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After Election, FinTech Still Indecisive About Trump

The dust is settling on the American election.

Admittedly a little slowly.

And as the dust is settling – the questions are percolating, particularly in FinTech when the question of the morning day seems to be:

What happens now? Will it be good news or bad news on balance?

Well, opinion is still coming in.

The Fear: Technophobe in Chief 

The team over at GeekWire coined the phrase “Technophobe in Chief” due to their concerns that technology is a foreign concept for him. Other than Twitter – of course.

The New York Times reported that he doesn’t use a computer and doesn’t like digital advertisements. And as for social media, it seems he may or may not be the one behind all of those tweets. In fact, back in April Trump told CNN’s Anderson Cooper,

“During the day, I’m in the office, I just shout it out to one of the young ladies who are tremendous.”

Trump has also evidenced a rather dim view of some of Silicon Valley’s biggest and most luminary names. Candidate Trump was highly critical of Apple during its encryption battle with the FBI earlier this year – and Donald Trump’s Twitter war with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos literally ended with Bezos offering to shoot Donald Trump into outer space on a rocket.

But, then again, Trump does have his tech backers – most notably PayPal’s Peter Thiel, who has said throughout the American election cycle that Trump as the best bet for an innovative brave new world. Moreover, Thiel maintained throughout that the Silicon Valley opposition to Trump was exaggerated and the result of liberal leaning peer pressure.

“I was having dinner last week with a high-profile venture capitalist and he said, ‘I’m voting for Trump but I have to lie and tell everyone I’m voting for Gary Johnson,’” the third-party candidate, said Mr. Thiel, discussing the American election. “He was stunningly matter-of-fact about it.”

Now, he said, it’s “all hands on deck.” That includes the technology community.

“It’s important for it to be able to work with the rest of the country and the world,” he said. “At the end of the day, it would be crazy to simply spend four years issuing denunciatory tweets on Twitter. For a day or two, that’s fine. But I hope Silicon Valley will be more productive than that.”

And, Thiel notes, a Trump administration with a focus on de-regulation, that could in fact be good for innovators, because it will unshackle what they create.

Speaking of unshackling…

A New Day Dawns For FinTech – And The CFPB 

The assumption had been that a Democratic win would set the Dodd-Frank financial reforms in stone – and buttress the power of the Community Finance Protection Bureaus.

Today, well, that is looking for from certain.

Trump campaigned on dismantling Dodd-Frank and the CFPB – two passing that it is highly doubtful Americas bankers and financial tech builder will spend much time lamenting given the billions of dollars in fines the CFPB has handed out over the last several years to banks, lenders and all make an manner of FinServe players.

But how Trump plans to go after Dodd-Frank, or if the CFPB can be fiated out of existence is a much more complex question – as are the politics of dismantling something called “the consumer finance protection bureau.”  Trump and Republicans may not like the CFPB, what it does, how it does, its nearly limitless power, unconstitutional structure and impossibly opaque design. That doesn’t mean they want to be labeled as the politicians who took a stand against consumer protection – it plays badly in campaign ad.

Moreover,  director Richard Cordray has two years left in his term (the director job was intentionally designed not to match up with presidential elections) and there are still Democrats in congress and the senate who are vowing to throw their bodies on the wheels of government to stop any part of the Trump agenda from going through.  Dismantling Dodd-Frank or the CFPB – that would likely draw fireworks and filibusters (as will many other things).  Trump may not like Dodd-Frank, but facing opposition who are going to fight him on every policy point, he may not hate it enough to throw political capital.

As for cybersecurity, Trump’s website dot-points out his plan. The site notes that there will be “an immediate review of all U.S. cyber defenses and vulnerabilities, including critical infrastructure, by a Cyber Review Team of individuals from the military, law enforcement, and the private sector.”

That Cyber Review Team will be charged with recommendations for safeguarding and developing protocols for cyber awareness training in light of evolving cyberattack methods.

This, notably, is similar in structure to most cybersecurity policies on the table.

So what is the take-away?  Time to panic, let the waves of enthusiasm for the tech enabled future happen.

Much like it was the day before the American election – depends on who you ask.

Peter Thiel is widely expected to have the administrations ear when it comes to tech policy as a reward for his loyalty – and he expected great things. Amazon’s stock took a notable hit upon Donald Trump’s elections – but somehow we suspect he Jeff Bezos is less worried about that than he is about making sure that all the holiday order go out on time.

What is known is that in FinTech – and tech in general – the show must go on, so it will.  Probably much the way it always has: Innovation will happen, so will regulations to reign that innovation in.

What we’re waiting to know now is what the shape of those regulations will be – and how they will effect the innovations that come next.

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