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Summit Recap: The Creator CEO Panel

There’s a new financial power segment in town: content creators. But creators have a unique profile that’s currently underserved and distinct from those of other small businesses. Creators span all ages, are global by default, and need to be paid faster to create content at a viral speed—all of which opens up new opportunities for banks and fintech solutions.

Jessica Lessin, founder and CEO of The Information, explored this during The Information’s 2023 Creator Economy Summit with three key panelists:

Marie-Elise Droga, senior vice president, head of global fintech partnerships, Visa

Kevin Issadore, head of business development, North America, Marqeta

Nick Rizzuto, head of product partnerships, Linktree

What makes creators distinct from other small and midsize businesses?

Lessin started off the discussion by asking about the differences between creator commerce and e-commerce. Marie-Elise Droga from Visa was the first to take on the question. “I think the main thing that differentiates traditional e-commerce from social commerce is the community engagement. Buyers who engage with creators want a piece of the brand. They want to support the creator. It’s a fan-based type of engagement, something we really don’t see anywhere else.”

Kevin Issadore added, “At Marqeta, we do payment processing. So I think about how to track those payments. How do you make sure that the same financial services and access that’s available to your traditional SMB filters through to the creator economy?”

Nick Rizzuto from Linktree—a platform that enables creators to easily share more than one link from various social media bios—added his POV: “What’s different about creator commerce is that the average creator is across at least seven platforms. They need a way to bring that together for sales and to understand their customer. That’s where we focus on the Linktree side. You also see curation as commerce within the creator economy. They’re leading others to decide whether or not to purchase. That’s as valid a form of commerce as selling your own goods and services.”

Creative Power Rising

Lessin steered the discussion toward the recent expansion of this new market. They agreed that the pandemic was a huge driver of growth, with Rizzuto pointing out that one in four Americans now identifies as a creator. Droga said one of the unique segments of creators are those that are especially young: “If you’re a young social creator, not even 18, you’re potentially earning thousands of dollars a month. You can’t get a bank account based on that source of income, so your earnings need to go into your Mom and Dad’s bank account. Not a good feeling, right?”

Fintech Opportunities Abound

Young creators are just one of the many groups reshaping the way creators are thinking about

getting paid. Droga sees these limits for creators as a great opportunity for fintech innovation. “We’re just starting to understand how vast and diverse the needs of this socioeconomic group are. They’re living in the moment, and they need tools to have fast access to capital, to be paid nearly instantly in order to keep their businesses viral. There’s this disconnect between today’s payment infrastructure, which is geared toward slow-moving businesses versus the needs of this very agile community that needs everything now. It’s an extraordinary space for fintech to make a difference, to create tools and user experiences.”

Issadore shared Droga’s excitement, saying, “What are the traditional financial services that you might have at a standard corporate job or even an SMB? How do you translate a hundred thousand dollars that you’re earning on a creator platform into a line of credit? That’s really difficult to do today. There’s a tremendous opportunity to provide a better financial platform for these creators.”

The Creator Market’s Wide Open for Solutions

Visa has already started creating a multilayered product specifically for creators, with the help of partners like Linktree. But what’s on Droga’s mind is putting the controls back into the hands of the creators. “I wish they were empowered with more choice,” she said. “Right now it’s the platform’s way or the highway.” Instead, she’d like to see creators have more choices about how they’d like to be paid, where they’d like the money to go (directly to their bank account or their mobile wallet) and if they want to be paid in their local currency.

The creator economy is incredibly ripe for innovation  and it’s what fintech companies are particularly good at: taking a need case with complex problems and providing elegant, simple solutions. Soon creators will be able to take Tik Tok dances, fashion finds and Instagram-famous recipes straight to a banking solution that’s built just for them.

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