Kevin Tweddle: Creating successful fintech partnerships

How to create a successful fintech partnership

By Kevin Tweddle, ICBA

Fresh off our ICBA convention in Las Vegas, I had a chance to connect with several community bankers about their efforts to innovate and offer better, more competitive solutions for their customers as they continue the seemingly endless process of digital transformation. One common thread through all of those discussions was the need to partner with other financial technology, or “fintech,” companies to assist with these efforts.

What is fintech?
It seems that if you asked 10 people to define “fintech,” you would get 10 different answers. Fintech is an economic industry composed of companies that use technology to make financial systems more efficient. It is, quite simply, the intersection of financial services and technology.

Why are community bankers using fintech providers?
Community bankers are using fintech companies to provide solutions that can be:

  • faster, both in their development and in getting into their customers’ hands
  • safer, providing a higher level of security to customers
  • cheaper, both for banks and their customers.

When going through the evaluation process, the decision to move forward is part of a build-buy-partner framework. Building a solution allows for ownership of the intellectual property created but takes longer to complete. Buying is the best option when time is of the essence. Partnership is more of a shared risk and reward, and the middle-of-the-road path between building or buying a solution.

In using fintech providers, community banks are mindful of the four primary reasons to engage with fintech or any solution provider:

  • To help grow revenue
  • To lower costs or gain operational efficiencies
  • To mitigate risk or fraud
  • To improve the customer experience and/or gain a better understanding of customer activity

Any fintech partnership decision must move the needle on one or more of these factors.

Fintech partnerships have become a standard operating procedure for community banks. This will be a critical part of your efforts to generate more innovative solutions for your customers and your overall strategic planning process.

Kevin Tweddle ( is ICBA’s group executive vice president, innovation & financial technology.