LEADING LADY IN FINTECH
What's your story? What drew you to FinTech?
I started my career as a designer, taking a product and building out its look and feel. However, it was not until I started working as a software developer that I was really drawn into tech work; it feels so great to build things that alleviate friction for people every day. After my career grew a little, I started investing my own money and realized multiple pain points for the average investor. This also happened to be when FinTech was becoming more prevalent in Toronto’s tech scene. I tried out many apps, hoping that it would fit my personal needs. Eventually, I started to think it would be fun to work on some of these products. I loved how startups were starting to address the financial industry. They’re not content with the status quo. FinTech companies are willing to shake things up for the betterment of their users, the community, and the financial industry. That is something where my personal beliefs fall in line with as well. I had been using Coinsquare as a user and I loved the direction the company was heading. When I saw they were expanding, an opportunity lined up where I could help take the experience to the next level. I had a major opportunity to build a product that really resonated with me and in a position that was aligned with my career. Joining Coinsquare was not a hard choice since it gave me an opportunity to disrupt the financial world and is a workplace where I can show my full passion.
What makes FinTech an exciting area to build your career in?
The challenges are extremely exciting because of how unique they are! You have to solve problems that allow you to innovate but also keep you confined within constraints. You cannot just implement existing design solutions based on industry standards because the problems in FinTech are very complex. This causes you to keep challenging yourself.
What do you think are some of the most exciting FinTech trends likely to influence the Financial Services industry?
Of course, one of the most exciting trends that is already having a massive influence on the financial services industry is blockchain. Multiple studies from global firms like Deloitte are talking about how blockchain technology could drastically reduce costs and increase efficiencies when it comes to moving money around the world, for everyone from big global banks to the new Canadian sending money to family. Another exciting trend is increasing demand from users to see value at every step. Customers no longer are satisfied with the existing financial industry. They want better service, faster turnaround times, and more flexibility, all of which can be provided by technology. Knowing this, having technology that is more user-centric will influence the Financial Services industry.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your job function and the main problem that your company is trying to solve?
My role at the company is to drive the design vision, from brand to product. I have an amazing design team that I work closely with. We get to collaborate with every department at Coinsquare as we build a secure and safe experience for people to buy cryptocurrencies. Coinsquare is working to make sure that everyone has safe and easy access to the cryptocurrency markets. Our vision to build a21st century financial institution powered by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. If you think of all the offerings that a financial institution has today - like the big 5 banks or other investment firms - our vision is to build similar offerings based in cryptocurrency. For instance, we already have an investment platform where you can buy cryptocurrency. We have a Wealth offering for high net worth individuals. And we have a capital markets division so that institutions and big money can buy crypto in large quantities.
What is essential to ensuring FinTech companies attain gender equality?
The question of gender equality in the workplace stretches far beyond FinTech, so much of the advice that works in other industries will work here too. I believe companies should be actively looking in networks for women and people of color for roles up and down the organization - sometimes they may not put their hand up even if they are incredibly qualified, so companies shouldn’t assume that a lack of applications means a lack of qualified candidates. Companies should also work to grow existing employees and provide them with the opportunity to lead. Further, companies should work on creating an environment that doesn’t hold people - on purpose or by accident - in low-scale action items like booking meetings or coordinating an event. These tasks are important, but too often we see qualified people stuck in dead-end roles with limited growth potential. Making this change, either through professional development or horizontal ‘promotions’, helps to widen the net of potential candidates for senior roles later on. It’s really common to hear about tech companies poaching great talent from another organization. Why not work hard to widen the pool of talent from within?
What needs to be true for Canadian startups to be able to scale globally?
When it comes to FinTech, I think the necessary factor for Canadian startups is that we really need to understand the different ways users interact with financial products around the world. Each country has a unique culture, attitude towards money, and feeling from citizens about how money should be interacted with. This doesn’t mean we should avoid certain countries, but instead be aware of how they interact with money and make sure our products and user experiences help them in the way they are used to. But there’s also the technological side to consider. Some developing countries, for instance, may not have the tech infrastructure foundations we have here in Canada but can use crypto to help accomplish their tasks financially. This presents a huge opportunity for an organization like Coinsquare, but at the same time, we have to be aware of what technology they have access to in order to leverage cryptocurrency in the first place. For example, developing countries may lack bank infrastructure but have more powerful mobile networks than some developed nations. The question for anyone wanting to operate in that country becomes how our product can solve their problems in the way they operate, rather than having a blanket solution for each culture.
If you did not need to sleep, how would you spend the extra eight hours a day?
I already don’t sleep very much, to be honest! With the extra time, I would be spending more time with my partner and friends, a few more weekend trips, and working on the various passion projects I have on the go. I might also pick drawing back up, just for personal fun.
In Stephanie Nguyen's own words, exclusively for LADIES iN FINTECH.
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