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Payments Game Plan Roadtrip

Amy Donaghue

By: Brian Laverdure, AAP, Director, Emerging Payments Education

Recently, I hit the road and completed two weeks of trips across the EPCOR footprint to share the latest information about faster payments and offer guidance on implementing payment strategies. I drove across the sunflower-covered fields of Kansas to St. Louis, and across some of the most beautiful rolling hills of Kentucky. I learned much along the way – not only about areas of the country I was privileged to visit for the first time but also about the day-to-day and strategic concerns of community financial institutions, both large and small, in the Midwest.

My first stop was Wichita, where I found an engaged audience eager to talk not only about real-time payments from The Clearing House and the Federal Reserve, but also other pressing concerns like digital issuance of cards. Our discussion served as a reminder that “faster payments” means much more than building or accessing a system infrastructure that supports faster payments. It also means financial institutions having the tools and processes in place to put their products—be it cards or apps—into the hearts, minds and wallets of account holders as soon as possible. The most valuable real estate in financial services is not found in New York or LA — it is found in that first pocket of your account holders’ wallets, or increasingly, their phones’ digital wallets.

In Lincoln, we had a robust roundtable discussion on the potential impacts, both positive and negative, of some of the new technologies on the horizon. Many saw benefits from the improved efficiencies of faster payments and the use of systems on the worldwide standard of ISO 20022, but we also discussed concerns about the challenges rural institutions face when searching for or retaining skilled employees. Although we cannot do much to alleviate those concerns directly, EPCOR is committed to bringing industry-leading education and advisory resources to our members, and you can count on us to do our best to help your employees acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in a rapidly changing world of payments technologies and trends.

After a short rest at home, I left for a second week of New Payments Game Plan Workshops on September 23rd, with a flight to St. Louis. The attendees in St. Louis asked many probing questions about the mechanics of the real-time payments (RTP) Network, and we also engaged in a thoughtful debate about how faster payments can benefit the citizens and businesses of the St. Louis metro area. Following St. Louis, I arrived in Lexington for a workshop hosted by our member, the University of Kentucky Federal Credit Union. The Lexington event was the largest workshop of the season and we spent several hours debating industry-wide trends, such as the adoption of faster payments, as well as local matters such as providing payment services to Amish communities in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

Indiana University Credit Union in Bloomington hosted my last workshop, with energetic discussions around the potential impact to Indiana of faster payments being a main topic. Much like their peers in Kentucky and Nebraska, some attendees raised concerns surrounding smaller community financial institutions may cope with new technologies, especially when one considers unresolved issues like interoperability between the primary operators. Despite those concerns, they consider themselves to be in a strong position for future growth, given their deep roots and longevity within their communities and their ability to respond to account holders’ needs in ways that FinTech companies or national institutions may not.

At the conclusion of my two weeks of New Payments Game Plan Workshops, I found I had traveled about 4,300 miles to bring faster payments news and dialogue on payment strategies to our members. There is already demand for workshops in several other cities in Kansas, Ohio and Indiana. So, I am planning to hit the road again next year as early as possible to help our members prepare for the trends and technologies just over the horizon. Oklahoma, Arkansas and western Nebraska are all on my radar as well! If you would like me to visit your city or town, please email me at brianl@epcor.org.

On the Road Again… 🎵

The road is calling – and Brian just can’t wait! Due to member feedback and requests, we’ve added two more sessions to close out 2019! Get your game face on and join us in Kansas City on December 4th or in Ashland, Ohio on December 5th for our New Payments Game Plan Workshop! Brian hopes to see YOOOU there!