This week, I am highlighting Chenni Xu, a poised game changer set out for the future. Chenni and I were fellow panelists at the Future of Fintech event at Columbia University, where Chenni is an alumni. With Ant Financial Services Group, while jet setting between the US and China, she is working to use technology to bring equal opportunities in financial services across the world. She is passionate about serving the unbanked and underbanked, and dedicated to bringing more secure, transparent, cost-effective and inclusive financial services to individuals and SMEs globally.
How/why did you get into tech?
I was lucky to win Ant Financial as a client of mine more than 3 years ago when I was at a corporate communications firm. Their mission-driven culture really inspired me, so I dedicated more of my time to them, learned about fintech, and eventually moved to an in-house role in NY. It’s been a whirlwind year so far, but one where I feel that being part of this company means that I am at the forefront of fintech trends, and can join all the right conversations in this part of the world, because of our large user base in Asia and elsewhere. It’s the perfect sector for having a court-side seat to future growth and innovation.
What role do you play in the tech ecosystem?
I am telling the China tech story in North America and Europe, in that, the market in China is sort of like ‘gazing into a crystal ball’, where you can see where trends might be going in the West in about 10, 20 years’ time. Asia was able to speed ahead in fintech especially because of the leapfrogging that took place over traditional financial services. Companies like ours were able to step in and serve the underbanked and unbanked.
There are tons of synergies taking place in the tech sector, as academics, product managers, and engineers go back and forth between the worlds, working on developments in AI, blockchain as a service, etc. so hopefully we will see more of these types of positive tech collaboration and innovation stories coming out in the near future.
What do you believe is the most exciting tech trend for 2019?
I’m excited to see the amalgamation of AI, machine learning and blockchain and how fintech will be more holistically viewed. I’m also excited for the expansion of our blockchain-based remittances for financial inclusion which is happening in Southeast Asia.
Who is a person in tech that inspires you? Why?
I’m a gender advocate so am always excited to see women in tech, especially those in the VC world. I like that more are breaking the barriers and being named as partners such as Sarah Guo.
What advice would you give for someone who wants to get into tech?
Just jump in – it’s very relevant to our everyday lives, so just get in touch with someone whose career you admire and ask for an informational chat. Don’t be boxed in by your education or past experience, be a generalist!