This week, I am going back to the investor/venture world and highlighting the amazing Anju Patwardhan, Managing Director, CreditEase Fintech VC Fund.
Anju and I met a number of years ago in Singapore at SIBOS, a banking/tech conference. We had a lot in common and have remained friends ever since. I admire Anju for her unique background seeing finance and technology from many angles, including innovation, risk, and operations.
Anju was also a 2016 Fulbright Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Stanford University where she researched the use of technology to support financial inclusion in a for-profit manner. Based in San Francisco, she is now a Fellow at Stanford’s Distinguished Careers Institute and serves on World Economic Forum’s fintech steering committee.
How/why did you get into tech?
After I finished my undergraduate degree in engineering from IIT and my MBA in Finance from IIM, I joined Citibank. While my professional career was almost entirely in financial services, technology was an integral part of it.
One of my roles at Citibank back in 2000 was as the first digital banking business development head for Asia-Pacific. My last role at Standard Chartered Bank was as the Global Chief Innovation Officer. I also held other roles in banking such as Chief Risk Officer and Chief Operating Officer and automation was always critical part of all those roles.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem?
I now work with CreditEase.
CreditEase, established in 2006, is one of the leading Fintech conglomerates in China, specializing in Wealth Management, Asset Management, and Marketplace Lending. The Asset Management group offers several proprietary funds to its private clients such as VC/PE Fund of Funds, Credit Fund, and Fintech Investment Fund.
The FinTech Fund started in March 2016 and is the flagship fund of USD $1 Billion equivalent. I manage the US Fintech Fund which invests in fintech companies globally and is one of the most active fintech funds in the world. Our investments include Funding Circle, Fair, Addepar, Marqeta, Trumid, Fair, Ellevest, Upgrade, NAV, Figure, Tradeshift, H2O.ai, Branch, Active.ai, Onfido, BioCatch, FundBox,DV01, Circle Financial, Taulia and True Accord.
Our most recent investment was in Cross River Bank.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019?
In my opinion, Artificial Intelligence (#AI) will have the biggest impact on fintech over the next few years. We have seen extensive applications of machine learning for credit scoring and fraud detection over the last decade. We are now seeing growth in the use of Robotics Process Automation, Chatbots and Conversational AI. Other AI applications such as the use of biometrics and digital identity for customer verification, fraud prevention and video banking are becoming common. I think we are still far away from seeing humanoid robots (such as Pepper and Sophia) in fintech.
The recent data breaches and privacy issues will also bring an enhanced focus in 2019 on how consumer data is protected and used and will bring increasing regulatory attention to data privacy, cybersecurity and ethics.
Who is a person in tech that inspires you? Why?
What he has done so far with Amazon, including AWS and use of IoT/voice such as Alexa, is fascinating. Amazon has changed the landscape for retail and cloud services. Over the next few years, it will be interesting to watch Amazon’s expansion into financial products and services but without getting regulated as a bank.