Big Data and FinTech. Q&A with Chris Selland
Q1. How does Big Data relates to FinTech?
Well first of all, DipJar’s business is growing rapidly – we grew more than 50% overall last year and transactions through our platform were up more than 90% – and year-to-date in 2019 we’re up triple digits. We’re generating more and more transactions and data through our network – so our data is getting “bigger” by the day. Like any fast-growing business we need to manage that growth.
Of course, we’re in a society that’s going increasingly cashless – as a matter of fact we often describe what we do at DipJar as enabling “cashless generosity”. This raises the question though – in a cashless world – what exactly is money? The answer is – it’s data! So there’s a direct relationship between data and money. In my past “Big Data” days we often spoke about how data = money, but the inverse of that equation is also true money = data.
Traditional financial institutions are having a tough time keeping up with the pace of change, so “FinTech” companies like ours are pushing the envelope in terms of what’s possible. At the same time, since security and trust are obviously paramount when your data is your customers’ money, data management best practices are paramount. And also having the right partnerships – we have been working extensively with some of the more established and trusted names such as WorldPay & Visa to create new offerings together, and have some exciting new partnerships in the pipeline we’ll be announcing over the coming months..
Q2. What role is money going to play in an increasingly cashless society?
It will play the same role it always has – as an exchange of – or in our case a delivery of – economic value. But the form will continue to evolve – the use of physical forms of money such as paper notes and metal coins will continue to decline. We’re already seeing efforts to eliminate cash altogether, if you’ve flown recently you know that airlines rarely accept cash in flight anymore, and there more cashless stores and other venues – for instance our partners at Visa helped make the most recent Super Bowl cashless. So “money” still exists conceptually but physically it’s going away – quickly.
Cashless presents an opportunity but also some major challenges for our customers, which are primarily non-profits who use our products and services to drive donations. There is a huge psychological and emotional factor when it comes to giving – there have been numerous studies that prove that charitable efforts are much more successful when they are more visible – the more people see others giving, the more likely they are to give themselves. So it’s very important to make cashless fundraising efforts highly visible – the traditional “tipjar” that we had seen on counters in the past played a financial role but it also played a psychological role in driving more giving.
Q3. What is DipJar?
The DipJar itself is a device that was initially developed to replace the aforementioned tipjar and extend the ability to tip – to the barista, the bartender, etc… – from bills & coins to credit cards. That’s where our name came from – and we do still have some customers who use us for tips, but as the market has evolved these past few years we’ve discovered a market with even bigger needs – the nonprofit market, which not many people realize is a trillion dollar sector of the US economy alone.
We’ve sold a lot of DipJars – we now have more than 4000 customers – but we also provide more than just devices – we’ve got a network and a suite of services to help our customers be more successful. For instance, a few months ago we rolled out a new offering called DipCast which displays what our customers are collecting through their DipJars on larger screens – in other words we “cast” the donations – which increases the visibility and success of their efforts. We’ve worked with a number of fundraisers recently which in prior years had collected thousands of dollars through their DipJars – and now by adding DipCast they’re collecting of thousands – just by making their donations more visible.
Q4. How DipJar is different than other fundraisers-platforms?
Since we focus on giving – we have designed our products and services to be highly engaging – many of our customers even describe DipJar as “fun”. You can see it yourself by checking out the many customer videos on our website ( www.dipjar.com) – you’ll see lots of smiles and people really enjoying themselves. That’s our secret sauce – there are lots of ways to “transact” but very few that engage like we do. And by being more engaging, our customers are more successful.
We’re also very fast – because we focus on giving transactions which are basically one-way transactions – we do them very well and very quickly. There’s nothing that will turn off a potential donor more quickly than having to wait in line to give – yet with many other platforms, particularly more traditional point of sale (POS) devices – that’s exactly what happens.
Qx Anything else you wish to add?
One of the most special things about our business is the mission – it’s incredibly rewarding to be helping non-profits further their causes. The world we live in is evolving so rapidly and people are looking for a way not just to make money but also make a difference. I really believe we’re helping do both – and I think the other members of the DipJar team would certainly agree with that.
Chris Selland joined DipJar, a Boston-based FinTech provider, as CEO in November 2018. Before joining DipJar, he had an extensive background in Big Data – most recently as VP of Alliances & Corporate Development for Unifi Software, and prior that as VP of Marketing, Alliances & OEM Sales for Vertica and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise’s Big Data business units.