ABA Banking Journal - November/December 2016 - 28
SPECIAL REPORT > INNOVATION AND TECHNOLOGY
in the Bank
Community bank leaders weigh in on how they handle
technological changes and IT strategic planning while
keeping focused on customer needs.
BY EVAN SPARKS
sk community bankers about their single biggest
technological challenge, and the answer is the same:
the pace of change. But the technological change
isn't the only limiting factor. Even bankers most
optimistic and excited about new technologies can
find it difficult to implement new offerings. "By the time that
you start seeing it, working it, training it and implementing
it, something else is coming at you," says Guillermo
Diaz-Rousselot, president and CEO of Continental National
Bank in Miami.
There's also distinction between what George Hermann
calls "offensive" and "defensive" technologies-those you
implement to grow and those you implement just to keep up.
If your bank doesn't adopt the technology, says Hermann,
president and CEO at Windsor Federal in Windsor, Conn., the
customer "is going to go down the street to somebody else,
and now you lose them completely."
For community bankers, the need to keep up technologically
is existential-as Deborah Cole of Nashville's Citizens
Savings Bank and Trust puts it, if they can't keep pace, "I
think very quickly customers would look at a community
bank and say, 'You can't take care of my needs.' I've got to
keep up in order to keep our customer base."
If you ask a younger, tech-savvy bank customer today
about their favorite bank innovation, they'll likely tell you
it's the ability to cash a check using their phones. Bankers
agree and are working on new additions to mobile app
ABA BANKING JOURNAL | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2016
performance for retail customers. At Windsor Federal,
customers can turn a debit card on and off via the app
and offer "fast balance" access without logging in. "That
has been a big hit," Hermann says. The use of biometrics
to bypass password requirements, such as Apple's Touch
ID technology, continues to percolate through community
banks, remarks Trey Maust, who co-heads Lewis and Clark
Bank in Oregon City, Ore.
"For business customers, remote deposit capture is
increasingly a necessity," says Sue Brignac, the chairman,
president and CEO of Washington State Bank in Washington,
La. "I have a lot of commercial customers that were brought
over by two merchant vendors, and remote deposit capture
has really, really aided those commercial customers."
Not all tech investments are winners, of course. Some of that
effect is due to the nature of technology, which can rapidly
become obsolete. "How much money was put into image
ATMs?" Hermann asks. "You can do that on the phone now,
so what do you need an image ATM for?"
Another visual technology-interactive teller machines,
or ITMs-has bankers very excited about extending the
reach of their offices. At FirstCapital Bank of Texas, the
until-recently booming oil market in Midland, Texas, led to
massive competition for local talent, with oil firms able to
offer much higher salaries for those who traditionally would
have been attracted to bank teller jobs. "The year before
we implemented ITMs, we had 100 percent turnover of our
tellers in Midland," says bank president Jay Isaacs. But the