ThinkTECH Accelerator: Addressing Lending & Technology Pain Points

By Charles Potts

A decade ago, when we first began uttering the word “fintech,” digital lenders exemplified the term, and many in the industry predicted an upheaval of traditional lending. Fast forward to today, and community banks still hold more than 60 percent of all small business loans, more than 80 percent of agricultural loans, and boast an approval rating 30 percent higher than online lenders.

Clearly, community bank lending continues to flourish.

Even with these compelling statistics, community banks continue looking for ways to grow loan volume and improve the customer experience in the process. In today’s digital era, that means simplifying the front-end user interface and user experience as well as streamlining back-end operations.

Solving for Streamlined Lending

When ICBA interviewed bankers about key topics to address in the ThinkTECH Accelerator 2.0, resoundingly we heard we needed to tackle lending. With that in mind, we worked diligently to bring forth a loan-focused fintech to this cohort.

So, welcome Lendsmart AI to our ranks. Built to address the pain points founder AK Patel had in his personal mortgage loan experience, Lendsmart AI focuses on the homebuying process for the consumer and the bank. This solution:

  • Leverages application programming interfaces (APIs) to support easy information collection
  • Employs AI technology to auto-populate information for the customer
  • Uses the same technology to gather relevant data and enable a fast and efficient underwriting review
  • Integrates a built-in customer communications feature
  • Offers API integration for additional customer resources, including connecting them with realtors, attorneys, home inspectors, home insurance movers, and others related to the home purchasing process.

Lendsmart AI’s overarching goal? Simply streamlining the homebuying process for all parties involved, offering that one end to end digital experience—which aligns with community bank thinking.

“At our bank, we're always thinking about how we can save our clients' time,” said Scott Beuning, executive vice president, private banking at $662 million-asset Tradition Capital Bank in Edina, Minn. “At the Accelerator, we talked with a lot of fintech companies providing solutions that we could use back at our bank."

Launching Like a Fintech

Across the board, this year’s Accelerator participants were selected to address community bank pain points, and another of this year’s participants homed in on a key issue: faster and easier deployment of banking technologies. With 46 percent of U.S. consumers and 23 percent of U.S. small-and-medium enterprises reporting that they have already adopted fintech solutions, the need to quickly adopt an online solution is more important than ever.

Enter Finzly, a bank operating system that offers a plug-and-play architecture for quick enablement of payments and specialty banking solutions. Having worked at a megabank, Finzly founder Booshan Rengachari saw fintechs creating more engaging customer experiences, and wanted to find a way to help banks expedite product implementations. From that concept, Finzly was born, creating a solution that mirrors a fintech’s speed and efficiency to provide a modern banking experience through a quick-to-market enablement.

Finzly thrives by offering an app integration approach that creates a modern banking layer on top of existing core infrastructure. For banks, it feels like a one-stop app store for their banking and payments needs, including application solutions that span:

  • Account opening
  • Payments including wires, real-time payments and same-day ACH
  • Treasury management and bill pay solutions
  • Open banking
  • Foreign exchange
  • Trade finance.

The goal for Finzly is to mimic the accelerated fintech mindset to level the playing field for community banks so they can subscribe, test and launch new products and services.

And, ultimately, all Accelerator participants seek to support a more level landscape for community banks. They are creating technologies that engender a deeper high-tech, high-touch relationship between community banks and their customers.

I think Scott Beuning summed it up best during his visit to the Accelerator: “Relationship banking plus technology is where community banks win.” And that’s precisely what our cohort plans to help them do.

Join us at the ThinkTECH Showcase at ICBA LIVE to learn more about Lendsmart.AI, Finzly and all of this year’s Accelerator participants.

Charles Potts is ICBA senior vice president and chief innovation officer.