D.C. Fintech Week: Fintech’s Most Awaited Conference Hails its 6th Year on the Fintech Beat Podcast
October is conference season in the realm of fintech, with events such as Circle’s Converge22 and D.C. Fintech Week already having made their mark. D.C. Fintech Week was amongst the most awaited – and hosting the best and brightest in Washington DC for discussions spanning the fintech ecosystem: cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity, digital identity, housing tech and more and more. After a two-year hiatus of attending the conference virtually, participants from all over the fintech ecosystem were brimming with excitement to spend two days in live, face-to-face conversations. D.C. Fintech Week is one of the few public panels where top government officials can interact with economists, Bitcoin dealers, educators, civil rights advocates, and digital infrastructure providers.
To provide a preview, Dr. Chris Brummer – the founder and host of D.C. Fintech Week – recently invited Dante Disparte, Chief Strategy Officer of Circle to his weekly Fintech Beat podcast. They reflected on last month’s Converge event while also sharing their excitement over the success of D.C. Fintech Week. Both fellow conspirators and collaborators joined in to provide listeners with an overview of the two events.
The Converge conference, hosted by Circle, the stablecoin issuer, was in its own right a monumental success. Taking place in San Francisco, it was organized against the backdrop of an executive order on Web3 and digital assets passed by Governor Gavin Newsom of California offering a more lenient approach towards digital assets. The breakthrough event was a great mix of both founders and policymakers and boasted attendance from several Washingtonians. Sessions included hands-on workshops, interactive demos, walk-up “ask me anything” sessions, and opportunities to interact more with leading technical minds. The event also came with guest appearances by celebrity entrepreneurs such as Serena Williams, Mark Cuban, Vitalik Buterin, and Charlize Theron.
The next event in line, D.C. Fintech Week, took place from October 11-12. A bellwether event, the conference caterd to a nexus of regulators and policymakers who will shape law, policy, and market an environment for this space, for years to come. The event is renowned for providing a space where policymakers have regularly announced industry-shaping decisions. Each year there is interesting break through news made – such as the announcement of the first Fintech Charter concept, or the former SEC Director William Hinman’s controversial comments over what constitutes a security.
This year’s event brought its first-day focus on cryptocurrency. A crypto day was hosted where everyone involved in the ecosystem took part – from the Chair of the CFTC, the Acting Comptroller of the Currency, and creators of several blockchains such as Charles Hoskinson of Cardano and Kevin Seknniqi of Avalanche. Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael Hsu kicked off day one by comparing crypto user interfaces to the creation of the iPhone, warning that this might lead consumers to believe crypto services mimic traditional financial services.
Each year the conference aplaces a special emphasis on inclusion and getting back to the practical use cases idea. Which is not surprising: Dr. Brummer has been a keen participant in the promotion of financial inclusion through the deployment of financial technology, while also creating an eco-system where fruitful discussions can be held to further those efforts. Last year’s D.C. Fintech Week event brought together participants such as Kristalina Georgieva (Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund), Augustin Carstens (General Manager of the Bank of International Settlements), and Reza Baqir (Governor, State Bank of Pakistan) to discuss what financial inclusion meant in the context of financial technology.
This year one of the most important participants in the conversations spanning financial inclusion was The Federal National Mortgage Association, or Fannie Mae. Last year, a top representative from the company spoke on how rethinking and deploying data in the rental space has been a larger part of Fannie Mae’s success and has been important in addressing the challenge of wealth and income inequality. This year, the conference doubled down on the idea, with the second day being hosted at the company’s headquarters, an a range of conversations being held relating to similarities in the fintech and housing markets. Additionally, the conference hosted discussions on what financial technology, and blockchain-based infrastructures could mean for housing. “We think that’s a timely topic given we’re in a world of higher interest rates and home prices are still elevated. What can technology do to kind of attack that problem that’s becoming a real albatross for middle-class Americans,” Dr. Brummer observed in the podcast.
Day Two of D.C. Fintech Week accordingly moved on from matters of crypto currency and broadened the focus to questions of decentralized identity and blockchain applications while discussions also took place on how companies and policymakers can innovate on financial literacy. One of the most important questions that the discussions focused on was the convergence of financial literacy with a digital environment. What does financial literacy even mean when you move to a digital environment?
“I’ve often said that if you had listened to and absorbed the content of DC FinTech Week for the last many years, you would come out on the other side with a Ph.D. in literally all of the issues that matter, because this is as concentrated an amount of content and intelligence as you could possibly create in a conference”, praised Disparte. For those of you wanting to delve deeper into the discussions, the livestream recordings can be found here.
Host Dr. Chris Brummer is Agnes N. William’s Research Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Georgetown’s Institute of International Economic Law. A thought leader in the regulatory dimension of finance and trade, as well as transatlantic and global economic cooperation issues, he has had an illustrious career across the public and private sectors. Aside from working as a professor and spearheading multiple initiatives related to financial regulation, he also served as both a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Subcommittee on Virtual Currencies and the Consultative Working Group for the European Securities and Markets Authority’s Financial Innovation Standing Committee. Chris also concluded a three-year term as a member of the National Adjudicatory Council of FINRA, where his work was seen as pivotal in contributing to advancing investor protection.