Most of the people outside of Capital One think of it as a bank with those visigoths commercials and the “What’s in your wallet?” slogan. Few people know that Capital One is a startup in the financial world if you compare it other big names such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America or Chase. Capital One started only a couple decades ago as a data driven technology company. Before it, there was only one type of credit card and people with less than stellar credit just weren’t eligible for it. Capital One revolutionized the credit card industry by analyzing risks and consumer profiles. It turned out to be a big success. Then came the visigoths, along with the acquisitions of traditional brink and mortar (such as Chevy Chase) and online banks (ING DIRECT which is Capital One 360).
Nowadays, Capital One is going back to its roots and re-inventing itself as a technology company that focuses on finance, not just a finance company. That was one of the reason I joined Capital One as part of their Technology Fellows program. The program’s mission to bring innovation, expertise and guidance to the software engineering. By the way, software engineering in Capital One is moving more and more to the in-house model vs. being outsourced like most of the financial companies do.
It’s been a little bit over a month since I started my new Technology Fellows position, and I already have seen a few cutting-edge projects. Some of them like the credit card made from old wood from ships or skate board or metal are only available to associates at this moment. Others like Ideas, Level Money, the Capital One mobile app and the Capital One Wallet app are live and available from App Store and Google Play. Those apps have features that I haven’t seen in other banking or financial apps (Bank of America, Simple, Mint, etc.).
I’m not advocating getting a credit card, but if you’re on the market check out the Quicksilver credit card. It has very simple rules on how to get cash back, comparing to credit cards with their gotchas on miles and percentages.
It feels like Capital One at the beginning of this wave (among other startups and companies like Apple, Square, PayPal/eBay, etc.) that will bring disruption to a very conservative industry. Unlike startups, Capital One is a public company with strong resources, customer base, data and prove track record, so that puts the company in a unique position. With the motto “Change banking for good”, the future for consumers of financial products will only be better!
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