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Alkami Co:lab 2024 – Industry Leaders and Influencers Explore What’s Next in Banking

Emily Fagan, Content Manager

Alkami

The 2024 Alkami Co:lab conference, held in Grapevine, Texas, April 8-10, 2024, featured a packed agenda that brought together key influencers and tech innovators across the financial services space. Credit unions, banks, fintechs, partners, as well as analysts and consultants, converged to discuss the most pressing topics impacting this industry. Alkami Co:lab delivers year-after-year collaboration with brightest minds in the industry, to create strategy and mold the future for tomorrow’s data-informed digital bankers.

Alkami executives took the main stage for insightful keynotes, along with financial services influencers Jim Marous and Ron Shevlin and United States paralympic athlete and motivational speaker, Blake Leeper.

Thirty-six break out sessions built into six tracks included various expert speakers discussing a wide variety of topics from digital banking, to data to professional development. Alkami Co:lab also featured this year its first live TechFin Hackathon, recording of the FIsionaries podcast on-site and so many more special events that fueled networking, inspiration and partnership. 

In case you missed the event, here we unpack the highlights. We hope to see you next year in Nashville!

 

From the Main Stage
Predicting the Winners of Banking Consolidation in 2030

Alkami Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, Stephen Bohanon

Reflecting on the consolidation rate in the banking industry, Bohanon noted that in 2030, there will likely be thousands fewer financial institutions in the U.S. – begging the question, what will be the common traits of those who survive, or in other words, the winners? From his view, they will be: 

  • Available
  • Reliable 
  • Convenient
  • Performant
  • Real-time
  • Intuitive
  • Secure 

Bohanon also touched on why it is crucial for financial institutions to focus on diversifying their portfolios, particularly through business banking offerings. Today, with the growing number of small businesses operating or launching each year, if a bank or credit union does not offer strong small business services, their retail base could be at risk, as many small business owners prefer to have all of their accounts at the same financial institution. 

Additionally, Bohanon provided some insight into fraud, and how it continues to be a major challenge for financial institutions of all sizes, driven in particular by the increasing sophistication of deep learning technology. Impersonation scams are one of the major forms of fraud that financial institutions  encounter today. Unfortunately, 2024 is likely the year that photo, video and audio  content will cease to be trustable at face value, particularly given how much  content is available online, which makes it easy for fraudsters to create avatars and leverage deep fake technology to impersonate account holders. In this environment, we expect financial institutions to increasingly deploy passwordless authentication across all digital banking channels, including mobile banking offerings, to increase security and simplify the user experience.

Another major trend is the fact that instant payments are becoming ubiquitous, leading consumers to expect them, and this expectation is beginning to transfer to the B2B and B2C spaces. Financial institutions must evolve to meet this growing demand – particularly as account holders look to transfer larger amounts of money.

Similarly, fintechs like Apple Card, Square and Chime are informing consumer expectations, and this is likely to impact the digital account opening experience. New and existing account holders want instant access to their funds, virtual debit cards – which can be immediately added to their digital wallet – ultimately allowing them to withdraw funds from an ATM machine within minutes of opening an account. They also expect the ability to send money to individuals – all within their 

mobile banking experience. To meet these expectations, financial institutions will need to revisit and revamp their digital account opening, instant payments, and card experiences.

In a competitive market, driving engagement within the digital banking and mobile banking platforms is also increasingly critical for banks and credit unions. Here we are likely to see an intersection of data and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, with AI being used in a proactive, prescriptive, protective manner. For example, users may open their mobile app and be prompted with questions such as, “At this time of the month, you usually transfer funds to your savings account, would you like to do that now?” or “You have some pending transactions that will overdraw your account – to prevent an overdraft,  would you like to transfer funds into your checking account?” Financial institutions will bring data and AI together to analyze past behavior, predict future behavior, and proactively communicate with users accordingly.

 

Alkami Launches SDK Wizard “Merlin,” Furthering the Company’s TechFin Initiative

Alkami Chief Technology Officer, Deep Varma

This strategic tool is revolutionary in the financial services industry, allowing the developer environment to set up and ramp up in minutes compared to days. Built with a developer-first mindset, “Merlin” is a part of Alkami’s ongoing commitment to being the leading “TechFin” in the market, providing developments and inventive technical capabilities for financial institutions nationwide.

With this strong tech foundation in place, Varma announced that Alkami will be doubling down further on investments to the platform, and laid out four critical areas and capabilities where we will invest in for financial institutions to stay relevant and innovative: 

  1. Scale – The platform “auto-scales” based on financial institutions’ growth and engagement strategies to accommodate banks and credit unions’ growing user bases, ensuring all users get reliable, high-quality experiences.
  2. Availability – By providing an “always on” and available digital banking platform, financial institutions’ retail and commercial account holders will be supported whenever and wherever they are.
  3. Data – With actionable “data and insights,” financial institutions can deliver personalized experiences and relevant offers to their account holders – at scale.
  4. Speed – The platform is built with “flexibility and extensibility” in mind, empowering financial institutions to self-serve, and extensibility will allow them to embrace and extend Alkami’s platform to create unique and differentiated experiences.

Overall, Alkami will continue to build with a developer-first mindset, enabling community banks and credit unions to compete with the largest financial institutions. 

 

The Journey of AI and How Financial Institutions Can Get Started

Alkami CEO, Alex Shootman

To answer this question, Shootman first addressed the hype around artificial intelligence (AI), what is the present state of AI and then traced the history.  For financial institutions, he identified the below critical steps that must take to be successful: 

  • Define success criteria
  • Through hiring or training, add skills to the organization in data, programming and ethics
  • Make sure the data house is in order, as it’s the fuel for AI
  • Decide how to build your model – whether building it internally, buying off the shelf, or leveraging a third-party

Alkami just completed two surveys that provided further insight into how banks and credit unions might use AI. One referenced financial institution attitudes towards AI and the other revealed generational differences in the desire for AI in financial services.  

Regional and community financial institutions (RCFIs) anticipate major impacts from AI in the next five years; 96% believe most financial institutions will use AI in some capacity and 81% believe AI will dramatically change the way they do business. 

On the flip side, only 18% are successfully leveraging AI in at least a few areas of their business but 75% believe megabanks and neobanks are successfully leveraging AI. The top AI use cases emerging for RCFIs are customer service and fraud protection and most are hesitant in using AI for digital account opening and money movement.

Think about those data points in the context of how different generations of consumers think about AI and digital banking. Older generations expect AI to support security and fraud protection, while younger generations expect AI to support financial wellness and digital account opening. Interestingly, younger generations are most hesitant for AI to impact security and fraud protection.

Shootman also identified two key use cases around AI that he foresees for Alkami’s client base: 

  • Leveraging transaction data with a focus on fraud and personalized models
  • Using language retrieval and Generation AI models to bolster customer support and employee productivity

Shootman closed with a thought from the author of The Cave, Plator wrote, “We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.” He stressed that everyone in the room can learn the basics of AI, communicate the concept of AI to their institution and take action today to help their organization embrace AI.

 

 

Look on the Flip Side

Alkami Chief Marketing Officer, Allison Cerra

In her keynote, Allison Cerra, chief marketing officer, used Gloria Gaynor’s landmark hit “I Will Survive” and the story of its journey from the B-side (flip side) of its record as a throughline to demonstrate that treasures are often buried beneath the surface. Cerra went on to discuss how looking on the flip side could reveal undiscovered gems waiting to be mined – she looked at this concept through the lens of market data across consumers, businesses, and financial institutions.

Consumers – We’re standing in the middle of the greatest intergenerational wealth transfer in history. $16 trillion of wealth will be passed down from older to younger generations over the next decade…an estimated $1.3 trillion dollars of it among everyday Americans, not solely the nation’s wealthiest elite. Millennials are anticipated to be the top beneficiaries of this wealth. But, here’s the conundrum with Millennials: Despite being under financial stress, half of them choose a major national FI as their primary financial institution, or PFI. But, on the flip side, there’s a much worthier track: Too Caring to Bail. Financial institutions operate to offer better rates, better service, and a far better alternative to megabanks, and they don’t bail on or exploit account holders when times are toughest. Alkaimi research shows that customers and members trust community financial institutions significantly more than those of major national banks when it comes to offering products that help them, versus taking advantage of them. And while Millennials largely choose to do business with megabanks today, many are up for grabs tomorrow.

Businesses – According to Cornerstone, only about 10% of small and medium businesses turn to you for their primary deposit account, often choosing a megabank instead. For larger commercial accounts, winning the operating account from a megabank is even more challenging.  But, on the flip side, there’s more to the story. Recent market data from Cornerstone and Datos Insights suggests that businesses of all sizes are increasingly open to new financial provider relationships.

Financial Institutions – The hero of the story. Digital banking is too important to be relegated to service benefits alone as a proverbial one-hit wonder. On the flip side, digital banking is equal parts sales and service, capable of helping institutions manage costs and generate revenues through their most pervasive, ubiquitous, and always-on channel.

Cerra concluded when we collectively challenge conventional wisdom, the status quo topples and something far better emerges (from the flip side).

 

The Alkami Customer Journey Wall and New Client Community

Alkami Chief Customer Officer, Wayne McCulloch

Alkami VP, Customer Engagement, Strategy and Operations Xina Seaton

In his keynote, Wayne McCulloch, chief customer officer, focused on the continuing partnership with the Alkami client community using the “Alkami Customer Journey Wall.”  Started last year, the journey wall was back, and used as a tool for Alkami clients to provide open feedback around areas of support, implementation and process.

Xina Seaton, vice president, customer engagement, strategy and operations announced a new online client community launching! The all-new Alkami Community is focused on empowering client’s success with updated resources, fresh ways to interact with peers, and enhanced online experiences.

 

Our Client Panelists Discussed Industry Hot Topics

Featuring…Horicon Bank, Elevations Credit Union, and Quontic Bank

Discussing fraud, data and personalization, how to start your journey towards leverage account holder data to enhance experiences and operational efficiencies…this expert panel left our audience with many actionable insights. Expect more available content from these three soon!

 

Pardon the Finterruption

Cornerstone Advisor’s Ron Shevlin and The Financial Brand and The Digital Banking Report’s Jim Marous

In a major match-up, industry personalities and influencers Ron Shevlin and Jim Marous took the stage to discuss some of the biggest topics in banking today. From digital transformation to the death of branches, embedded finance to artificial intelligence and more.

On the topic of digital maturity, Jim Marous nodded to the importance of tools to accurately measure maturity, like Alkami’s Digital Sales & Service Maturity Model Assessment, which he and Alkami partnered together on, in addition to Emerald Research Group.  Built only for financial institutions, the digital maturity assessment was created from Alkami’s Digital Sales & Service Maturity Model Report, which reveals the spectrum of digital maturity by categorizing banks and credit unions into four distinct segments based on their readiness and implementation of digital strategies. 

Inspiring Attendees with His Personal Journey to Gold

United States Paralympic Athlete, Blake Leeper

 

To close out Alkami Co:lab, Blake Leeper moved attendees with his remarkable story – born with both legs missing below the knee, he nevertheless went on to become an eight-time Paralympic medalist representing the United States. Leeper encouraged attendees to view challenges they face as opportunities, and ask not, “Why me?” but rather, “Why not me?”

 

Breakout Tracks

For the full synopsis and takeaways from our thirty-six sessions across six breakout tracks, click on each link below:

Digital Banking Commercial Banking Professional Development
Growth Strategies Technology Data & Marketing

 

Special Events, Awards & Announcements
Unleashing Creativity and Innovation at Alkami’s TechFin Hackathon

Alkami Co:lab invited clients, partners and system integrators to participate in the first live customer-facing TechFin Hackathon. The event encouraged collaboration to build innovative functionality on the Alkami digital banking platform using the Alkami Software Development Kit (SDK). 

For all of the inside scoop on the event, where developers and thinkers alike pushed the boundaries of digital banking, see the in-depth look at a day of camaraderie and innovation here.

 

Women in Banking

Featuring…
EVP and Chief Experience Officer for Hudson Credit Union, Desiree Wolfe
VP, MX & Product Management for Unitus Community Credit Union, Char Sears
Alkami’s Product Marketing Manager, Molly Irelan
Alkami’s Client Sales Executive, Anna Davis
Alkami’s Chief Marketing Officer, Allison Cerra

 

This panel session covered five trends impacting the banking industry, the power of believing in yourself, the importance of talent development programs, the continuous journey of being a mentee and a mentor, and the balancing act we experience on a daily basis – trying to show up as our best selves in our professional and personal lives. Read more here

This standout session was immediately followed by a Women in Banking networking happy hour where attendees were encouraged to engage, network, and grow. During the event, attendees shared their experiences working in the banking industry and were able to redeem a t-shirt and other inspirational swag. 

 

To hear more Women in Banking stories, see our blog series here.

 

Community Banking Stories

 

Inspired by 2023’s ‘Jelly Bean’ video, Alkami released three new videos developed in partnership with NorthWest Federal Credit Union, Connexus Credit Union and Patelco Credit Union, highlighting the importance of community financial institutions and the pivotal impact they have on the financial journeys of their members.

  • Patelco Credit Union: When Dave woke up and discovered his account was missing a huge amount of funds, he contacted Tylee at Patelco Credit Union. Tylee’s calm, confident response put the member at ease, alleviating his concern.
  • Connexus Credit Union: When Gabrielle finally found the car she was looking for, she needed a loan FAST. Connexus Credit Union had been there for her since childhood, and she knew she could trust them now.
  • NorthWest Federal Credit Union: When local business owner Anna needed support for opening her small business, she turned to NorthWest Federal Credit Union. She never imagined just how much of a partner they would be.

 

FIsionariesTM Awards

Presented by Alkami and
FIsionariesTM Podcast Host Jim Marous

Four honorees were recognized with the annual FIsionaries Awards, highlighting excellence in digital banking and visionaries in the financial services industry. 

 

See our special FIsionariesTM awards presentation video here.

 

 

Alkami Co:lab attendees were able to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime solar event together, as the path of the 2024 total eclipse crossed directly over the Dallas Texas area!

 

Alkami Co:lab attendees raised $12,000 in donations to benefit Patriot PAWS!!

Thank you so much for your generosity! Visit Patriotpaws.org for more information about this incredible organization.

 

Thank you to our partners and sponsors for making this Alkami Co:lab the best yet!

To view all of our Alkami Co:lab partner blogs featuring useful use cases, click here.

 

 

Thank you from the 2024 Alkami Co:lab staff.
We’ll see you in Nashville!

 

 

author avatar
Alkami Technology Digital Banking Solutions
Alkami Technology, Inc. is a leading cloud-based digital banking solutions provider for financial institutions in the United States that enables clients to grow confidently, adapt quickly and build thriving digital communities.
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