John San Filippo
Deposits: Digital Transformation Made Easy (Or at Least Easier)
By John San Filippo
Larger credit unions have heartily embraced digital transformation. However, it’s smaller credit unions with limited technology resources that are in greatest need of a digital overhaul as consumer expectations continue to rise. A company called Deposits is out to make transformative technology more accessible by providing no-code/low-code banking-as-a-service (BaaS) products.
The Dallas, Tex.-based Deposits founder and CEO Joseph Akintolayo describes his company as a third-wave BaaS provider. “A lot of the first-wave and second-wave banking-as-a-service providers were only able to help people who really didn't need the help in the first place,” Akintolayo told Finopotamus. “What we saw was that having APIs (application programming interfaces) as the dominant interface for digital transformation and for financial inclusion just wouldn't cut it.”
The problem, he continued, is that “you can’t include people from uninclusive interfaces.” He said his company set out “to level the playing field and develop a platform that created a shared language for financial brands to be able to launch really fast, scale really fast and and communicate. What Shopify is to retail brands, Deposits is to financial brands.”
Creating Financial Experiences
Deposits’ various BaaS products are called money kits, which Akintolayo describes as “thematic money experiences.” He said these kits are available in different variations to meet specific needs. “For instance, our personal financial management kit could be used for kids banking or family banking.” He added that money kits are available to serve both consumers and businesses.
“These financial experiences allow financial institutions to do the full life cycle,” he explained. “From identity store value, payments, intelligence, engagement, and all the way down to lending, we play across those areas and act as a platform enabler.”
Empowering Smaller Institutions
There’s an increasing focus on niche banking – i.e., creating unique digital experiences for various market segments – across the financial services industry. This is an area where Deposits excels, according to Akintolayo.
“That’s something that we can do in under one week,” claimed Akintolayo. “We're in an industry where getting it right matters, but the challenge is, we can't even AB test because the price to AB test is way too high. The price to launch a single product or service or do integrations is way too high. By lowering the barriers to entry, it lets more people get in the game.”
Akintolayo said that through Deposits, “even the smallest players have an opportunity to deliver the same kind of value as the biggest national brands.” Asked what he meant by “smallest players,” he said he’s worked with credit unions that have no dedicated technology employees and don’t even know what an API is.
“We're not living in a Blockbuster world anymore. It's not brick and mortar,” said Akintolayo. “We're living in a Netflix and Hulu world. So for [smaller institutions], digital transformation is not just a nice initiative; it's a means of avoiding extinction.”
Core Integration or Core Replacement?
Akintolayo said that Deposits can provide core platform integration as needed, but may eventually be in a position to replace the core. “We can't really get people to switch their cores and that's not what we're necessarily trying to do,” he said. “Think of it as a new pair of shoes. You don't have to toss out your old pair. We see some partners that love their new pair of shoes so much that they might sunset the old pair.” He added that Deposits can run in parallel with a credit union’s core and replace that core later if the credit union decides that’s the best option.
“A lot of the partners that we work with want to start kind of small – dip their toes in the water,” said Akintolayo. “They start with stuff like online account opening or identity verification. Then they work up to full niche product sets that are targeting different communities.”
Akintolayo said Deposit’s overarching goal is to allow financial institutions to do what they do best--meet the financial needs of their communities. “Consumers shouldn’t have to leave institutions they love for digital convenience,” he concluded.