The ‘Olivia Pope’ Of Silicon Valley

The FinTech community is closely watching the latest developments within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Recently, Kathy Kraninger was nominated as Director of the CFPB and, if confirmed, she will succeed acting Director Mike Mulvaney, who previously attacked the Bureau’s very existence and has worked to change policies and cut budget since taking the helm in November 2017.

As a refresher, the CFPB was put in place through the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, following the 2008 financial crisis. The Bureau is tasked with protecting consumers from abuse by the financial industry, and can do so by punishing wrongdoers. Most recently, the CFPB fined Wells Fargo $1 billion for the bank’s widely criticized transgressions.

Because of the Bureau’s power, financial institutions and FinTech companies must keep a close eye on changes in leadership and policy to ensure they are not at risk of penalty.

“The CFPB plays a really important role in the supervision and regulation of operations of a FinTech company,” says Jotaka Eaddy. “All consumer lending, and pretty much any FinTech that focuses on the consumer, will fall under direct supervision of the CFPB and other regulators.”

Jotaka Eaddy, once described as the “Olivia Pope of Silicon Valley,” is the VP of Policy, Strategic Engagement, and Impact at LendUp, a mission-driven FinTech company that considers itself an alternative to predatory payday loans.

In her role, Eaddy bridges the gap between policymakers at the federal level, engaging with agencies such as the CFPB, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Reserve, and others. She also leads stakeholder engagement, forging relationships and uncovering partnership opportunities with national consumer advocate organizations, researchers and influencers in the area of financial health, union leaders, and more.

One such partnership Eaddy is particularly proud of is a national initiative called Finance Forward. After learning through focus groups that 70% of LendUp’s customers experience income volatility each month, she met with Joanna Smith-Ramani, Managing Director of the Aspen Institute’s Financial Security Program. After a quick coffee meeting turned into more than two hours of conversation, Eaddy and Smith-Ramani came up with the idea to combine each of their recent research and have a national dialogue. They brought in mayors from across the country and went on a road show holding forums with communities, bringing together local employers, business leaders, nonprofit leaders and others to dive in and talk about solutions.

In addition to her policy duties, Eaddy leads the effort to execute and measure the company’s social impact initiatives. Under her leadership, LendUp has delivered 1.8 million education courses for free and saved customers $200 million in interest and fees that they would have paid to predatory lenders.

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