SoFi, or Social Finance, was founded in 2011 by Mike Cagney, who has become the FinTech industry’s most prominent voice, a sort of radical sage of his own. He wields a master of science degree in management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and was once senior vice president at Wells Fargo. He is also co-founder of a hedge fund, which makes him the kind of guy who should be a Wall Street darling, or at least an apologist for the system he is seeking to replace.
The times, they are a-changing.
So crooned last generation’s wisest sage, a reluctant messiah for a new world emerging from the not-yet-settled dust of a crumbling system based on values headed out of fashion. That system, however, was still being financed by the world’s banks. But if SoFi has anything to do with it, those banks will be supplanted by a new system of financing for the new set of values. The writing is on the wall, but the ink may yet be invisible.
Cagney hasn’t been shy about his criticisms of banks, saying they are nothing more than a utility. He delights in pointing out how millennials don’t trust them. And he’s on a mission to take advantage of that unfortunate state.
Cross River Bank (CRB), with its cutting edge technology and state of the art platform, provides a world-class back-end infrastructure to fintech companies. It is trying to untangle the banking services for the fintech industry by providing services like loan approval, origination, and payments, but with a more simplistic-holistic approach. The company also executes direct lending in the tri-state area with a focus on commercial real estate.
We believe CRB’s next step will be the offering of depositor services to fintechs. This will allow online lenders to offer Certificates of Deposits in the 1%-3% range and lend that capital back out. This new service would allow online lenders to compete with banks on cost of capital, as well. It will revolutionize their business capabilities and will allow for faster growth and more flexibility in the cost of customer acquisition. Additionally, it will make fintechs more competitive with banks.
Of course, we expect regulators will need a long time before getting comfortable with this. In the meantime, we hope they’ll be willing to monitor and observe in order for all participants to understand the best way to regulate such a critical and important step for fintechs.