JPMorgan Chase, CFSI announce fourth annual lab challenge

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JPMorgan Chase and the Center for Financial Services Innovation on Wednesday kicked off the fourth annual Financial Solutions Lab challenge, a $30 million competition aimed at finding fintech innovators and products that can help improve the financial health of underserved populations across the country.

This year’s competition will focus for the first time on entrepreneurs of color, people with disabilities and women, the firms said in a press release.

Thus a competition that is about financial inclusion takes on an effort to promote inclusiveness of another sort as well.

Applicants are encouraged to share “how their products can help consumers improve their financial health, how their company or nonprofit will succeed in serving a diverse market and how their teams reflect this diversity,” the release said.

All-women teams of entrepreneurs received just $1.9 billion of the $85 billion total invested by venture capitalists last year, according to the release. "Only an estimated 3% of the venture capitalist workforce is black while only 4% is Hispanic or Latino," the release said. "The FinLab believes that diversity among leaders and teams also leads to more inclusive products and services with the potential to scale to millions of customers."

Each winning organization will receive $250,000 and professional services assistance from firms such as ideas42, and Google; strategic guidance from the FinLab’s advisory council; and additional resources from founding partners CFSI and JPMorgan Chase, including access to the JPMorgan Chase employee mentorship program.

“Technology offers a tremendous opportunity to help us reach overlooked populations with financial products and services that can improve their long-term financial health,” said Colleen Briggs, head of community innovation at JPMorgan Chase.

“We want to see more innovation designed to meet the needs of underserved populations and teams of entrepreneurs that reflect this diversity," Briggs said. "We believe that the FinLab’s continued focus on inclusive fintech will help us unlock this potential.”

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