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Are Banks Facing an Identity Crisis?

Editor-at-Large Mary Wisniewski is joined by Jason Henrichs, CEO at Alloy Labs, for a round of would you rather and a conversation about identity crises in the financial industry.

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Hey, it's Mary Wisneiwski here and I'm at the Money Experience Summit. It's Riff on the Lift, but a little bit rainy, so we're in the back of an Airstream. And I have to say I, um, I like rounding it out. So, um, really excited to be here, um, and finding out what's going on at this conference.

What's going on, Mary?

Oh no. Hey Jason. How are you doing?

Um, I feel like I'm okay, but are we having like an identity crisis?

Isn't everyone having an identity crisis? You are.

The fintechs are having an identity crisis. The banks are having an identity crisis. The VCs are having an identity crisis, Business people, trade.

I'm fine.

I'm just fine. How are you?

Well, I think you're fine to play little game called identity crisis with banks

And Jason

Jason and Mary talk identity crisis.

Well, you know, one of my favorite games is "would you rather?" Okay, well, so I have a would you rather for you.

I'm ready. I'm ready.

Would you rather pay a fee for your financial services or be subjected to advertising?

Okay, well I would rather pay a fee because I think it's always better to know, um, what you're getting. Um, and is it worth the cost?

I'd rather pay upfront than later like surprise. Ah, If you didn't know what you're paying. Yeah. You are the product. You are the product.

Okay, Jason?


Big time. Big time Question. I know how you like to spend your days talking to banks, customer service. Now, would you rather talk to someone on a chatbot or would you rather um, call a 1-800 number?

Ooh, toughy. I would rather use the chatbot than the mindless discussion of "Thank you for being a valued customer, Mr. Hendrichs for this period of time," while they're stalling to look up an answer versus a chatbot, especially today, can do it pretty instantaneously. Mm-hmm.

But then you get to the point that chatbots are not empowered, so then you need to talk to someone. And then when you need to talk to someone, it means you need to go explain everything all over again. So, I hate to say it.

Yep. I'm gonna say it. It's an identity crisis. I think we need multi-channel. True multi-channel.

You know what I love to do? I love to hit zero and scream. Ah. And see, like if that fast forwards me to a human, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

Alright, I got one. Okay. Would you rather in a recession, work at a bank or a fintech?

I would rather work at a bank. Um, because I would hope that there might be a little bit more job security, but I would realize later there's not. And then being a little mad, I think does it make a difference?

What if it was an early stage fintech versus a late stage fintech?

Um, late stage fintech feels like I could do it, but I still feel like I'd opt for a bank. Yeah. Things that are profitable. Things that are profitable. Yeah. And then, then maybe I would even be like, oh, let me get a revenue role. So it would be a bit soul crushing Jason. It would. Alright. Alright.

Would you rather, um, do early stage fintech funding? Or would you um, prefer doing corporate VC funding?

Ooh, that's a tough one. I'll tell you what I'd like to not do, which is mid and late stage fintech VC funding. If I was going to do it, I think those two, I can't decide between them. Like true identity crisis on one hand, like the volatility in the market, now is the best time to be an early stage VC to go pick the next winners. 'cause it gives you time to build.

Mm-hmm. And not be growth, growth growth at all costs. You can actually go build something meaningful.

But on the corporate venture capital side, if you are a savvy VC, you really reduce your risk profile, right?

Because you can help control the destiny of the startup. So I'd say those two are a tie. I just don't wanna be anywhere else.


Is that cheating?

Um, yeah. Okay. But I'm not surprised, so.

Alright. Alright. So would you rather have ease of use or greater fraud protections?

Okay. If I was like trying to be reasonable and I am not, I would say fraud protections. I know myself, I don't like to be like stopped. So I'm gonna say ease of use. I would rather have something be easy. I'd rather not have to like tap my way through more than a minute.

What if you were held financially accountable at you?

Change my answer. I change my barriers everywhere you look. I want friction. Gimme some of that friction.

No, You can't transfer your money until I prove that you're like legit. Send us your fingerprints by snail mail. Yeah.

Yeah. Well, snail mail, I mean I like, I like a letter. Okay. Jason, I'm gonna, I'm gonna find another question for you and I think it's gonna be about cores and it is, would you rather rip your core out all at once or like slowly migrate to something more modern?

So slowly migrating seems safe and I don't lose my job, but controversial here, I feel like we've reached the point that say there's 10 steps or 10 components you need to change out. By the time you get to five as a bank, step one is already outdated and you're moving slower and slower, right? Like the pack is accelerating away in the tour de Frances and like you're still pumping up your tires.

And so I think you need to actually do a rip and replace, which I've never actually think I've said in a public forum before. Um, On the record.

On the record with this one. But I think, you know, you just don't do a heart swap, right? Like you don't do open heart surgery and say, Hey, we're doing this heart transplant, pull this one out and pop that one in.

Mm-hmm. You figure out some life support in between, but you do change out the entire heart. You don't go chamber by chamber.


Alright. I got another one for you. Mm-hmm.

If you were working at a consumer-focused fintech, would you rather have channel partners or control your destiny?

Um, okay. I normally don't think I have control issues, but I think I would in this capacity.

'cause I think about like how I write a story and I need total control, so I'm going for control. Ah, Control.

Control, control. Yep. Telling your boyfriend.

Thanks Jason. Um, serious question,

Right? Serious answer.

Polly Pockets or Barbie?

Oh man, these dad hands do not do well with Polly Pockets like getting those clothes on. But if you heard the conversations that my four- and six-year-old girls have between Ken and Barbie Yep. I'm going back to Polly Pockets.

What are their conversations?

Oh, you, oh, you just, this is a true story that I heard from upstairs last week. Oh, you just want me for my money and knowing that I'm the queen, so you can be kidding. And I'm like, what have these children been watching?

Alright. Serious question for you.

It's very distracting.

Would you rather fling Barbies on a fan or cut their hair?

I would rather fling Barbies on a fan because I've done it and I did it as a young girl with my friend Laura Roby. We'd put it on the ceiling fan and like duck and cover under her bed and just have,

Were you torturing the Barbie?

Not torture. It was more of a game of like, can you dodge this?

I have some serious questions after this. Okay. Because I'm a serious guy.

You are a serious guy. And that is what is surprising to the rest of the world.

Thanks for letting me crash.

You're welcome. Even though I didn't really allow it.

Okay. Barbie.

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