In a world where technology has made it possible for instant gratification in customer and business relationships, community banks have had to find new ways to expand and deepen customer connections. From chat functionality to automated solutions that create an integrated, high-touch digital experience for customers, our industry has upped its game. But the ante keeps rising, and this year’s ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator participants offer solutions to help meet this new digital-first environment.
Below is a look at this year’s participants offering innovative customer-centric solutions:
Up first is Agent IQ, with a solution that helps community banks bridge the physical and digital divide using artificial intelligence (AI) chat functionality and automation to help integrate web and mobile banking apps.
Using the AI chat functionality, bankers can invite experts from other areas of the bank to join a client conversation, digitally exchange files, and explore new product offerings. In addition to its communication offerings, Agent IQ also provides back-end reporting metrics to help facilitate targeted cross-selling. This next-generation engagement holds appeal for bankers who are looking to enhance service offerings.
When it comes to the needs of small businesses and local communities, Artis Technologies is another company to watch. This fintech extends point-of-need lending through a branded, digital platform that automates the lending process. Think home improvement contractors, medical and dental offices, and family-run businesses, where costs and the need for financing continue to climb.
Artis’ turnkey platform automates lending without core integration, making it an attractive alternative for community banks of all sizes. The platform leverages alternative data and machine-learning (ML) with AI decisioning to provide banks with a more accurate assessment of creditworthiness in real-time.
Another fintech, Harness, is focused on connecting community banks and their cardholders to community-based, non-profits through fundraising campaigns that drive spend and increase local impact via its online platform. Harness is also expanding its reporting functionality and working through banks’ vendor due diligence process to address CRA and other regulations.
The platform also allows community banks to select from a list of local charitable organizations. Consumers, meanwhile, will have the ability to select the frequency and set a maximum dollar amount contribution level. Cardholders also can make smaller donations by rounding up their transactions to the nearest dollar, with the difference automatically split between a local charity prize pool. (The average person on its platform donates roughly $400 a year, according to Harness.)
Finally, we have Zogo, a gamified financial literacy app that makes finance social and straightforward. Financial institutions can brand the app, customize the learning experience to include their bank’s products and services, and offer rewards, such as gift cards or loan discounts to engaged users.
Created by a 21-year-old Duke University graduate, the app helps community banks educate and attract Gen Z and other next-generation customers, opening the door to new customer acquisition and cross-selling opportunities while teaching financially responsible behaviors.
Technology as an Enabler
While we can’t predict the future, we can apply the lessons learned over the past year to anticipate the headwinds and plan accordingly or be ready to pivot—using technology as an enabler. Our ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator participants are breaking new ground with their customer-facing, innovative solutions and paving the way for community banks to continue taking the lead in customer service.
Charles E. Potts is ICBA senior vice president and chief innovation officer.