rather more business-focused than technical.

Common types of CTOs

There are many ways in which we can define the different types of CTOs, depending on their responsibilities and management style. One of the most interesting ones is the one defined by McKinsey & Company.

Their 4x4 matrix describes four typical styles that can be adopted by CTOs, revolving around their position and profile.

The Challenger

This type uses creative tension and veto power in order to improve the performance of research and development activities. They introduce additional analysis, external perspectives, and rigor to the actions of business units. The Challenger’s role focuses on external interfaces and strategy and portfolio management. This position possesses a high degree of control and low ability to resource.

The Owner

The Owner is held responsible for centralizing all R&D personnel and budgets. They're in charge of the company's product and technology development. They focus on developing the strategy and managing processes, personnel, and portfolio. Similar to The Challenger, The Owner possesses a high degree of control, yet they also have a high ability to resource.

The Influencer

The Influencer’s job is to advise, review, and be an idea validator for research and development teams. Their role focuses on internal and external interfaces, and they possess a rather low level of control and resource ability.

The Enabler

The Enabler works as a catalyst that increases effectiveness, validates ideas, and improves the work in the area of research and development. They aim to build capabilities, manage internal interactions, and hold responsibility for managing processes and personnel. They’ve got a high ability to resource, yet a low degree of control.

The biggest challenges of fintech CTOs in 2022

According to Statista, global fintech sector revenue is predicted to grow at an average rate of almost 12% in the next few years and reach €188 billion by 2024. The experienced (and expected) market boom makes fintech CTOs face a number of challenges.

First of all, fintech Chief Technology Officers will need to closely monitor the regulatory landscape and adapt to new regulations, including introducing new security standards to avoid any security breaches.

As the market is expanding, so is the competition — which means CTOs will also have to face some new contenders and make their offers more appealing in order to retain and attract customers. This could include deploying new products and introducing new technologies.

To do so, fintech CTOs will also have to search for new talents in an already difficult hiring market. Not to mention, they will also have to make sure that their teams are content with their jobs and are not in search of other challenges — especially with their competitors.

Top fintech CTOs to follow in 2022

Knowing more about the role of CTOs, who are the ones most worth following? What are the names of the most successful and inspirational fintech Chief Technology Officers? Who are the biggest contributors to the fintech landscape, and which ones should you be looking up to while searching for ways to innovate your fintech business?

Based on our research and industry sources, we created a list of 30 esteemed fintech CTOs who then became the subject of our judging panel’s vote. Meet the judging panel and find out who made the biggest impression on them.

Judging panel members

The committee consisted of Amy French, Director at Level39; Radosław Sałek, Senior Account Manager at Google Cloud; Jörg Howein, Chief Platform Officer at Solarisbank; Can Osman Yildirim, Growth Partner Development Manager at Amazon Web Services; Tom Brammar, CEO at Stackin'; Nikolai Hack, Head of Strategy & Partnerships at Nucoro; Pawel Stężycki, Senior Innovation Consultant at Netguru; and Sean O'Connor, Fintech Sales Team Leader at Netguru.

Please note that the data the voting took place in February 2022.

Disruption Guide Fintech - Jury Fintech CTOs

The list of top fintech CTOs

1. David Singleton

Chief Technology Officer, Stripe

David Singleton has held the position of Chief Technology Officer at Stripe, the credit card and online payment processing platform for businesses, since January 2018. Prior to this, he worked for Google for almost 12 years, rising in ranks from Software Engineer to VP Engineering, where he led the Android Wear and Google Fit teams, supervising product development and coordinating hardware partnerships. Before joining Google, he spent three years as a senior engineer at Symbian — the developer of the operating system used on Nokia, Motorola, and Samsung mobile and smartphones.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States LinkedIn / Twitter

2. Vlad Yatsenko

Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Revolut

Vladyslav Yatsenko is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Revolut, Britain's most valued fintech startup. Before launching Revolut, he was building software and financial systems for such companies as Credit Suisse, Lab49, Deutsche Bank, UBS, Sabre, and Comarch. After gaining experience with different banking solutions, he decided in order to achieve the next-generation digital banking, he had to build it himself. He holds a master’s degree in Computer Science.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

3. Harsh Sinha

Chief Technology Officer and Board Director, Wise

Since 2015, Harsh Sinha has been working as the Chief Technology Officer at Wise, a London-based fintech company providing money transfer services. Additionally, he's Wise’s Board Director and an angel investor. Prior to these roles, he held the role of Director of Product at PayPal, leading product strategy and development of company’s apps and software, and worked in technical positions at eBay Motors and eBay local. Harsh holds an MBA from the Haas School of Business.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

4. Steve Hunt

VP of Engineering, Kraken

Steve Hunt is the VP of Engineering at Kraken Digital Asset Exchange, a Bitcoin trading platform. Before joining Kraken, he spent ten years with Jump Trading as its Chief Technology Officer. Prior to this, he worked as the VP Technology at Goldman Sachs, where he guided the development, maintenance, and support of electronic and floor-based trading systems. He has spent 20 years constructing algorithmic trading networks across major global financial markets.

Location Website Social Media
Chicago, United States Linkedin / Twitter

5. Karim Atiyeh

Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder, Ramp

Karim Atiyeh is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Ramp, the finance automation platform with a mission to support businesses to spend less time and money. Before Ramp, Karim had been building Paribus Co. — a company sold to Capital One in 2016. He graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a master’s degree in Computer Science, and was a Y Combinator fellow.

Location Website Social Media
New York, United States Linkedin / Twitter

6. Johann Kerbrat

Chief Technology Officer, Robinhood

With prior engineering and leadership positions at Iron Fish, Uber, and Airbnb, Johann Kerbrat is currently the Chief Technology Officer of crypto at Robinhood, the American app-based stock brokerage offering commission-free trading. He’s known for his passion for technology and product strategies. He possesses a master’s degree in Software Engineering from Oxford Brookes University.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

7. Eli Rosner

Chief Technology Officer, HealthEquity

Eli Rosner is the Chief Technology Officer at HealthEquity, the American fintech and business services company, where he combines his business and technology expertise. Prior to this role at HealthEquity, he was the Chief Product and Technology Officer at Finastra for over four years, responsible for delivering innovative financial solutions to 9,000 customers worldwide. Previously, he has also worked at NCR Corporation, Solera, and Autodesk in various tech leading roles.

Location Website Social Media
Suwanee, United States Linkedin / Twitter

8. Steven Newson

Chief Technology Officer, Starling Bank

Steven Newson joined Starling Bank, the UK-based fully-licensed bank that grew from a startup company into one of Britain’s most promising fintech businesses, as its Director of Technology before being promoted to the position of Chief Technology Officer in 2019. He has over 20 years of experience in creating, deploying, and leading high-performance software solutions. Prior to Starling, Steven was also the CTO at Cahootsy, and held various leading roles in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), Lloyds Banking Group, and LMAX Exchange.

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin

9. Koen Köppen

Chief Technology Officer, Klarna

Koen Köppen has been working for Klarna since 2011. He joined the BNPL platform 11 years ago as a Senior Solutions Engineer, responsible for leading some of the largest and most complex merchant integration and system-architecture initiatives, prior to becoming its Chief Technology Officer in 2017. Currently, he's also a member of the executive management team. Before joining Klarna, he was developing and managing his own enterprise. In May 2022 Koen Köppen left Klarna and took over the role of CTO at Mollie, a Dutch payments services provider.

Location Website Social Media
Amsterdam, Netherlands Linkedin / Twitter

10. Hima Mandali

Ex-Chief Technology Officer, Solarisbank

Hima Mandali joined Solarisbank, Europe’s leading Banking as a Service platform, in 2019 as the company’s Chief Technology Officer. He was responsible for setting and executing technical strategy, managing the technology, cyber and business service functions, and leading the team of more than 350 engineers. Prior to Solarisbank, he spent ten years with Capital One as its Director Software Engineering. He holds a master's degree in Robotics and Automation Engineering from TU Dortmund. In late May 2022 Dennis Winter assumed Hima Mindali's responsibilities as the new Chief Technology Officer at Solarisbank.

Location Website Social Media
Berlin, Germany Linkedin

Inspiring Design Directors

When it comes to fintech, we usually focus on the business and technology side of things. Yet, there’s one aspect that makes or breaks even the most technologically advanced solutions — design.

Who are the people behind it, and why is their role so crucial to the fintech company's success? Discover what stands behind the role of a Design Director and which fintech Design Directors to follow in 2022.

What does a Design Director do?

A Design Director holds a leading, senior position in the design team. Their role is to guide the team and oversee all design production, including UI, UX, product, and branding. Usually, the job also involves some design work on the director’s part.

The Design Director position connects the role of a leader or a manager with the role of a senior designer, ensuring the right quality of the design and taking care of their creative staff.

Main responsibilities of a fintech Design Director

The responsibilities of a Design Director can vary depending on the company, the size of the design team, and the project. Nevertheless, most of the time, the position comes with such duties as:

  • Validating and developing creative ideas
  • Supervising the process of design creation
  • Creating and managing design teams
  • Participating in meetings with customers
  • Hiring and mentoring team members
  • Organizing the design and feedback processes
  • Analyzing data to validate designs
  • Keeping up to date with new technologies and design trends
  • Cooperating with other teams such as sales or marketing
  • Choosing the right talents for every design project

Top traits of a fintech Design Director

A Design Director working in fintech has to possess a whole set of various skills — from design-oriented to business, analytical, technical, and management ones.

First of all, the Design Director should present a good level of graphic design knowledge and skills. They have to be up to date with the trends and systems used in developing the designs. An interest in design and technology is essential.

They have to be both creative and analytical. A Design Director will need to have a broad imagination but also be able to connect the dots — meaning developing good, user-friendly designs while addressing business needs and various requirements including laws, regulations, and budget constraints.

Many times, they will have to solve complex design or business issues, so they also have to have a strategic mind and possess excellent communication skills.

Organizing others and being able to manage their time is yet another trait that a Design Director should have. They usually work under time pressure, with tight deadlines, and the needs of many parties that have to be taken into account.

The difference between a Design Director and a Creative Director

The role of a Design Director can sound a lot like the job description of a Creative Director. Yet, while there are many similarities, there are also some very specific characteristics that make them two different positions.

A Creative Director is more common in the advertising business as it’s usually another step in a career of a Copywriter or an Art Director. A Design Director, on the other hand, is a position reserved for senior designers. Another difference is in the area of expertise — a Design Director must have a much greater understanding of various design processes and techniques than a Creative Director, who focuses mainly on creative ideas and campaigns in the advertising industry. A Creative Director’s team would most likely consist of Copywriters and Art Directors, while the Design Director is responsible for a team of various designers — from UX and UI to branding and product.

These are just some of the differences between a Design Director and a Creative Director to provide a broader understanding of their distinctions.

Most inspiring fintech Design Directors to follow in 2022

Their fintech designs stand out. They not only follow the trends but also have their share in creating them. They’re highly talented and so are the teams they lead. Based on our research and industry sources, we’ve created a list of 30 most inspiring fintech Design Directors, who then became the subject of our judging panel’s vote. Say hello to the judging panel and meet the top fintech Design Directors to follow in 2022.

Judging panel members

The committee consisted of Amy French, Director at Level39; Radosław Sałek, Senior Account Manager at Google Cloud; Jörg Howein, Chief Platform Officer at Solarisbank; Can Osman Yildirim, Growth Partner Development Manager at Amazon Web Services; Bartosz Białek, Product Design Manager at Netguru; and Pawel Stężycki, Senior Innovation Consultant at Netguru.

Please note that the data the voting took place in February 2022.

Disruption Guide Fintech Jury - Design Directors

The list of top fintech design directors

1. Dmitry Scheglov

Design Lead, Revolut

Dmitry Scheglov joined Revolut as its Design Lead in 2018 after holding the position of the Head of the Design Department for five years at Moscow's Sberbank. He learned about the company from a friend's post on Facebook and decided to be a part of the organization, which is now Britain's most valued fintech startup and offers banking services worldwide.

Location Website Dribble Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin

2. Rich Bessel

Head of Design, Robinhood

Rich Bessel has been working as the Head of Design at Robinhood, the commission-free trading platform, since 2019. Before joining Robinhood, he was the Director of Product Design at Facebook, where he was responsible for the design of Facebook profiles and accompanying experiences. Prior to this position, he also had senior leadership roles in Intuit and Nokia where he held the position of the Head of Creative Strategy.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin

3. Dilara Neutze

Director of Product Design, Klarna

Dilara Neutze is the Director of Product Design at Klarna, the BNPL platform, where she’s responsible for leading and developing various product design initiatives. Before joining Klarna, she worked for GetYourGuide, Delivery Hero, Riyaz, and other hypergrowth companies and startups across New York and Berlin, crafting their digital product experiences for multiple markets.

Location Website Dribble Social Media
Berlin, Germany Linkedin

4. Robert Murdock

Head of Product Design, Stripe

Robert Murdock is a design leader with 20+ years of experience building and operating creative teams. He’s currently the Head of Product Design at Stripe, the B2B online payment processing and credit card processing platform. Before this, he spent six years with Amazon as the Director of UX design for Amazon Devices. He also worked as the Principal Designer at Method.

Location Wesbite Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

5. Marcus Skala

Head of Design Technology, Gemini

For over seven years, Marcus Skala has been the Head of Design Technology at, which is a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian company with a mission to bring greater choice, independence, and opportunity to individuals worldwide. Before that, he held senior design roles in Gilt Groupe, People Co, and The Wall Street Journal. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Design Engineering.

Location Website Social Media
New York, United States Linkedin

6. Frank Yoo

VP of Design and Research, Coinbase

Frank Yoo is the VP of Design and Research at Coinbase, the American cryptocurrency exchange platform. Before taking on this role, he worked as the Director of Design at Lyft and Google, where he oversaw UX design, research, UX engineering, and writing processes for the G Suite Communication apps. He has also held design roles at Yahoo and LinkedIn.

Location Website Social Media
San Francisco, United States Linkedin / Twitter

7. Alex Blue

Director of Product Design, Carta

Alex Blue is the Director of Product Design at Carta, the global ownership management platform enabling companies, investors, and employees to manage equity and ownership. He started out his career as an independent design consultant, and before taking on the role at Carta, he spent about eight years working for Amazon as a UX Designer. He’s a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design.

Location Website Social Media
Seattle, United States Linkedin

8. Duncan Lamb

VP of Design, Wise

Duncan Lamb is the VP of Design at Wise, the London-based fintech company. He came to Wise as the Design Director before being promoted in January 2019. Prior to this, Duncan had been working for Nokia and Skype. His goal is to “solve real problems for real people with beautifully simple and meaningfully different product experiences.”

Location Website Social Media
London, United Kingdom Linkedin / Twitter

9. Simon Schafstall

Creative Studio Lead, Trade Republic

Simon Schafstall is the Creative Studio Lead at Trade Republic, the Berlin-based online broker company. Before joining the company, he worked in numerous boutique agencies in Germany, gaining more than ten years of experience in the design area as a multidisciplinary Art Director, UX/UI Designer, and creative strategist. Apart from working for Trade Republic, he’s also a collaborator in the “A Tribe Called Humans” collective.

Location Website Social Media
Berlin, Germany Linkedin

10. Jeroen de Lange

VP of Design, Adyen

Jeroen De Lange is the VP of Design at Adyen, the Dutch payment company founded in 2006. He joined the company in 2015 as the Head of Design. Before taking on the job at Adyen, Jeroen founded a startup that developed applications using iBeacon and a design studio where he produced and supervised projects for such companies as ​​Ahold, Danone, Philips, and Opel.

Location Website Social Media
Amsterdam, Netherlands Linkedin / Twitter

Influential Finance Editors

Understanding the complexities of the fintech market and following the industry as it transforms can be challenging at times. That’s why it’s essential to find the right experts who gather the knowledge and share it in a straightforward way.

From cryptocurrencies, investing, and banking to business and emerging financial technologies — uncover the names of top fintech editors and journalists to follow in 2022 in order to understand and keep up with the market.

Rapid market growth influences its experts

The global fintech market is growing at an unprecedented speed, with COVID-19 being the unexpected catalyst in its expansion. According to Market Data Forecast, fintech is predicted to reach a market value of $324 billion by 2026, growing steadily at an annual rate of around 25%.

This acceleration translates to a faster pace of changes and novelties appearing in the market, a growing number of financial tech companies, and more new experts and editors in the field — including those working directly for startups and bigger fintech companies.

The changing role of fintech editors

Over the years, the role of fintech editors has evolved. Before, top fintech editors and journalists have worked either for finance or business media outlets or have been fully independent. Now, many of them work inside specialized fintech companies as blog authors, helping businesses spread the word, create buzz, and gain much-appreciated credibility and trust.

Seeing the potential in the growing industry, the competition between fintech editors is getting fiercer — as many professional writers choose to enter the lucrative financial tech market and work for fintech businesses.

Best fintech editors to follow in 2022

Workplace aside, talented and credible fintech editors are always the best source to follow in order to navigate the fintech market and keep up with its ever-changing environment. Which ones should you pay closer attention to?

As vast and diverse as the fintech market is, so are the specializations of its experts. That’s why we’ve compiled a go-to list of top fintech editors along with their fields of expertise.

Take a look at their profiles and get up to speed with everything that’s going on in the fintech industry right now.

The list of editors was compiled by the Communications Team at Netguru based on the editors’ experience, field expertise, online presence, and social media following. The list is ordered randomly.

Please note that the data was updated in February 2022.

Penny Crosman

Executive Editor, Technology, American Banker and Arizent

Penny Crosman currently holds the title of Executive Editor, Technology at American Banker and Arizent. Before taking on this role, she was the Editor-in-Chief of Bank Technology, and News and Technology, and Editor at American Banker. She has also held senior editorial roles at Bank Systems & Technology, Wall Street & Technology, Intelligent Enterprise, and Network Magazine, among other titles.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Technology, cybersecurity, privacy, financial health & services 2,479 followers (LinkedIn), 9,074 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Dan DeFrancisco

Finance Editor, Business Insider

Dan DeFrancisco works as a Finance Editor at Insider, where he was previously a reporter. Prior to working for Insider, Dan wrote for, WatersTechnology, The Journal News, and a daily newspaper based in White Plains, NY. Dan covers the topics of financial technology, market structure, and cryptocurrency.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Financial technology, market structure, fintech 1,839 (LinkedIn), 3,898 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Anna Irrera

Chief Correspondent, Reuters

Anna Irrera is the Chief Correspondent at Reuters, where she covers the financial technology sector and technology-related developments at some of the world’s largest financial institutions. She previously wrote about fintech as an online reporter for Financial News and was working for Reuters’ English-language international service.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Financial technology, cryptocurrencies 9,018 (LinkedIn), 31,900 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Jeff Kauflin

Associate Editor, Forbes

Jeff Kauflin is an Associate Editor at Forbes, where he leads the coverage of fintech and crypto. He’s also responsible for editing the Forbes annual Fintech 50 and the 30 Under 30 for fintech, and writes on the subject of leadership and corporate diversity. Prior to this role, he worked for ten years in marketing consulting.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Wesbite Social Media
Cryptocurrencies, blockchain, fintech, investing 2,576 (LinkedIn), 12,800 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Nathaniel Popper

Author, HarperCollins Publishers

Nathaniel Popper is the writer behind the book, "Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvinvent Money,” which was an Amazon non-fiction Editor's Pick and a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. Prior to this role, he was a reporter for The New York Times, where he addressed the topics of Wall Street and Silicon Valley, focusing on the subject of the influence of technology on money and finance.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Digital currencies, bitcoin, banking, fintech 2,634 (LinkedIn), 46,700 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Jeff Roberts

Executive Editor, Decrypt

Jeff Roberts is the Executive Editor at Decrypt. Before taking on this role, he worked for more than five years as a reporter for Fortune. Jeff focuses on the subject of crypto and has been writing on it since 2013. He is the author of "Kings of Crypto: One Startup's Quest to Take Cryptocurrency Out of Silicon Valley and Onto Wall Street” — a book about Coinbase.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Cryptocurrency, business, technology, finance 806 (LinkedIn), 16,300 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Peter Rudegeair

Reporter, Wall Street Journal

Peter Rudegeair has been working as a banking and finance reporter for The Wall Street Journal for the last seven years. Prior to this, he wrote for Reuters News and Reuters.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Banking, finance 1,486 (LinkedIn), 4,602 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Hugh Son

Reporter, CNBC

Hugh Son has worked as a Banking Reporter for CNBC since 2018, focusing on the subject of technology and finance at Apple, Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Binance, JPMorgan, Uber, Wells Fargo, and other companies. Prior to this role, he wrote on finance for Bloomberg News.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Finance, technology, banking 1,996 (LinkedIn), 8,478 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Rick Morgan

Reporter, Puget Sound Business Journal

Rick Morgan is currently a reporter at Puget Sound Business Journal. Before PSBJ, he reported on financial technology for Bank Innovation, and breaking news for CNBC and Vice.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Business, finance, technology, tech startups, transportation 853 (LinkedIn), 526 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter

Matt White

​​Editor, Finextra

Matt White has been working as the North America Editor at fintech newswire Finextra for 16+ years. In his work, he focuses on stories from the area of finance, banking, and technology.

Covered Topics Number of Followers Website Social Media
Finance, banking, technology 394 (LinkedIn), 1,041 (Twitter) LinkedIn / Twitter