By Edward King and Alexander Parisel


Politicians, financial experts and advocacy groups gathered together on Thursday for a financial engagement forum at the Springfield Gardens United Methodist Church in Queens. The five- hour-long event, led by state Sen. James Sanders of Queens, who chairs the Senate committee on banks, was held to educate members of the “invisible class” on how they can utilize technology to acquire capital for their small businesses.

Left to right, Affirm, Inc. CEO Max Levchin in a conversation with Senator James Sanders. Credit: Alexander Parisel

“This topic of today is about struggle in all our communities,” said City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who addressed the gathering. “The goal is to create wealth in every community.”

The keynote component of the event was a conversation between Sen. Sanders and Affirm CEO Max Levchin, a co-founder of the popular e-commerce platform Paypal. The seven-year- old San Francisco-based financial tech company is an internet-based lending platform that provides point of sale or checkout financing for online purchases at variable interest rates (10 percent to 30 percent), based on credit score. It primarily targets millennials who’ve become the staple of the e-commerce marketplace. Recently Affirm has begun to branch out to small business, offering more robust loans to vendors and individuals who are traditionally barred from capital access due to their credit history or other circumstances.

New York City Comptroller Scott Stinger speaking at “Driving Capital to the Invisible Class.” Credit: Alexander Parisel

“Our company is committed to the idea of financial inclusion and thus we are focused to build a diverse team to set up a basis for the inclusion,” said Levchin, speaking at the forum.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stinger speaking at “Driving Capital to the Invisible Class. Photo Credit: Alexander Parisel