Globally, only 12% of FinTech startups have female founders or co-founders, and only 6% have female CEOs. Experts often talk about the benefits of FinTech for women, but only a few females represent decision-making roles in this rapidly growing industry. This data is alarmingly low, given that women-funded startups grow funds twice compared to others.
In most industries, women have more hurdles when setting up their own companies. Overcoming gender bias is the biggest challenge for women in any industry. Society shoulders women with unrealistic expectations to balance both personal and professional responsibilities. The pay gap is another difficulty women face in the workplace.
In FinTech, there is a huge opportunity for women at both ends – consumers and top management. As per research, out of 1.7 billion unbanked people globally, 55% are women. FinTech can make service platforms that serve the specific needs of women and their families. Even in fields like online trading, women’s representation is significantly low.
Despite several challenges, there are many powerful women in the FinTech industry. They are leading the way for other women entrepreneurs. Here are a few women creating a noticeable impact in the FinTech world with their talent.
Adina Eckstein (Chief Operating Officer, Lemonade)
Eckstein joined Lemonade as chief of Staff, later became Vice President of Operations, and now, is serving as Chief Operating Officer. Eckstein spent almost four years with HSBC before joining Lemonade. She also served BBC and tech startup Tvinci. Lemonade was not affected notably by the pandemic. The company has artificial intelligence-based bots that help to validate insurance claims over “chat” in various cases.
Lemonade provides casualty and property insurance in the US, Netherlands, and Germany. The company has grown at a higher pace since its incorporation. It also started offering car and life insurance services. In April 2018, it received $300 million in a funding round and its total funding to date is $480 million. Eckstein proves that out-of-box thinking can fetch incredible results to the table.
Susanne Chishti (CEO, FINTECH Circle)
Susanne Chishti is the chief executing officer (CEO) of FINTECH Circle. FINTECH is an investor network and platform which serves more than 1,30,000 members. She started building her career 20 years ago by working in a FinTech company in Silicon Valley. At that time, even the word FinTech wasn’t invented.
She has played the role of co-editor for the best-selling The FINTECH Book, as well as The WEALTHTECH Book, The INSURTECH Book, The PAYTECH Book, The AI Book, and The LEGALTECH Book published by WILEY. She also served as a FinTech TV commentator on CNBC.
Furthermore, she has been honored with the Social Media Influencer of the Year 2018 (Investment Week) award, Top 7 Crypto Experts globally 2018 (Inc Magazine) award, and City Innovator – Inspirational Woman in 2016 award. Her experience has helped many companies she has served to leverage their business.
Carolyn Feinstein (Chief Marketing, Growth, and Design Officer, Varobank)
Carolyn Feinstein started serving Varobank as Chief Marketing, Growth, and Design Officer in early 2021. With 25 years of marketing experience, she is serving on the board of directors for Malwarebytes and as an Advisor for Proxy. She also served as Chief Marketing Officer for Dropbox and spent 16 years at game publisher Electronic Arts before Varobank.
Feinstein says, as an all-digital bank with a bank charter, Varo can acquire consumers from both traditional banks and neobanks. It is a unique competitive advancement for the company.
Voracious intellectual curiosity and devotion to consumers are the main qualities of Feinstein that helps her perform her tasks excellently. Varo is valued at $2.5 billion. This September, it announced that it has doubled its accounts and tripled its revenue as it has become the first consumer FinTech firm to be nationally chartered.
Upasana Taku (Co-founder, MobiKwik)
Upasana is the co-founder of MobiKwik, an e-wallet company. It was a recharge platform, which later became the leading mobile wallet in India. In 2009, when India was a complete cash economy, Upasana and her co-founder, Bipin took the risk to introduce a digital wallet. They were confident about their vision despite plenty of suggestions of dropping the idea and starting something mainstream. Since its start, MobiKwik has shown tremendous growth.
Their company started growing slowly, and by June 2012, they were a team with 35 members in it. They received RBI’s PPI license in July 2013. In the first round of funding, the company received $5 million. During the second round, they raised $25 million from various investors. In 2016, the company raised more than $50 million, enough to make a big name in the industry.
Upasana believes that the current scenario has become more welcoming for women entrepreneurs. But, there are still various shifts that need to happen. The inclusion of women in FinTech is still low, but it is improving gradually. Many startups are including women in their higher management teams. They are realizing the necessity of having them.
Upasana also believes that more women are embracing financial literacy and financial independence in tier-I cities. But, there is still a lot of work required in tier-II and tier-III cities.
Silvija Martincevic (Chief Commercial Officer, Affirm)
In 2019, Silvija Martincevic joined FinTech company Affirm as Chief Commercial Officer. Before affirms, Silvija served Groupon as its Chief Operating Officer and Chief Marketing Officer. Silvija has 10 years of experience in the investment management industry building investment portfolios and managing investment risk for large institutions. In 2003, she also founded Zenna Financial Services, an investment management company. This year, she is also included on the Board of Directors for nonprofit micro-lending organizations, Kiva and Lemonade.
In Affirm, as a Chief Commercial Officer, Silvija leads core business functions such as revenue, marketing, customer sales services, sales, etc. Even in the pandemic, affirms has grown its business. Its value doubled to $24 billion at its January IPO. The number of active customers rose to 7.1 million in mid-2021, showing a growth of almost 97%.
Silvija completed her MBA degree in econometrics and statistics from the Booth School of Business at The University of Chicago, and a BA in economics from Beloit College.
Jennifer Fitzgerald (Co-Founder/CEO, Policygenius)
Jennifer Fitzgerald, along with Francois de Lame, co-founded the online insurance marketplace Policygenius. Earlier, Jennifer worked at McKinsey, specializing in Financial Services. Policygenius has revolutionized the whole insurance industry. As a co-founder and CEO, Jennifer has led Policygenius to the constant path of success. She has raised funds of more than $150 million.
Jennifer, in the beginning, faced a lot of rejections. She and her co-founder had a hard time pitching investors. She had to deal with sexism too. In an interview, she talked about a prospective investor.
He kept directing questions to her co-founder and not her.
In September, Jennifer was ranked 44th on Quartz’s “rising stars” list of 250 female founders. Forbes has published that she’s one of only five women in FinTech to have raised over $50 million.
Paypound’s Ceo is a female and she gave a huge contribution to the Fintech industry. There is no doubt that women are going to bring revolutionary changes to FinTech in the future. These brilliant women are its perfect example. They are paving the way for more women to be in top management and strategic roles in the FinTech industry. We should make sure that they get equal opportunities and flexible working conditions to maintain a healthy work-life balance.