The Independent Community Bankers of America’s decision to bring its fintech accelerator in-house should expedite bringing products to member banks and allow for integrating relationships with established partners.
The ICBA last year announced a plan to move its ThinkTECH Accelerator from Little Rock, Ark., to Atlanta. The accelerator also hired Stephanie Foster, former chief administration officer for XY Planning Network, as its director.
The accelerator also plans to run multiple programs year-round, Charles Potts, ICBA’s chief innovation officer, said in a recent interview. All of the changes reflect conversations the association has had with members, along with input from its advisory committee.
“Our bankers were telling us that they wanted to see things moving faster,” Potts said.
“By owning and controlling our collective resources and our ability to leverage education and advocacy we can develop more comprehensive and complete programs,” he added. “It was important that we own and control our innovation program.”
The move should also allow the ThinkTECH Accelerator to be nimble when it comes to programming. Case in point: The next session will have a large focus on attracting and retaining deposits.
“It is a very important time to highlight” deposits due to high-profile regional bank failures fueled by liquidity issues, Potts said. “Commercial deposit account opening became a white-hot necessity because people needed to move their money from troubled financial institutions.”
The decision to move the accelerator to Atlanta made sense because of its existing (and growing) fintech ecosystem. The area has a large number of established organizations and investors that are focused on the space that can support the accelerator and its participants.
“I believe having access to greater resources is only going to make the solutions we bring to market better,” said Potts, who is based in Atlanta.
Finally, the decision to bring the accelerator in-house should provide more opportunities for the ICBA to create programs that integrate both startups and established companies with ties to the association.
Potts pointed to Z Suite Technologies, which offers a digital platform tied to escrow accounts – an important feature for banks looking at deposit strategies.
“We’re not picking winners and losers,” Potts said. “While we will go look at new solution providers, we’ll also take some purposeful time to highlight relationships we’ve had in place for some time.”