5 Questions with Wole Coaxum of MoCaFi
Wole C. Coaxum is a Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Mobility Capital Finance, Inc. (“MoCaFi”). MoCaFi is a start-up financial technology company that leverages mobile technologies, data analytics and digital strategies to improve the financial behaviors of underbanked communities with the goal of moving people away from high cost alternative financial services products, e.g., payday lenders, check cashers, pawn shops, etc., and into the financial mainstream, so communities can live healthy and productive financial lives.
1. Can you explain how MoCaFi works and how it benefits consumers?
MoCaFi is a financial inclusion platform that provides people and communities with access to fair, affordable, wealth building financial services. We believe that a solid financial foundation should be attainable regardless of income, savings, credit history or social status.
A key component of our ecosystem is our proprietary Mobility Score, which rewards people if they ‘Spend Smart, Build Credit and Live Wealthy.’
To achieve our goal we have partnered with organizations like YWCA, United Way, HUD and municipalities across the country to deliver services.
MoCaFi is a mobile financial platform that engages with its members in innovative ways. Through our app, members can enroll in an FDIC-insured bank account and have access to a robust set of features including free transfers, mobile check deposits, and a savings account.
Living Wealthy happens for our members as we create, curate and deliver the best quality educational content, and increase our users’ financial literacy levels.
Just for downloading the app and creating a profile, members get a complimentary 30-minute session with a MoCaFi wealth coach.
We strive to create a lifelong relationship with our members and partner with them in their financial journey.
2. Consumer banking has evolved by creating multiple touchpoints for consumers to engage and establish credit. What strides is MoCaFi making to keep credit top of mind for consumers, so they can build and manage credit?
Building credit is one of our three pillars. It is also one of our core differentiators. Through us members can set up to pay their rent and have those rental payments reported to Equifax, Experian and TransUnion, thereby building credit as those who make mortgage payments do.
We can report rental payments to the Bureaus whether you pay your rent on our platform or any other way.
We are exploring other payments that our members make on a regular basis, like utility payments, that we can report to the credit bureaus.
In addition, we are looking to provide small-dollar loans available to our members at fair prices and with viable terms, such as non-compounding interest and 12-month repayment times, in order to address two things: the chronic shortage of emergency savings, and another way to build credit.
Students, or the 18-24 year group, in particular, by definition have thin to no credit files. We see our ecosystem as a straightforward and fair-priced environment in which people of all kinds can build credit and financial stability.
3. You started MoCaFi in 2015. What makes someone leave the stability of a job in finance to become an entrepreneur?
I was very much a part of the mainstream financial system, working with small businesses and individuals for the last 20-some-odd years. I was fortunate to see the impact that financial services can have in terms of creating jobs and opportunities for individuals and families, but significant numbers of people are outside of the economic mainstream.
What was clear to me is that lots of people understand the issues and can articulate the problems. We know that 1/3 of white Americans make less than $15 an hour, that 3/5 of Hispanic Americans make less than $15 an hour, and that a majority of African Americans make less than $15 an hour. We know that some studies show people spending upwards of $1,200 per year on financial products that are exploitative. Some families spend more on financial products than they spend on food. You look at that and you say, “There must be a better way.”
Given my personal concern about these issues and my training, my knowledge of how the financial services industry works and of how financial services can be delivered, I thought that this would be a good time in my career to think through how I could make an impact.
Most recently, I was at JPMorgan, running sales for Business Banking. We had 2.3 million customers, and I was responsible for 12,000 bankers working with 5,600 branches. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could use technology to create a better customer experience. I realized that if we can do this for Chase customers, we can do it to address some of these issues for underserved communities across the country.
The other piece that struck me is the number of payday lenders and check cashers we have. They dwarf the number of McDonald’s. When I realized they represent a $140 billion industry, I thought maybe I could impact this conversation.
4. You make note of “living wealthy” in order to practice sound financial habits. It somewhat sounds contradictory, so what does it really mean?
In this context, Living Wealthy is a mindset as much as it is a level of disposable income or consumption capacity. So, they go hand in hand, sound financial habits and wealthy living: one certainly won’t stay wealthy, in the event of inherited wealth, without the right mindset. This is also true at the opposite end of the spectrum: it is near impossible to get where you want to go if you have no map and no guidance on how to get there.
We think about what kind of basic ‘duh’ elements are part of wealthy living, and they are not mysterious or complex. There is the insight that assets are better than debt; that the right life insurance policy is a wise place to start; that whatever the size and value of one’s estate and goods, it is better to have a will (and a living will) than not.
It all starts with education. The more knowledgeable that our members are, the better equipped they are to have a wealthy mindset. Product selection is a natural outgrowth from that.
5 What is a New Year’s goal you’ve set for yourself?
We are looking forward to an exciting 2019. The question that we are often asked is: How can we track how are people using our service? In early 2019 we will make VantageScores available to MoCaFi members for free. This is an exciting next step for us as we help people improve their credit and track the impact. We are committed to driving positive customer outcomes, and adding this capability is a big step forward in that effort.
Bio: Wole Coaxum
Prior to starting MoCaFi in 2015, Wole served as Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase, where he held a series of leadership positions in Business Banking, Card Services, and Treasury & Securities Services.
Prior to joining JPMorgan in 2007, Wole was a senior executive of Willis Towers Watson, where he served as Chief Financial Officer & Chief Operating Officer of Willis North America and Chief Executive Officer of Willis Canada. He started his career at Citigroup working in investment banking, asset management, insurance and corporate functions.
Wole currently serves as a Trustee of Phillips Exeter Academy and a board member of the Roosevelt Institute. His former board participation includes as a member of the board of the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Chairman of the Board for Phoenix House New York and member of the Phoenix House Foundation Board. He is the recipient of the Harlem YMCA – Black Achievers in Industry Award.
He has a Masters of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from New York University, a Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in history from Williams College, and studied politics, philosophy and economics at Exeter College, Oxford University.
Wole lives in Westchester County, N.Y., with his wife, Kim, and their two daughters, Quinn and Avery.