Helping community banks do what they do best

July 27, 2020

In times of economic upheaval, community banks remain beacons of trust and strength for their small business and retail customers. One clear-cut advantage community banks provide is their ability to respond promptly to the needs of the local markets they serve. This became apparent observing the speed with which community bankers responded to the Payroll Protection Program, working to ensure businesses could meet their payrolls.

Organizations such as FIS can augment the economic recovery in this country by helping community banks accelerate what they do best. By simplifying their operations, providing digital products that hit the mark, and ensuring robust security, a true partner enables community bankers to aid the recovery of their local economies.

Accelerating digital banking

The numbers support what our industry intuitively knows, digital access has skyrocketed in recent months. FIS’ experience indicates a significant jump in new mobile banking registrations in early April this year, with a corresponding increase in mobile banking traffic. With many branches limited, and fewer tellers available, banks have been dealing with a significant uptick in their digital channels.

As consumers begin favoring mobile-based account access, there is no going back. After the current crisis abates and lockdown orders relax, more U.S. consumers than ever before will be using their mobile devices to handle a wider range of their banking and payments needs.

Digital banking importance increases as consumers practice social distancing. Consumers are becoming more inclined to conduct all their banking digitally.

Two key trends emerging from the pandemic crisis are:

  • Branch decline: Social distancing continues to impact personal and business interactions, with bank customers reluctant or unable to visit branch locations, further contributing to the decline of the branch channel.
  • Cards with no physical interaction: The virus crisis will push consumers toward payment methods that require the least physical interaction. As a result, consumers may choose to pay with a contactless card or mobile wallet, thereby avoiding contact with POS terminals.

New digital solutions should be customizable and easy to implement with an inventory of ready-to-use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

Simplifying doing business

Smaller banks continue to face challenges in growing deposits relative to their much larger peers. Community banks’ share of total deposits continues to shrink when compared to global banks. Strong technology partners can simplify support and operations for community banks – letting them focus on narrowing the deposit gap while expanding their customer relationships.

FIS recently introduced straightforward contract pricing, coupled with products designed specifically for community bank needs.

FIS’ new contracting model allows qualifying community banks and credit unions to purchase an integrated bundle of leading-edge technology solutions via an affordable, flat-fee, month-to-month subscription model. Simplified contracts eliminate required term lengths, liquidated damages, and exclusivity requirements – and provide clearly defined fees around de-conversion services.

These types of agreements allow community bankers access to the technology they need to compete by speeding the deployment of new solutions.

Conducting business virtually while ensuring security

According to a recent article in Banking Strategies, “From the earliest days of the coronavirus outbreak, scam artists have worked to leverage the societal disruption – quarantines, service limitations, changing work situations – to steal money and information from banks and their customers.”

Community banks must deliver services:

  • In a highly secure and reliable manner as data breaches and ransomware attacks continue to increase.
  • Supported by a strong technology partner that provides a safe, stable, and dependable foundation, allowing banks to expand digitally with confidence

A technology provider that adheres to a “Secure by Design” philosophy offers its bank partners a platform that encompasses application, network, and device security – ensuring bank customers benefit from that secure experience. Your core technology provider should also partner with leading industry and key governmental security and enforcement agencies to capture, analyze, and assess threat intelligence, helping defend both themselves and their bank partners from cyber-attacks.

In addition to providing robust security, the technology partner should assist and facilitate conducting business and support in a virtual manner. FIS has experience successfully conducting hundreds of closely collaborative “virtual” working sessions – and dozens of other consulting projects and engagements – in which attendees participated remotely.

Our experience, and numerous studies have shown, virtual engagements can offer a very effective means of supporting clients. Key prerequisites to success include investing more time on preparation, encouraging participants to engage with the proper focus, and enlisting dedicated leadership that fosters a successful outcome on both sides of the collaboration.

Helping community banks expand their digital footprints, expedite conducting of business, and collaborate virtually has become table stakes in today’s unusual times.

About the Author
Maria Schuld, Division Executive, Americas, Banking Solutions, FIS
Maria SchuldDivision Executive, Americas, Banking Solutions, FIS

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