Joseph Otting, US Comptroller of the Currency

Joseph Otting (fourth from left) and moderator Emily Wang (third from left) discuss the future of the banking industry.

“We are on the verge of some incredible changes in the banking industry,” said Joseph Otting, Comptroller of the Currency, at a Roundtable Lunch on December 7th. Joined in conversation by moderator Emily Wang, LAWAC member and SVP Director of Marketing and Community Development at East West Bank, Otting spoke about how artificial intelligence will start to predict customers’ needs to offer services at strategic life points, rather than the bank waiting for customers to come to them. With the vast amounts of data available from our digital footprints, AI can track when someone goes to college and offer them a credit card or when someone is going to purchase a car and offer them car loans. Another industry development Otting spoke about was his recent decision to allow fintechs to apply for national bank charters.

Otting and Wang both spoke about interactions they’ve had recently with young millennials who say they never carry cash and solely rely on credit or debit cards or mobile payments like Apple Pay or WeChat. This trend isn’t just with millennials, according to Otting, who said that nearly seventy percent of purchases in grocery stores are made with a credit or debit card. While these things are extremely convenient, they also put us in a dangerous position should we ever suffer a cyber attack and lose the ability to use these payment methods. “A cyber attack could have an incredible impact on our economy and on our day-to-day lives.” He suggested everyone keep cash in a safe place in their home in case of an emergency like this, as well as an analog radio because “radio might be the only thing that works.”

Having spent most of his career in Los Angeles, Wang was curious about Otting’s transition not only from banking to regulation but also from Los Angeles to DC. “You can never fully prepare yourself to move to DC from LA,” said Otting. DC is much more complex than just Democrats and Republicans, “People say there are two parties, but I say there are six: left-left, left-center, left-right, right-left, right-center and right-right.” He also commented on the efficiency that the Trump administration has brought to the government. “President Trump runs the government like a business and it’s amazing how much activity is going on.”