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FinTech Female Fridays: Zoe Chaves, Senior Product Manager, Splitwise

Splitwise is a consumer app that millions of people around the world use to track shared spending and "who owes who". Today we sit down with Splitwise's second employee, Zoe Chaves. Read on to learn about Zoe’s 6-year journey with Splitwise, her thoughts on the payments sector, and advice for other Senior Product Managers. 

As the second employee of Splitwise, what has it been like to experience the growth of Splitwise in the past 6 years?

When I joined Splitwise in 2013 millennials sharing apartments were our bread and butter. We wanted to honor that while also making the product flexible enough to support every demographic and use case. It's working - every week I learn about someone using Splitwise in a manner I couldn't have imagined. It's humbling to see what people do with our software - that's how I'd summarize the experience.

How do you think the payments sector within FinTech has changed the landscape of payments over the past year and where do you foresee this sector heading in 2020?

Point-of-sale (POS) financing companies like Affirm have changed consumer behavior and the payments landscape. Recently big players like Visa and JPMorgan have announced they’re launching POS financing options too. I think in 2020 we’ll see even more purchases split into installments. I imagine many of these purchases would have gone onto consumers’ credit cards, so perhaps we’ll also see a related decrease in credit card use.

As a senior product manager, what advice would you give to a woman beginning her career path in product?

PMs make a ton of decisions every day. It’s important to record each decision in writing as well as the inputs that led you there. Revisit these documents often - it’s the best way to reflect on and improve your mental models. This is still hard for me, I don’t give this advice from the perspective of someone who’s nailing it all the time - but I know it’s a muscle and doing it early and often is the only way to cultivate the discipline.

What type of products and processes are at the forefront of the payment sector that have never been developed before?

Globally I think UPI, India’s system for real-time inter-bank transactions, is at the forefront of payments. I would love for us to have something similar in the US and was glad to see Google’s open letter to the Fed urging the deployment of FedNow.

How is regulatory and compliance impacting the changes within FinTech?

When I first started working in FinTech in 2013 there weren’t many innovative compliance vendors. This impacted product quality (and conversion rates) across the industry.

Nowadays we have great identity/compliance vendors like Alloy and Socure and you can really feel the impact as a consumer (I open tons of accounts for research and inspiration - the average experience has gotten so much better!) Relatedly, there have been some important regulatory shifts that make it easier to onboard consumers - for example the Fed just approved the use of alt data in underwriting.

All together these shifts make it easier then ever to build smooth onboarding and activation experiences.

Where do you see the biggest changes in Splitwise for 2020?

Splitwise facilitates settlement by integrating with various P2P apps. We work with PayPal and Venmo in the US and Paytm in India. In 2020 we’d like to add more P2P partners in more regions.

Reach out to Zoe on LinkedIn.

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