Meet Edwina Johnson: Chief Operating Officer at Alloy and a great friend of mine.
Prior to her time at Alloy, Edwina was Program Director at Startupbootcamp Fintech here in New York, and even put in some time in consulting.
Alloy offers APIs for identity verification and risk decisioning, and is very much at the forefront of online customer acquisition and onboarding. Alloy is able to tap many data sources for identity verification to help banks make better decisions with regard to customers.
Customers have become more knowledgeable about where their data is and how it may be used these days, but fraud continues to rise. Mastercard announced in November that nearly half of all login attempts in financial services are fraudulent. This is a huge burden to place on banks and their vendors – which is where Alloy comes in.
Johnson comments that fintechs, by opening financial services up to new potential customers, has broadened the conversation around identity verification. Alloy is helping.
1. How/why did you get into your space?
I discovered the world of startups and financial innovation seven years into a career in digital marketing after a friend approached me about co-founding an ad-tech startup. I loved working with passionate founders, interesting technologies and meaningful company missions and knew I wanted to do that full time.
Having researched the startup space more, I was really drawn to accelerators and landed a place helping to run Startupbootcamp Fintech. There commenced my baptism of fire into the work of financial innovation! It was an incredible experience and education, it allowed me to spot how awesome the founders of Alloy were when I first met them and further equipped me to join them in building the business.
2. What role do you play in the tech ecosystem and why is that role important?
Supporting women in tech has always been important to me. I could have pursued a career path in organizations that focus on encouraging women in tech directly, (think along the lines of the incredible Girls Who Code https://girlswhocode.com/). However, I decided that there weren’t enough diverse operators within the industry, so I made a deliberate choice to stick to building business but as part of that remain visible and involved in the fintech community. Which is why, despite having an internal facing role at Alloy, I am on the steering committee of NYC Fintech Women (https://www.nycfintechwomen.com/) and try to attend as many events as my introverted self will tolerate!
3. How has technology impacted your industry and why is this important?
Digital identity is one of the most interesting challenges within the tech industry. It’s an ever-evolving battle of new data points that can build a profile and newly discovered flaws that can be exploited by bad actors. Combine this rapid state of change with previously stagnated banking back office progresses, and you have an area with really high potential for impact.
Using the right technology in identity and risk decisions not only reduces financial losses from fraud or regulatory fines, but it helps the financial institution compete through an awesome end customer experience.
4. What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2020 (as it relates to your industry)?
“Demographics, not geographics” as so nicely summarized by Plaid’s CEO on Twitter recently. Increasing consumer comfort with digital financial services has caused a few significant shifts:
1) Fintechs have formed around previously underserved demographic markets, which has given them the ability to scale before building out more mass-market appeal
2) Small to medium sized traditional banks and credit unions have become more competitive through targeting digital rather than physical communities
3) This had led to a wave of banking as a service plays that support both of the above
4) These in turn have enabled nontraditional brands to more easily enter the finance industry, capitalizing on existing brand loyalty by their various audience tribes.
Making things more customer focused and more competitive all round.
5. Who is a person that inspires you in the space and why?
I am inspired weekly by the fantastic team I get to work with at Alloy. Outside of my company, I’m inspired by people who are generous with their time, supportive and collaborative for meaningful reasons beyond financial gain.
These include people such as Lynn Locker a partner at DWT who does so much to support underrepresented groups across the tech world and beyond. Joyce Shen who somehow has time to be a partner at Tenfore, teach data science at Berkeley, write books, record podcasts and also pop into Alloy to share her story with our company. Same goes to Charley Ma for staying humble having helped make Plaid the success it is and being happy to share some wisdom with us. Michelle Tran and Sasha Pilch for cofounding NYC Fintech Women and well as the unsung heroes like Adina Fischer and Larissa Carrera for making it run so seamlessly all in their spare time.
And without going on too long… Ramona Ortega, Monica Murphy, Asya Bradley, Kelsey Weaver, Jane Barratt, Rhian Horgan, Nicky Goulimis and Zoe Chaves.
Truly a rising tide floats all boats in my view.
6. What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into your space?
Do it. It’s too exciting to be stuck in a boring job you don’t care for.