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Sultan Meghji

Why I Quit as FDIC Innovation Chief: Technophobia

Agencies that protect the U.S. financial system assume that 20th-century rules can be jury-rigged to cover 21st-century technology.

Stuck in the past.

Stuck in the past.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

On Friday, I resigned as the first chief innovation officer at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The position was created in 2018 to kickstart a technological transformation of America’s financial system, focusing on modernization and confronting threats from criminals, terrorists and especially Russia and China. Serving in this role was an honor, but my decision to leave was right. The federal bureaucracy is both hesitant and hostile to technological change. America’s global financial leadership is in jeopardy.

My position allowed me to collaborate with the Federal Reserve, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Treasury Department, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and many other agencies. My work touched on artificial intelligence, quantum computing, cryptocurrency, ransomware, foreign hacking and more. On virtually every front, I found barriers to innovation.