November 30, 2022 Copyright 2022. Tonya M. Evans. All rights reserved.
Evolve or die. That has been a consistent and persistent thread running through messaging from staunch crypto advocates regarding the disruptive purpose and impact of bitcoin and the over 22,000 different types of native crypto coins and tokens in the decentralized finance (defi) ecosystem. The point is well made and correct. But I think the fear-based framing is counter-productive and misses the incredible opportunities community banks (publicly or privately owned by local community members) and credit unions (privately owned by its members) can provide in the form of better, faster, less expensive and more creative savings and loans products and features that provide greater access to banking.
Although it is true that with every passing day fintech companies, digital banks, and crypto assets, become more ubiquitous as more investors and consumers access these alternatives to traditional banking and capital asset accumulation. These technological advances in finance continue to create a customer service issue for traditional financial entities (tradfi) because some consumers—especially those who have been historically marginalized—see fintech and blockchain-enabled banking solutions more viable as an alternative to the legacy banking system.
For example, an annual Black Investor report published by Ariel Investments and Schwab, one-quarter of Black Americans (25%) currently own cryptocurrency, and among Black investors under 40, that figure jumps to 38%. Black investors are more than twice as likely to say cryptocurrency was their first investment (11% of Black investors compared to 4% of white investors).
What is a Community Bank?
Community banks are smaller banking institutions (fewer than one hundred branches) devoted to nurturing relationships and prioritizing community care, impact and involvement to provide stability and opportunity to individuals and businesses within a specific local or regional area. Contrast Community banks like credit unions with super-regional banks like PNC and Truist Financial and mega-banks like Bank of America and JPMorgan, that began to proliferate in the late 1990s.
With the increased demand for 24/7/365 access to a variety of banking services (and assets) and the ability to review, move, and manage value digitally on feature-rich platforms quickly and securely.
Banks (and the agencies charged with disclosure, compliance, and consumer protection oversight) that are ready, willing, and able to commit time, talent, and resources to reskill and increase digital and new technologies competency, will also be poised to increase positive relationship-based impacts for customers in the communities in which they serve.
Evolve and thrive.