Maria Blow: Creating Credit Facilities For People of Colour and Underserved Communities

Marla Blow’s journey from Stanford University MBA graduate to the launch and subsequent acquisition of FS Card Inc. represents a remarkable tale of entrepreneurship and social impact within the financial industry. FS Card Inc., founded in 2014 by Blow, aimed to revolutionize the credit card market by providing more consumer-friendly products to small-dollar loan customers. The Washington D.C.-based venture was driven by a mission to transition individuals into affordable, transparent, and sustainable credit options.

Blow’s background in finance and her tenure at institutions like Capital One and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) equipped her with the expertise and insights necessary to identify the gaps in the credit market and devise innovative solutions. Her experience in regulatory affairs at the CFPB, where she played a pivotal role in shaping regulatory priorities in card and payment markets, provided her with a deep understanding of the industry’s complexities and challenges.

The inception of FS Card Inc. was guided by advanced analytics and behavioral insights, which enabled the company to responsibly meet the short-term liquidity needs of consumers. The flagship product, the Build card, was designed as a subprime credit card offering low cost-of-credit and easy-to-understand terms, addressing the scarcity of reasonably priced credit options in the market. This initiative not only provided financial empowerment to underserved communities but also fostered a culture of transparency and inclusivity within the credit industry.

The acquisition of FS Card Inc. by Continental Finance in December 2018 marked a significant milestone for Blow and her team. Continental Finance, recognized as one of America’s leading marketers and servicers of credit cards for consumers with less-than-perfect credit, validated the efficacy and potential of FS Card’s business model. This strategic acquisition not only provided FS Card with the resources and expertise to scale its operations but also affirmed Blow’s vision of creating impactful change within the financial services sector.

Blow’s accolades and recognition further underscore her influence and leadership in entrepreneurship and social innovation. Winning the EY Mid Atlantic Emerging Company Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2018 and being listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business exemplify her commitment to driving positive change through innovation. Her inclusion in Vanity Fair’s “26 Women of Color Diversifying Entrepreneurship” and her participation as a Henry Crown Fellow in the Aspen Global Leadership Network highlight her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion in entrepreneurship and leadership.

Beyond her professional achievements, Blow’s involvement in various organizations and boards reflects her commitment to driving social impact and fostering economic empowerment. Her tenure on the Board of Directors of and Factor Trust demonstrates her engagement in initiatives aimed at improving access to essential services and promoting financial inclusion. Marla Blow‘s journey from Stanford University MBA graduate to the launch and acquisition of FS Card Inc. exemplifies the intersection of entrepreneurship, innovation, and social impact. Her leadership, vision, and dedication to creating accessible and transparent financial solutions have not only reshaped the credit card market but also empowered underserved communities