Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Former FDIC innovation chief lands new job

Sultan Meghji, who stepped down as chief innovation officer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. earlier this year, has a new job. 

Meghji tweeted on Tuesday that he will join Reciprocal Ventures as a senior adviser. 

Reciprocal invests in early stage fintechs. Its portfolio includes Squads, an app that can be used to create decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and Whym, a conversational commerce startup. 

The company is one of six investors behind the launch of a $205 million ecosystem fund for The Graph, an indexing layer for Web3 and blockchain data. 

Meghji, who resigned from the FDIC on Feb. 18, was the agency’s first chief innovation officer. He held the post for about a year. 

Shortly after leaving the agency, he wrote a op-ed for Bloomberg, saying he “found barriers to innovation” at virtually every agency he worked with. He collaborated with the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other federal agencies during his stint at the FDIC. 

Meghji also expressed concern that existing regulation may be inadequate to address modern technological challenges. 

“Serving in this role was an honor, but my decision to leave was right,” he wrote. “The federal bureaucracy is both hesitant and hostile to technological change. America’s global financial leadership is in jeopardy.” 

Meghji also took issue with the level of knowledge at various federal departments. 

“I estimate that across the agencies I encountered, less than one-tenth of staff had a basic understanding of the technologies they regulate,” he said. “Even senior officials — those who lead regulatory development and implementation — are baffled by concepts like fintech, the dark web and even financial apps.”  

The hiring process was another area of concern.

“The federal hiring process does a poor job of identifying and keeping the best candidates,” he said. 

“I lost track of the number of times I was told to hire someone with few qualifications over a proven technology specialist,” Meghji added. “The government must put applied digital knowledge front and center instead of prioritizing government tenure and unrelated qualifications.”

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