Fintech Explained sat down with Mike Cagney, Chief Executive Officer of Figure. We chatted about his company’s mission to reinvent financial services with blockchain, Figure’s biggest regulatory challenge in Washington, and his #1 advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Q: Tell us about Figure’s mission and how you’re using technology to transform financial services for the better.
Our mission is to utilize blockchain technology to reinvent the financial services industry.
Two things that we can do to improve the industry for the better are the ability to displace trust with truth, so you have certainty as to what it is you’re transacting to, and the ability to bilaterally transact without any intermediation, without counterparty risk or settlement risk. When you bring these things together, you create marketplaces where you become completely agnostic about who the counterparty is to that marketplace. This has massive ramifications for intermediated markets in financial services, like equity trading, interchange and loan markets.
Q: How does Figure expand access to responsible financial services, especially for people who may have thin credit files?
Figure is working with partners like ReadyLife to deliver mortgages relying on rental history versus credit files. By capturing rental payments through blockchain, Figure reduces interchange expenses to landlords while providing a path for homeownership for renters.
Q: Can you share a customer success story or data point that you’re particularly proud of?
We get countless notes through our “Ask Our CEO” email about the ease and efficiency of our HELOC program. My favorites are where people were able to pay down high-priced credit card debt, but I’ve enjoyed the stories of kitchen remodels and college tuition, as well.
Q: What are the biggest regulatory challenges you face and how would resolving these challenges unleash greater innovation?
The biggest challenge across the board is education. Too often, the entire crypto and blockchain ecosystem is perceived as a one-size-fits-all type approach. There are too many examples of poorly designed and predatory type products that have cast an unfortunate shadow on the entire industry. We need to do a better job educating regulators, the existing industry, and consumers about the companies that are building in the right way that will benefit consumers and advance the industry.
Q: As a successful entrepreneur yourself, what advice do you have for people aspiring to start a career in fintech?
Be obtuse enough to not listen to people telling you what you can’t do, but not so obtuse that your first efforts are building flying cars.