The Bancorp Ain’t the Innovation Engine It Used to Be

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / EcoPictureIt is a sad truth: AML violations have cut the innovation practice at The Bancorp.

The Bancorp, which released earnings yesterday, arguably has been a leading advocate for fintech over the last several years, notably providing the bank charter behind Simple.

But The Bancorp is facing regulatory scrutiny for its anti-money laundering shortfalls. The company said it spent $41 million last year cleaning up its AML mess — 71 employees were hired to deal with the banks BSA/AML woes, said CFO Paul Frenkiel. Total expenses last quarter tallied $14.8 million at The Bancorp.

The feds have restricted The Bancorp from growing its prepaid business. The bank has also paid at least two fines recently for compliance miscues.

All this compliance kerfuffle casts a pale over the interim CEO, John Chrystal, who commented on digital innovation.

I’m excited about the future of the Bank. Despite our growth restrictions, please remember our existing clients are growing at a very fast pace as is the financial technology sector as a whole. Our growth will mirror the growth of this sector. Simply put, we are in the right place at the right time. Every business line has demonstrated positive growth, process streamlining, and compliance improvements. The Bank punches well above its weight, and I expect it will continue to do so.

It is hard to imagine The Bancorp offering its bank charter to a way-out-of-the-box fintech company with such AML compliance issues still lingering. And that’s really a shame, because now there are but three U.S. banks that will really take flyers on fintech: CBW Bank, Webbank, and Cross River Bank. Three, alas, is too few.

Learn more about the future of fintech at Bank Innovation 2016, Feb 29-Mar 1 in Seattle. Click here for details.


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