Nation’s top community bank trade group to sponsor second fintech accelerator in Little Rock

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 784 views 

The Washington, D.C.-based Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) on Monday (Aug. 12) announced a second fintech-related accelerator program aimed at further boosting innovations and financial technology solutions for thousands of U.S. community banks.

Through an ongoing partnership with the Little Rock Venture Center and the State of Arkansas, the ICBA ThinkTECH 2.0 began accepting applications this week from early-stage and startup fintech hopefuls through Sept. 30. Organizers said the new cohort will build upon the success and momentum of the original ICBA ThinkTech Accelerator that mentored eight out of 10 fintech firms selected for the program.

“We’ve had tremendous success cultivating community bank-fintech partnerships that marry high-tech, high-touch solutions to eliminate market-entry barriers and address community bank business needs,” said ICBA Services Network COO Kevin Tweddle. “The second ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator marks the next phase in community banking’s innovation journey and positions our industry as leaders in fintech. We are excited to continue breaking through conventional banking limitations.”

The first ICBA-sponsor project received 190 applications from early-stage financial technology companies across the U.S. and 39 other countries from as close as Fayetteville and as far away as New York City and Brisbane, Australia. Those early-stage firms also received an initial investment of $75,000 to participate in a 12-week residence and mentoring bootcamp that ran from early January to late March.

The original program ended with a Demo Day event on March 27 at the Little Rock Innovation Hub, where the finalists gave live “pitch” presentations to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and more than 200 investors, community banks and the city’s local startup community. The eight companies that graduated from the first class also held a live demonstration to an audience of more than 3,000 community bankers at an “ICBA Live” event in Nashville, Tenn., on March 18.

“I commend ICBA and The Venture Center for their work in launching what was the very first fintech accelerator program for community banks and building on that milestone with today’s announcement of their second program,” Hutchinson said. “We are pleased to welcome ICBA and early-stage companies once again to Little Rock. Arkansas is open for business and proud to serve as a center of fintech innovation.”

As part of the second collaboration, the ICBA has also named a select committee to evaluate the startup firm’s proposals for need, relevance and potential for smaller banks. The committee members include ICBA staff and leadership and member community bank executives for the trade group.

“We are excited to continue our partnership with ICBA to deliver next-generation innovation to match consumers’ evolving digital expectations,” said Venture Center Executive Director Wayne Miller. “Community banks are the backbone of financial access for thousands of communities, and the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator enhances community bank-customer relationships. We look forward to working with the ThinkTECH 2.0 Accelerator participants in Little Rock, the birthplace of fintech.”

Companies seeking to apply or anyone seeking to nominate a fintech for entry into the program can link here for information.

ICBA is a Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents approximately 5,000 small and mid-sized banks and financial institutions across the U.S.