Charles Potts: The future of community banking

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By Charles Potts, ICBA

The speed and rapid nature of fintech entering the community bank space brings with it opportunities for community banks to create innovative ways to flourish in their markets.

That’s why it’s imperative that community banks think strategically about how to create best-of-breed services and solutions for their unique market demands, in line with their big bank and nonbank counterparts.

Here’s one example: Shadow banks and venture capital-backed, neo-lending companies are capitalizing on increased growth in small business creation and demand for small business loans. They offer a user experience that’s a departure from many traditional lending alternatives. The way in which small businesses find and obtain what I call a “just-in-time loan” is the cornerstone of many technologies in development today. For community banks, which account for more than 60% of all small business loans, it’s a chance to offer their own set of innovative partners and solutions while incorporating the unique characteristics that make banking with a local lender so appealing for small business owners.

As part of ICBA’s mission to help community banks flourish, we’re working to ensure you have the tools and services you need to maximize the opportunities in today’s shifting marketplace. Here are some ideas for your community bank:

  • Access ICBA’s array of educational resources. Continue to look to ICBA as a thought leader and key source of information. These resources include the ICBA ThinkTECH Network, the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator program, access to numerous sessions from our partners at events like ICBA LIVE, as well as Community Banker University resources. These offer unparalleled opportunities for you, as a community banker, to arm yourself with the knowledge and opportunities you need to meet the challenges ahead.
  • Work hand in glove with ICBA. We’re always happy to hear from you, so please communicate your needs, pain points, business plans and strategies. Engage with our fintech accelerator program participants. Take advantage of the opportunity to meet with our fintech cohort to express the challenges you face and work with them to achieve appropriate solutions.
  • Recognize that timing is everything. Right now, there’s significant market demand for loans, and community banks are considering ways to grow deposits to meet this demand. From a strategy and tactics perspective, it’s vital to identify how, when and where to acquire solutions that will address these needs. At ICBA, we’re working diligently to identify new solutions and alternatives to address your most pressing challenges.

The future of community banking is now. With ICBA as your partner and advocate, you can deliver powerful technology solutions without losing the customized, personal touch that sets community banks apart.

Charles Potts ( is ICBA senior vice president and chief innovation officer