Small Business

‘National Fintech Day’ is Now a Thing (at Least at This Bank)

American BankerSeptember 27, 2018

When Somerset Trust executives recently discussed how to explain the bank’s newest financial technology to customers, they came up with one idea right away: Promote it on National Fintech Day.

But there was a small problem with that plan.

“We dispersed from the meeting, did a little bit of research and realized there was no such thing as National Fintech Day,” said Jessica Kister, assistant marketing officer at the $1 billion-asset bank. “That opened the door to us to create such a day.”

The southwestern Pennsylvania bank asked its mobile and online banking provider, Malauzai, to help set up a technology fair with that name.

“People think of us as a community bank, which we absolutely are,” said Danielle Maurer, assistant vice president and alternative delivery channels officer. “They think we sponsor Little League teams and fireworks. They don’t necessarily think of us as being innovators, even though for many years that’s been a focus of ours. We wanted to have a way to show people all the great things we were working on and make it fun for them, too.”

The fair was also intended to showcase the bank’s technology to its own employees to make sure they understand it, said John Gill, chief operating officer.

Somerset works with more than 25 tech vendors, including Malauzai, Geezeo for personal financial management software, Digital Onboarding for upselling products to new customers and Audioeye, which helps with website accessibility.

All work with the core system the bank has had for the past 17 years, Fiserv DNA; originally the vendor was Open Solutions.

“We have a lot of internal expertise in how the interfaces and middleware works,” Gill said. “We do a lot of work with these companies on the integration and making them work.”

Somerset’s National Fintech Day was held Aug. 20, and 600 people came — mostly customers and a few local officials.

To play up the futuristic theme, the bank brought in a replica of the DeLorean that was used in the movie “Back to the Future.” A couple of employees made their own Dr. Emmett Brown and Marty McFly costumes.

One technology the bank was able to hook customers on during the fair was its digital wallet, which lets them pay with Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

The bank, which has 34 branches, brought in a vending machine and provided a phone with a mobile wallet on it that a customer could tap to the vending machine to get a soda.

“We had a lot of success with that vending machine,” Maurer said. “A lot of people know what the mobile wallet does, but there’s that anxiety to try it the first time. You don’t want to do it when you have a line of people behind you and if you mess up, you’re going to be holding everybody up. There’s that fear and pressure. Here there was zero fear, zero pressure; it was a demo phone you could try it with, get comfortable with, and you got to keep the soda.”

People from the bank’s call center were on hand, so if customers wanted to set up their digital wallet or online or mobile banking, they could do it then and there with help.

Currently, though 85% of the bank’s transactions are done digitally rather than in a branch, the digital wallet represents less than 1% of the bank’s overall transactions, Gill said. The use of remote deposit capture, on the other hand, has grown 126% in the past year.

The bank is not trying to aggressively push customers toward specific technologies like mobile wallets.

“We always want to meet our customers wherever they’re most comfortable,” Maurer said. “We’re not pushing them in any direction.”

The next thing on Somerset Trust’s tech agenda is integrating its Malauzi software with Worldpay’s Mobi Money, which provides card controls like geofencing and additional alerts.

“We have card on-off controls, but this is a more sophisticated card on-off,” Maurer pointed out. “You can pick where you can use the card and where you can’t. Customers get notification about card use immediately and can stop fraudulent transactions before the money even comes out of the account.”

Somerset is also working with Malauzai to build up its small-business app. A digital lockbox and new types of digital payments are on that drawing board. Nonprofits, for instance, will be able to accept donations straight from a digital wallet.

This article was written by Penny Crosman from American Banker and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to