Jan 08, 2024

The Fintech 5 with Elizabeth Thomas – Program Director for Mass. Fintech Hub

The Fintech 5 is a series of blog posts consisting of questions and answers designed to help you get to know the people behind Fintech Sandbox and our Data Access Residency better.

Mass Fintech Hub is a public-private partnership comprising a network of fintech leaders, financial experts, academics, public sector leaders and venture capitalists who empower Massachusetts fintech startups to achieve success. It is an initiative under the Fintech Sandbox umbrella. Elizabeth Thomas joined as Program Director in 2022. Before this she worked in economic development with a focus helping fintech and tech companies scale internationally.

Elizabeth Thomas, Mass Fintech Hub Program Director

Question #1: What is your role with Fintech Sandbox?

Mass Fintech Hub Program Director.

#2: What fintech problem/solution are you focused on or most interested in?

My fintech passion is fintech as a solution for improving consumer financial health. I am thrilled when I learn about a solution tackling common problems such as financial literacy, consumer debt reduction, and credit building from a completely new angle.

In January, I will lead a virtual workshop introducing fintech as a vehicle for improved financial health as part of the Massachusetts Office of Economic Empowerment’s Worth & Wealth Seminars. You can learn more about the workshop here.

#3: What trends in fintech are you most excited about?

I am excited about the increasing fintech adoption and acceleration across industries. What was once a niche vertical is becoming a horizontal category. To quote Fintech Sandbox founder Sarah Biller, “Every company is becoming a fintech company”.

In the last few years, we saw new entrants into fintech from tech giants like Amazon and Google. Now we are seeing embedded finance solutions increasing across industries and platforms. More fintech opportunities will continue to reduce friction, time, and costs and increase benefits for the consumer.

#4: If you could change one thing about the fintech ecosystem, what would it be and why?

Our work at the Mass Fintech Hub is focused on accelerating the Massachusetts fintech ecosystem. We are working to unlock capital for new startups, increase corporate-startup collaboration, increase talent in the ecosystem, and enhance the visibility of the great things already going on in our ecosystem.

If I were to pick one thing to change, it would be to continue to increase opportunities for connections across the ecosystem in support of these goals. In November we released an Ecosystem Reassessment report in partnership with Mass Tech Collaborative authored by KPMG that surveyed the ecosystem to help us find ways to do just that. You can join our growing community and learn how to get involved here.

#5: Hot take! What are your thoughts on AI in the industry? Are we about to see a major transformation beyond chatbots? Is fintech the key to unlocking AI at scale for financial services?

At Fintech Sandbox we interview up to 6 fintech startups a week for the Data Access Residency program. In the last year, the number of startups we have seen with AI tools increasing efficiency, supporting decision-making and customer interaction in financial services has increased exponentially. We have a ways to go, but we are certainly on the brink of an exciting change in the industry.

Bonus Question! What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently? 

I’m currently reading the Four Agreements, based on ancient Toltec wisdom and philosophy. My sister had recommended it and in an exciting coincidence,  I subsequently came across it in a little free library stand around the corner from my house. Was it fate?  I find it intriguing to learn how different cultures deal with common philosophical questions about how to live a happy and fulfilled life. And I love the metaphor introduced in the book of every person existing in their own dream that they have the power to change through simple actions.

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