For Citi Ventures the Palo Alto, California, outpost that Citigroup chief innovation officer Deborah Hopkins set up in 2010 Vanessa Colella scans the horizon for start-ups that Citi can help nurture into meaningful, problem-solving, often disruptive technology businesses. A former biology teacher who has worked for McKinsey & Co. and Yahoo, Colella moved into Hopkinss strategic investing unit two and a half years ago, after serving as Citis chief of North American marketing. The 45-year-old head of venture investing and strategic growth initiatives has been hands-on with portfolio companies, including San Franciscobased mobile payment business Square and Atlanta-based phone-fraud-prevention company Pindrop Security. Looking beyond such popular fintech themes as cryptocurrency which she sees as akin to early days in the Internet and information security, Colella observes a convergence of innovation around democratization of access to financial services, potentially bringing unbanked and otherwise underserved populations into the economic mainstream. Because of the technology thats available now, we can lower the cost of that advice or those services, she says, adding that Square has effectively made electronic payments accessible for the first time to small retailers that traditional banks could not affordably serve. Colella says Citi seeks out collaborations that will result in making money matters friction-free. We see hundreds of entrepreneurs who are incredibly passionate about making financial services better for people.
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