I am CEO

CEO Expands Digital Financial Inclusion to Vulnerable Populations

Full Episode from I AM CEO Podcast - IAM2048

In this episode, we have Briana Marbury, the president and CEO of the Interledger Foundation (ILF).

Briana shares her journey and the impactful work of ILF in promoting digital financial inclusion globally.

Briana discusses the challenges associated with traditional financial systems, particularly for vulnerable populations and third-world countries, where sending money can be costly and inefficient.

ILF's mission is to create interoperable and frictionless payment systems that are accessible to everyone, regardless of location or currency.

Briana also touches on her personal motivations and how her experiences in Detroit shaped her commitment to financial inclusivity.

The episode delves into the technical side of the Interledger Protocol's cross-currency payment capabilities and the importance of decentralized finance in creating a more inclusive financial ecosystem.

Website: interledger.org

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Full Interview:


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Briana Marbury Teaser 00:00

So imagine you have an emergency, you need this money right away. Sometimes you can get the money right away, but it's going to cost you even more.

So it could be up to 20 percent of the transaction costs. If you're sending money to other places, and if you're sending money to relatives who live in, say, a third world country, you know that makes a big difference and how much funds and can help stimulate the economy.

Intro 00:29

Are you ready to hear business stories and learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and level up your business from awesome CEOs, entrepreneurs, and founders without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresh values your time and is ready to share with you the valuable info you're in search of. This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:57

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I Am CEO podcast. And I have a very special guest on the show today, Briana Marbury on the show. Briana,, excited to have you on the show.

Briana Marbury 01:06

Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Gresham Harkless 01:08

Yes, absolutely. I'm excited to have you as well too. And before we jumped into the interview, I want to read a little bit more about Brianna so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's been working on.

Brianna is the president and CEO of the Interledger Foundation, or ILF, a nonprofit organization committed to expanding digital financial inclusion to vulnerable populations. ILF invests in organizations, communities, and entrepreneurs working towards the shared goal of enabling interoperable and frictionless payment around the globe.

In her role, Brianna leads the strategic vision of the organization and has grown ILF from a small team of three to a workforce of change-makers all across the globe.

Having firsthand experience and the challenges associated with navigating inequitable and inaccessible financial systems. Brianna understands how imperative it is to enable communities within opportunity to create and lead their own financial futures.

In recognition of her work at ILF she has been nominated as a finalist for Finnovates 2023 Executive of the Year Award and named as a Changemaker on the International Black Heritage Month's inaugural list. in a recognition of individuals disrupting the status quo and advancing inclusions.

And some fun facts I found about Brianna was that she's from Detroit, but she's lived in many places and was briefly a digital nomad, which I thought was pretty cool.

We talked a little bit and we're, we're connecting over our being both dog parents, her dog's name is Seamus. And I have to do any shout out. I get the opportunity to talk about any other dog parents.

But I really love when I was reading an interview, she said something that really stuck with me, where she said, inclusion should be an expectation, not an invitation.

Every leader in every field benefits from ensuring inclusivity is woven into the DNA of their organization. It is proven across the board that genuinely inclusive organizations perform better. So I love that because that speaks to all the awesome things you're doing. Brianna, I appreciate your time. Are you ready to speak to the I Am CEO community?

Briana Marbury 02:58

Yes, I think so. But I think you just captured everything.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:01

We just dropped the mic from there, right? But no, no, no. I wanted to drive a little bit deeper and rewind the clock a little bit here a little bit more on how you got started to do all these awesome things. Tell us your CEO story.

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Briana Marbury 03:13

Thanks. So yes, as you said, I grew up in Detroit and it was Just a regular childhood in Detroit, trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do. Shortly after I finished undergrad and grad school, I determined that working for a normal. There's corporation was not best for me.

I wanted to work for an organization whose mission I really aligned with. And so I went to work for nonprofits, which is where I've spent the majority of my career and in doing that work.

I came across the Interledger protocol and foundation when it was starting. And so when I first found out about it, because I'm not a tech person, an Interledger Protocol is a payment technology that I was not familiar with and my original training is as an accountant. And so I was running finance departments in organizations.

And so when it was introduced to me, like, Hey, I think you'd be perfect for this. It's like, yeah, but I'm not a payments person. I'm not a tech person. But as I was reading about the protocol and its capabilities, I was like, Oh, wow, this is awesome. And so I learned, a long way about payments. I didn't have an understanding of payments.

But I knew about the issues that existed with payments. So let me tell you a little bit about the protocol versus the foundation. The intellectual protocol is a payments network that allows you to send money and the goal is to make it as easy as an email right now. We have. You can send me an email.

I don't know who your Internet provider is. And, but I know that you're going to get that email right away. So, we're trying to do the same thing with payments and the thing with the Interledger Protocol is that it's currency agnostic, meaning I can send you money from the U. S. Mexico, vice versa, anywhere around the world.

And it does the currency translation for you. Foundation was set up to kind of promote the protocol and let people know about what it is and provide opportunities for people who are interested in building on this technology.

Gresham Harkless 05:35

Nice. I appreciate you breaking that down. And I was actually watching a video of you breaking down the, the, I guess the differences between our understanding maybe both of those aspects and how important that is.

And, and I think it's something that I'm going to just say, like, sometimes maybe we take for granted. We go through our day, we swipe our card, do whatever it is we pay online. We don't realize, like, first of all, like how I guess maybe many other people listening to this, how easy it is for that to happen, but how that isn't the case for everybody, which is why I love all the awesome work that you all are doing.

Briana Marbury 06:04

Yeah, it is definitely not the case for everybody. And if you have relatives in another country, which a lot of us do, you know, the pains of trying to send money to another country. Say, for instance, you go on vacation and you know, forbid that you need to get emergency funds. You're going to recognize how difficult that is.

I remember I spent some time and my credit card wouldn't work. And so I was asking 1 of my friends who I was with, who paid for something for me, like, okay, what is the equivalent here of cash after? And they're like. What is that? And I was like, you know, just being able to transfer money. They said, well, we can go to the ATM and get some cash-out.

And so it is definitely something that we take for granted. And depending on where you're sending money to, it can take a long time. It can take three to five days. So imagine you have an emergency, you need this money right away. Sometimes you can get the money right away, but it's going to cost you even more.

So It could be up to 20 percent of the transaction costs. If you're sending money to other places, and if you're sending money to relatives who live in, say, a third world country, you know, that makes a big difference and how much funds and can help stimulate the economy.

Gresham Harkless 07:36

Yeah, absolutely. I think so many times you find this a lot.

I feel like that's where I really love entrepreneurship and people say, not only. Is this a problem? Not only that there should be a better way, but they're actually going out to create that better way. It sounds like your best. You're basically helping to empower those people that do say, hey, there can be a solution.

There will be a solution. And I will work towards that happening so that they can make that happen.

Briana Marbury 07:58

Yes, definitely. Definitely, even in the United States, think about some of the communities here, how hard it is to get a bank account, especially if you have had overdraft fees that overdraft fee, you owe that bank.

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And then it goes around to all the other banks, which makes it very difficult for you to even establish any type of financial, digital footprint. So, that's 1 of the things that we're working on as well. We haven't found the partner yet, so that's a great opportunity for any entrepreneur. We haven't found a partner yet or project yet where someone is really working on trying to figure this out.

So that is 1 area that is just right. For trying to develop something.

Gresham Harkless 08:49

Yeah, absolutely. So what would you consider to be what I'd like to call your secret sauce?

This could be for yourself, the organization, a combination of both. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?

Briana Marbury 08:58

For our organization, I believe our secret sauce is the fact that you don't hear about many tech organizations who are also non-profits, who are also giving grants to people when I say giving grants.

We're not asking for the money back. We're just giving money to people to try to make financial digital services more accessible to everyone. So you don't hear about that combination. And I think that's something that really sets us apart. Oftentimes people are skeptical. Like, what's the catch? Like, what are you trying to do?

It's like, we really just are trying to do good. That's what our purpose is.

Gresham Harkless 09:40

Yeah, and it's huge. So I wanted to switch gears a little bit and I wanted to ask you for what I call a CEO hack.

So this could be a little bit more of an app, a book or even a habit that you have, but what's something that makes you more effective and efficient?

Briana Marbury 09:52

Something that makes me more effective, I believe is just keeping up with everything that's going on. So never becoming complacent with the status quo in this world.

It's in this tech world. It's just so much that's going on and so much that's ever-changing that you can't become comfortable. You have to keep looking at what's the newest technology.

Who's working on something? How can you partner with other people and leverage what they're doing? In addition to what you're doing to try to make a bigger impact.

So, I think, you know, for me, just sitting back, like, okay, we have this established. We're good. That's just not an option.

Gresham Harkless 10:35

Yeah, it's that hunger that insatiable hunger to be able to continue to kind of, you know, I think when you're fueled by the mission and the why I usually say it gets more attached to the why than the how.

Sometimes the how is not always clear. But if you have that why you have that insatiable hunger, continue to kind of find those solutions and continue to kind of be abreast of like all the changes and updates.

Briana Marbury 10:54

Definitely my team. It's funny. They're like Brianna. Okay. Which do you want to do this? This and this?

I'm like, yes, we have to narrow it down. You try to do too much. I'm like, we can do it all. But you have to, you do have to find the balance. But yes, I just am eager to do. All of these things, because I passionately want to make this work I grew up in Detroit again, and we didn't have access to say banks.

And I personally experienced how not having financial access. Put me behind, say, my peers who were under different circumstances. And so that's why that's 1 of the reasons why this is so important. Just a passion project for me.

Gresham Harkless 11:41

Yeah, absolutely. And I love when you can have obviously have that passion project and you're able to marry that with the impact.

And just as you said, I think it honestly speaks to like that. Abundant mentality where you don't have to choose either, or you choose both or check all, you know, I'm thinking to check all boxes at the very bottom, but I appreciate you talking about.

You know, so much, I think we zoom over, you know, we think about the finances, the money, of course, that's a place, but we sometimes forget about what I like to call that human aspect of business, human aspect of life of like what those finances, what being able to make sure you're reducing those fees or transfer money time, how that impacts the world and the people.

And I think sometimes we can get lost over that.

Briana Marbury 12:18

Absolutely. If you think about someone, like I said, it's in that situation where you don't have access to a bank account and you have to go say to your corner store to cash your check and you're already living paycheck to paycheck and then they're charging you, you know, 5, 10 percent just to access your money.

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Imagine what that 5 or 10 percent can be used for. Why should people who have less have to pay more? It's just, it's just not right.

Gresham Harkless 12:46

Yeah, absolutely. And I don't know if this is the right word and I hear it a lot around, like you know, different types of payment is like the decentralization where it doesn't is it in 1 is that accurate and saying, like, it's not, you know, has to be through, you know, I guess this company or this software or whatever it is.

It sounds like that's what you guys are doing as well.

Briana Marbury 13:03

Absolutely. Decentralized finance. Yes, where just 1 person isn't or 1 organization isn't at the hub or the center of it. And you have a connection of all these different networks that are able to communicate with each other and no one is left out.

Gresham Harkless 13:23

Yeah, absolutely. No one's left behind. No one's left out. So I wanted to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget, a little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice. I like to say it might be something you would hop into a time machine and tell your younger business self, or it's potentially one of these entrepreneurs that are listening to this.

You might give them advice as well, too.

Briana Marbury 13:41

It's about. Following your passion when I became an accountant, it wasn't because I'm like, oh, yeah, I love, you know, numbers. I love this. I love the complexity of it, but I did not have a passion for accounting and I've come across a lot of people who are like, I just want to make money.

I want to be a leader. It's like. Be a leader in what make money and what, because if you're not happy in what you're doing, if you're not passionate about it, it's just going to be empty.

So, I think a lot of people talk about, you know, finding your passion, but really. If you are working in an area that you just don't care about, and it's just all about money, then, you know, you're not going to be able to find as much success as you can.

Gresham Harkless 14:30

Yeah, I love it. And I want to ask you now my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And our goal is to have different quote-unquote CEOs on the show. So Brianna, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Briana Marbury 14:40

It means that you have to. Embody a vision and be able to amplify that to the world and have people buy in to what your vision is.

It means a lot of responsibility. I am responsible for a staff of over 30 across the world. And so just really having them understand. And I feel like they have a part in what the organization is just being able to realize the vision of an organization. That's what I think a CEO job is.

Gresham Harkless 15:16

Perfect. Perfect. Perfect. Well, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. So what I want to do now is pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And of course, how best people can get a hold of you.

Find out about you, your team, all the awesome things that you all are doing.

Briana Marbury 15:33

Yes. So please follow us on all the socials. We're on LinkedIn, X, Instagram, and interledger.org. We always have opportunities open for call for proposals, whether that is. You want to submit for a grant you are passionate like we are about this and want to spread it as an ambassador across the community.

So we are on all the channels. You ever have any questions info@interledger.org.Rg. We have a huge tech team and a community of people who are also passionate about this. That can help along your journey.

Gresham Harkless 16:15

Absolutely. Well, I truly appreciate that. Of course. To make it even easier, we're gonna have the links and information as well in the show notes that everybody can follow up with you, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest day.

Briana Marbury 16:23

Thank you. You as well.

Outro 16:25

Thank you for listening to the I Am CEO podcast, powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us iamceo.co. I Am CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Want to level up your business even more? Read blogs, listen to podcasts, and watch videos at cbnation.co.

Also, check out our I Am CEO Facebook group. This has been the I Am CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless Jr. Thank you for listening.


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