Banking

Why this tech vet left a superregional to join Quontic Bank

Quontic Bank, a New York community development financial institution, has an outsize reputation for innovation.

It recently was the first U.S. bank to offer a bitcoin rewards checking account. It built a data middleware layer that draws real-time information from the bank’s core, mortgage and online and mobile banking software, and generates real-time reports. And it has overhauled its account onboarding process and shortened it to three minutes.

The $1.4 billion-asset Quontic recently lost one of its tech leaders in innovation chief Patrick Sells, who left for Nydig, a New York-based digital asset technology provider to banks. But it has gained another: Felix Todd, former enterprise architect at the $144 billion-asset Regions Financial in Birmingham, Ala. Todd shared some thoughts about how he plans to continue the momentum started by Sells, who was American Banker’s 2020 Digital Banker of the Year.

“The excitement here is authentic around being a different type of bank and breaking the system for financial empowerment and human flourishing,” says Felix Todd, who recently joined Quontic Bank as chief technology officer.

What most interested you about the idea of joining Quontic?

FELIX TODD: I talked with Patrick extensively before I joined. The excitement here is authentic around being a different type of bank and breaking the system for financial empowerment and human flourishing. These aren’t the ways that a lot of bankers talk about what they’re doing. I liked the idea of being more purpose-driven in what I did.

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The bitcoin rewards program Quontic launched recently seems like it’s more for the sophisticated, tech-savvy person, rather than the person who’s down and out. Am I wrong?

You’re not necessarily wrong about that. Quontic is a community development lender and we’re very, very proud of that. That’s one piece of our strategy, the bitcoin rewards product is another. That will give bitcoin as an experience to many different people who wouldn’t necessarily get involved in it otherwise. We hope to lower the barrier to entry and the risk associated with it and expand the opportunities available to consumers. We are proud of our record of serving as many people as we possibly can.

How can technology help Quontic serve disadvantaged people? Are there certain products or options that you guys are thinking about for people who are really struggling?

With our community development loan product, we can lend to people who are not being approved for traditional mortgage products. We are always looking for ways that we can continue to serve, especially in lending or in differentiated deposit products, if we can figure out ways that really make sense for those communities.

One project I know you’ll be working on in your new job is Quontic.works. As I recall from speaking with CEO Steven Schnall about this over a year ago, it was developed as a result of the struggles of generating real-time reports from various software programs throughout the bank that don’t talk to each other. And this is a sort of middleware layer that will grab the latest data and generate reports so that the bank can do things like price deposits properly. Is that what it’s doing today and where do you think you might take it in the future?

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It’s aggregating that data and providing that type of decision data for management. What still needs to be done is we need to strengthen our data governance. Also, I want it to be a decision-making product for everybody at the bank. We plan to be a company that really strives to be data-driven. To do that, we’ve just got to continue to expand our data and capabilities.

How about on the bitcoin-related products side? Can you give us a hint as to what else might be in the works?

Our next step with bitcoin rewards is to continue to really invest in it. We expect to implement software from FIS to provide a mobile app to consumers for managing their bitcoin rewards. We want to make it a better customer experience.

We will also look for other ways we can differentiate deposit accounts and see if there are ways we can partner in the marketplace to come up with other ways that deposit accounts could be differentiated to customers in ways they’re not seeing from their existing financial institutions.

Do you feel that there’s anything that you did or learned during your time at Regions Bank that you might be able to bring to bear in your new job at Quontic Bank?

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Yes. I worked with some great peers when I was in the digital area of Regions and worked hard on the account opening strategy and on our content strategy, partnering with marketing. And then I worked in enterprise architecture on our cloud and application programming interface strategy. And I felt like there were some things that we could do to leverage APIs in a more efficient way as an organization from that experience.

Is there anything else you can say about your plans for the new job or Quontic’s vision for the future?

We want to be a great adaptive digital bank. My plan is to increase our technical capability to support that promise. That’s why my focus is on that API strategy piece. I see it as wanting to be able to partner with other financial instruments that are out there and to be able to quickly adapt to change.


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