To Change the Game, First You Have to Know the Rules: Project FinTech Regulatory & Legal Session

Hosted by Naina Jain, Wade Peery, & Kevin Tran

Class is in session for the Project FinTech Accelerator. 

The inaugural cohort kicked off in August and has been diving into the curriculum, designed by Entrepreneurs-In-Residence (EIRs) Joe Maxwell and Lee Farabaugh, which includes bi-monthly virtual sessions. 

As a hybrid accelerator, Project FinTech leverages the depth of its industry network to recruit mentors and experts (from Tennessee and beyond) as hosts for these high-impact sessions.

We are grateful to the industry experts who hosted our Regulatory & Legal Session: Naina Jain |  

Risk & Regulatory at CashApp, Wade Peery | Chief Innovations Officer at FirstBank, and Kevin Tran | Partner at Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough. 

This was scheduled as the first session of many in the nine-month educational series. Why? To change the game, you have to know the rules. 

Responsible innovation can seem like a paradox, but it is paramount in highly-regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare. To say the least, a fintech must have a long term relationship with regulators to succeed. It can oftentimes be a frustrating marriage, but it is truly until death does us part

As entrepreneurs, fintech founders are problem solvers. Kevin Tran advises many early-stage fintechs and notes a common refrain: “I am building technology that makes life easier for everyone in the world, but they won’t let me do it”. They in this context, defined as the various federal and state financial regulators. They also just happen to be doing their job.

Keep in mind, regulation in financial services is a modern advent to protect consumers, businesses, and manage systemic risk. Not a bad idea. However, it can be exceptionally challenging for those interested in innovating within the industry. “A good technologist can solve moving money from Point A to Point B…” but as Kevin notes, “that is one of the most regulated activities in the world”. 

“Understand it will remain an enormous challenge to move with speed and be compliant”, but from his role as a bank’s Chief Innovation Officer, Wade Peery shared some best practices:  

For fintechs partnering with banks, first understand the banks’ obligatory compliance and regulatory requirements. Know what the bankers are navigating behind the scenes when considering a partnership with your company. 

Second, learn to communicate to regulators in their own language. Be thorough, but use clear and concise terms. Leverage precedent and lean into industry stakeholders. Remember, this is not the same audience you are targeting with your fundraising deck. 

CashApp’s Naina Jain speaks from the fintech perspective and emphasizes the need to understand this regulatory landscape from day one. “Risk and compliance cannot be bolted on later, it needs to be built in from the design phrase. Focus on customer protections, policies, and procedures. Be proactive – there is a burden of proof to be demonstrated by fintechs…be well-documented, be prepared”. 

This workshop was one that resonated strongly with cohort company leadership and sparked great conversations around the table. We are grateful for the time and actionable advice shared by our expert hosts. 

This was the first of many sessions, we encourage you to follow along with the Project FinTech cohort as they continue their journey with the Nashville EC. Learn more at

Project FinTech is a hybrid accelerator that offers tech founders the benefit of industry-specific connections, exposure, and mentorship from a vast network of exited entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders, c-suite executives, and subject-matter experts. This program is supported by Launch Tennessee and our partners at JAM FINTOP.

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