Thursday, 18 July 2024

Nominations are in for Digital Finance Leader of the Year 2024

5 min read

By Chris Kapfer

TAB Global’s annual Digital Finance Leader of the Year award recognises one outstanding individual reshaping finance through innovation and inclusion

In the global digital banking sector, leaders are reshaping digital finance through innovation, customer experience, and financial inclusion. The Annual Digital Bank Awards recognise players who have made a significant impact in their markets and regions.

Every year, TABInsights, the research arm of TAB Global, publishes the World’s Top 100 Digital Banks Ranking. This ranking is based on a set of criteria that has become the gold standard by which all players evaluate their respective performance.

We also shortlist leaders of digital banks to identify those who demonstrate exceptional strategies leading to extraordinary results that set the benchmarks for the rest of the industry.

We invite the industry to contribute to our understanding of the criteria by voting for the Digital Finance Leader of the Year, based on their achievements for the year under review.

This year, three exceptional individuals have been nominated, recognising their stewardship, foresight, and commitment to using technology for broader financial access. The nominees are:

  • David Vélez, CEO & Co-Founder, Nubank (South America)
  • David Ku, Chairman and CEO, WeBank (China)
  • Rishi Khosla, CEO, OakNorth Bank (UK)

David Vélez, CEO and Co-Founder, Nubank (South America)

Vélez’s leadership at Nubank revolutionised Latin America’s financial sector, propelling the digital bank to profitability with 90 million users, exemplary credit risk management, and a focus on innovation and community impact

David Vélez’s leadership at Nubank, one of the largest independent digital banks outside China by number of users, has revolutionised Latin America’s financial sector. As CEO and co-founder since 2014, he has transformed an innovative startup into a leading digital bank, challenging the inefficiencies of traditional banking with a digital, customer-centric model. In Brazil, where five banks dominated the market with high fees and poor service, Vélez, alongside co-founders Cristina Junqueira and Edward Wible, introduced a disruptive digital model expanding across Brazil, and steadily into Mexico and Colombia.

Transitioning to a multi-product strategy around 2020, Nubank experienced explosive user growth, reaching approximately 90 million users, mainly in Brazil, with a 90% digital activity rate. In 2023, Nubank turned profitable, projecting $1 billion in annual net income, marking a significant milestone for the bank.

With a 90% revenue increase for the first nine months of 2023 and a record 9% risk-adjusted net interest margin despite higher non-performing loans, Nubank demonstrates strong credit risk management. It stands out for customer satisfaction and operational efficiency, boasting a high Net Promoter Score of 90% and lower operating costs compared to many fintechs. The cost-efficiency ratio improved from over 70% in 2021 to around 35% by the third quarter of 2023.

Vélez’s philanthropic efforts, including the launch of the VélezReyes+ foundation in 2022, partially funded by selling $191 million in shares, show his commitment to community impact.

Aiming to make Nubank Latin America’s largest financial institution, its focus on product personalisation underscores a drive for excellence and innovation. Under Vélez’s direction, Nubank climbed from 10th to fifth in the World’s Top 100 Digital Banks Ranking in 2022 and 2023, respectively, setting a global benchmark for digital banks by balancing profitability with customer satisfaction and efficiency.

David Ku, Chairman and CEO, WeBank (China)

Ku’s leadership at WeBank propelled it to becoming China’s largest digital bank with $70 billion in assets, 377 million individual customers, and 4.1 million MSMEs, pioneering innovative financial solutions and achieving profitability within 24 months

David Ku has played a crucial role in steering WeBank towards becoming a prominent global digital bank, showcasing remarkable technological innovation capabilities and ensuring robust financial performance. With over a decade of experience at Ping An Group, Ku assumed the role of chairman and CEO at WeBank, China’s first digital bank, at its inception in December 2014. His leadership has been instrumental in shaping the bank’s strategic direction, fostering growth in the fiercely competitive fintech sector, and upholding a commitment to serving underserved segments through innovative digital financial solutions.

With the backing of Tencent and Ku’s leadership, WeBank has emerged as the largest digital bank in China, boasting total assets reaching $70 billion as of June 2023. Additionally, it holds the most extensive user base among digital banks globally, with over 377 million individual customers and more than 4.1 million micro and small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Offering a comprehensive range of products including deposits, loans, wealth management, and insurance, WeBank has successfully navigated the fast-paced financial technology industry within China’s dynamic digital landscape. While experiencing a slowdown in the first half of 2023, the bank still demonstrated financial strength through strong operational efficiency and an impressive return on equity. The bank has set a world record of becoming profitable within 24 months after its launch.

Guided by Ku, WeBank excels in leveraging technology for innovative financial services, leading the way in adopting cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain to enhance operations and customer offerings. WeBank is a pioneer in high-frequency, low-ticket consumer financing in China, and the inception of the first fully-distributed core banking system here, facilitating high-concurrency transactions among millions of customers. With a peak daily transaction record of 840 million and a product availability rate of 99.9%, WeBank has established a secure, scalable and resilient core banking system.

WeBank has consistently proven itself to be among the world’s leading digital banks, securing the top spot in last year’s World’s Top 100 Digital Banks Ranking.

Rishi Khosla, CEO, OakNorth Bank (UK)

Khosla’s leadership at OakNorth Bank, established in 2015, has transformed SME banking, providing $13 billion in loans, creating 40,000 jobs, and pioneering digital lending solutions focused on innovation and community

Rishi Khosla has been at the forefront of transforming banking for SMEs with the establishment of OakNorth Bank in 2015, alongside Joel Perlman. This SoftBank-backed digital bank prioritises providing business loans to underserved SMEs, driven by the belief that ambitious entrepreneurs are catalysts for innovation and economic growth. As the CEO of OakNorth, Khosla’s leadership has propelled the institution to rapid growth by implementing innovative, technology-driven lending solutions.

Under Khosla’s guidance, OakNorth has strategically integrated advanced technologies and automated workflows to optimise operations. It has fortified resilience, ensured scalability, and stringent risk management standards. In 2022, OakNorth achieved an impressive efficiency ratio of 26%, with about 80% of new lending coming through referrals and over 40% of borrowers being repeat clients.

Remarkably, OakNorth turned a profit within just two years of its inception. Since its establishment, the bank has provided GBP 10 billion ($13 billion) in loans to ambitious entrepreneurs across the UK, leading to the creation of over 40,000 new jobs and the development of more than 29,000 new homes. OakNorth also helps savers to invest in businesses contributing to job creation within their local communities.

Beyond his role at OakNorth, Khosla actively engages in impactful entrepreneurial and philanthropic endeavours, solidifying his influence in both business and social spheres. He leads the Mentorpreneurship Programme with LSE Generate, a pioneering initiative supporting socially conscious businesses by offering diverse opportunities and mentoring activities. This program aims to inspire entrepreneurial thinking and promote initiatives in the education sector by collaborating with schools and academies to instill an intrepid spirit in the next generation.

OakNorth Bank has successfully proven to be among the world’s top digital SME banks and ranked 19th in last year’s World’s Top 100 Digital Banks Ranking.

We invite our readers to offer their feedback on these nominations. Should you wish to share your insights on the candidates, kindly do so by 1 March to the TAB Global Excellence in Retail Finance Awards 2024 secretariat, led by Chris Kapfer at

Keywords: Digital Finance Leader Of The Year 2024, Global Digital Banking, Innovation, Customer Experience, Financial Inclusion, Tabinsights, World’s Top 100 Digital Banks Ranking, Transformative Leadership, User Growth, Profitability, Community Initiatives
Institution: Nubank, WeBank, OakNorth Bank, TABInsights, SoftBank, Ping An Group, Tencent, VélezReyes+ Foundation, LSE Generate
People: David Vélez, Cristina Junqueira, Edward Wible, David Ku, Rishi Khosla, Joel Perlman
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