ABA urges core providers to do more for community banks

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NEW YORK — The American Bankers Association has put the major bank core processors on notice.

The banking group is urging the likes of Fiserv, FIS and Jack Henry & Associates to better assist small banks with meeting the technology needs of a competitive market.

Rob Nichols, the association’s president and CEO, addressed this issue Monday during a keynote speech to open the ABA’s annual convention.

“I’m well aware of the frustrations that many bankers have over their relationship with their cores,” Nichols told attendees. “You want to be agile. You want to be nimble. You want to be responsive, but at times your core relationship has made that difficult.”

Nichols said he had sent a letter to core providers asking them to join a new committee designed to “address this situation and work together towards a solution.”

In the letter, obtained by American Banker, Nichols implored the CEOs of Fiserv, FIS and Jack Henry to “empower [community banks] not only with modern contractual terms of service, but also the modern technology now demanded by today’s competitive marketplace.”

The ABA will convene its Core Platforms Committee early next month.

“There is much talk today of open banking and new consumption-based, cloud-native core models that promise to restore agility to banking,” Nichols wrote in the letter. “That agility is essential. Your partnership in this effort is needed and timely.”

FIS is eager to join the committee, a spokesman said, adding that the company is committed to providing community banks with innovative, cost-effective services.

Representatives from Fiserv and Jack Henry were not immediately available to comment.

Nichols made it clear during his speech that the ABA wants to work with fintechs to help small banks keep pace with market changes, particularly at a time when consumers want better digital experiences. He mentioned the ABA’s recent investment in Summit Technology Group, a firm that works with banks and credit unions on cloud computing.

“We’re not just talking about the importance of banks partnering with fintech companies. We’re walking the walk,” Nichols said about the investment. “We’re going to keep our eyes open for future opportunities to nurture companies whose products benefit our industry.”

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