Two financial technology companies that graduated from the Little Rock Venture Center's accelerator program are partnering to enhance digital services for community banks.
Finzly, a Charlotte, N.C.-based provider of applications for digital account opening, is working with Fintel Connect of Canada to create a complete digital growth platform for community banks.
The two companies connected last year as participants in the Independent Community Bankers of America ThinkTECH Accelerator program at the Venture Center.
The news arrives as the Venture Center announced winners Wednesday in this year's ThinkTECH accelerator.
Charles Potts, chief innovation officer at Independent Community Bankers of America, said the partnership illustrates the value of the accelerator program.
"Finzly and Fintel Connect are previous ThinkTECH Accelerator participants and both made a very positive impression on our community bank participants," he said in a news release.
The center's effectiveness was on display Wednesday as nine financial technology providers presented their service offerings to community bankers from across the country.
After the presentations, Beauceron Security of Canada was named "MVP" for its extraordinary effort, spirit of collaboration and the platform's potential to help community bankers in their business challenges and opportunities.
Harness of Tampa, Fla., was the 2021 Banker's Choice Award recipient at the Independent Community Bankers of America's national convention, ICBA Connect, earlier this month.
The 2021 program, the third one for the partnership with Independent Community Bankers of America, was held entirely virtually. More than 100 community banks, policymakers from major regulatory agencies and dozens of venture capital firms offered feedback to accelerator participants. The program is built for growth-stage companies that serve the community banking industry.
"ICBA's mission is to create and promote an environment where community banks flourish, and innovation is an important component to that work," the group's president and chief executive, Rebeca Romero Rainey, said in a news release. "This program has already produced tangible, workable solutions for our members."
Participants completed a four-week incubator followed by a 12-week boot camp. The companies offer services that include cybersecurity, digital customer engagement, automated loan origination, customer acquisition and retention, and financial well-being.
The Fintel and Finzly partnership is a sign of how digital banking is becoming a greater need for banks, especially community banks that rely on financial technology companies.
This year, the banking industry has placed significant emphasis on digital account-opening capabilities as institutions seek to meet customer demands for digital services as alternatives to in-branch services, the companies said in announcing the partnership.
Many institutions initiated a push to create robust, digital customer experiences on their websites and mobile apps. Finzly recognized that having these services in place is not enough because banks also need to find cost-effective ways to attract customers to their banks digitally, which is where Fintel Connect comes in.
"Banks that rely on Finzly's modern offerings really want help with digital marketing," said Dave Hunkele, chief strategy officer and adviser to Finzly. "Fintel Connect provides our clients with a cost-effective, digital channel for attracting potential customers, who can then be onboarded through Finzly's account-opening solution."
Venture center Executive Director Wayne Miller noted that both companies stood out during last year's accelerator program.
"Finzly and Fintel each came to the 2020 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator with high-value propositions, and together, they found the opportunity to advance them," Miller said. "Our various cohorts working together in Little Rock are invaluable and are proven to drive successful partnerships. Once again, we are delighted to see the power of collaboration in delivering better services for the banking community."