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Innovative Bank Leads Digital Recruitment (Wayne Miller Commentary) | Arkansas Business News

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Recent headlines report that bank branches are closing at a record pace. While there was certainly an unprecedented surge in bank closures in 2020, it is also true that the state of bank innovation has become stronger than ever. Due to changes in consumer behavior due to pandemics, the closure of some branches may be unavoidable. Still, innovation-focused banks are in a position to expand their footprint and do more while retaining their customers.

Each year, the Venture Center collaborates with thousands of bankers, financial services leaders, and hundreds of financial technology entrepreneurs. Digitization continues to escalate exponentially, connecting bankers and entrepreneurs to bridge the gap between traditional banks and the digital environment and provide a better customer experience.

Innovators embracing new partnerships with fintech companies have successfully survived today’s changes, but more than that, they have helped us fully define the future of banks. The past few accelerator programs at venture centers have seen remarkable trends as the collaboration between banks and FinTech has deepened. These innovative solutions and partnerships help banks thrive through the digital revolution and better serve their communities, even those who are experiencing changes such as branch closures.

Let’s start with what we know now to think about digital trends, what’s new today, and what’s to come. We know that consumers want to do business with the people closest to them, the people they know and see every day. Their bankers may also be small league coaches or neighbors watching them shop. Bonds are important no matter who the banker is.

We know that these relationships create trust, an intangible yet invaluable key performance indicator. And if that trust is deliberately and carefully protected, the consequences are immeasurable.

It’s also important to maintain a personal relationship with your customers, as well as to provide them with a sophisticated digital experience. FinTech partnerships provide the fastest path to this balance. To that end, the FinTech trends we see in our field are:

► Many start-ups are based on increasing the availability of loans that build wealth and improve their lives. Banks are scarce for loans for cars to get jobs, loans for small businesses that need a little extra cash to achieve lift-off, and mortgages that provide stability and create fairness. It is often out of reach for those who are or are considered “invisible”. But today, bank-fintech partnerships are offering loans to more people who qualify through social media scoring or mitigate risk through platforms that remove unconscious bias from scoring. More people are getting the loans they need through these partnerships.

► Another high-tech area that attracts more consumers is the FinTech platform for financial health and wellness. People use the app to save money, track expenses, manage family sharing, and set and achieve financial goals.

Many banks are leveraging these tools to squeeze their customers into a big punch. This effort shows that banks care, and their clients are financially educated by their most trusted financial advisers, bankers.

►Finally, cybersecurity is a rapidly growing bank-fintech partnership model. As more banking operations are done online, sophisticated hackers and malicious individuals are taking advantage of the weaknesses of more systems. Cybersecurity advances by fintech entrepreneurs range from data analysis and fraud detection to gamification of behavioral changes of bankers at the forefront of the ongoing cybersecurity war. Banks with advanced cybersecurity measures are already taking a few steps in protecting their customers’ money and data.

Customer behavior and the rapid trend towards digital have clearly changed the way banks operate. From in-store services to security measures, it’s time for banks to seize the opportunity for FinTech partnerships. It’s not too late for banks that haven’t incorporated innovation into their strategies, but it’s time to take action.

By leveraging FinTech partnerships as part of their overall innovation strategy, banks and consumers will continue to thrive for generations to come.

Wayne Miller is the secretary-general of Little Rock’s 501 (c) 3 nonprofit Venture Center, which aims to support Arkansas entrepreneurship.

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