Financial services veteran Charles E. Potts was named president of Cedar Rapids Iowa-based Banno on January 30. Potts had served on Banno’s advisory board since 2010 and will now take over responsibility for business development and partnerships. This will free CEO Wade Arnold to focus on the technology side of the business.
Potts previously served as managing director of business alliances and international sales at ProfitStars, a Jack Henry company. His work before that includes an executive position at the former Citizens & Southern National Bank, now part of Bank of America.
Banno, formerly known as T8 Webware, offers web hosting and design services for financial services companies, but its most innovative product is the mobile financial management tool Grip. CEO Wade Arnold showed off Grip in this Bank Innovation video.
“The coming year will see an expansion of Grip’s capabilities,” Potts told Bank Innovation. “We have a large commitment to delivering on the promise of Grip.”
“We have two dozen FIs under contract [with Grip],” Potts said. “It’s a very aggressively sold product.” He added that “Banno has a large and robust customer base” of 325 financial institutions that are users of its web hosting and design services.
“We expect to triple the customer base [of Grip] by the end of the year,” Potts said. “We feel very good about where we are going. There is a large market and opportunity to be strong and viable supplier of the FIs.”
Banno doesn’t refer to its product as a PFM, and indeed Grip, while possessing traditional PFM features such as charts, account histories, and budgeting tools, also has powerful tools for use at the point of sale, employing geo-location, offers and merchant information. Potts alluded to the crowded space Grip is in, saying, “We’re seeing people copy our messaging and thought.” He took a sunny view of this: “That’s strong validation of our product. We spent the last two-plus years building our tech foundation. We have the ability to deliver a great experience and set of tools and capabilities.”
Grip can serve as a turnkey solution for a bank that has not yet invested in mobile or is looking to replace its existing solution, or components of Grip can fit into a larger app that is going to remain in place. In either case, Grip is whitelabeled and branded by the institution that provides it to end users.
“Across the industry, there is an awakening and recognition that the ability to deliver to the consumer a more powerful product at point of presence is highly desired,” Potts said. “There is a definite market for Grip for those FIs who want a complete mobile experience.”
The mobile experience is transforming rapidly as desktop and laptop converge with tablet and smartphone. “The consumer experience should be consistent across channels,” Potts said, but qualified that by saying that too much is made of the distinction between channels. “In the end, the customer is going to dictate when and where they want to interact with the Fis,” Potts said. In other words, banks need to meet customers where those customers are comfortable doing business.
“Mobile adoption is very apparent,” he added. “Those are real numbers.” But what of the concern that loans, for example, will be difficult to originate outside the branch? Potts dismissed this fear. “Transactions like loan origination have been going on online for 15 or 16 years.” And that, he said, will continue.
As to what kind of multichannel experience will prove best for customers, Potts said, “We’re in another inflection point. It will be the mobile experience that moves the customer forward rather than backward.”
Grip, built by Wade Arnold, has that potential. Now it’s up to Charles Potts to make the sales to financial institutions.
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