March 23, 2021
Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg/Getty Images
Hello and welcome to Protocol | Fintech! This Tuesday: Visa's new antitrust woes, a drop in home sales and a key Google executive's departure.
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The Department of Justice's antitrust division is investigating how Visa is routing merchants' debit-card transactions, the WSJ reports. The key question: whether it is limiting the ability for merchants to send them over cheaper card networks.
A wrench in the money machine. Any major changes to interchange fees would reverberate throughout the payments world. Interchange fees, which merchants generally pay and build into the prices consumers pay for goods and services, power a number of financial startups' business models.
Washington is watching. Some in Congress are also interested in card networks.
The regulatory environment is clearly changing. Visa is facing scrutiny on other fronts.
Most believe the pandemic-accelerated shift to ecommerce and touchless transactions is here to stay. That's been good for anyone who relies on interchange fees. But investors and startup founders might want to reexamine assumptions built on those fees only rising.
Protocol's Joe Williams sits down with Honeywell CEO Darius Adamczyk for a discussion on his influential leadership of the industrial icon and what's next in the company's digital overhaul.
Personal Capital is an online wealth management company. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
What do you think is the most exciting fintech trend?
I love that consumers are really, really finding sustained value in life hacking, from uses of technology and data to improve their outcomes. This is exciting to me because the reality is, if you look over the last decade or so, the majority of U.S. consumers don't have a big-picture game plan. We commissioned a big Harris poll that revealed that over half of American investors are planning to speak to a financial advisor this year. That's really a tectonic shift in that trend. And I think that's great progress.
What fintech trend is most troubling for you?
What I'm most troubled by is I do see an outcropping of fintechs that are popping up and they're hiding under the guise of the democratization of finance, right? I would say they're using a lot of the old-school tactics. They're just new wolves in sheep's clothing.
What has been your biggest professional blunder and what did you learn from it?
My first job was to sell credit cards. I was an intern, I didn't know anything. It was kind of the Wild West. So I was actually pretty good at selling the benefits and compelling people to take it on. I didn't realize the damage that was being created. These credit cards had no grace period. You were instantly incurring a really, really high APR and interest rate.
I thought I was doing something exciting and I thought it was successful, selling a product, something that I was instructed to do. But once I actually saw what I was creating, that's the kind of thing where you go home and you think really long and hard. I didn't unpack that for a while. This is 30-plus years ago for me, right, but it stuck with me.
Thanks for reading — see you Friday.