Fintech Roadmap:
Know the Terrain 

Digital landscape

First of all, what do we mean by fintech?

Fintech is the intersection of financial services and technology. The innovation within this intersection is robust, and the positive impact to community banks is wide-reaching.


  • Digital wallets and real-time transactions bring instant payments and availability of funds to bank customers.
  • New lending platforms offer streamlined experiences and faster credit decisions.
  • Business intelligence solutions provide new ways for community banks to manage and anticipate customer activity
  • Transformed cloud infrastructures give banks more secure and efficient opportunities for data security and storage.

Fintech's Wide-Reaching Terrain

Fintech has evolved from startups that are looking to beat the traditional banks to a broad network of companies looking to leverage collaborative partnerships.

Technology stands to alter the way banking transactions have been historically conducted in:

  • Lending

  • Finance

  • Business Intelligence

  • Liability Management

  • RegTech

  • Payments
  • Wealth Management
  • Marketing, Sales, and Consumer and Channel Management
  • Human Resources, Benefits, and Training


  • Cloud Infrastructure and Open Application Programming Interface (API) Business Model

  • Data and Analytics

  • Data and Cybersecurity


Plus, keep an eye out for emerging technologies large fintech companies would likely invest in over the next year:

  • Blockchain
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Artificial intelligence/ machine learning

The Strategic Opportunity


Amid the noise and disruption of fintech, one message is clear: Community banks are well-positioned to blend the strengths of their operations with fintech innovations.

For years, community banks have offered a customer-centric banking tradition that puts customers first. This advantage rings loud and clear to the fintech companies that view community banks as a strong performer in the customer service space. But this isn't the only advantage community banks offer. The various gains of potential collaboration or partnership are intriguing to many fintech companies.

The benefits for community banks, in partnering with fintechs, is clear too. Community banks have historically enjoyed a strong lead in customer satisfaction over their larger counterparts. To maintain and build on this competitive edge, community banks are looking closely at fintech partnership opportunities.
  • Why is this important? >>

  • Key questions as your community bank develops its plan >>

Benefits that Fintech Companies Offer Community Banks

  • Increased Access to Loan Customers in New Markets:

  • Increased Access to Customers with a Younger Age Demographic:

  • Increased Operational Efficiency and Scale:

  • Enhanced Brand Reputation:

  • Enhanced Customer Experience:

Benefits that Community Banks offer Fintech Companies

  • Deposit Insurance and Liquidity:

  • Sound Customer Base:

  • Credibility:

  • Settlement and Compliance Services:

Benefits vs Costs

digital scale

Strategic Planning & The Bank Board

The board of directors should consider how fintech could complement and support the bank’s overall strategic direction, and incorporate a discussion of fintech projects within the bank’s strategic plan.

Have a process: A board of directors should also have a process for annually updating and approving their strategic plan, and for updating the plan on an ad-hoc basis between annual reviews. Those same processes should apply to fintech projects—if a fintech project rises to the level of business materiality that would generally require board approval and inclusion in the strategic plan, the fintech project should be approved by the board and incorporated into the strategic plan before material progress is made on that particular project.

Return on Investment

A bank’s monetary return on investment (“ROI”) for fintech related projects is difficult to predict with certainty. Experts believe returns to be incremental in nature and most financial institutions investing in fintech estimate an expected annual rate of return of approximately 20 percent globally. The rising customer expectations for a streamlined, mobile, and innovative banking experience make investment in fintech a more prudent allocation of resources.

A major factor in the ROI for any bank is whether the fintech solution is aligned with the bank’s overall business strategies.

Short Term and Long Term Costs

Costs may be incurred in connection with capital investments in a fintech company, the acquisition of new systems to deliver products to customers, and any ongoing fees required to maintain the products and services.

Did you know?

For ICBA member banks, the top three areas for fintech solutions that currently support business strategies include:

  • mobile banking
  • payments and commerce
  • cybersecurity

followed by:

  • data and analytics
  • cloud infrastructure
  • artificial intelligence