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With digital disruption making a big splash in the banking sector, small and mid-sized financial institutions are under constant pressure to double down their services in an always-on, hyper-connected world. Although banks with less than $2 billion in assets form a sizeable portion of the U.S. financial market, they end up getting the shorter end of the stick, as modern banking solution providers mostly have their eyes affixed to the bigger players. More appropriately said by Bruce Whitmore, EVP and CIO of Urban FT, “We are helping the underdogs to grab the bull by the horns and stick it to the ‘big guys.’” Whitmore, an industry veteran with over three decades of expertise to his credit, oversees all areas of information technology and solution development at Urban FT. In conversation with CIO Applications, he provides a lens into the brand’s perspective on security and their passion for continued innovation.
Today, Urban FT is a league of its own and is recognized as one of the most progressive and successful FinTech companies in the financial services industry. Can you elaborate on this?
The platform is currently used by over 700+ clients. The majority of which are community banks and credit unions—$2 billion or less in assets— that account for 10 percent of the U.S.-based market. We empower their end-users with the ability to view balances and transaction history, link external accounts, pay bills, leverage real-time commercial and consumer check capture, and use secure P2P payment processing to name a few.
Cybersecurity is a growing concern in FinTech. What are some of the security measures & trends that are being widely adopted in the market?
One trend is the ongoing evolution around biometrics, fingerprint, facial, and voice recognition. The jump in popularity around biometrics in such a short time proves that major brands are recognizing consumer security issues—which over time erodes their confidence in the tools they use. Although brands are investing heavily in biometrics and additional R&D, there is still no magic pill to keep consumer data 100 percent secure and frankly, there may never be.
We are empowering the underdogs to grab the bull by the horns and stick it to the ‘big guys’
Urban FT recognizes that our data security strategy needs to be able to quickly uncover vulnerabilities, and solve them immediately. We need to evolve just as quickly as technology moves.
How does Urban FT stay ahead of the curve when it comes to providing best-in-class security?
Effective FinTech brands need to go beyond consistent testing measures and provide customers with transparency about how their data will be used. At the end of the day, it’s all about customers remaining confident that their data is in good hands.
Any CIO that says they are not worried about cybersecurity is being ignorant. With Americans feeding more personal and behavioral data to hackers every day, it’s critical for C-suite executives to recognize that protecting their end user data is a major business priority.
At Urban FT, we are trusted stewards of our customer’s data. We regularly test our API back-end network for vulnerabilities, ensure we remain compliant, and utilize multi-factor authentication methods.
CIOs or CISOs walk a tightrope when it comes to maintaining a high degree of security without compromising application performance and features. Especially considering the struggle between product and ever-changing compliance mandates. How does Urban FT curb these challenges?
Urban FT takes a proactive approach to security vulnerabilities and works with clients to help them identify risks and challenges before they happen. We’re not sitting back and being reactive to potential hacks because that’s when customer trust runs dry. In fact, we’re doing the opposite.
We’ve taken a unique approach to tackle this issue through the creation of our Product Council, which integrates perspectives from technology, product, and governance. Communication is the primary driver within the council—we work as one team and understand the challenges that each department faces. This group is made up of passionate, industry-leading individuals that set our clients up for success by staying ahead of evolving compliance issues. In this area—we’re the definition of diligent.
What does the future hold for your organization? Any upcoming footprint expansion plans or platform enhancement strategies in the pipeline?
We believe that to be an industry leader, you can’t view innovation as something that has happened, but as what is always happening. We have built a phenomenal team of rock stars. We continue to pursue areas that need disruption. We like to ask questions others don’t and do today what others won’t—all so tomorrow we can do what they can’t.
Looking towards the future, our brand is growing by leaps and bounds. We currently work with over 650+ clients, the majority of which are community banks and credit unions. We have 100+ employees and approximately $3Billion+ in Annualized Processing Revenue—that’s saying something.