By @. Interview with John Waupsh Fintech author, speaker, builder
@Kasasa | Bankruption | Next Money Austin lead | Bank Innovation mentor. He is also theauthor of Bankruption, which we will be reviewing soon. We thought it might be interesting to talk to the man behind the book, available to buy here.
What’s your background briefly?
Marketing. Out of college, a few buddies of mine and I ran a fairly successful agency in Chicago. We did some great work. The talent in that shop was extraordinary.
Does it seem like a logical progression to what you do now?
In more ways than anyone cares to read, I’m sure. Simply: I have always been obsessed with creating better consumer experiences, and have been lucky enough to apply this to fintech since 2006, when I started FIRST ROI (which was later acquired by Kasasa).
— John Waupsh (@waupsh) November 22, 2016
What inspired you to write Bankruption?
Frustration. Disappointment. Fatigue. Despair. Mental health… I got to the point that if I read one more article or heard one more “industry expert” give a talk about the end of banks, I was going to go explode. At the same time, if I heard one more banker tell me they like the way they do things, and that they are doing just fine the way they’ve always done them, I was going to implode. The only cure was to write a book. The aptly-titled Bankruption is the result.
Do you feel that your suggestion, that community banking can survive fintech – is a minority view?
On the surface, it may come across a bit folksy and perhaps miscalculated, especially in the face of hype-filled press to the contrary, but my theory that community bankers can redefine themselves is rooted in actual data and case studies. As you read Bankruption, you’ll find that I do not believe that community banking is assured a future, either. No easy answers exist, but curious, brave, and open-minded bankers have the single best opportunity to adapt for tomorrow – assuming they start today.
In the book,in Chapter 4, Advice from others, many suggest the future may result in a more blended result, where leading tech innovators work with those banks that are able / interested in working together – what are your thoughts on this?
Since the 1950s, companies have supplied their fintech wares to banks – the suggestion of fintech-banking partnerships is nothing new. Until the last few years, however, you didn’t see these companies compete against financial institutions in the U.S. The barriers to entry were too high, American consumers would never have considered giving their money to an entity that didn’t have marble columns and huge safes, and convenience was defined by street corners…
Consumer expectation has changed, the competitive landscape has changed and, unbeknownst to many bankers over here, the chartering landscape is changing. Bankers should rely on fintech partners to drag them into the present, but technology alone will not help them cross the chasm – that’s the overall theme of Bankruption.
— John Waupsh (@waupsh) November 17, 2016
I am very thankful for my friendships with Jim and Brett, as well as many other industry thought leaders and builders. These are the people who inspire and push me to better my craft. To honor what they’ve given me through the years, I invited many of them to contribute to Bankruption, and they amazed me with their support.
And yet you position yourself as more of an outlier / outsider – would this be a fair observation, and if so, why?
I would think the opposite is true. For many in the industry, fintech and banking is a topic – something to analyze, comment on, speak on, write books on, do podcasts on, consult on, etc. I’m not slighting their efforts, but I’d argue (and they’d probably agree) that they are on the outside of the industry.
Then there are those who are the insiders – the people solving the problems: envisioning, testing, building and marketing the things that connect to the things that do the things that people use. To these insiders, fintech and banking is not a topic of conversation or a panel on stage, its their livelihood – it is all there is. Insiders don’t wax poetic when they see competitive solutions on a Keynote slide in front of an audience; they bleed internally.
I have been afforded the ability to work from the inside (helping create accounts and banking tools that are truly enjoyed by millions of people), to the outside (using that experience to write Bankruption, to speak at conferences, to write articles, etc). Best yet, I alternate between the two at will. It’s a load of fun, but is also what makes me seem unavailable at times. That said, if you need to find me, I’m just a tweet away. 🙂
How is the book doing, what responses have you had?
I expected community bankers to hate it and fintech executives to pass over it. Thankfully, I’ve received kind words from both sides. The most surprising response has been from bankers and entrepreneurs outside the United States.
Are there any areas you wish you had covered in more detail (second edition perhaps?) or things you’d like to add?
Yeah – I wish I had spent more time uncovering the evolution of community banking throughout the world.
At certain points the prose was more like fiction than fintech, is there a novelist hoping to come out?
Thank you for recognizing the more creative aspect of the book. I’m not sure if it’s a novelist hoping to come out or simply a cry from a disenchanted reader. In general, I have a hard time reading “business books”. (Which was a real problem, because that’s what the publisher asked me to write.)
In my opinion, typical business authors repeat themselves like 15 times, and so I usually lose interest rather quickly. The prose was my attempt at regaining the reader’s interest to show that I was moving on to a different theme. Funnily enough, it may have worked too well; people seem to remember and remark on the prose more than anything else in Bankruption. I am deeply flattered by that.