By Tina Giorgio
Whether I’m working with banking professionals or with entrepreneurs in the fintech space, I have one key piece of advice: I ask, “What is your why?” and encourage them to focus on that response. Because, when they home in on that, everything else falls into place.
That’s the reason ICBA’s ThinkTECH Accelerator finalists are thriving. These eight companies live their vision, working to align their products with market gaps. Addressing a variety of community bank needs, this group of finalists includes:
- Adlumin, Alexandria, Va.– offers a cloud-based security incident and event management solution, custom-built for the financial sector.
- Agora, New York, N.Y. – helps banks enhance their legacy payment platforms (without replacing them) for a better user experience.
- Botdoc, Monument, Colo. – provides the ability to remotely collect documents in real-time.
- CRiskCo, Brisbane, Australia – introduces automated artificial intelligence (AI) onboarding and underwriting technologies to banks.
- KapitalWise, New York, N.Y. – presents an AI platform that allows financial institutions to interact with their customer.
- MK Decision, San Diego, Calif. – delivers a better lending experience, optimized to drive conversions, with automated credit decisions and data-driven fraud prevention.
- Sou Sou, Washington, D.C. – supplies a smart, social banking account to attract low-cost deposits and credit-ready borrowers.
- Teslar by 3E, Fayetteville, Ark. – makes information more accessible for banks by integrating multiple systems and streamlining processes in a scale-able fashion.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure to meet with each company during visits to the ThinkTECH Accelerator at The Venture Center in Little Rock, Ark. And while each finalist offers a different solution, they all share a commonality: They understand the unique requirements of community bankers and are ready to listen and adapt to feedback.
In short, the Accelerator finalists are eager to learn and understand community banks’ unique space in the market. They want to know about regulatory compliance and how it impacts community bank roles and responsibilities. They want to delve into the details of how banks establish risk profiles—and how their solutions may impact them. They want to better understand customer expectations, so they can tailor their offerings with customers in mind. Being willing to dive deeper sets them apart and allows them to evolve their solutions to support community bank realities.
“MK's partnership with ICBA and The Venture Center accelerates our ability to provide community banks with simple, beautiful borrower experiences and a better back-office loan origination system,” said Har Rai Khalsa, CEO at fintech finalist MK Decision. “We are thankful to have been selected.”
“The banks that have visited us at The Venture Center thus far have been a pleasure to engage,” cohort participant Tracy Fox, director, business development and sales at Botdoc shared. “Having them attend gives the entrepreneurs and innovators transparency into the challenges within community banks, allowing us to address those concerns accordingly.”
Beyond community bank input, ICBA and The Venture Center also recognize the need for other industry stakeholders—core providers, regulators and government organizations—to provide feedback. The Accelerator has addressed that need by bringing in representatives from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the FDIC, the Federal Reserve Board, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, FIS, Jack Henry, Mastercard, and Visa, to name a few. These perspectives have helped the fintechs to better visualize community bank opportunities and restrictions and refine their products.
As the finalists go through the Venture Center boot camp, they will be making their products stronger and smarter, staying focused on their missions and how their solutions can better align with community bank interests.
The results of this effort will be on display during a special demonstration session at 2019 ICBA LIVE® in just a few short weeks. We also will host a live “Demo Day” at the Venture Center in Little Rock, Ark. So, keep an eye out for these companies; I expect we’ll be seeing a lot more of them.
With that in mind, I hope you’ll take a little time to explore what these organizations bring to the table and how their offerings may fit into your bank’s vision for offering customers a high-tech, high-touch experience. With any luck, your “whys” will align.
Tina Giorgio is president and CEO of ICBA Bancard, the payments services subsidiary of ICBA.