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Barefoot Innovation Podcast

Sep 6, 2016

Today's show explores financial innovation through the eyes of one of America's most respected consumer advocates. My guest is Lauren Saunders, Associate Director of the National Consumer Law Center.

The NCLC has been active in consumer financial protection for over 40 years. Lauren manages its Washington, DC office and directs its federal legislative and regulatory work on issues like prepaid cards, electronic payments, small dollar loans, credit cards, bank accounts, and consumer protection regulation overall. She also contributes to NCLC legal treatises, including Consumer Banking and Payments Law, Consumer Credit Regulation, and Fair Credit Reporting. Previously she directed the Federal Rights Project of the National Senior Citizens Law Center; was Deputy Director of Litigation at Bet Tzedek Legal Services; and was an associate at Hall & Phillips. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and was an Executive Editor of the Harvard Law Review. She holds a Masters' in Public Policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a B.A., Phi Beta Kappa, from Stanford University.

In our conversation, Lauren talks thoughtfully about what worries her about consumer finance today and how she thinks we should address emerging problems. We had a wide-ranging discussion, including about what would happen if traditional payday lending was no longer an option (she'd like a "Goldilocks" approach on loan length). She also discusses her concerns about both easy credit and fast credit; partnering between banks and marketplace lenders; using alternative data in underwriting; and the future of overdraft products as we move toward increasingly fast - and even real-time - payments.

For a look into the innovators who were mentioned in the show (and who have been featured as previous guests), check out their websites: Digit, Even, and Simple. Also note Lauren's mention of the American Express-backed movie, Spent.

Also ....

Time is running out to vote for my SXSW panel!  Remember to vote for my panel for SXSW 2017. It's Regulation Innovation - how to modernize regulation to optimize financial innovation. My fantastic panelists are CFSI's CEO Jennifer Tescher, the White House's Adrienne Harris, and Simple CEO Josh Reich. To vote, just go to (there's a quick signup to be sure the votes are real). And please plan to come to SXSW!

Remember to like us!  Also remember to like Barefoot Innovation on ITunes; follow me on Twitter @JoAnnBarefoot; and contribute your "buck a show" to keep our podcasts coming.

Going global:  I recorded the introduction to this episode from the airport en route to London (I figure if Tim Ferriss can do this - and he inspired me to try pod-casting - I can give it a try). I'm heading to the UK for meetings on progress so far with the regulatory sandbox that was launched this year by the Financial Conduct Authority, to distill some lessons for the United States with our much more fragmented regulatory structure.

Two days after I return from London, I'm heading to Fiji for the annual global conference of AFI - the Alliance for Financial Inclusion, which is made up of the financial regulators of the Global South. In November, I'll be speaking at the FinTech forum of the Singapore Monetary Authority - in the portion that will be Asia's first-ever RegTech conference in Asia. And I recently had to turn down invitations to speak in Tokyo and in Shanghai, and to participate in a UN gathering in Tanzania.

All of which is to say, financial innovation is global, and so are the global challenges of how to regulate it, and so is Barefoot Innovation. We have listeners throughout the world, and I'll be recording fascinating podcasts on these travels. Watch for widened horizons this fall.

Upcoming: Meanwhile, come back next time for my special guest, Sam Hodges of Funding Circle.

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