The world of finance is undergoing a profound transformation, driven by technological advancements that are reshaping the way we manage and interact with money. One event that has been at the forefront of exploring these changes is DC Fintech Week, an annual gathering that brings together thought leaders, regulators, entrepreneurs, and technologists to engage in meaningful dialogue about the future of finance. While not a mega conference in technology, nor a widely publicized one, every year it delivers what many people see as the most influential forum for fintech policy anywhere in the United States. In this post, we take a closer look.
Democratizing Information: DC Fintech Week in a Nutshell
Since its inception on the campus of Georgetown University Law Center in 2017, DC Fintech Week has had a straightforward but powerful objective: to democratize information. In an era where financial services are becoming increasingly digital and complex, this event strives to ensure that everyone, from nonprofits and technologists to entrepreneurs and regulators, has access to the knowledge needed to navigate the evolving landscape of finance.
The event, which will be held on Nov. 6-8, 2023, promises to be more exciting than ever, with Dr. Chris Brummer, a distinguished figure in the world of financial technology, at the helm. Topics range from crowdfunding and online lending to cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity, generative artificial intelligence, and open banking. What sets this event apart is its unique participation from around Washington’s power centers — it’s one of the few panels open to the public where top government officials from around the world engage in dialogue with industry, think tanks and experts from various fields, transcending national boundaries and subject matter.
DC Fintech Week 2023: A Glimpse of What’s to Come
Set against the backdrop of Fannie Mae’s Midtown Center and the International Spy Museum, DC Fintech Week 2023 promises a unique and immersive journey into the intricate world of fintech. On the first day of the event, a small boot camp for practitioners and regulators will be hosted at the Georgetown University Law Center, offering a comprehensive exploration of fintech’s regulatory landscape.
“We’re looking forward to providing another unparalleled opportunity for the Washington DC community, and the world, to hear from the most pivotal people in finance, technology, and government,” Dr. Chris Brummer shared. “Moreover, this year, we’ll be focusing on not only payments and banking, but also diving head first into the latest developments in Generative AI, and what that means for finance and technology.”
A Look Back at 2022: Notable Panels and Speakers
To understand the significance of DC Fintech Week 2023, it’s worth reflecting on the highlights of the 2022 edition. Last year, the prestigious event featured fascinating panels and esteemed speakers who dissected an exciting range of fintech issues.
The event opened with a policy address by acting comptroller of the currency, Michael Hsu, who voiced his concerns regarding cryptocurrencies and crypto startups. He set the tone by opening with, “A lot has happened in the crypto space since last year’s conference. Back then, the crypto industry seemed unstoppable. Financial regulators were working to keep up with the pace of change. On some days, it felt like the primary risk facing us was the risk of being left behind. Today, things are different.”
This address was followed by a panel featuring Jeremy D. Allaire, CEO of Circle; Hyun Song Shin, head of research at the Bank for International Settlements; and Sheila Warren, CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation.
One particularly intriguing panel titled “What’s Next for Blockchains (And What Shouldn’t Be)?” invited luminaries such as Charles Hoskinson, CEO and founder of Input Output Global Inc. and Cardano (and co-founder of Ethereum); Stani Kulechov, founder and CEO of Aave; and Kevin Sekniqi, chief operating officer at Ava Labs. They ruminated on the future of blockchain technology, a topic that continues to shape the financial landscape today.
The second day of the event saw stimulating conversations with Gordon Liao, chief economist at Circle; Doug Duncan, SVP and chief economist at Fannie Mae; and Cindy Li, fintech risk and policy lead, supervision and credit division from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. They explored the state of the fintech and housing economies, shedding light on the intersections of these crucial sectors.
This year the conference appears to have the same stellar lineup. Speakers this year are slated to include SEC Chairman Gensler, CFTC Chairman Russ Behnam, Acting Comptroller Mike Hsu, Vice Chair of the Fed Michael Barr, Assistant Director of National Intelligence Casey, Congressmen French Hill and Wiley Nickel, DFS Superintendent Adrienne Harris, Treasury Undersecretary Nelly Liang and many others from industry.
An Academic Policy Wonk
Behind the success of DC Fintech Week is Dr. Chris Brummer, the Agnes Williams Sesquicentennial Professorship in Financial Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center. His academic credentials come from central casting for Georgetown: Brummer graduated summa cum laude from Washington University in St. Louis, earned a J.D. with honors from Columbia Law School, and obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. And his research, writing, and teaching have garnered recognition and praise and has been featured in prestigious media such as The New York Times, CNN, Marketwatch, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Yahoo Money, CoinDesk, and more.
But Brummer is extremely practical, with a background reflecting the kinds of activities of senior policymakers and industry professionals. He’s served as a member of various committees and organizations related to financial regulation, including the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Subcommittee on Virtual Currencies and the Consultative Working Group for the European Securities and Markets Authority’s Financial Innovation Standing Committee. Additionally, he completed a three-year term as a member of the National Adjudicatory Council of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, where his contributions to investor protection were highly regarded. In recent years, Dr. Chris Brummer played a crucial role as a member of the Biden-Harris transition team.
He’s also had various roles in the private sector, having served on the boards of Fannie Mae, as well as K2 Integrity. He has also advised senior players in the crypto industry from PayPal to Paradigm. He also has a stealth project that he is working on, which he is calling “Bluprynt.”
A key point of emphasis of the conference, and Dr. Chris Brummer’s work, is the promotion of financial inclusion. The conference’s focus on the issue has long spanned the history of its annual programming, which has included sessions built on an ongoing assessment of how technology can assist rural and community banks. And not surprisingly, Brummer’s views have been sought from players across government, where Brummer has served as a keynote speaker at the SEC, OCC, and other agencies. This year the focus appears to be no less muted, with sessions devoted to both disclosure and the role of AI in community banks.