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FinTech Female Fridays: Petal

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

This week we are partnering with Petal to feature six women from Petal: Vivian Jiang, Serra Kazanc, Martina Lugo, Kaijia Tian, Lucy Jackson, and Rachel Gatewood.

Vivian Jiang, Director of Finance

Besides not charging fees, how is Petal looking to differentiate itself from other credit cards?

We want our customers to financially succeed; that’s a big difference from how traditional credit card companies operate. So we started Petal to give more people access to safe, modern, affordable credit in a way that helps them manage their finances responsibly and do the right thing.

With that mindset, we also built our technology around ease-of-use and accessibility. Our products are designed to benefit the customer. For example, our groundbreaking perks program rewards users with extra cash back for paying on time. Through this program, Petal rewards you (literally) for making good financial decisions. That’s a stark difference from companies whose credit rewards programs often encourage overspending.

If Petal does not have any late fees or foreign transaction fees, how can they protect themselves from people who cannot pay their credit card bills?

Most of our customers want to build good credit and it’s just as important to them that they pay on time as it is to us. And although we do not charge a late fee, we do charge interest on past due balances.

If Petal customers miss a payment, we let them know right away. If their bill remains unpaid, we will temporarily suspend their card until they have made at least the minimum payment and that payment has posted. If cards go severely delinquent we may close the account entirely.

Serra Kazanc, Product Manager

What type of products and strategies are you looking to build out for Petal for 2020?

In 2020, we want to focus on making Petal the most attractive credit card for new-to-credit consumers. Some of the products we are working on this year include providing deals at local merchants with Offers, helping users stay on top of their finances with Insights, and helping track subscriptions easily with Subscription Tracker.

Our strategy across everything we do is the same: it is to improve our customer’s financial lives. We are doing this now by building an honest, accessible and simple credit card product.

You have a strong background in capital markets, specifically with credit. How were you able to pivot to Petal?

I started my career in corporate finance and spent 3 years there. It was a great learning experience for me to understand how companies raise money but I was more curious about people's relationship with money and how we can improve it with technology. As an immigrant who lived in the US and the UK, I personally experienced the lack of transparent, affordable, borderless and high-quality personal financial products. So, I felt compelled to change that and that’s why I decided to join Petal.

Martina Lugo, Analyst

How is analytics and data changing the FinTech space and impacting Petal?

Data is at the core of Petal. We use holistic financial information and alternative sources of data to do cash flow analysis and underwrite customers. We strive to make data-driven decisions at every level of the company, from defining the company strategy, to product features, to UX improvements.

Data and analytics allow FinTech companies to generate insights, identify and address risks as well as seize new opportunities. More importantly, analytics dramatically reduces a company’s time to insight, allowing them to make business decisions and impact on an on-demand basis. Data analytics has already transitioned from a nice-to-have into a must-have.

How is Petal competing with the Amex Platinum and Chase reserves of the world?

45 million Americans are shut out of today's financial system because they lack a credit score, and an additional ~50 million have inaccurate scores that can have a negative impact on their financial access.

Petal uses modern technology to help these people access safe, affordable credit, and to deliver a product that by design helps them make healthier financial choices.

Kaijia Tian, Analyst

How is your mission succeeding in serving an underserved market?

The average age of our customers is 22 years-old which is a huge departure from big banks, whose average customer is estimated to be as old as 50. Younger Americans are often overlooked by big bank issuers (in part because 20% of people aged 18-24 have no credit score). Petal can serve more of these customers with a product that educates them about how to use credit responsibly (and not overspend).

Why do you think that this particular sector of people is an opportunity for credit card companies?

Tens of millions of people have short credit histories that may not tell their whole story. That’s a large and—until now—underserved market. These people (often young people, immigrants, and people of color) are stuck in a Catch-22: they can’t get access to credit without a credit history, and they can’t build a credit history without access to credit. Petal could become the go-to financial partner as these new-to-credit consumers build their credit and have other financial needs in the future.

Lucy Jackson, Business Development Lead

What business initiatives are you looking to build out for 2020?

We want to grow our product with features that help our card members during all parts of their financial journey. In 2020, it’s all about laying the foundation for the products and partnerships that help our card members achieve their financial goals as those goals evolve. We do this every day when we reward card members for paying their balance on time by increasing their cash back percentage or by showing them their monthly spending habits in our Insights feature. Our promise to our customer, however, is to constantly iterate on their behalf. In 2020, we want to make sure our product is meeting their needs not just today and tomorrow, but every day after that.

What drew Petal to partner with Visa?

Visa has been a great partner to us since the inception of our program. They provide the infrastructure necessary to bring Petal to life and we are in constant communication about ways we can leverage the Visa platform to bring honest, simple, and accessible financial products to our card members. Visa is also committed to innovating on behalf of and with their customers, a mentality that has made them an incredible asset to us as we grow.

Rachel Gatewood, Consumer Compliance Counsel

What type of initiatives is Petal taking to be proactive with ‘Knowing Your Client’ (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML)?

Petal takes the duty of protecting its cardmembers’ information very seriously. We utilize various tools to ensure we believe that applicants are who they claim to be and that our members’ accounts and information are kept safe. In addition, we are passionate about serving people who are new-to-credit and leveraging state-of-the-art tools and databases to verify their identities and serve them. We continually enhance our processes to keep pace with the ever-evolving tools and databases that we can leverage to better serve our customers and prospective customers.

The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) changed dollar thresholds for Reg Z for 2020; how is Petal navigating this?

Petal’s approach to new and/or amended regulations is to ensure that we conduct a thorough legal analysis and assess potential business impact before implementing any changes. In the case of the Reg Z dollar threshold changes, the Petal Card charges no fees of any kind, so we have no issue complying with regulatory fee caps.

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