March 21, 2022

Banking for Everyone with Fintech CEO Sheena Allen

Plus: Why stock is the perfect baby shower gift

Nora and Scott speak with Sheena Allen, the founder and CEO of fintech company and neobank CapWay, which provides bank services and financial education via a mobile app. They discuss bootstrapping vs VC funding, what it means to be financially underserved in the U.S. today, and the importance of building generational wealth. 

Hosts: Nora Ali & Scott Rogowsky
Producer: Bella Hutchins
Production, Mixing & Sound Design: Daniel Markus
Music: Daniel Markus & Breakmaster Cylinder
Senior Producer: Katherine Milsop
Director of Audio: Alan Haburchak
VP, Head of Multimedia: Sarah Singer

Full transcript for this episode below. 


Scott Rogowsky: Nora, how do you bank?

Nora Ali: How do I bank? I have so many accounts and that's part of the issue with our banking and financial system, is there's different systems for different things and it's hard to figure all of that out, but I first started investing my money and getting into the financial system outside of just an income and basic savings several years ago, but only because I had a friend who was very familiar with the space tell me to open up an app and start investing. That's not something my family had taught me necessarily, as you know, my parents came from the very, at the time, underdeveloped country of Bangladesh, didn't have much money here. So, they taught me the very basics, but not about how to grow my wealth necessarily. So, companies like CapWay are super important, which is the focus of our convo today.

Scott Rogowsky: True or false, you live in the Financial District.

Nora Ali: I do. I do live in the Financial District.

Scott Rogowsky: So, not a banking desert by any stretch.

Nora Ali: I live in the heart of finance.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah, you're in a banking oasis.

Nora Ali: Financial capital of the world. I live down the street from the New York Stock Exchange, literally.

Scott Rogowsky: But yeah, what we talked to Sheena about is really how the biases of the East and West Coasts and the banking system that, of course there's going to be a bank down the street. Of course you have access to the banks and lending and nonpredatory practices. But for so many people, that's actually not the reality. They are in these banking deserts and they can only get the cash checking places, they can only get the payday loans, the title loans and it really is horrible. I saw a John Oliver episode all about it, the predatory banking, and it really should be illegal, the types of interests that are charged for people who are most desperate for this money, they need that cash to keep the lights on, to keep food on the table. Then they end up paying for it tenfold down the road. So yeah, what Sheena's doing with CapWay and what a lot of people are trying to do to serve the underbanked and unbanked, and those who are preyed upon, it is a noble effort. I applaud it and yeah, Sheena's story is really, really interesting.

Nora Ali: The big banks aren't necessarily really hyper-focused on those who are underserved. So, thank goodness for people like Sheena and let's get into the conversation. Today, we are talking to Sheena Allen, the founder and CEO of fintech company, and neobank CapWay, which provides bank services in financial education. She joins us to talk about growing up in Mississippi, her journey in tech, and why she created a company focused on serving unbanked and underbanked individuals and an overall financial system. From Morning Brew, this is Business Casual, the podcast that reveals the unexpected business story behind everything. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you conversations with creators, thinkers, and innovators who can tell us what it all means and why we should care. Now, let's get down to business.

Nora Ali: Sheena, you grew up in Mississippi and went to school there. Tell us what your exposure was to banking systems and financial services, where I understand there weren't a lot of Bank of Americas and Wells Fargos. It was a pretty limited experience, right?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, we mainly have ... for the banks that we do have, there are mainly like credit unions, community banks, or your local banks. I think in the last year we got our first Chase bank in Mississippi.

Nora Ali: The last year, wow.

Sheena Allen: The last year, I think there's like one ATM for Bank of America in Tupelo. And the only reason we had Wells Fargo is because we used to have Wachovias and they took over Wachovia. But yeah, most of the banks in Mississippi are local banks.

Nora Ali: So, to get some more insight into your own story, you went to the University of Southern Mississippi, you were interested in building apps, and you've noodled on lots of different apps. You've sketched on pieces of paper and worked with developers. So, what were your plans in college and how did that lead you to developing apps in the first place?

Sheena Allen: It was going into my senior year, actually of college, right before school started, me and my roommate actually went to Walmart and just had this long receipt from Walmart and told my roommate. I was like, "Gosh, now I wish there was an app I can keep up my money and my receipts." Because I was very independent. I hated asking my parents for money, so if I had a dollar, I wouldn't tell them I only had a dollar. I was going to figure it out myself. So, I had to figure out a way to better keep up with my money, my receipts. I looked in the app store and I couldn't find it. I was like, "Cool, I'm going to create this app because I can't find it and I want it to exist."

Scott Rogowsky: Necessity, the mother of invention.

Nora Ali: And you were not a technical person by trade necessarily, and you've talked a lot about working in tech as a nontechnical founder and finding people to help you. So, what does that exactly mean? What was your approach to building the apps that you didn't have that you needed when you weren't the one who was coding it?

Sheena Allen: I will admit, I took a C++ class my sophomore year and I hated it. I mean, absolutely hated it. I was like, "This is not for me." And I only took it, I think it was a dare to take that class or something. But was really big back then, and was like the go-to websites back then. I asked my dad for a loan. I was like, "Take my refund check. Can you give me a loan? I'll get this app built." My dad is very Southern, very traditional, he's like, "Why are you trying to get an app built? What is an app?" I was like, it's going to be on your phone. And my dad still had the old Nokia that you play Snake on. So, he was like, "What is an app?" But he did. He gave me the money, he loaned it to me and I paid him back when I got my refund check and I did all the designing myself though. Everything I did myself, except the back-end coding and that was my first jump into tech.

Scott Rogowsky: It sounds like you wanted to launch an app empire with Sheena Allen Apps. It wasn't just one app. It was a suite of apps. What was your goal with Sheena Allen Apps when you first launched it?

Sheena Allen: Well being 100% honest, I wanted to be rich, the next week. I was like, "I'm going to launch this app and I'm going to be so rich by the time the end of this year comes," which did not happen. But I will say, people always say, "When you find what you love, you know it." I knew like this was what I was meant to do. This is what I love. So, even though the first one didn't do well, I said, "Before I graduate, I'm going to try one more time." So, I tried a second app that did way better than the first app. So, by the time I graduated, I was like, "This is what I want to do." Ultimately with Sheena Allen Apps, the three biggest things for me that I always take away from, it was one is what got me to Silicon Valley. I left Mississippi and went to San Jose because Google being my friend, I googled where do you go to build a tech empire? And it said Silicon Valley. So, I was like, let me get to Silicon Valley. The second thing I appreciate with Sheena Allen Apps was I bootstrapped it, whereas CapWay's a VC-backed company. So, I love the fact that I was able to literally bootstrap, work hard, figure things out the hard way. Because when you're a VC-backed company, I mean, raising money is hard, but having that money to scale and do those things, it's much easier than literally counting every penny. Lastly for me, I realized pretty soon that Sheena Allen Apps was not meant to be my unicorn, but I knew it was going to be a heck of a lesson for me and taking it into my next startup. So yeah, I mean I wanted to build a tech empire. I wanted to learn more than anything, though, and that was what Sheena Allen Apps did for me.

Nora Ali: I love that. All right, we are going to take a very quick break. More with Sheena when we come back. Sheena, before we get into more of the details of CapWay, let's talk about just the system overall. You've tried to bring humanity back to finance and you're trying to prevent people from relying on these predatory financial services for those who are underbanked and those who are unbanked. What is the difference, first, between those who are underbanked and those who are unbanked?

Sheena Allen: So if you are unbanked, it means that you do not have any bank account, any form of a bank account at all. If you are underbanked, that means you more than likely have some form of a bank account, probably with a credit union or even if it's with a bigger bank, you have an account, but you're not actually utilizing that account to the fullest. If anything, you're still relying on alternative financial services. So, you might bank with bank X, but you're still going to a check cashing place. You're not getting loan from your bank, you're going to get a predatory loan. So you're still having to use outside resources and usually predatory resources, even if you have an account. So, that's the difference in unbanked and underbanked.

Scott Rogowsky: Can you describe for those who don't have experience with it, this whole ecosystem of predatory banking? You mentioned payday lenders, check cashing shops, pawn shops, title loan shops. What are these? How do they operate and what's that life like living and relying on this predatory economy?

Sheena Allen: I always tell people, no one's out here getting a loan with a 400% interest APR on it because they want to. Some of these people, it is literally the difference in like feeding their kids at night or keeping the lights on. But predatory landing is pretty much you go to a payday lender. They'll look at how much you make, they'll give you a loan. But the interest rate is just ... should be illegal. I know people who have maybe gotten a loan for like $400 and by the time they pay it off, they probably paid $2,500, if not more.

Scott Rogowsky: Wow.

Sheena Allen: It's ridiculous and most people get a payday loan, unfortunately end up asking for an extension, which actually makes the interest rate even worse. I think the average person, if you borrow like $400, you end up paying back close to like five grand.

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh, wow.

Scott Rogowsky: That should be illegal, it really should be illegal.

Sheena Allen: It should be and it's a long period because once again, most people are going to need an extension on it, which is why I guess it's like that three, four, or five grand. Title loans is when you literally take the title of your car into this service and they look at your title, what kind of car it is, what year it is, and how many miles are on it and say, "Hey, we'll give you $3,000 for your 2015 Honda," as an example. If you do not pay the loan back, they have the title to your car and they will come and repo your car. They now own your car because you did not pay back a loan that might be as small as 2,500 bucks. So, that is what a title loan is. I've seen a documentary where people have taken their prize possessions or stuff that their grandparents have left them just to go pawn it, to get money and hope to go back and get it and they can't afford to go back and get it. They're losing stuff that means so much to them, but they're trying to survive. So, I always tell people there's a difference here that I think people don't give credit to, or maybe not understand. There are some people who are just irresponsible with money. They don't want to do better, they're fine with their conditions they're in. I'm just going to make it and I'm good with that. I wake up every day and watch the cars go by and cool. But there are some people who are working two and three jobs and they are truly struggling. It's not that they want this life. This is the life that they live and if they could find a better way, they had the resource, if they had the education, they would take advantage of it.

Nora Ali: That's an interesting distinction and more people are impacted by these predatory banking practices than we might even expect. You highlighted this in your TED Talk where you pointed out that being financially underserved doesn't necessarily equal being poor. What did you mean by this? And why was this an important thing to mention?

Sheena Allen: I know people who have $17,000 sitting in their house, but they don't have a bank account. I know someone who might have 50K in their house, but they don't have a bank account. Just because I am unbanked or underbanked, does not always equate to me being poor. It might just be the fact that I don't trust banks. It might be the fact that I have to drive 30 minutes to a bank and I want to be able to touch my money quicker, I want to see my money. For some reason, when you say underserved to any degree, people immediately equate that to being poor and that is actually not the case.

Nora Ali: Your grandmother even had a distrust of banks, I understand? That might be part of what drove you to start your company.

Sheena Allen: Honestly, not just my grandmother. I mean sisters, aunts, uncles, but my paternal and my maternal grandparents both kept their money in their homes. I tell the story of my grandmother a lot because I was so, so close to her. But honestly it was my paternal and my maternal side, my paternal grandmother kept her money in her recliner. My maternal grandmother kept her money in her mattress, like under her bed. So, it was actually both sides of my family who, the older generation especially, had a very much of a distrust for the banking system.

Scott Rogowsky: What informed their worldview about banking and how did it trickle down into you and your community?

Sheena Allen: I mean, for them, the distrust came down to just historical discrimination amongst Black and brown in the banking system. So, that played a big, big role in it. Wanting to see cash the older generation. I think even now, they still keep money in their homes, even if they have a bank account because it's something about seeing that cash. It's like the bank says it's there, but I can't touch it. I don't see it, I need to know that it is mine.

Scott Rogowsky: And even you mentioned your TED Talk, the availability of banks today in certain communities can be traced back to redlining practices, other discriminatory practices. How are local communities and local economies still experiencing the effects of redlining and that discrimination?

Sheena Allen: Yeah. I mean, redlining of course is outlawed now, quote unquote outlawed, but we still see it. For one, our financial system is outdated. If you go to some other countries, they are lightyears ahead of us when it comes to how they handle finances. There's some changes that we're going to have to make overall but that's really hard to do as a capitalistic country, in a way that something's been done for so long, whether it's mortgages, or redlining, where people get loans, where people stay. So it's a uphill battle, but yeah, this is why CapWay exists.

Nora Ali: Let's talk more about CapWay. You're solving all the problems, Sheena. As you mentioned, it's a financial system, it's not just for the underserved and unbanked necessarily. You started this in 2016, it launched in 2019, during which you became the youngest female in America to own and operate a digital bank, which is an amazing thing to be able to say. Walk us through exactly how CapWay works and why it's different from your traditional banking institutions.

Sheena Allen: I had the idea for it, as you mentioned, in 2016. I did like two years of research and I didn't want to do research of let me go and Google things or let me look at stats from Harvard Review or Deloitte. I literally got in my car and on planes. I wanted to hear people's stories. This goes into me saying how CapWay's different. I wanted to hear people's stories of why they felt the way they felt about the financial system, whether they was unbanked or not. I remember one story that stuck out to me, is always just embedded in my brain. I talk with a gentleman from the Bronx and he talked about going to cash his check at the check cashing place every Friday. He would say, "I work, I get my check. I go home first and I get a gun and then I go to the check cashing place." I say, "Well, why do you carry a gun to the check cashing place?" He said, "Well, think about it. If I'm just walking the streets of New York and somebody asks me for a dollar, I can easily be like, 'I don't have it. I don't have cash on me.' I'm good." He said, "But if I'm going to walk into a check cashing place, when I walk out, if somebody approaches me about money, I can't really lie and say, I don't have money, because nine times out of 10, I went in there to cash my check, which now I have cash on me." So, it was those types of stories, all those things I put together to really decide what direction I want to go in with CapWay. So, the original idea of CapWay, as I mentioned, in 2019, it was how do we build a digital bank for unbanked, underbanked, and I want to couple financial education with that? I'm a true believer that one should not exist without the other. There's a lot of financial literacy tools out here but to me, if I give you information or education, but I don't give you resources to put the education to use, it's kind of like a lost cause, if you would say so. The same, if it was opposite. If I give you a lot of money but I don't give you any information or resources, you're probably going to blow through that money, which we see happen all the time. So, that was the path we went in 2019. We actually were in stealth mode for about two years though, honestly. Then we've honestly made a pivot. So I want to say that first. We've made a pivot where it's like, we're not a digital bank for unbanked or underbanked. We're now more of a finance system. My goal is now how do I create an inclusive financial system for people who are underserved? That can be a lot of things. That can be Gen Z, who has no clue what it's like to walk inside of a bank branch and probably never will. That can be women. We know the stats of women when it comes to money and our access and resources. It can be unbanked. It can be someone who's a first gen immigrant. It can be a lot of things, when we say people who are underserved some degree or anyway, overlooked, misunderstood. It's a lot of different words we use. So, that was that transition we made between 2019 and 2021, for looking at hardware and software payments, business account, personal accounts, not just digital banking. How do we provide the resource to truly become financially healthy?

Scott Rogowsky: What does that financial literacy look like on the CapWay app?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, so we have a few different things. We have your general like financial articles. We do a lot of videos. We interview people, they're giving information. We do infographics. We have this thing called facts and hacks, so very quick like factual information, but we also have a full financial education program called Phunds, PHUNDS. It's completely done in-house. We have an entire content team in-house and I wanted to make it where it was totally different from your quote unquote textbook type of financial literacy. We worked really hard and we're still improving it, but I want to build an entire financial education system within CapWay and that's what Phunds is. But then we also, we have like little fun things, little engaging things, probably one of our most engaging pieces of content is we have a system called MoneyTalk where people can come and vote on different topics that we put up and you can either vote anonymously or you can comment and people have conversations in the comment section because what we found through a few different activities that we did, was we would put people in this room, like five people, 10 people in a room, and we would talk about money and no one really said anything. They would answer a question maybe, but they wouldn't really say anything, but we would always put the one person in the room who would stand up and purposely say, "Hey, I've been broke or I've been to overdraft," or, "I know what it's like to do X, Y, Z." When that one person opened up to say, "This is what it is," everybody in the room had a story to tell. So, MoneyTalk to us is more of a digital version of that to say, "You're not by yourself." I don't know anything outside of Southern, but the South, it was this thing of what happens in this house stays in this house. So, if your lights was off, nobody would've known your lights was off except the people in your house. It was an unwritten rule and MoneyTalk is a way that we wanted to pull out of that. People can't help you if they don't know you're hurting.

Nora Ali: You're offering education, you're offering a safe space. Clearly you're offering banking services. You're trying to be the opposite of predatory. You're still a business, though. You have to make money. So, what is your revenue model at CapWay?

Sheena Allen: We do the general things for any form of a bank, which is we make interchange. So, pretty much anytime someone swipes their CapWay debit card, we make money at CapWay. We also make money from our content through different ways, sponsored posts, there is a paid version of Phunds that we have. So, there's different tiers and different ways we work with people within Phunds. Then there are some things that we have coming actually over the next few months and this year and down the road that would bring in other revenue streams. But I always tell people, we are here to help people, but to your point, we are a for-profit business and making money is part of how we stay alive.

Nora Ali: You are VC-backed, so you have to make sure your investors feel comfortable with your growth. Is that an extra layer of pressure where you feel like you have to be in hyper-drive and grow, grow, grow?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, I won't lie. You have somebody else's money and you have to show how you're going to 10X that money, and you have to show how you're going to grow and how you're scaling and the month-to-month growth. Yes, it is pressure. I always tell people, that's the beauty that I'm happy I learned from Sheena Allen Apps because I know the difference in being bootstrap and not having to answer to anybody versus being VC-backed and having to send out those monthly emails, investor updates, and raise capital and make sure you're making money and you're scaling. So, it's definitely pressure because to me, I always say the CEO ... one side of me is I have ... Well, three, you have the business that you're trying to run and make sure that the people who are consuming it, your customers, anyone who's using, looking at CapWay, is happy. Then you have your team that, one wrong decision by you means that X amount of people might not be able to pay their mortgage next month, that's pressure. Then you have your stakeholders, your investors who are looking to get their money back times X, times 10, times 50, times 100. So yes, I will be lying to say that there was not pressure.

Scott Rogowsky: Sheena, you're feeling that pressure and I'm feeling the pressure from our advertisers. Time for a quick break, but more when we come back. So, how do you think about building generational wealth now as a fintech entrepreneur? What do you think is essential for your clients and customers to know?

Sheena Allen: So much. I think that most people think or thought of generational wealth for one was out of their reach because we talk about it as far as investing, most people that I know can't go to a family member to get that like $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 to even do a beta test or their MVP. That's what I want to change, but there's resources and there's tools that have to be in place to make that change. That's what I want CapWay to be able to offer. So whether that is, how do you invest in stock? I tell the story now that when my friends have baby showers now, if I had a friend or somebody had a baby shower 10 years ago, I probably bought Pampers and booties and the usual baby shower stuff. When my friends have baby showers, now I buy their kids stock. My thing to my friends is always is I'm going to buy the stock now and depending on what it is, I'm committed to at least buy one share every year for this child's birthday, but you have to match it. You, your husband, your fam, somebody has to match the share that I'm going to put in every year for their birthday. So, it's things like that I do personally. I put out in CapWay how to invest in stock. Now, we're going to so metaverse, but hey, if that's going to potentially be a way for you to build generational wealth, let's talk about it. Of course, the everyday person now can invest in startups. We know a lot of people build generational wealth, especially on the coastal areas of New York and San Francisco's, California's from investing in startups. It used to be where you have to be an accredited investor to do that, whereas now you can invest in startups through equity crowdfunding. So, there's so many different ways, real estate. I think there's so many ways that people can build generational wealth that a lot of it is, I always tell people, people just don't know. They're just saying that I say often, you don't know what you don't know. So, it's really hard to go into an avenue of building generational wealth when you don't know what avenue to take and that's the resources and the information we put out at CapWay.

Nora Ali: There are so many new avenues, new technologies, popping up that are supposedly going to democratize building wealth. One of those things is obviously cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. Do you think those sorts of technologies can be a way it help the underbanked and unbanked? Or is there still this issue of lack of access and education around that at this point?

Sheena Allen: I think that cryptocurrencies, I think it works. I've seen it work. I've heard great stories of it working in places outside the US unfortunately. I don't know if or when in it will be something that will truly change an entire generation or culture in the United States. I think maybe, I don't think it's going to be the next year or two though. Versus if you see what and why Jay Z, Jack Dorsey, and others are doing certain things with cryptocurrencies within Africa, across the different countries of Africa, it makes sense and we've seen it work, but I think based off of just how the financial system is set up in America, I don't know if we're around the corner that working for the underserved in America, but I do think cryptocurrencies have the opportunity to do that.

Nora Ali: This is maybe a little bit of a philosophical question, but we see these big banks, the incumbent institutions, obviously getting super into cryptocurrencies in the future of money, but still doesn't feel like they're focusing in on the underbanked or unbanked. What do you think is preventing them from creating offerings like CapWay, or having spin-offs that address the issues that you're are addressing? Is it because it's not lucrative enough? Why do you think they're not solving it and people like you are necessary still?

Sheena Allen: You hit this spot on. They think it's not lucrative. I've had investors who would say focusing on underserved, focusing on overlooked, I don't think that's a very lucrative space. Then I politely go and pull numbers. There's a reason that there are so many check cashing places and payday lenders. They're very lucrative. So, they're clearly making a lot of money. Our audience is also Gen Z because they are taking in that space of being overlooked, underserved, because they will not use the full service of traditional banking. Their spending power, purchase power, is crazy. So, there's plenty of money in the space that we're in. But honestly, most won't admit it. Outside the fact they may think it's not lucrative. Most just actually don't understand it.

Nora Ali: Because they're in it. They're not exposed to it maybe?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, most people have no clue. I've literally had investors who have asked me questions of, "Are that many people in America actually unbanked?" Or, "Is this really a problem that we face?" So, they've been a bubble and when you are running a trillion-dollar bank, or a multi-billion-dollar bank, and you've never been to the Delta of Mississippi, or you've only been to South Beach Miami, you haven't been to the other side of Miami where people are financially struggling. If you've only been to North Chicago and not South Chicago, you've only been to the Manhattan and not to the Bronx. I mean, there's pockets everywhere, but most people, they don't see it, whether they choose not to see it or their bubble allows them to not see it. But it's there.

Scott Rogowsky: We talked to Kathryn Finney, I don't know if you're familiar with her? She's a founder, entrepreneur and a Genius Guild. She had some stories about just being a Black woman in tech and talking to VCs, or talking to other people in this world and they have these blind spots like you're talking about. Has your personal experience been similar? Do you find that being who you are in this world, it adds challenges that you wouldn't otherwise have?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, I don't dwell on it to be quite honest. I don't fall into a pity party about it. However, I am realistic in saying that it is a huge issue. It's a huge issue even today, whether you're talking about raising funds, which Black women get less than 1%, whether you're talking about, whether you want to call it conscious or unconscious bias, however you choose to look at it, is your thing, is there. I will say even personally for myself, getting into this whole banking field and this finance field, I mean, think about it. I'm a Black woman with a Southern accent from Mississippi walking in and asking to try to raise money for a digital bank. I'm sure there's no one that looks like me, who talks like me, has walked in and asked for money for a digital bank. So, regardless if people want to admit it or not, investors invest in what they know and what they're comfortable with, whether that's the bro code, whether that's because we both went to Stanford, whether that's because I got an intro from my friend over here in firm X. Whether they want to admit it or not, that's just the case. I think to some degree, we're all like that. I mean, I won't lie for myself. If I get a cold email, I'm probably going to ignore it for the most part. But if my friend says, "Hey, I'd like to intro you to person X." I'm going to say, "Cool. I'll take a look at it, or I'll talk to them." Black women don't have that form of a network. I always say, regardless if people want to admit it or not, however you look at the layers of America, Black women always fall last and it shows when we're trying to raise money. It shows when we're trying to work to scale our companies, it shows across the board and it's not just us saying it, numbers show it, stats show it, data shows it. So, honestly though, I don't fall into the pity party of it. I do what I have to do to grow my company but it's there. I understand that I have to be 10 times better, 100 times better every single day. I understand that when I walk into a room, I got to have 100,000 people on my platform to get half of the money that somebody who has 5,000 people on their platform. I know that it's there. It happened to me today. I talked to an investor today, who I know their company might have invested in person X who has half of our traction and yet they'll give me the feedback of, "Oh, you are a little too early. We need to see more traction."

Scott Rogowsky: Well, the results should speak for themselves, Sheena, and you're doing an amazing job with it. Let's see how well you can do, though, with our quiz, Business Casual quiz, it's Quizness Casual time. Sheena, you're going to be our contestant today. Working with Nora here, you can work together on this, today's quiz is all about the history of money and banking. Let's get into it. Are you ready, Sheena?

Sheena Allen: I'm not, but let's do it.

Scott Rogowsky: All right.

Nora Ali: Let's do this.

Scott Rogowsky: This is tough. This gets a little Byzantine and ancient here, so let's-

Nora Ali: Oh my gosh.

Scott Rogowsky: ... go quemero numero uno. Which of the following is the first known form of currency? The Carthaginian coin, the Mesopotamian shekel, the gold dinar, or denarius aureus.

Sheena Allen: What, what and what? Nora, what's your guess? I'm going to go with C because the rule of thumb is when you don't know, you go with C.

Nora Ali: 

So, it's C?

Sheena Allen: I'm going with C. What are you thinking, Nora?

Nora Ali: Yeah, I like that the word gold is in there. Yeah, you know what? Let's do it. It's what your gut tells you.

Scott Rogowsky: The gold dinar.

Nora Ali: We're locking it in.

Scott Rogowsky: I haven't seen the show Dinars, Drive-ins and Dives, but I did know the answer for this question. It's the Mesopotamian shekel, first known former currency emerging nearly 5,000 years ago in Asia Minor. All right, that was a tough one. That was a tough one.

Nora Ali: That was hard.

Scott Rogowsky: But guess what? They're getting tougher. Here's Q2.

Sheena Allen: Oh my gosh.

Scott Rogowsky: Paper money has its origins in which of the following places? So, that was a coin, the Mesopotamian shekel, but paper money, has its origins where? Mesopotamia, Rome, China, or Greece?

Nora Ali: I'm going to go with Rome, I don't have a...

Sheena Allen: I'm going with Nora.

Scott Rogowsky: Going for Rome. Well, you can roam where you want to, but not in question two, because the answer is China. China, where flying cash, a type of paper negotiable instrument used during China's Tang Dynasty in the ninth century, was invented by merchants, but adopted by the state. Well, zero for two here, but you can redeem yourselves. This is one of the toughest quizzes we've ever had, by the way. I don't know why we got ... I mean, Nora's been around for all-

Nora Ali: It's very historic.

Scott Rogowsky:... of them. Nora can vouch.

Nora Ali: Oh my goodness.

Scott Rogowsky: Here we go. I don't know if this is going to be any easier. Which group acted as an early private banking network and allowed people to send, deposit, and withdraw money in cities around the world? Was it the Knight's Templar? Charlemagne's Paladins, the monks of Navarre, or the Sisters of St. Francis? These are HQ questions, like level 12 questions, they're all-

Nora Ali: Yeah, this is like ...

Scott Rogowsky: How about who's on the $20 bill? Could we ask that?

Nora Ali: See, those should have been the questions. Can you give us a hint, Scott? In your notes.

Scott Rogowsky: Monty Python. Monty Python will be my hint. DaVinci Code, another hint.

Nora Ali: I mean, I did read the DaVinci Code and I watched the movie, but none of these ring a bell.

Scott Rogowsky: Who would you want to protect your money?

Nora Ali: The knights right?

Scott Rogowsky: As you're traveling around the world?

Nora Ali: That was A.

Sheena Allen: D because it has sisters inside of it, so women, so I'm going with D.

Scott Rogowsky: The sisters.

Nora Ali: I feel like your hints lead to knights, I think. Is that cool, Sheena, or do you want to stick with D?

Sheena Allen: Yeah, let's go with that.

Nora Ali: I like to default to my guest. All right, we're going with A, the knights of whatever.

Scott Rogowsky: Let's go with it, the knights? We are the knights who say knee. The knights who say yes, the Knight's Templar, warrior monks. So, early, early systems banking.

Nora Ali: Okay, good to know.

Scott Rogowsky: Hey, none of this is relevant for today, but it's always good to know where you build. We build on the shoulders of giants, Sheena. Without the Knights Templar, there'd be no CapWay.

Sheena Allen: Listen, I read plenty of finance books. I don't remember reading any of this information in the finance books that I've read, but this is information that I would like to know, that I don't need to know.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, thankfully you can gave us information that we needed to know, we wanted to know, with our interview. So, thank you for sharing, Sheena.

Sheena Allen: Thank you, thank you.

Nora Ali: Thanks, Sheena.

Scott Rogowsky: We love hearing from our BC listeners, so please hit our line. Send us an email at or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod, that's B-I-Z casualpod, with your thoughts.

Nora Ali: You can also leave us a voice memo on our website,, or give us a ring and leave us an old-fashioned voicemail. Our number is (862) 295-1135. As Business Casual Grows, we are excited to get to know our listeners old and new. Drop us line and don't forget to leave your name and where you're calling or writing from, so we can hear from you in a future episode.

Scott Rogowsky: Business Casual's overbanked by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins, additional production sound design and mixing by Daniel Marcus. Alan Haburchak is director of audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer's our VP of multimedia. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and the Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you like what you heard, please follow Business Casual on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get nasty with your podcasty. And we'd love it if you give us a great rating and review.

Nora Ali: Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali.

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it business.

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it CapWay.