Career story: innovating approaches to digital banking and fintech

16 November, 2022Juno Baker
Clarisse Awamengwi

Clarisse Awamengwi was leading the first ever Global Future Council on Cryptocurrencies at the World Economic Forum (WEF) when she came across the Certified Fintech Practitioner (CFP) course. She applied for it – and a Women in Fintech Scholarship – and was accepted for both. She shares her story here.

I took this course because I wanted to grow my knowledge of what’s happening in fintech. When you’re limited to the domain you’re in, you might not really have a good view of what’s going on out there.

What did you enjoy about CFP?

I really liked the interactive nature of the course in the sense that we had our reading to do but when we got on the Zoom calls it was super interactive. We were able to engage in discussions with the practitioners from various parts of the industry brought in to talk about what they were doing.

The founder of Pennyworth Financial person was really instructive. He talked about underserved populations, but not in the usual financial inclusion way. He was looking at who we aren’t talking to in the ways we need to.

The topic of generational banking emerged from that conversation, which was quite thought provoking. There are a lot of people in the retirement age category who are not being properly served by their banks. When we’re innovating we’re often thinking of the young population and how young people want to use tech. We’re not thinking of the older generation and how we need to innovate in the ways that we bank them.

Globally, we have an aging population, but I don’t hear a lot of discourse around building financial products that respond to their needs in those latter phases of life. That’s a lot of untapped potential we are not zooming into..  This has stuck with me and shaped my thinking as I go into innovation spaces.

I also enjoyed the part about neobanking, digital banking, robo wealth and advisory. What’s the value proposition for wholly digital banking, wholly digital investment advice? Where do we strike the balance between still needing a human and being fully digital?

A component of the offline work that I particularly enjoyed was  the journal exercise. In the process of writing on something, you realise you have actually formed concrete thoughts on the subject, so it’s a good way to ground the learning.

How has CFP affected your career and work?

It has helped to shape my thinking, evolve my thoughts and  opened up the opportunity to delve into different universes within financial services.

These topics were not necessarily unfamiliar to me, but I’d not reflected on them in this way, or discussed them with people from the relevant sectors of the industry.

I have since pivoted into a new role so I’m no longer at the WEF, I’m now at Deutsche Bank where I’m working on banking innovation. When enrolled in the CFP course, I knew I wanted to move into banking and now I have.

This course helped me to cement my thinking and continue in the direction which led to my pivot.

How valuable was the scholarship you won?

The Women’s Scholarship was immensely helpful. It does open doors for people who might not otherwise have access to this sort of learning.

Innovation cannot come from the same way of thinking. It has to come from the interaction, and the friction and reaction from different minds being in a room, voicing different experiences and perspectives.

Related content

More about CFP on the website of the Centre for Digital Banking and Finance