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  • Writer's pictureW.B. King

Tech People in the Know: BankiFi’s Danny Piangerelli

In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus will profile interesting and intriguing tech professionals who are positively impacting the credit union industry.

For this issue, we visited with BankiFi’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Danny Piangerelli. Headquartered in Manchester, United Kingdom, with teams in the United States, Australia and Belgium, the company’s goal is to help credit unions and banks become and remain more relevant to small businesses while protecting and proactively driving core business: lending.

By W.B. King

While interested in all things technology from a young age, the concept of using tech as a creative outlet unexpectedly struck Danny Piangerelli while sitting in a classroom.

Danny Piangerelli

“I was given my first computer in elementary school, and I was instantly fascinated with its potential,” he told Finopotamus. “The idea that a machine sitting there, waiting for instructions, could then be transformed into anything I imagined, from a simulator to a calculation system to a musical instrument…that’s what excited me.”

With over 25 years of experience in software engineering, Piangerelli, who earned a Bachelor of Science in management information systems from Azusa Pacific University in 1995, began his career as a network administrator at LA Weekly. He next worked for Dell Technologies as a software development lead and a global application architect.

By 2010, Piangerelli set out on his own co-founding and serving as CTO for the Austin, Texas-based Malauzai, which was acquired by Finastra in 2018. Prior to becoming BankiFi’s CTO in August 2022, he served as chief enterprise architect of Finastra’s North American community markers business and later CTO of Sensibill, a Q2 Company. Today, he is also a part-time board advisor for ZSuite Technologies.

Over these many years and different job positions, he said there have been quite a few changes, including “a steady blending” of traditionally siloed specialties.

“In the past, a dedicated operations team managed the data center, with support from a dedicated security team,” he said. “The engineers that built the code would have little understanding of the computing and data environment that housed their software. Nor would those engineers typically be asked to especially concern themselves with security topics and deployment techniques.”

The advent of DevOps (a set of practices, tools, and a cultural philosophy that automate and integrate the processes between software development and IT teams) was also a significant milestone as operations employees were able to take on “a creative, code-based approach to deployment.” This shift was perpetuated, in part, on the need to automate the infrastructure procurement and deployment due to advancements in cloud computing.

“That merger required more involvement from the coding teams and thus brought them closer to the deployment designs and activities,” he noted. “More recently, previously siloed security teams have now been brought into the mix as well, defining a new DevSecOps approach, where security best practices and active, automated security-focused testing are now a part of the delivery and deployment approach.”

These changes were not just occurring on the employee side, he said. Management styles are also evolving.

“This requires that technology leadership be broader, with a technical understanding of the multiple aspects of delivery. It also requires that a team culture of cross-domain communication and expertise be established,” he told Finopotamus. “The entire team shifts to more of a delivery-based mindset, adding their specialties to the mix.”

Evolutionary Work Opposed to Revolutionary Topics

Responsible for overseeing all aspects of BankiFi’s technology including, but not limited to, engineering, architecture and infrastructure, Piangerelli pays close attention to general industry tech trends. He avoids, however, “getting into the weeds” on certain new technologies.

“I’ve found over time that the latest framework or development tool tends to garner an inordinate amount of attention early on, and that can distract teams very quickly,” he said. “It’s very easy in our industry to get distracted by the ‘new, right way’ to do something. I tend to start to investigate something when I’ve seen it mentioned and used several times already by sources I respect.”

When a technology stays on his radar, he takes an academic approach via tutorials and reviews on how best to implement the tech offering.

“Having a high-level understanding of the ‘how’ gives me a better view of the impact this would make on my current teams,” he shared. “In most cases, I pay closer attention to evolutionary work, as opposed to revolutionary topics.”

With BankiFi’s geographical breakdown focused within Europe, Piangerelli said its North American presence is growing. The entire team, comprised on approximately 30 people, is a mix of seasoned fintech leaders and upcoming stars, he noted.

“I love growing leaders, and thus growing an organization to sustain itself through leaders that produce other leaders,” he said of his management style. “To that point, I strive to create an environment where leaders are empowered to own their work, make their own decisions, and take their teams along with them. One of my favorite things to work on is to look for people that will one day take my job and inspire my leaders to do the same.”

Supporting Community-Driven Inititiaves

What continually excites Piangerelli about the BankiFi model is that the team is “laser-focused” on catering to small businesses.

“There seems to be a recent trend in our industry that is highlighting the people we are serving, as opposed to just growth for growth’s sake,” he said. “Smaller, niche fintech that inspires and helps people is getting attention.”

Small businesses, he offered, are the lifeblood of communities. As such, there is a great deal pressure to bring in competitive technologies. “At the end of the day, the best technology should be both essential and transparent to the business: How to build tools that make it easier for businesses to pay and get paid so that they can run their business seamlessly and without friction.”

Credit unions, he explained, play a significant role in supporting community-driven businesses. And to this end, he said credit unions have consistently been tech innovators in the financial services industry.

“Some of the most forward-thinking institutions I’ve worked with have been in the credit union space. Additionally, credit unions have also consistently been a strong voice for the member,” he continued. “The member’s experience and adding value to that experience have always been imperative to credit unions that I’ve worked with. That drive to delight members often translates into a drive to simplify the tech and focus.”

It is due to credit unions’ approach to innovation that more and more progressive fintech/credit union partnerships are occurring, he noted. This proactive stance, he added, is essential because competitors like Apple and its Apple Pay, Apple Card, and Apple Finance LLC, which handles actual lending, are slowly taking over traditional banking duties.

“We see a similar move by the accounting package vendors like Intuit QuickBooks. Linking your accounts through these packages is already in place. As the small business becomes more entrenched in the package, other revenue-producing opportunities for the financial institution like lending will start to be offered, and the financial institution will be left behind as a simple utility,” he said. “We’re laser-focused on empowering the credit union to bring the best possible small business solution to their members, who already trust them, and place the credit union in a position to solve real needs.”


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