finzpire 1.0, Finzly’s 10th anniversary special user conference, was held at The Hilton, Charlotte Airport, US, on 8-10 June 2022, and was attended by bank leaders from across the country.
The conference saw several bankers, thought leaders, industry doyens and subject matter experts participate in three days of interactive discussions, user roundtables and educational sessions on trending topics and bank innovation outside the legacy core.
John Venzon, managing director at Cornerstone Advisors, in his keynote spoke about sustainable value creation in banking by consciously aligning the bank’s vision, business model and TOM. He made a great point that vision needs validation as it can often be fussy, emotional and qualitative.
The session on bank transformation was a revelation of the approaches that banks are adopting to catch up with fintechs through “coopetition”. Inder Koul – chief information officer (CIO), First Source Bank, Laura Merling – chief transformation and operations officer, Arvest Bank, and Sean Viergutz – principal, PwC, elicited the need to create differentiation in niche industry segments and the importance of offering a consistent experience pervading the entire customer journey.
While Merling emphasised the need to balance between standardisation and personalisation in products, Koul accentuated the need for application rationalisation as a precursor to the centralisation of enterprise services. The discussions also delved into the imperative to move towards platform-based innovation using microservices that offer choice and modularity. The speakers explained how open APIs helped their banks accelerate the provision of innovative services to different customer segments.
Next on the cards was an exciting session on embedded payments. Peter McVey, SVP, director of payments, Lead Bank, enlightened the audience on how the right payment technology on a platform-based model is helping his bank attract a beeline of B2B fintech partners.
Michael Dowling – chief technology officer (CTO) of Summit National Bank, shared how his bank is gearing up to serve the increasing needs of a less-catered to customer segment – developers. Until recently, banks were the primary providers to consumers. Now several layers are building up, insulating the banks’ services including aggregators and distributors. The expert duo explained how their banks are playing to their strengths in payments infrastructure on platform-based operating systems to take advantage of this conducive scene.
Erik Van Bramer – SVP and national sales director, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, educated the bankers on the new instant payment service, FedNow, and specific use cases in the B2B segment. With the FedNow poised to become one of the biggest payment clearing and settlement systems in the world upon release, many banks are choosing to offer FedNow services outside their core providers. There is a great demand for innovative and modern use cases to be built at the point of consumption. Many of these use cases realise the full potential when backed by modern, cloud-based technology for processing the payments, he said.
Finzly’s FX product, FX STAR, is one of the most-used foreign exchange products in banks in the US. Finzly’s customers discussed the challenges and opportunities in international banking from a regional bank’s perspective. Challenges in establishing mutually beneficial partnerships with correspondent banks for FX liquidity, nostro accounts and multi-currency accounts were covered.
Bankers also discussed in depth about how they use technology to confront the challenges of dealing with correspondent institutions. Brian Simonson – senior director, FX, Western Alliance Bank, and Jeffrey Beisler Snell – head of international, Synovus Bank, discussed the challenges.
Dave Bhagat – senior managing director, international banking group, Western Alliance Bank; Robert Digangi – managing director, interest rate & FX management solutions, Bank of Montreal; and Aaron Zynczak – SVP and senior director international banking services, First Citizens Bank, spoke about the opportunities in the space.
Bankers also benefited from a session on the ISO 20022 migration where the subject matter expert from Swift, Marcos Cameron, drew visual analogies to this otherwise complex topic trending in bank boardrooms. Cameron elaborated on the opportunities for bank innovation using the new data format in high-value payments for corporate treasurers.
Tristan Thompson – payments strategy director at Arvest Bank, educated the bankers on the pros and cons of adopting crypto and how banks can take the initial steps in preparation for the imminent trend.
Finzly’s award-winning payment hub helps banks offer the simplest of payment experiences. Tanvi Patel, director, PwC, talked about the need to simplify the payments journey and how payment hubs can accelerate innovation to create modern payment experiences.
The digitisation challenges of trade finance and the opportunities that come with the newer and stronger international supply chain were also discussed, with veterans Paul Warfield – trade finance product manager, The Huntington National Bank; Diane Brenner – global trade operations manager, Fulton Bank; and Yenner Karto – SVP, managing director, head of international banking and FX, First National Bank of Pennsylvania, sharing their views.
Finzly’s founder and CEO, Booshan Rengachari, spoke about the obligation for banks to go back and clean up their technical debt as the first step towards meaningful transformation. He highlighted how operating systems with centralized services like audit and compliance can help unify operations and improve communication across different bank departments.
Financial inclusion, embedded banking, bank transformation, international banking, ISO 20022, instant payments, trade finance and platform-based bank operating systems were the underlying topics of discussions. The deliberations around these topics have reinforced the basic requisite for a holistic approach to transformation and the compelling need to follow a north star that guides the banks’ vision.