For today’s regional and community banks, growth is essential, not just to thrive, but to survive in an increasingly competitive landscape. To drive greater revenue amid thinning margins and keep pace with consumer demand for a frictionless, tech-forward customer experience, banks must find a way to deliver.
Lately, many banks have pursued mergers or acquisitions. M&A has provided many banks with a way to increase scale, boost franchise strength and offset the significant cost of compliance and innovative technology. However, under current economic conditions and heightened regulatory scrutiny, it may not be the best option for banks looking to grow their business.
In addition to merging, growth-oriented banks can partner with fintechs to increase efficiency, unlock new sources of revenue and grow their business in the digital space in ways that would otherwise remain out of reach.
Open banking and banking as a service
Pressure from regulators, competitors and the global pandemic have forced regional and community banks to rethink their business models with a renewed emphasis on the digital space. In addition to a frictionless digital customer experience, embedded finance is also rapidly trending up.
Embedded finance generally refers to embedding financial products or services into nonfinancial customer experiences. Today’s consumer wants to take advantage of banking tools and services without interrupting an otherwise seamless, integrated experience. Embedded finance makes this possible, and two leading examples in banking are open banking and banking as a service.
Open banking allows banks to share data of consenting customers with third parties in a safe reliable way, driving new business and improving the customer experience. This data empowers an expanding universe of businesses to offer products and services tailored to individual customers, who also enjoy far greater flexibility and visibility of their finances.
Rather than sharing customer data, banking as a service, or BaaS, is about sharing banking products and services with third parties. Ultimately this means new revenue streams, valuable partnerships and other game-changing opportunities. BaaS can enable banks reach a greater number of customers at a lower cost. Banks can also work with fintechs to open new accounts, increase interchange revenue and cross sell traditional banking products.
Despite recent market volatility, consumer demand for cryptocurrencies remains high and will continue to grow. While there are some concerns about the disruptive impact of cryptocurrency to traditional bank products, consumer demand for the stability and security of banks also remains high. Crypto-curious customers are more likely to jump in with a bank they trust, and this creates new opportunities to attract deposits, drive revenue and expand the customer base.
There are significant considerations for banks looking to enter the crypto space, primarily the technological and regulatory barriers. These may be offset by partnering with a fintech who can facilitate buying, selling and holding as well as managing private keys. Cryptocurrency is uncharted territory for banks, and this comes with a steep learning curve. Here, too, fintech partners can serve a critical role in helping to navigate the crypto space as it evolves and chart a path for growth.
Robotic process automation
One often overlooked obstacle to bank growth is a workforce crunch. Many small and mid-sized banks operate in rural areas with low populations. This can make finding and retaining talent difficult. When they do have the talent, these employees may be required to do too much with too little. This typically includes menial, manual tasks that are time-consuming and prone to human error – two factors which can prove costly.
Fortunately, one emerging technology can empower these banks to flip the script. Robotic process automation, or RPA, can take over these menial, manual tasks with remarkable speed and accuracy. By shifting work from repetitive, manual tasks, employees can focus on higher-impact work identifying new opportunities and growing customer relationships.
Fintech partnerships can make this technology readily accessible to banks of all sizes. Unburdened by infrastructure or execution, banks can simply choose from a catalog of pre-built “bots” based on proven use cases according to their unique business goals and requirements. These partnerships virtually eliminate risk and drastically reduce costs, delivering game-changing results to the bank.
Emerging technologies present tremendous growth opportunities for regional and community banks. The key is to harness them effectively and affordably, and there are few better ways to accomplish both than partnering with a proven fintech. Allowing a partner to take ownership of development, infrastructure and execution frees these banks to take ownership of their futures with a firm focus on growth.