The B2BNN Fintech Influencer Index

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Called the future of finance, fintech – and the reliability of transactions that it offers – is changing the way B2Bs are offering financial services through alternative currencies, new payment systems, invoicing, lending, managing cash flow and sourcing investment and fraud management.

“Each of these areas have historically been part of the banking infrastructure,” Montreal-based fintech expert Ferhan Patel told B2B News Network. “However, nowadays consumers are looking for a better user experience in everything they do and will no longer tolerate outdated and poorly built solutions. Fintechs are all about solving pain points and enhancing the user experience.”

The most recent and important innovations in fintech include user experience, said Patel, and these are often coupled with new and innovative revenue models.

“This is where they excel,” said Patel. “Most fintechs need banks to be their backbone.  When more and more banks realize that the fintech wave is not necessarily competition but an opportunity for partnerships to enhance the user experience.”

We asked you, our readers, about the most important voices in B2B fintech and you told us. Here’s our 2016 list of the most interesting, influential and up-and-coming people in fintech.

Who he is: Ferhan Patel, Payment Rails

Ferhan Patel

Find him on Twitter: @FerhanPatel

Ferhan Patel accidentally got into fintech 12 years ago when he ran into an issue with a frozen Paypal account. Seeking a better solution, he co-founded a technology company called AlertPay in 2004 “without realizing where this journey would take me,” he said.

He’s consulted for various companies in relation to e-commerce payments, mobile payments, digital wallets, compliance and fraud mitigation. Today, the payment guru – who holds five designations including Certified Financial Crime Specialist, Certified Fraud Examiner and Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist – is working with a new fintech startup, Payment Rails.

Based in Toronto and Montreal, Payment Rails is a cloud technology platform that enables businesses to send payments to any individual or company anywhere in the world, in any currency, and to all major payment methods. The company has a mission to simplify cross-border payouts for online marketplaces, share economy, on-demand and crowdsourcing platforms, ad networks, affiliate platforms, app stores, crowdfunding platforms, and to grow businesses with international payout needs. Payment Rails gives businesses access to its massive global banking and payments network.

Although Patel said that banks have been very hesitant about Bitcoin, “the underlying technology for Bitcoin, the blockchain, is a very impressive technology that banks and major financial institutions are embracing,” he said. “Banks are experimenting with blockchain/Ripple in order to make swift transfers ‘real-time’ instead of the 1-3 business days.”

Who he is: Alex Tapscott, co-author of Blockchain Revolution, and the founder and CEO, Northwest Passage Ventures

Alex Tapscott

Find him on Twitter: @alextapscott

Like father, like son.

When Don Tapscott, the bestselling author of Wikinomics, authored his book about the future of the modern economy, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin is Changing Money, Business, and the World, he brought his son, Alex Tapscott, on board.

Published in May by Penguin Random House, Blockchain Revolution is about how and why blockchain technology – which is public, encrypted, and allows transactions to be simultaneously anonymous and secure by maintaining a tamperproof public ledger of value – will change business. It is already a national bestseller.

Blockchain technology is “unequivocally” the most important advancement in fintech, said Alex Tapscott.  “More than just a Fintech innovation, blockchain represents nothing short of the second generation of the Internet.”

Tapscott calls Blockchain “the trust protocol, oftentimes eliminating the need for trusted intermediaries altogether, so new entrants can finally compete with incumbents in a wide variety of areas, from retail banking to wholesale finance and everything in between.”

Blockchain is already seeing widespread adoption in a number of areas, as it has the ability to record all kinds of information. Dozens of the world’s biggest financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Credit Suisse, are now in the process of exploring the possible use of blockchain in their companies for faster and more secure transactions.

Everyone will be affected by blockchain technology, said Tapscott.

“Maybe you’re one of the two billion people with no access to financial services. Now you will have a way to move store and manage your finances. Maybe you’re a bank executive trying to eliminate billions of back office expense and reduce risk to your business. Maybe you’re a regulator who wants better transparency and accountability in the system. Maybe you’re an über driver tired of giving up 20 percent and getting cut out of wealth creation, or a musician who wants to get fairly compensated for the value you create. These are but a few of dozens of applications for blockchain to transform financial services, the world of business, and society.”

The younger Tapscott is no stranger to business. Northwest Passage Ventures, of which he is president and CEO, is a consulting firm focused on early-stage high growth companies. The firm’s website states that it provides the tools, knowledge and deep industry connections to accelerate business growth and aims to partner with entrepreneurs who want to build great businesses that redefine a product, service or entire industry.

Who he is: Satoshi Nakamoto, inventor of Bitcoin

Satoshi Nakamoto (1)

No index on fintech influencers would be complete without the inventor of Bitcoin.

It’s rare to find a person who hasn’t heard of this cryptocurrency payment system, which is based on blockchain technology, but very little is known about Satoshi Nakamoto, the individual who published the Bitcoin protocol, titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System, in 2008.

The document outlined the details of a cryptocurrency payment system that would allow individuals to send and receive payments anonymously – without involving financial institutions.

Bitcoin uses computers all over the world to maintain a blockchain, and computers that participate are compensated with Bitcoins.

Nakamoto released the first version of the Bitcoin software client in 2009, but during that next year, he withdrew from the fintech scene.

The mystery surrounding this elusive individual is perhaps one of the most interesting things about Nakamoto. There is no personal information out there about Nakamoto, and there is even some debate about whether the name is really a pseudonym for one or several people. While over the years, people have attempted to learn the identity of Nakamoto through in-depth analysis of language used published works, individuals have always denied being the inventor of Bitcoin.

Who he is: Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum

Vitalik Buterin

Find him on Twitter: @VitalikButerin

He was the primary writer for Bitcoin Magazine in 2011, but for Russian-born and Canadian-raised Vitalik Buterin, it would only lead to bigger things.

Bitcoin sparked his interest in blockchain technology. At the time, Bitcoin was far in the lead as the world’s leading cryptocurrency, but things changed when Buterin founded Ethereum in November 2013.

Then only 19 years old, Buterin realized that he could create a Bitcoin-like network that could perform a broader range of tasks. Just as they can with Bitcoin, people can use the Ethereum network to make payments with ether (the network’s currency) to create binding financial agreements without involvement by banking establishments.

All data stored on the Ethereum blockchain is public and the programs can’t be modified by either party, so neither party has to trust the other.

The now-22-year-old won the World Technology Award for Ethereum, for which he remains chief scientist. Now worth more than $1 billion, Ethereum has a surge of interest from users, developers and is giving Bitcoin a run for its money.

Who he is: Sam Maule, director and senior practice lead of Digital and FinTech at NTT Data Consulting, Inc.

Sam Maule

Find him on Twitter: @sammaule

2015 was a big year for in-demand keynote speaker and blogger Sam Maule.

The director and senior practice lead of Digital and Fintech at NTT Data Consulting, Inc., Maule was named one of Bank Innovation’s Coolest Brands and one of the Top 10 Twitter Accounts that Innovators follow by LeadTail and BrightIdea.

Maule was also named one of FinTech’s Top 100 Influencers by Onalytica and one of The Financial Brand’s Top 25 FinServ Influencers.

“I really consider myself more of a curator of fintech solution providers and innovators, and not necessarily an innovator per se,” said Maule, who joined NTT Data Consulting, Inc. in 2011. He previously held management positions with TSYS in a number of consumer and commercial card roles.

Maule – whose specialities in emerging payments, innovation, programme and project management, client relationship management, training and facilitation have made him an active voice in the fintech social media space – said he was “at the right place at the right time” to witness the explosive growth of the London fintech scene.

“I’m naturally curious and began building out my network of fintech solution providers and thought leaders while I was working for TSYS out of their European office in York, England,” he said.

The convergence of multiple factors has led to the rapid growth of the fintech space, said Maule.

“These include the introduction and mass adoption of smartphones globally; the rapid advancements in big data analysis, AI, and machine learning; sensors literally everywhere and IoT; investment capital; and last but not least, changing consumer demands for transparency as a direct result of the financial market crash of 2008.”

Maule said one of the most exciting areas of change for B2B will be blockchain technology solutions (specific use case examples include smart contracts, payment transfers (hopefully the near elimination of paper checks), settlement and clearing.

“However, for me the greatest advancement in the past year or so has been the shift from a pure ‘disruption’ mode to one of ‘collaboration’ between the financial service incumbents and the new fintech solution providers,” he said. “I believe this is the optimal model for the growth of the fintech ecosystem.

Maule is also a member of the Breaking Banks radio podcast team, hosts the FinTech5 interview series for the show and is the creator behind the ongoing FemTechLeader program, a popular series of interviews with female engineers. Maule has helped to shine a spotlight on over 200 start-up founders from Google, Amazon, Twitter, Amex, DBS, Standard Charter, Lloyds and Stripe.

Who he is: William Mougayar, author The Business Blockchain

William Mougayar

Find him on Twitter: @wmougayar

After 34 years of tech industry experience as a venture advisor, investor, entrepreneur, marketer, strategist, mentor, speaker, thought leader and the founder of Startup Management, Toronto’s William Mougayar couldn’t get any more titles – until he did.

The newly-minted author of The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice and Application of the Next Internet Technology, Mougayar discusses a future with “frictionless value exchange” offering a “new flow of value, redefining roles, relationships, power and governance.”

In non-technical terms, Mougayar uses The Business Blockchain to allow technologists to better understand the business potential of the blockchain.

Mougayar predicts that in the not-so-distant future, blockchain technology will “permeate” our world and “create new companies and new services.” Thousands of blockchains that will enable not only frictionless value exchange, but also a new flow of value, redefining roles, relationships, power and governance.

Who she is: Christine Duhaime, Co- founder, Digital Finance Institute

Christine Duhaime

Find her on Twitter: @cduhaime

Lawyer Christine Duhaime is one of the co-founders and the executive director of the non-profit think-tank Digital Finance Institute (DFI), the only think-tank for Fintech.

Focusing on the intersection of fintech and law and digital currency regulations, Duhaime is a specialist in counter-terrorist financing and anti-money laundering law practice.

She is a Certified Financial Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Specialist and is also one of the only lawyers in the world with a combined practice in gambling law and anti-money laundering law. She has advised casinos, online gaming platforms, and social media entities on compliance with sports betting and wagering.

She has also advised on financial crime legal compliance, emerging financial regulatory areas and market regulation such as digital financial and e-money payment systems.

Who he is: Kris Hansen, Senior Principal, Financial Services, SAP

Kris Hansen

A senior principal with SAP’s financial services and a director at the Digital Finance Institute (DFI), Vancouver-based Kris Hansen is also the CEO of financial services technology innovation company Digital Payment Partners LLC.

With more than 15 years of experience in providing solutions for the financial services industry, Hansen has led successful core banking transformation projects, advised banks on financial services transformation and innovation and implemented IT solutions for growing financial services organizations throughout his career.

Prior to SAP, Hansen was a managing director at Axxiome Group, where he developed new models and technologies to help to transform the financial services industry.

Who he is: Stephen Wilson, Vice-President and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research, and Founder, Lockstep Consulting

Steve Wilson

Find him on Twitter: @steve_lockstep

A researcher, analyst, innovator and adviser in cyber security, digital identity and data privacy for more than 20 years, Stephen Wilson works on problems like maintaining online anonymity, identity fraud, payments, privacy engineering, and national identity frameworks. He is the inventor of several authentication technologies.

The digital privacy specialist founded the Lockstep Group in 2004, which provides businesses with advice on digital identity and privacy, and develops solutions to safeguard digital identity, enhance privacy and prevent fraud and identity theft.

At Constellation Research, Inc., where he is a vice-president and principal analyst, Wilson focuses on digital identity, privacy

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Tracey Tong

Tracey Tong

Tracey Tong is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years in newspapers and communications. She is a former managing editor at Metro News and has contributed stories on business, politics, technology, science, healthcare and the arts to dozens of publications all over North America. The Burlington native currently makes her home in Ottawa. Find her on Twitter @TraceyTong