"I think the biggest hurdle that we've been overcoming and seeing is helping the industry understand that they don't have to have a one size fits all app that they own and control at all times." - Landon Glenn

The era of the standalone institution is waning, replaced by a growing emphasis on collaboration and interconnectivity. This paradigm shift holds immense potential for reshaping the financial landscape by fostering shared value, enhancing the customer experience, and driving technological innovation. And at the vanguard of this movement is Landon Glenn, the founder and CEO of Asa Technologies, who is pioneering a new form of open banking predicated on this spirit of collaboration.

In a recent episode of the Banking on Digital Growth Podcast, Landon sat down with host James Robert Lay to discuss how this new model of collaborative banking could offer a sustainable growth strategy for banks, credit unions, and fintech firms alike.

The top 3 insights from this article:

  • Collaboration is a key strategy of growth. Foster partnerships and collaborations in order to provide more value to customers and drive innovation.
  • User-centered innovation for enhanced security and convenience. Guide the development of strategies that put customers at the heart of their offerings, from the simplification of login procedures to the control and security of personal data.
  • Transforming institutional mindsets for greater consumer control. Being open to change and embracing innovative models that offer customers more control and choice. This shift towards an App Store-like experience in banking represents a major shift in how financial services are delivered and promoted.

Redefining Open Banking with Collaboration at its Heart

Landon's approach to banking relies heavily on utilizing Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to facilitate connections between fintechs, banks, and credit unions. By acting as a third-party, Asa tokenizes, normalizes, and anonymizes customer data before sharing it with fintechs, ensuring privacy and security.

This method allows financial brands to act as gateways to customer-facing technology on a large scale. Landon explained that financial institutions can be at the forefront of their consumers' digital lives, acting as the gateway to these solutions.

This bold vision aims to put people at the center of their financial journeys and provide them with tailored technological solutions that meet their unique needs.

Learning from Adversity: The Personal Touch in Professional Innovation

Landon's approach to professional problem-solving is deeply rooted in his personal experiences. The father of four believes in the power of learning from adversity and applies this mindset to his work.

“I think we have a tendency to want to prevent our children from going through challenges and difficulties. I think that's one of the things growing up that allowed me to grow was the ability to see adversity and be able to find a better path forward. And so I want my kids to have that same experience.”

This line of thinking has led Landon to transform traditional banking norms and propose a more cooperative, beneficial, and seamless way of working. He firmly believes that the present moment is ripe for such a shift. The consumer demand is there, he shared, as 88% of Americans are using fintech today.

Making Collaborative Banking a Win-Win for All Parties

One of the greatest challenges facing fintechs is customer acquisition and dealing with regulatory and compliance issues. Meanwhile, community banks and credit unions struggle to offer innovative technology solutions to meet their customers' needs. Landon's collaborative banking model, however, offers solutions to both parties' pain points.

Fintechs can lean on banks and credit unions for support with regulatory and compliance issues, along with leveraging their customer base for acquisition. Meanwhile, banks and credit unions can tap into fintechs' innovative technologies without having to become tech companies themselves.

Landon's enthusiasm for this collaborative approach resonates with financial brand leaders, sparking excitement and eagerness to explore how they can be at the forefront of their customers' digital lives. The collaborative banking model represents an opportunity for banks and fintechs alike to leverage their individual strengths and bridge their shortcomings, offering a truly transformative approach to the future of financial services.

As Landon put it: It's finding a way where everyone's needs can be met, in a way where everybody can win. A truly collaborative future for the financial sector may be closer than we think.

Login with ASA: A Simplified Authentication System

Landon explained, "We're a community institution... we've now launched the ability for the consumer to own and control their data in a way that is more private, and more secure than anything that's been done with open banking before." He suggested a transformative vision of an App Store experience for customers, where the power rests in the hands of the consumer who can first connect their institution account and sync up data into a digital wallet.

To achieve this, ASA has offered an authentication system, akin to "login with Google" or "login with Apple," that Landon calls "login with ASA." This system simplifies the process for consumers, offering single sign-on through open ID connect and ensuring no PII data disclosure, thus streamlining the entire process and making it significantly faster.

However, even with these promising advancements, Landon recognized that the biggest hurdle lies in transforming the mindset of financial institutions. He suggested, "we're working to unlock a world where the user could use other apps, but the actual products and services underpinning and powering that app are all through their local credit union." 

This approach represents a significant shift from the traditional notion of an institution's own app, but Landon believes it is a transformation worth undertaking, "we have many, many practical applications that show that this is where the industry is already headed."

The concept of an App Store experience for banking customers, where the consumer controls their own data and has the freedom to connect to various fintech providers through a unified experience, appears to be more than a pipe dream. As the conversation between Landon and James Robert illustrates, with a shared commitment to solving individual problems and transforming institutional mindsets, such a future could be closer than we think.

Speaking on this paradigm shift, Landon foresees a future where "every individual consumer will have the ability, the control, and the empowerment, to be able to get technology to live their lives to the fullest." He envisions a financial services industry that provides access to all through innovation, with an increased number of fintech solutions.

According to Landon, this future will see consumers controlling their experiences, having access to help when they need it, and using apps and tools to guide them on their journey. This model of fintech will give consumers the power to navigate the complexities of financial services in a way that suits them.

Embracing 10X Thinking in the Era of Exponential Change

James Robert is passionate about what he terms 10X thinking, a perspective that abandons the linearity of traditional thought and embraces exponential change. And Landon asserts that unlocking these exponential changes is entirely dependent on creating something new, having a visionary approach, and developing a new type of platform. He refers to Asa Whitney, whom the technology company is named after, who was a visionary proponent of the transcontinental railroad that connected the East and West coasts and unlocked the Industrial Revolution.

In Landon's view, examples from history offer key lessons for today's leaders. He cites Uber, which grew exponentially by making it easier and more convenient for more people to use taxi services, as well as Apple, which unlocked innovation and became the most valuable company globally by launching the App Store. Landon posits that successful platforms remove friction and barriers for all participants, providing an experience that can unlock exponential growth.

James Robert champions the idea of "going all in" on account holders and members. He urges financial brands to get better at asking questions, listening to their customers, and observing their behavior. He encourages them to compile patterns and continue the conversation for growth and development.

Take Action Today:

  • Explore collaborative opportunities: Look for potential partnerships and collaborations that can add value to your customers and drive innovation. This may involve seeking partnerships with fintech companies to leverage their technological capabilities, or creating a collaborative network of financial institutions to provide a more comprehensive suite of financial solutions for your customers.
  • Focus on user-centered innovation: Begin or continue to develop strategies that put your customers at the center of your offerings. This can range from improving your login procedures to make them simpler and more secure, to allowing customers more control and security over their personal data. In this regard, the development of services like "login with Asa" can be explored to provide more convenience and security to the customers.
  • Transform institutional mindsets: Work on transforming your institution's mindset to be more open to change and innovative models. Start by making the case for a shift towards a model that offers customers more control and choice. This might mean a shift towards an App Store-like experience in banking where the power rests in the hands of the consumer. This can be done by fostering a culture of innovation and flexibility, and by training your staff to embrace these changes.

Remember, implementing these action items might involve navigating potential barriers like regulatory constraints, institutional resistance to change, and technical challenges. However, with a strategic approach and an openness to change, these challenges can be managed effectively.

For more about financial transformation, reach out to James Robert Lay at the Digital Growth Institute.