Using digital technologies to support local communities

Using digital technologies to support local communitiesUsing digital technologies to support local communities

At Finastra, we see the future of finance as being open. But this doesn’t just mean Open Banking, or open technology, but open ecosystems – and communities. Open communities are the key to sustainable financial prosperity. They are an ecosystem that grows together and benefits collectively – and to see an open community in action, we need only look to the role that community banks and credit unions play within their neighborhoods.

These organizations are known for their personal touch, for supporting and understanding local people and enterprises, and building meaningful personal relationships. The current environment may have slowed or stopped face-to-face interaction, but through digital technologies, these banks have been able to continue – and even extend – their support during times of need. And, actually, this is a trend that has been accelerating for some time. Modern banking at a micro level creates an opportunity to deliver an even more personalized service to individuals and organizations.

Community banking success translates into financial success and operational efficiencies for everyone who relies on them, including not-for-profit companies like Hilltop Artists that provide valuable community services. Based in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood in Washington State, working with Commencement Bank has enabled Hilltop Artists to thrive and grow.

Dr Kimberly Keith is Hilltop born and raised, and Executive Director of Hilltop Artists. She says that her students face significant challenges. Many have gone hungry or experienced homelessness. But at Hilltop, not only are they expressing themselves through art, notably glassblowing, but they can also feel more connected to a community that values them.

Hilltop Artists’ continued success relies as much on dedication to its work as it does on making sound financial decisions every day, which is why it’s so important to have the ongoing support of Commencement Bank.

Jamie Block is vice president, cash management officer and relationship manager for Hilltop Artists at Commencement Bank. She confirms that the role of community banks in areas like Tacoma is vital. By personally knowing customers and their individual situations, community banks like hers are in a better position to personalize their services and support.

In the case of Hilltop Artists, the business itself works in a different way to most – and this exposes it to a certain level of financial risk. But with Finastra software, Commencement Bank can offer hyper-personalized support and services. For example, it has allowed Hilltop Artists to invest superfluous balances in a checking account, allowing them to build up extra interest and profits. It has also streamlined all of Hilltop’s online banking, reducing manual processes and saving Dr Keith valuable time. And in doing so, it’s supporting the Tacoma area and creating the foundation for financial prosperity.

Whether it’s Hilltop supporting its students, or the bank supporting Hilltop, this is a connected community of people working together to unlock the best in each other. And we know from talking to community banks and credit unions that, despite their size, they have huge ambitions and an appetite to match when it comes to embracing digital to enhance their relationships. See their story in action here.

The Finastra leadership team and I will be sharing more of our stories with you over the coming weeks. I’d love to hear your views on the future of financial services – particularly around what it could be if it truly embraced ‘openness’. Please do share with me your thoughts!