30 Innovators to Watch: Key Executives Shaping the Industry in 2014

The road aheadSometimes innovation comes down to just getting it done, to paraphrase Sam Maule (#15 on this list.) The key to innovation lies not in technology or in processes, but in people moving the industry. In this, Bank Innovation‘s second annual “Innovators to Watch” list, we took a look at some of the most important people in financial technology — experts who work in banking, serial entrepreneurs, startup CEOs, investors, and virtual currency experts.

Last year, we wrote that innovation isn’t defined by “by the top dogs or the most senior executives” and that remains true today. Banking innovation is driven by those who understand how technology can transform the industry and are willing to make the risky decisions necessary for genuine transformation.

Here is our list of people who recognize the potential in financial technology and continue to promote growth and discussion within the industry.

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badarinath-niti-365b1. Niti Badarinath, senior vice president and head of mobile banking & payments, US Bank

Niti Badarinath and US Bank have been busy in 2014. US Bank announced that it would be adding a virtual assistant and voice biometrics for its customers in the near future. Right now, the feature is in a pilot program, and while other banks such as Barclays have recently expanded their voice biometrics program, US Bank is one of the few banks in the United States actively rolling out this technology. The company is also a longstanding leader in image banking, with advanced features such as mobile photo bill pay and mobile photo balance transfer.

 

ShevlinRon-380x3002. Ron Shevlin, senior analyst at Aite Group, proprietor of Snarketing 2.0 blog
As an analyst for the Aite Group, Ron Shevlin analyzes the current trends in the financial technology market, contributing to reports on topics such as prepaid cards, the underbanked, and much more. As the publisher of the rollicking blog Snarketing 2.0, Shevlin takes his analysis to another level, commenting on those same topics with a trademark sarcastic tone. Shevlin loves to go against the grain. Whether he’s dismantling a TechCrunch article about the un-banked or predicting the resurgence of credit cards in the next few years, Shevlin always has something provocative to say. The same goes for his Twitter account, where he’s engaged in constant good-natured debate with other fintech experts.

 

SpeakerBigPic_MatteoRizzi-150x1503. Matteo Rizzi, SBT Ventures/Sberbank
SBT Ventures has been financing a number of buzzy financial technology startups, and partner Matteo Rizzi plays a major role in that. The London-based company has funded startups that focus on indoor positioning (Walkbase) and most recently, Moven, the money management tool. Rizzi has a distinguished innovation pedigree as a founding member of Innotribe, the SWIFT-funded startup initiative.

 

Peric Kosta4. Kosta Peric, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Kosta Peric is another founder of Innotribe — he ran the organization until mid-2013. Peric then became the head of the financial services division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. This group within the well-funded charity focuses on delivering “effective digital financial services to the poor through a robust, open and low cost platform.” Peric is an internationally recognized thought leader in financial services who is working hard to makie a difference for the billions of financially underserved people across the globe.

 

Podtech_ChrisLarsen1New5. Chris Larsen, Ripple Labs

Ripple Labs is one of the most influentialstartups in the virtual currency space. Chris Larsen, who also headed up the alternative lending company Prosper, and company have focused on using the bitcoin platform to facilitate real-time payments, without the need for a third-party or using credit to facilitate payments. With both Google Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz as investors, Ripple Labs is one of the buzziest startups focused on different uses for bitcoin’s technology. The platform’s own currency, ripples, are also one of the most valuable virtual currencies after bitcoins.

 

m-harris-large6. Matt Harris, managing director, Bain Capital Ventures

As managing director of Bain Capital Ventures, Matt Harris is looking for startups to disrupt and innovate in financial services. He has his own term for these companies: finsurgents. With 14 investments in the first half of 2014 alone, Bain Capital Ventures has invested in a number of companies, including firms that focus on expense reporting and invoice management (Chrome River Technologies), runtime technology solutions (OpenFin), and more.` Harris and co. were also investors in Simple — cha-ching!

 

Screenshot 2014-07-07 15.30.227. Brent Blum, wearable technology practice lead, Accenture Technology Labs

Wearable technology is poised to take off in a big way — but which wearables? There are at least seven smartwatches for the Android platform alone. For advice on this, we recommend Brent Blum, one of the industry’s leading analysts in wearables. Blum has the rare ability to explain wearable technology and how it relates to the financial technology industry. With many hypothesizing that mobile payments can leapfrog the smartphone and dominate wearable technology, understanding wearables and the Internet of Things will be integral for banks and financial institutions.

 

eve-callahan-umpqua

8. Eve Callahan, SVP, corporate communications, Umpqua Bank
Umpqua Bank has a very different way of doing, well, just about everything, and Eve Callahan is front and center in getting this unique bank’s message out to the world. From its early adoption of  Apple-Store-like branches with lounge areas and interactive screens for customers to advertising that makes the bank seem quirky and cool, Umpqua is in an enviable position — it doesn’t seem like just another bank. Umqua and Callahan seem like they’re having fun.
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