Once again, small is less

I write this as we in New York City are beginning to see pandemic numbers trending in an encouraging direction. Of course I scanned that news, but then this headline jumped out at me–

New York Times, April 20, 2020, by Emily Flitter.

Yes, I am disheartened, but not surprised, to hear that once again, big banks’ wealthiest clients apparently jumped to the front of the line for scarce stimulus dollars.

But this post isn’t to pile on top of well-deserved criticisms or cover the lawsuits that are being filed as I write this. My interest is looking ahead. Thinking through how this crisis, the one that all of us, more or less, are in together could remake our economy going forward. And the first place I go to is micro and small business “owning” a resilient economy.

I plan to explore the parameters of this vision as we emerge from quarantine, but I am proposing a couple here.

  1. We must close the gap between the automated universe of fintech-spawned algorithmic lending and the “concierge” practices that tarnished the first wave of pandemic stimulus funding. I have written about our concerns before.
  2. We must reject either extreme if we care about small businesses thriving post-pandemic. Indeed, a healthy and flexible small business ecosystem is exactly what we will need to address challenges only temporarily abated by health concerns. For example, climate change urgency and the sheer number of people in our communities who are not making it. Not as to healthcare, living wages, housing, and the sense that there is a future. Not even in the so-called good times.

Whether or not the work we at Descant have done to build a data-sharing platform plays a role, its defining characteristics are exactly what we need.

  • Technology that streamlines providing data lenders and other creditors need to make efficient decisions.
  • Governance tools that give people such as small-business owners confidence they are sharing as much or as little as desired.
  • Data trustworthiness assurances for relying parties.

But the most important? Modules that allow business owners to engage and discuss their qualifications with trusted advisors and bankers.

In other words, bank concierge services, anytime, anywhere, for the rest of us. Now that society has finally acknowledged people who truly are essential, let’s not waste the insights.

Meanwhile, best wishes to remain safe and well, deep gratitude for the hard work of healthcare and services providers, and heart-felt condolences to those who have lost loved ones.


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