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Western Independent Bankers launches app store to connect smaller banks to fintech

Western Independent Bankers, a professional organization for community banks, is debuting an online store to allow small banks to try out and brand financial technology applications, usually the purview of the bigger banks with which they compete.

The platform, created in collaboration with banking software company Linqto, will offer a wide of high-demand fintech apps for member banks to rebrand and distribute to customers. In addition, the storefront will grow to support a new revenue-generating system as vendors increase adoption and monetize their apps.

“Western Independent Bankers has a recognizable name and large footprint with community banks,” said Bill Sarris, CEO of Linqto. “Via this strategic partnership with WIB and WIB Service Corporation, more than 800 community banks will have ‘storefront’ access to the latest Fintech apps.”

WIB App Store
The creation of the branded app store will allow some semblance of modernity to exist within the infrastructure of the various smaller banks that operate within the Western Independent Bankers’ network, which is comprised of entities rapidly being outpaced by large banks’ massive tech budgets.

To meet growing consumer demand for progressive smartphone and app offerings, big banks have invested substantial resources in creating their own financial lifestyle apps, leading to increased sales and improved customer satisfaction.

Community banks, however, have been marginalized by development costs resulting in an inability to disrupt the market stronghold.

Through the WIB App Store, member banks will try to compete with customized applications designed to appeal to a multitude of demographics.

Linqto will deliver the WIB App Store through an automated delivery platform that allows financial institutions to choose high-demand fintech apps from a digital storefront. Within minutes, the app is uniquely branded with the bank’s name and logo.

That app is then immediately available for internal bank testing and, upon completion, is automatically distributed to the major app stores, Apple and Google.

Technology will be a good investment for any financial institution worth its weight in salt in the coming years, especially so considering mobile banking users are set to reach 2 billion by 2020, according to a new report from Juniper Research, suggesting that banks are placing as much effort on digital marketing and tools as traditional brands (see story).

Last year, Citi introduced additions to its iOS application that combine banking, wealth management and money movement capabilities, offering a suite of cutting-edge servicing and authentication features tailored towards clients of Citigold, the bank’s property geared towards investment and money management for high-value clients (see story).

“All of our banks want to appeal to the digital generation and develop customer loyalty through service and innovation,” said Western Independent Bankers CEO Michael Delucchi. “By using the WIB App Store, banks can now transform the customer experience without the white-label and branding costs that have traditionally kept them confined to the standard banking transaction app.

“There is a framework of opportunity here, and we’re excited to see our members take advantage of it.”