Written by Lauren Crosset, Chief Revenue Officer at Pinwheel.
After my long tenure in Payroll Data Connectivity (4 whole months at Pinwheel!) I’m overdue for writing down my thoughts on why I made this move and what I see as the future for this industry.
Having spent the last 5 years working in connectivity and aggregation at Quovo and then Plaid, I saw firsthand that these products enable incredible innovation. That being said, there are limitations to bank data. Bank data doesn’t do a great job of answering “who is your employer?” or “what’s your income?” and you can’t action on bank data via an aggregator. As I continued to see cases of innovative companies struggling to answer these questions in a simple, elegant way, it became clear to me that payroll connectivity is the next frontier — it is aggregation 2.0.
Payroll data aggregation is the obvious evolution to financial account connectivity. It retrieves income and employment data directly from the source, and the connectivity it enables couples data access with the ability for users to actually edit their direct deposit settings. Building this connectivity will enable businesses to create the next generation of fintech products, while simultaneously making existing products more accessible. Just as unlocking access to bank account data revolutionized the financial sector, unlocking access to payroll data will fill in the “missing piece” needed to advance fintech into the next generation, with vast potential for innovation. The first step is direct deposit switching — all banks, neo and traditional, need direct deposits. Data access is the next step — so many use cases are, should be, and will be powered by payroll data. After that, paycheck linked lending is the most interesting new frontier, with the potential to revolutionize the lending space and help consumers access fair credit rates.
When I started to look for companies in the space, I evaluated all of the players and chose Pinwheel because of our broad approach to tackling payroll connectivity and our long-term thesis that our suite of products can create a fairer financial system. Pinwheel’s vision for the impact of payroll connectivity is ambitious, and that’s what made it the right fit for me. At Pinwheel, I’m taking winning principles from my previous roles in the aggregation industry, coupling my knowledge and experience with the right opportunity, and an amazing team.
Building products at a startup also gives me more flexibility and decision-making power. Working for a company of this size means that we are building structures together, not working with old ones. When you start doing something like this, conversion is key and a big piece of driving conversion is making end users understand that the product is made to benefit them. In order for payroll connectivity to actually be aggregation 2.0, payroll connectivity must be ubiquitous to consumers, and it has to be surfaced in more workflows than just bank account funding. We talk to companies every day that are thinking of new ways to help consumers, and at a small company we are able to tailor strategies to deliver what our customers need. The Pinwheel team is really collaborative — it’s not a bunch of egos, it's people trying to learn from each other to make the best product suite.
Finally, the role at Pinwheel was especially exciting to me because in all my years working in fintech, I never worked for a female commercial lead. Now I am the female commercial lead, and have a fantastic team of women supporting me. I had the amazing opportunity to bring on two women that I’ve worked with in the past: Sasha Pilch and Kate Marienthal. Our three woman commercial team is my dream team, and still feels unprecedented in such male-dominated industries as finance and tech. We’re able to apply what we learned from past experiences working in aggregation to our new roles at Pinwheel, and use it to drive impact for our clients and their end users.
It is incredibly exciting to be building a product that can make the greater financial system more accessible and fair with a team that is actively diversifying and adding representation to the fintech industry. My decision to come work at Pinwheel was an obvious one because it's the right product, the right time, and the right team.