Scams are always abundant in this day and age, but COVID-19 has quickly brought about societal shifts full of financial and economic uncertainty and of scared and vulnerable people, and scammers are already working the cause. Scam artists are always looking for opportunities to steal money and data from people and businesses, especially financial institutions. And this time is no different.
We’re getting a lot of mixed messages about a coming recession. On one hand, the Gross Domestic Product is higher than expected and the unemployment rate is at a historic low. We’ve been seeing a lot of economic growth that suggests we’re headed in the right direction. But on the other hand, many experts suggest we are at risk for a recession.
“Fintech” is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “computer programs and other technology used to support or enable banking and financial services.” This takes shape in a broad array of products and services.
Traditional thinking says that the risk banks make lending to small companies rarely outweighs the profits. Recent relationships between the small business community and fintech startups are causing lenders to reevaluate this line of thought.
In July 2016, in the small town of Duncan, Arizona, the last bank branch in the town closed its doors. They direct traffic to their nearest branch… 40 miles away. It is a popular belief nowadays that bank branches are on their way out and digital banking is taking its place, but are we looking at the whole picture? Don’t community banks offer a lot more to the communities they serve than just a place to make deposits?
First Principles thinking is an idea popularized by entrepreneur Elon Musk, although it has roots with other minds like philosopher Aristotle, inventor Johannes Gutenberg, and military strategist John Boyd.3 First principles thinking is like taking a scientific approach to your thought processes. A first principle was defined by Aristotle as, “the first basis from which a thing is known.”3 As Musk describes, “you kind of boil things down to the most fundamental truths […] and then reason up from there.”2
In a recent article by Tina Giorgio, president and CEO of ICBA Bancard, she discusses the top three industry developments that “should be on every community bank’s priority list in 2020 and beyond.” Change is the most consistent factor of the banking industry; new technologies will continue to emerge and new solutions will be created. Giorgio urges bankers to take full advantage of these opportunities. In her article, her top three developments are Internet of Things (IoT), Digital Wallets, and Customer-first approach.
Technology is changing the day-to-day operations of banks and their employees. Many are hesitant and resistant to a technology takeover, but many of these digital services can revolutionize the banking industry, giving employees more opportunities to do work that generates more revenue and has more meaning.
There are two types of people: those who never let their bank account get close to zero and those who at some point get near or below zero in their bank account. According to Aaron Klein, a fellow at the Brookings Institution (a government research center in Washington, D.C.), half of Americans have enough income and expense volatility that their bank accounts hit or get close to zero. Klein relents, “once you start getting near and hitting zero, the world becomes incredibly expensive: $35 for an overdraft, $50 for a payday loan, interest rates of 300-400%, late fees.”
It’s true nobody likes change, but it’s particularly frustrating to face changes that seem completely unnecessary. Chris Maher, CEO of OceanFirst Financial, noticed the biggest problem when going digital was a cultural and training gap among employees, “not surprisingly, if you work all day within a bank branch, you don’t personally have a big need to use mobile banking and wouldn’t be an advocate of that technology because it’s not important to you in your life.”