As an experienced Professor, fintech and financial policy thought leader, and convener, Dr. Chris Brummer leverages his experiences, insights, and knowledge to spearhead evolution in the fintech sector. Committed to highlighting systemic inequalities that plague the financial industry, and championing diverse populations to excel within the field, Dr. Brummer engages in multiplatform educational ventures. A modern Renaissance man, Dr. Brummer delves into the vast realm of fintech through lecturing, hosting an illuminating podcast, conducting groundbreaking research, and even developing FinTech Week DC, an annual event dedicated to education and evolution within the sector. Brummer’s multifaceted career spans various forums, and enables the thought leader to shape the future of fintech.
Dr. Brummer’s Background
Dr. Chris Brummer received his J.D. degree from the esteemed Columbia Law School. In addition, he also attended the University of Chicago, earning a PhD in Germanic Studies. Post-matriculation, Dr. Brummer began his career as an attorney. He joined the ranks via Cravath, Swaine and Moore LLP, where he worked in the firm’s New York and London offices.
He then entered of academia as an Assistant Professor at Vanderbilt Law School. During this time, he also shared his insights as a visiting Professor at various leading higher education institutions, including the London School of Economics. Dr. Chris Brummer became a Professor of Law and Faculty Director of Georgetown University’s prestigious Institute of International Economic Law in 2009. He serves in this position to date, and remains involved as a leader in the Georgetown community. He has also worked with a number of think tanks, including the Milken Institute and the Atlantic Council, where he received the C. Boyden Gray Fellowship for Global Finance and Growth at the Atlantic Council. At the Atlantic Council, Dr. Brummer launched the Transatlantic Finance Initiative, a forum to launch meaningful discussion related to international fiscal regulations.
Dr. Brummer has penned various books, and has contributed to several leading financial publications, and reports. His published books include “Fintech Law In A Nutshell”, “Minilateralism”, and “Cryptoassets: Legal, Regulatory and Monetary Perspectives.” These works explore his thoughts on the evolution of fintech, international strategies, and various perspectives related to monetary regulation. Most recently, Dr. Brummer released a highly-touted research piece, titled “What do the data reveal about (the absence of Black) financial regulators?” This thought piece was the first collection of empirical data to ponder this status quo, and effectively serves to begin data-driven conversation to champion change.
In addition to his extensive work as a Professor, Dr. Brummer has spent considerable time assisting regulators and governmental officials around the world. He is currently a member of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s Subcommittee on Virtual Currencies. Additionally, Dr. Brummer is a member of the Consultative Working Group for the European Securities and Markets Authority’s Financial Innovation Standing Committee. Dr. Brummer completed a three-year term as a member of the National Adjudicatory Council of FINRA. This Congress-backed organization works to regulate the securities industry. During his term, Dr. Brummer was praised for his work in advancing investor protection.
“Where are the Black Financial Regulators?”
Recently, Dr. Brummer shared his collective research via a collaborative venture between Georgetown Law and the Brookings Institution. The event was titled “Where Are The Black Financial Regulators?” and presented the first empirical data collected about the historically limited diversity within the financial regulation industry of the U.S. government. On September 2nd, 2020, the namesake event welcomed the exploration of the absence of African American professionals from the financial regulatory sector.
Chairwoman of the House Financial Services, Rep. Maxine Waters, shared poignant remarks. Following her speech, Dr. Brummer presented his findings, which were featured in the Wall Street Journal immediately after publishing. Responding to the research findings, a panel of thought leaders engaged in thought-provoking conversation. This panel included Harold A. Black (Board Member – National Credit Union Administration), Neel Kashkari (President – Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis), Sharon Y. Bowen (Former Commissioner – Commodity Futures Trading Commission), and Paul Thornell (Principal – Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas). Following this discussion, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown concluded the powerful event with closing thoughts.
Dr. Brummer’s findings highlight the systematic exclusion of African Americans in the financial regulatory realm, and he surmises the detriment that this underrepresentation causes. Financial regulators create, implement, and uphold the financial infrastructure utilized by countless Americans to start small businesses, access liquidity, and make effective investment decisions. Thus, if an entire population of citizens is unrepresented, how can the system be representative of their needs? Dr. Brummer examines this idea, potential reasons behind the status quo, and the steps that need to be taken to effectively move forward.
Financial regulatory decisions can impact the spread or closing of the race and inequality gap. Thus, this important sector requires representation from all citizens in order to equally benefit all parties. To better understand the status quo, Dr. Brummer empirically examined the past. He charted the employment of all African American financial policy makers, dating back to the New Deal. This provides comprehensive data related to the policy makers, as well as historical context needed to draw larger conclusions about culture, history, and employment within the sector.
Probing the potential causes for underrepresentation, Dr. Brummer examines various potential theories. He invites readers of his research to draw conclusions, and explore this issue further. Dr. Brummer recognizes that his research provides the inaugural piece of a roadmap that will be further illuminated through ongoing research, conversation, and exploration.
FinTech Week DC
Without a thoughtful forum for presenting discussion about fintech policy in the heart of the nation’s capital, the sector would always remain somewhat shrouded to those not directly employed within the niche industry. However, fintech is growing rapidly, and deserving of an open forum that highlights education, inclusion, and empowerment. To welcome evolution in such a capacity, Dr. Chris Brummer launched FinTech Week DC.
The umbrella term “fintech” involves various fields, and “fintech” is applied within multiple industries. Thus, this annual event heralds leaders from various relevant fields, and the regulatory committees that oversee industries. By bringing these segments together, Dr. Brummer hopes to forge relationships, develop meaningful dialogue, raise public interest in the field, and champion transparency. Attended by individuals from non-profit organizations, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and government employees alike, FinTech Week DC is diverse in programming, attendance, and conversation.
This year, to ensure the safety, comfort, and wellness of all participants and attendees, FinTech Week DC 2020 was an all-virtual event. The fourth annual FinTech Week DC took place between October 19th and October 22nd. The event has traditionally been held in person in the midst of America’s legislative home. However, this year’s virtual model allowed for a broader reach, unbridled by geographical limitations. Tens of thousands of thought leaders, industry experts, and other attendees accessed full programming, regardless of location.
Presented via the Brella conference platform, attendees were able to register for events based on interest, and had access to all presentations and platforms. Brella livestreamed all of the scheduled events, and allowed attendees to network with each other across the globe. Interested attendees could register using one of many partnering social media profiles, making registration swift. Brella’s intuitive matchmaking algorithm also sorted the attendee roster based on relevant connections before each event, allowing attendees to connect with peers, industry comrades, and others interested in the same niche fields. Attendees were also able to chat with each other, and schedule one on one chat sessions, making FinTech Week a highly collaborative space that fosters ongoing discussion. This ongoing engagement occurred naturally throughout prior in-person event translated seamlessly through the use of the Brella platform.
This year’s agenda was robust, with many scheduled presentations, conversations, and panel discussions. Across various events, this year’s organizational topics were strung together via themes. FinTech Week’s 2020 themes are “Making (or Breaking?) Money,” “Transformational Technologies,” “Demo Day” and “Inclusive Fintech.”
FinTech Week 2020 started out with “Crypto in Asia: Different From Everywhere”, which focused on the emerging mainstreaming of cryptocurrencies, and explores how Asian countries utilize cryptocurrency in bespoke ways. Various events focused on cryptocurrency, before pivoting into the fintech space with “FinTech Credit and Consumer Financial Protection.” Several flash presentations lended astute insight throughout short snippets, highlighting various niche topics between longer presentations.
Tuesday’s agenda started with a pivotal presentation for all attendees, “Designing Digital Identities”. With over 1 billion people worldwide unable to prove their identity through authenticated and verifiable sources, they are excluded from financial opportunities that require appropriate foundational identification. This panel discussion delved into the complex status quo, and examines ways to mitigate this present concern. Further, it explored the potential opportunities and outcomes for individuals who can circumvent this lack of foundational identification.
Wednesday’s “How Competitive Is The US For Fintech?” panel explored the economic diplomacy that evolves the United States’ global position in fintech. The panel explored international rules and regulations that harness a competitive market, and examines how international rules can be implemented in a broad system. The Keynote Speaker for this event is Joseph Lubin, Founder and CEO at Consensys.
The virtual event closed with Thursday’s presentation, “Are Digital Economies More Inclusive? Digital Transformation as a Flywheel for Progress.” This pertinent and time-sensitive panelist discussion centered around the power of small and micro businesses, which account for roughly 90% of worldwide businesses. These businesses employ roughly half of all global workers, and represent roughly 60% of GDP throughout low-income nations. Thus, small and micro businesses are vastly important within the world’s business stage. While they are crucial, small and micro businesses often receive less access to liquidity, limited financial opportunities, and less access to digital platforms. As a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many of these businesses have gone digital seemingly overnight. This panel examines ways in which these businesses can benefit from digital inclusion, and how maintaining this inclusion can benefit the global economy.
The recordings from all four days of DC Fintech Week are now available online! We were blown away by the thousands of participants worldwide, and delighted to push the conversation well beyond the beltway, and on a global scale. Sessions can be seen here. https://t.co/iObA8jBI1Y pic.twitter.com/F7vw4kMoAO— Chris Brummer (@ChrisBrummerDr) October 28, 2020
Throughout this year’s event, Dr. Chris Brummer acted as Moderator for various presentations. The experienced Moderator drove the conversation forward, ensuring meaningful outcomes for each event. Featured speakers and panelists range in industries, experiences, and opinions, harnessing powerful conversations intended to provoke thought, highlight possibilities, and encourage engagement. A few of these speakers included NYT Bestselling Author Brant Cooper, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse, Former Treasurer of the United States Rosie Rios, and Neha Narula, Director of Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab.
FinTech Beat Podcast
Committed to illuminating the vast world of FinTech to the world, Dr. Chris Brummer hosts the weekly podcast, “FinTech Beat.” Hosted by Washington DC’s CQ Roll Call, new episodes are released every Tuesday. This broad podcast explores the various challenges facing the tech, finance, and policy sectors. In the podcast series, Dr. Brummer shares industry pertinent news, illuminating thoughts, and thought-provoking conversational points designed to give listeners a thoughtful platform for exploration. Through bipartisan exploration of important topics, Dr. Brummer allows listeners to implement insights into ways that make sense for them, and to take away information that can assist them professionally, personally, and financially.
Episodes include “The Case For Caution With Central Bank Digital Currencies”, which delves into the idea that central bank currencies may elicit negative consequences within the lending and banking industries, impacting the power in the financial system. The episode features conversation with Alphaville editor Izabella Kaminska and Citi exec Tony McGlaighlin.
Other episodes tackle more broad subjects, like morality in the industry. The episode, “The Ethical Algorithm” considers the juxtaposition of the topic. Intuitive algorithms drive various segments of financial technology. They help to automate many facets of operations, streamlining otherwise cumbersome processes, and allowing employees at financial institutions to devote time to other tasks. However, algorithms are merely set up to follow rules, without any consideration to privacy, bias, and fairness. These very “human” traits cannot be learned by algorithms, a consequence that leaves many individuals out of the financial landscape. In this episode, Michael Kearns joins Dr. Chris Brummer to discuss ways to make algorithms more ethical.
To date, there are over 70 available episodes of “FinTech Beat”, with each episode welcoming thought leaders in the government and legislation sector, corporate governance, startup space, and entrepreneurship. The informative podcast boasts an impressive five-star rating on Apple Podcasts, and is touted by many as a vastly interesting bipartisan examination of all things in the fintech sphere. Each thought-provoking episode runs between 25 to 40 minutes in length, making Dr. Brummer’s “FinTech Beat” a perfectly portioned morsel of information and entertainment.
As the demand for cryptocurrency continues to grow, this proverbial Wild West of finance needs to adopt safety regulations, international protocols, and other regulations for the betterment of all parties involved. Several new “versions” of cryptocurrency have been recently introduced as lower-risk alternatives to traditional cryptocurrency. These include “stablecoins”, or low-risk assets for investors, and “altcoins”, which are widely used on various fintech platforms.
Since the blockchain technology that powers cryptocurrency is decentralized, risks are undeniably present. Some risks include loss due to volatility, theft, and usage of cryptocurrency for illegal purposes. Thus, Dr. Brummer often lends his insight regarding needed regulation, regulatory cooperation across institutions, and standardization. When speaking about the inherently risky nature of cryptocurrencies in the investment sphere, Dr. Brummer noted, ““what they are, how they operate, and the value proposition, if any, that any particular cryptoasset provides. Because of this complexity, they are difficult to price, and unscrupulous actors can exploit the relative ignorance of many investors”
Recognizing the evolution of the personal and commercial financial sectors, Dr. Brummer focuses a significant portion of his work on championing digital inclusion. In his research, Dr. Brummer examines the ways that individuals are excluded from access to financial equity and participation in the economy, and ways to counteract this status quo. Intuitive technology and AI can spark digital inclusion, if more attention is brought to highlight the inequalities existing within the current space. Technology is moving at lightning speed, and humanity’s ability to access and understand this information is rapidly evolving as well. As this tech-based information becomes increasingly vital for business success, it becomes more integral that all business leaders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and small business owners be able to effectively it. Thus, participation and collaboration across all stages is necessary. Dr. Brummer leverages his platform to highlight the topic of digital inclusion, and generates conversation about how to take advantage of a growing opportunity for discussion, evolution, and broad implementation of technology for the betterment of all businesses, while avoiding possible downsides and risks tied to bias and disparate impact.
Thinking, Speaking, Learning
Through his various professional and personal assignments, Dr. Brummer has undoubtedly made a tremendous impact in the realm of fintech, policymaking, cryptocurrency, and the financial literacy space. He has passionately devoted his professional trajectory to spreading awareness of various issues within the aforementioned industries. Throughout his presentations, publications, and speeches, Dr. Brummer invites collaboration, and the sharing of ideas. To champion change and evolution, Dr. Brummer recognizes the importance of leading the conversation. For the Founder of FinTech Week DC, the future of global finance lies in the conversations sparked in the present.