The Financial Technology Report is proud to announce and celebrate the exceptional women who are playing leading roles at the companies shaping the financial technology sector. The awardees of 2019 were selected based on a detailed review of their professional background and career accomplishments. Their positions range from Presidents and COOs to VPs and CEOs. These women are pivotal to a new dawn in fintech and the broader tech industry, paving the way for young women across the world, looking to follow in their footsteps. We congratulate the following accomplished individuals who embody the attributes of persistence, integrity and intelligence required to be named a Top 25 Woman Leader In Financial Technology.
September 27, 2019
1. Kahina Van Dyke, Ripple
Banking industry veteran and Facebook’s former global payments director became blockchain company, Ripple’s senior vice president of business and corporate development in 2018. Known for her experience with convincing banks to adopt innovative and once-radical technologies, Van Dyke has been instrumental to the upswing in banking apps and SMS communication. Her next goal? To get the financial industry comfortable with cryptocurrency. Ripple, which leverages the currency XRP in its products under Van Dyke also hopes to shake up the current model of international payment systems. While she continues plans to advance archaic financial structures, Van Dyke is also advocating for more black women to enter the fintech space. According to Van Dyke, “[Blockchain and crypto powered payments are] going to be the start of a massive efficiency in a system that just hasn’t had a lot of other options.”
2. Carla Ghosn, Visa
At Visa, their focus is on the future of payment technology and the person behind their most innovative ideas is Carla Ghosn. Before joining Visa, Ghosn founded fintech startup, MyCaal in an attempt to innovate the mortgage industry sector. But it was her focus on expansion into the mobile space at Marvell Semiconductor that outlines Gohsn’s futuristic harness on fintech. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering and an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Ghosn now heads business development for the Emerging Fintech vertical at Visa. Her penchant for digital modernization and passion for financial services and payments led her to the role. Focused on managing strategic partnerships through new programs and solutions that allow Visa’s partners to access global networks, Gohsn is instrumental to the company’s technological future.
3. Carey Kolaja, Au10TIX
With more than 25 years of diverse experience working with Fortune 500 companies and emerging startups, including financial services, product management, and emerging technologies, Carey Kolaja is an industry thought leader. This makes Au10TIX’s decision to acquire Kolaja to join as their President and Chief Operating Officer a no brainer. In her previous positions, as the Chief Product Officer at Citi FinTech, Kolaja was conducive to developing how Citibank creates and launches new customer products and experiences. Prior to Citi though, Kolaja worked as the Vice President, Global Consumer Products at PayPal, as the company experienced exponential global growth. She is a lucrative asset to AU10TIX, an identity verification company, whose recent triple-digit growth requires an industry leader to expertly service their customer base of global financial services companies and new economy standouts.
4. Kathryn Petralia, Kabbage
Most fintech companies are founded by tech-minded men living in Silicon Valley or New York, but Kathryn Petralia is not your typical fintech trailblazer. Boasting an English major, she resides in Atlanta, all while leading Kabbage which has a valuation of over $1 billion. While Petralia prefers to stay out of the spotlight she understands the importance of representation and hopes to inspire other women who want to do what she does. Fintech may have not been parts of Petralia’s initial career prospects, but she’s now spent close to 15 years working in the credit, payments and e-commerce industries. Covering a former glaring hole in the lending market, Kabbage focused on lines of credit up to $250,000; too small for major financial institutions and too big for personal loans for most business owners. Since their $1 billion valuation, Kabbage faces rivalry from PayPal, but Petralia isn’t fazed, announcing that they’ll launch a competitive payment service. In 2017, Petralia was recorded as one of Forbes’ 100 most powerful women, alongside Sheryl Sandberg and Oprah Winfrey.
5. Lucy Yueting Liu, Airwallex
In 2017, the media began noticing Lucy Yueting Liu. She is the co-founder of Airwallex, an acclaimed cross-border payment startup that has become one of the fastest-growing in the Asia Pacific region. Responsible for setting up the Shanghai office as well as building the Chinese branch of the company, Liu holds a Master’s Degree in finance from the University of Melbourne. While she established herself as an investment consultant at the China International Capital Corp (CICC), Liu is now accountable for ongoing business operations and client relationships at Airwallex. The company, which was created by a group of five friends, was to Liu “like starting a garage band together.” After seeing a gap in the market, “between the regional local banks and the international, institutional banks,” they decided they wanted to formulate a way “to help businesses expand globally with better FX and payment accountabilities,” says Lucy.
6. Rebeca Minguela, Clarity
Founder and CEO of Clarity, Rebecca Minguells helms a tech startup with a point of difference. Clarity is developing a universal framework and automated tool to rate companies with the aim to solve the problem of inefficient and unequal allocation of capital. And her advancements in fintech have not gone unnoticed. In 2017, she was the first winner of the ‘Women in Fintech’ prize at the BBVA Open Talent 2017 competition. Awarded for her “impressive career and great contributions to the advancement of fintech,” the Spanish entrepreneur took this moment to shine a spotlight not on her own achievements but on the advancements of other women. “We need more women in the tech and financial sector,” she announced. Currently, Clarity’s workforce is made up of 40 percent of female employees making the company integral to closing the gap in gender disparity in tech.
7. Diana Biggs, HSBC
As banks seek to improve their products and customer satisfaction they pin down digital heavyweights like Diana Briggs to make these profound departures from the norm. As a global consultant and entrepreneur with expertise in emerging technologies, financial services, and inclusive growth, Biggs has proven herself to be an asset to University College London’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies, Oliver Wyman Financial Services, and now at HSBC. Tapped as the Global Head of Digital Innovation, Biggs is charged with the oversight of all business model modernization projects. Recognized as a blockchain and emerging technologies expert, Biggs is changing HSBC’s image as a rigid and antiquated institution. She is passionate about empowering the disenfranchised with technology. And combining her interest in philanthropy, she actively promotes access and transparency to enable economic and financial inclusion.
8. Catherine Wines, WorldRemit
Determined to make transferring money across the world “as easy as sending texts,” Director and Co-Founder of WorldRemit, Catherine Wines has seen firsthand how technology has affected remittance. From their beginnings in 2010, Wines already set her sights on competing with Western Union and Moneygram. Now, as WorldRemit fast approaches unicorn status she’s set to achieve her once outlandish goals. The London startup that has focused on enabling well-priced, quick money transfers from migrant workers and immigrants living in developed countries back home, is valued at over $900 million as of June. A strong advocate for not only women in fintech, Wines is also a vocal supporter of female migrant workers in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Norway especially those who use remittance apps and services to send money to their families back home in developing nations like the Philippines, Nigeria, Ghana, Zimbabwe, and Kenya.
9. Eva Wong, Borrowell
Eva Wong went from having no experience in finance or tech to co-founding Borrowell, a startup created to assist Canadians with their credit. From free credit reports and scores to personalized financial recommendations for loans, credit cards, and debt, Borrowell marked itself early on for rapid growth. Empowering her customers has always been a top priority for Wong but recently she’s taken aim at empowering another group of people. Diversity and equality can easily remain a stagnant talking point so Wong made the decision to turn Borrowell’s gender workplace disparity on its head. The company took their team from an 80% male staff to an equal 50% split and they aren’t stopping there.
10. Amnah Ajmal, Mastercard
Beginning her career with Citibank working in consumer banking, Amnah Ajmal took the lead as part of a team in Egypt, UK, and Poland becoming the first in the market to launch contactless payments and instant transfers. Later, Ajmal lived in Singapore and then Malaysia while heading retail bank products and strategy for Standard Chartered Bank. “Customers don’t want to be treated like a number,” says Ajmal. “They want to be treated like a person.” This is the kind of personal touch Ajmal has brought to Mastercard since 2015, where she began as the Head of Consumer and Commercial Payments for the Middle East and Africa. Now based in New York, she is the Head of Products and Innovation for North America with a focus on leveraging new technologies to digitize the consumer experience, which she hopes to humanize.
11. Amy Nauiokas, Anthemis Group
Amy Nauiokas was making fintech investments for two years before she co-founded Anthemis Group in 2010. Having already held senior positions at Cantor Fitzgerald and Barclays, Nauiokas along with Sean Park know what they want to avoid. “Sean and I both came from big banks” to do something different, she says. Nauiokas is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Anthemis, a leading digital financial services investment firm, and Founder and CEO of Archer Gray, a media production, finance, and investment company. Touted as something of a visionary, she is never looking back but always to the future for the next big thing in fintech. And she has her sights set on home lending and small to medium-size enterprises, two areas that are yet to take full advantage of available technological advancements.
12. Anna Maj, PWC
Over the last 20 years, Anna Maj, fintech leader at PWC has seen the industry evolve, with more solutions and advances in technology than ever before. “I was one of the people standing behind the introduction of the first online payment gateway and internet banking for consumers in Central Europe,” says Maj. She cut her teeth in the banking and telecommunications circuit while working at Citigroup, T-Mobile, and as a consultant and advisor at PayTech. Maj then acquired a position as CEO of a leading Polish payment institution, PayTel, before finding herself at PWC. Responsible for building cooperation models between banks and fintech partners, with a focus on Open Banking and Conversational AI projects, Maj is considered to be one of the most influential industry thought leaders.
13. Cristina Junqueira, Nubank
Cristina Junqueira, the co-founder of Brazilian banking startup Nubank faces a distinctive challenge— her customers’ distrust of establishments. But she also used to feel the same way. “I worked for the largest incumbent bank in Brazil for five years, and I was just done making rich people richer,” says Junqueira. “I was trying to make a lot of changes to make consumers’ lives better and failing miserably at it. And at some point I was like, you know what, I’m done.” Nubank’s success hinges on Junqueira’s distinct understanding of Latin America, whose disruptive approach has struck a chord with Brazilians. According to Nubank, people in Brazil pay the highest fees and interest rates in the world, only to get the worst banking services. Junqueira values transparency, forthright communication, while treating every customer “like a person.” And her dedication has paid off. Nubank boasts more than 12 million customers and has a valuation of $10 billion, making it the largest digital banking startup in the world.
14. Megan Caywood, Barclays
Megan Caywood’s reputation preceded her in London’s fintech industry, leading Starling’s marketplace program and acting alongside Chief Executive Anne Boden. But it was her move to Barclays at the tail end of 2018 that saw the fintech innovator move to San Francisco. Her meteoric rise has culminated in Caywood becoming the Global Head of Digital Strategy at Barclays along with a slew of accolades, including being named on the prestigious Forbes 30 under 30 list. An in-demand industry leader, Caywood has set aim at advocating for women in fintech. “The fact is that there are still fewer women in tech positions, in senior positions, on boards, and female founders still have a tougher time raising venture capital… Simply wishing for greater equality won’t change that,” says Caywood. “We have to take a note from Anne Boden and be proactive about building diversity in our businesses, it won’t just magically happen because we want it to.”
15. Melinda Roylett, Square
Melinda Roylett is fresh off the back of joining Uber after leaving Square, the fintech startup founded by Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey. Responsible for growing the business across the UK and Europe, Roylett oversaw business development, partnerships, and strategy. Prior to this, she managed the Small and Medium Business segment across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa for PayPal for over 10 years. Spearheading their mobile in-store and app products, servicing and consumer checkout experiences, as well as the integration of Braintree Payments, Roylett was an integral part of PayPal’s success. Her recent move to Uber comes at a challenging time for the company, amid speculation it’s been struggling to secure a long-term license to operate in London. The fintech leader has much to contend with, as Uber’s general manager for the UK and Ireland, but if anyone’s up to the challenge it’s her.
16. Judith Erwin, Grasshopper Bank
Entrepreneur Judith Erwin, who was part of the founding team at Square 1 Bank is back, this time as CEO of the Grasshopper Bank in New York. The well-known business banking executive has raised over $130 million in capital from investors including Patriot Financial and T. Rowe Price Associates, commanding a substantial amount of attention for a new bank. With the advent of technological advancements and digital innovations, fintech faces the issue of data breaches, and this has become the crux of Grasshopper’s bottom line. “We are some of the most paranoid people you’ll meet,” says Erwin. “We assume the bad guys are trying to get in. We encrypt everything in movement, at rest and more importantly in use.” The digital-only bank has also taken further steps, doing its own penetration testing by deploying phishing as well as direct attacks on its network to ensure it’s secure. As data security becomes an increasing concern, this is a point of difference Erwin hopes to take Grasshopper into the future of banking.
17. Emma Loftus, JP Morgan
As a recognized expert with more than 25 years of cash management experience, Emma Loftus is a vital asset to retaining J.P. Morgan’s position as a leader in the industry. Spanning a career of senior product management and operations management positions at Citibank and Deutsche Bank, Loftus now sets her aim at innovating cross-border payments. “What we were looking at with cross-border payments were areas of friction where we could apply blockchain technology to help expedite and eliminate that friction in payments,” says Loftus. While most incumbent banks are resistant to blockchain technology, Loftus is spearheading its implementation. “What we were trying to prove is ‘does it speed things up?’. You would think if the technology actually works that would be a better experience for everyone. And we’ve proven it.”
18. Peggy Alford, Paypal
Peggy Alford is, in the words of Mark Zuckerberg “one of those rare people who’s an expert across many different areas.” The Silicon Valley veteran has held executive positions at eBay and Rent.com as well as being the CFO for Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a philanthropic organization founded by Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. In April, Alford made headlines, as she prepared to become the first black woman to sit on Facebook’s board of directors, all while she serves as the senior vice president of core markets at PayPal. Leading PayPal’s commercial teams in their largest and most established markets across North America, UK, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Australia, Alford is instrumental to the company’s global sales operations and merchant support teams. And to round it all off, Alford is also on the Black Enterprise 2018 Registry of Corporate Directors for her role as a member of the board of The Macerich Co, a real estate investment trust.
19. Julie Loeger, Discover Financial
With more than 25 years at Discover Financial Services, Julie Loeger has quickly risen to the rank of Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. Loeger joined Discover in 1991, spanning positions in Rewards, Portfolio Marketing, and Product Development. But it’s her forward-thinking developments that have positioned Loeger as an industry thought leader. Leading the team that developed and launched large scale advancements, including their revered 5% Cashback Rewards Program, Loeger has also helmed the national rollout of the company’s flagship platform, Discover It and their It Miles Card. Loeger gained experience in the industry through various roles at Anheuser Busch, Inc but it’s her long-term dedication to Discover and intimate knowledge with their brand that has made her an indispensable part of the team.
20. Bora Chung, Bill.com
At the beginning of 2019, Bora Chung joined Bill.com as Senior Vice President of Product. Bringing her expertise from roles at eBay, Apple, and Paypal, Chung was acquired to drive the company’s product strategy and to spearhead user experience innovation. The experienced fintech product executive previously held the position of Chief Product Officer at eBay Korea; at eBay she served as the VP of Payments and VP of New Product Development. Prior to that, in her role as a Director at Apple, she emphasized emerging market growth leading Worldwide Payments and Financing Programs for online stores and gift card initiatives. Using her breadth of experience and globally-minded tactics, Chung continues to master an ongoing predicament in fintech; making complex online transactions simple, frictionless, and easy.
21. Jennifer Fitzgerald, Policygenius
When Jennifer Fitzgerald and Francois de Lame co-founded Policygenius in 2014, they wanted to make it easy for consumers to get the insurance they need while feeling empowered and educated. Today, the independent online insurance marketplace makes it easier than ever for people to get the coverage they need. CEO and co-founder, Fitzgerald is lauded for her commitment to transforming the world of fintech. The New York startup now has over $50 million in financing, but landing investors was an uphill battle marred with sexism. “There was one meeting where the investor would keep asking questions directed at my co-founder. I would answer it… and then the investor would direct his followup back to Francois. That kept on happening,” says Fitzgerald. “I was wondering, ‘What’s going on?’ Then I realized, ‘Oh, s**t. It’s because I’m a woman.’” Fitzgerald and Francois didn’t fold, and instead found an investor who understood their bottom line and worked with them to help create what is now the nation’s leading online insurance marketplace.
22. Kim Goodman, Fiserv
In 2018, Kim Goodman left her position as CEO at Worldpay US to become president of the card services division at Fiserv. The accomplished senior financial services and technology executive leader, Goodman brings more than 25 years of experience in payments, software, and business innovation. Holding a variety of leadership roles, spanning Dell and American Express, it was Fiserv’s clients and opportunity that attracted Goodman to leave Worldplay. Overseeing the payments and ATM services, including credit and debit processing, she sees huge potential for the advancement of Fiserv’s organic technology base. This year, Black Enterprise named Goodman as one of the Most Powerful Women in Corporate America. “Kim is helping Fiserv advance the mission of our clients by strengthening the bond of customer relationships through innovative payments technology at the speed of life,” says Jeffery Yabuki, President and Chief Executive Officer, Fiserv.
23. Alyssa Cutright, eBay
After spending 12 years at PayPal in a variety of critical roles in Core Payments, Risk Management, and Financial Services, Alyssa Cutright joined eBay as their Vice President of Global Payments in 2016. Previously, she led payments startup Plastiq’s overall operations, directed international expansion for Square, and gained her initial experience with 10 years at Wells Fargo Bank. Since joining eBay, Cutright has shaken up the company’s payment processes to stay au courant with the online buying preferences of millennials and Gen Z. While PayPal has remained the platform’s main payment method, the implementation of ApplyPay and Google Pay “is another significant step toward providing our customers with more choice in their payment options, and creating an experience that is tailored to personal preferences,” says Cutright. This expansion of eBay’s payment methods is just the beginning of Cutright’s innovative reign.
24. Nicole Jass, Worldpay
As the Senior Vice President of integrated payments, data and fraud products at Worldpay, Nicole Jass leads the development and strategy for all data products. Jass’s main goal at Wordplay is to educate and help clients better understand their customers by prioritizing relationships. A global leader in integrated omni-commerce payments, Wordplay processes more than 40 billion credit and debit card transactions annually. Merchants “aren’t asking for data dropped off on their doorstep, says Jass. “They want to know more about their customers: how they’re shopping in the store and out of the store, what trends are shaping up, how online behavior and mobile wallet behavior are shifting.” Her dedication to good data and using it with intention brings a level of understanding most tech companies only dream of. “Data is fuel; it’s not the end goal,” Jass added. “The end goal is to better understand consumers.”
25. Gina Taylor, American Express
SVP and General Manager of Global Business Financing for Global Commercial Service at American Express, Gina Taylor focuses on serving businesses with commercial payments. Dedicating her time to serving small businesses by building solutions that provide them access to capital, Taylor has been instrumental in bringing some of these new offerings to the market. As a seasoned lending expert, Taylor has headed a number of American Express teams overseeing various aspects of the company’s lending business. “We created our Business Loans product so that our customers can get the best of both worlds – an easy digital experience typically found with online lenders, but with competitive rates and the security and service that American Express is known for,” says Taylor. Using her intimate knowledge of American Express, Taylor stands to propel the company into the future with a firm grasp of innovative technologies that will empower small businesses across the globe.