Privacy and Technology: Message from a Fintech Founder
Why Humane Technology is the ONLY way to build a Tech Company Now
By Erin Papworth | 10 December 2020
For anyone who has recently watched the Social Dilemma on Netflix, you understand that how technology companies approach data privacy and product ethics is currently mainly unregulated and extremely varied per corporation. Our data and our experience through technology are at the whim of the leaders of the tech companies trying to solve the pain points of our daily lives.
There has been a paucity of leadership regarding data privacy over the past ten years from our political leaders, especially in the U.S. With the recent announcement of anti-monopoly lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department against Google and Facebook, there are slow indications our government is attempting to reign in the monstrosity that is data, monopolies and the technology we use on a daily basis.
How the next generation of technologists approach humane technology is one of the most important conversations of our day.
One side of the coin
We can’t deny that technology can be a force of good, it can connect disparate groups from around the world to give to a cause and offer a platform to a nine year old prodigy to showcase her exceptional talents and hold drum-offs with the best drummers in the world. And more importantly, technology has the potential to help reduce wealth inequality and democratize access to low-cost financial services that have historically only been available to certain demographics. That is the strength and the beauty of interconnectedness and the ability for scalable technology to serve the needs of millions.
Fighting the consequences of technology
The inverse, and what all tech founders of this generation must consciously fight against, are the secondary consequences of technology. Increases in anxiety and suicide rates, especially for young people, have been attributed to the rise of social media. Interconnected monetary systems have created a playground for money laundering, drug trafficking and cybertheft. While it is frivolous to try and turn back the tide of our interconnected world, we all have a role to play in demanding better of the people designing products for society.
In many instances, the root cause of harmful effects is design bias. Design bias is the lack of checks and balances for product designers and leaders when they are thinking through and prototyping the user experience and outcomes of a product. This means the designers only consider their world view, their needs, their experiences in the world, and align their business incentives to design for that. That could be one reason we have drones dropping off Thai takeout food to ‘woke’ 24-year-olds in San Francisco, but haven’t figured out how to solve the unacceptably high mortality rates for Black women giving birth in this country.
The consequences of this design bias are rampant. AI driven products have misidentified people of color for crimes they didn’t commit, the first generation of health tracking apps completely forgot that women have monthly periods that affect weight and nutrition, and female drivers were 47% more likely to be seriously injured in a car crash than their male counterparts because seat belt designs only took into account the average male height, weight and stature. As we morph ever deeper into a technology-driven reality, design bias has incredibly important life and death consequences.
This is why I am heartened by the continued call for diversity within founding teams, product design teams, and corporate leadership. It’s a slow process, but one that we must demand of our corporate leaders and society. Equally, we need to rethink a world where technology seems free but we are selling the very essence of who we are, the data that quantifies us, to unknown sources. In an era where people are more willing to pay for high quality products that solve their pain points, leaders have an opportunity to align their business incentives with the health and wellness of their end customer base.
That’s why at Nav.it we have made the Humane Design processes the foundation of our company. We are conscious we have our customers trust us as we support them in their quest for a healthy life, both mentally and financially. We take that responsibility extremely seriously and are proud to publicly discuss how our Humane Technology Strategy is baked into the DNA of our company.
Justice Driven product
Nav.it – Our Humane Technology Mission Statement
We’re committed to making socially responsible products and services, and we want to make you part of that process. Whether you’re a user of Nav.it, a spectator, an employee or contractor of Nav.it, your feedback and participation in our product improvement is vital to our joint success.
Equalize the narrative around money and provide innovative behavior change technology that makes money more inclusive, practical and hyper-focused on consumer financial health.
At Nav.it, we seek constant improvement. Our current values and how we implement them are provided below. Make sure to check our website regularly, as we are continually updating our methods.
Do No Harm. Your relationship with money is more than transactional, and we want to make sure our tool set keeps you financially healthy in every sense. We’ve instituted a product “opposite day” where we take one feature and have the team dissect all the possible secondary effects, outcomes, harms and use the document from these sessions to inform our design. Outside of our continued user research, we also regularly check in with ethicists, technologists and other interested parties to discuss and test our feature sets, attempting to identify and mitigate secondary unintended consequences of our features.
Vigilance. Each customer is dramatically different, and we attempt to adapt to all of our customers’ needs. On top of the standard security, checks and balances and internal processes, we have a company wide customer debrief session monthly in order to evaluate case studies of Nav.igators as well as review regular user research with diverse user groups.
Your Success is Our Success. Our leadership team is measured on customer success metrics. We currently implement a company-wide user feedback loop to build our customer satisfaction and response into a robust and effective system. We take seriously the intended outcomes of increased financial wellness scores in aggregate for our Nav.igator base and are constantly measuring our success based on the increased financial outcomes of our Nav.igators.
Transparent Innovation: Transparency in both our business practices and how the financial system works is part of our mission. We believe opaque business practices are an out-dated reality of the past and our job is to make sure our customers receive timely and transparent data at all times. We challenge the status quo while ensuring we are transparent about our business practices.
Inclusivity – Community: We believe we are #strongertogether and by facilitating a healthy and safe environment we can learn and grow as a team. We acknowledge every customer is unique but also that there are meta money themes we all experience that, if shared, can make us all feel less alone. We all have to manage money, why not start talking about it safely? The beauty of our community is also the incredible diversity and depth of understanding share experience can bring. Our utmost priority is creating an inclusive, equitable and healthy environment for us all to thrive. We place value on our customers diverse backgrounds while building products with the same goal in mind for all: support us all to build wealth.
Want to know more?
We’re committed to transparency in our business practices. If you have a question about our corporate social responsibility principles or methods, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now for the legalese –
Basically this section is to make a public statement that we take very seriously our responsibility to protect the privacy and data of our customers and adhere to the laws that govern us. Our job is to serve you with the best possible product and protect your privacy and data at all times.
Let the lawyers begin:
Privacy and Guidelines:
Nav.it conducts its business based on a set of values and guidelines for action and behavior regarding people (including, without limitation, clients, employees, communities impacted by Nav.it’s business activities, and shareholders) and the environment, as set forth in the “Nav.it Values” below, and that these values and guidelines are consistent with a more general framework of fundamental principles to which Nav.it adheres (our “Values”).
When we conduct business, we will do our best to ensure that our suppliers, subcontractors, and any person under our control conducts its business in a manner consistent with our Values and all applicable laws and regulations relating to the subject matter thereof. This includes all applicable state, national, and international laws, rules, and regulations relating to ethical and responsible standards of behavior, including, without limitation, those dealing with human rights (including, without limitation, human trafficking, and slavery and conflict mineral sourcing), environmental protection, sustainable development, and bribery and corruption, including any legislation or regulation implementing the Principles (the “Rules”). We have adopted and implemented appropriate and effective policies to ensure compliance with these Rules, including:
due diligence and data collection procedures reasonably designed to monitor compliance with the Rules;
internal review and accountability structures to oversee internal compliance with the Rules;
ongoing training and instruction for our employees regarding compliance with the Rules;
a requirement that its subcontractors certify their compliance with the Rules; and
regular subcontractor audits, either directly or through a third-party auditor, to monitor compliance efforts.