The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis visited the Venture Center Nov. 30 to learn about the state of startups and FinTech in Arkansas. Attendees included St. Louis Fed President James Bullard; St. Louis Fed’s Little Rock Board of Directors Chairman Ray Dillon; Kevin Henry, an assistant vice president in the St. Louis Fed’s Supervision division; and Robert Hopkins, senior vice president and regional executive of the St. Louis Fed’s Little Rock Branch. Much of the discussion focused on the success and results of the Venture Center’s FinTech Accelerator.
President Bullard regularly conducts community outreach in the Eighth District, including discussions with constituents in the finance and banking sector. While at the Venture Center, President Bullard discussed the knowledge and technology emerging from the VC FinTech Accelerator and learned more about challenges facing financial institutions, including regulatory compliance, disruptive innovation and technology, changing consumer demands and lack of financial literacy.
VC FinTech alumni Maf Sonko, founder and CEO of LumoXchange, and Susi Barakat, cofounder and CEO of eGiftify, shared how their companies enable financial institutions to embrace disruption in the industry to satisfy regulatory and consumer demands. President Bullard provided details on two initiatives of the Fed: improving the U.S. payments system and increasing Americans’ financial literacy.
Wayne Miller, managing director of the VC FinTech Accelerator, talked about the rapid success of the VC FinTech Accelerator, which is currently accepting applications for its third cohort of companies. In 2017, the program doubled the number of applications received with a total of 295 applications coming from 40 countries. Currently, the accelerator is on track receive even more applications for 2018.
“We were honored to have President Bullard, his team and our local board members here at the Venture Center for the recent visit,” Miller said. “Regulatory and compliance issues are one of the most significant challenges for early-stage companies to overcome. It is truly exciting to see how the Federal Reserve is addressing these issues and leveraging its resources on a national basis to help develop solutions for these challenges.”
Lee Watson, president and CEO of the Venture Center, highlighted the economic impact the Venture Center has had on Central Arkansas such as the creation of 445 jobs, $28 million revenue generated and $39 million in capital raised by member companies.
Early-stage FinTech startups with emerging-technology solutions in fields such as core banking services, wealth management, back office, compliance, payments are encouraged to apply for the 2018 VC FinTech Accelerator. Applications opened Sept. 20, 2017 and the deadline is February 10, 2018.