The American Fintech Council is launching an educational programming arm focused on cultivating bank-fintech partnerships, the trade organization announced Tuesday.
AFC Learning, which will be led by professional services firm FORVIS, will offer compliance and training opportunities and is intended to improve the fintech ecosystem, AFC CEO Phil Goldfeder told Banking Dive.
“Many fintech companies are trying to understand the regulatory structure of financial institutions, and many financial institutions don't know the ins and outs of what’s offered by various technology companies. AFC is trying to address that gap,” Goldfeder explained. “We’re building the information bridge, to bridge the divide between regulated financial institutions and responsible fintech companies who want to operate within a regulatory framework.”
AFC Learning will launch with a webinar exploring third-party risk management, delegation and best practices in BSA/AML obligations and SAR filings on Aug. 10. Additional classes are planned for later in August and in September. Goldfeder said that AFC Learning will be fully operational by year’s end.
The offerings, he said, will be dictated by feedback AFC receives from industry players, and creation of the programming will be “an iterative process.”
Initially, the webinars will be free, but in time AFC plans to limit attendance to the group’s roughly 60 members – fintechs and their banking partners – and paid guests.
Bank-fintech partnerships are a hot topic these days, but many of the nation’s approximately 4,800 banks don’t quite know where to start when it comes to partnering with fintechs, Goldfeder explained.
“But smart community banks are recognizing that they need to innovate if they're going to succeed, and they can only do that by finding ways to understand the fintech ecosystem,” he said.
Still, fintechs are “serving tens of millions of consumers every single day,” he said. “We want to make sure that they're utilizing best practices to ensure consumer protection, regulatory compliance, and that banks want to partner with responsible fintechs.”
Ultimately, AFC Learning will break out into multiple verticals, with education tailored to fintechs, banks and other companies.
Colin Darke, who recently finished up an eight-year tenure as chief compliance officer and general counsel at Rocket Loans, will oversee AFC Learning’s programming. He currently runs the fintech practice at Ann Arbor, Michigan-based tech and business law firm GwC. He and Goldfeder worked together for years during his time at Rocket Loans, while Goldfeder was an executive at Fort Lee, New Jersey-based, fintech-heavy Cross River Bank. Cross River is Rocket Loans’ banking partner.
“Phil and I have previously collaborated on successful programing in DC, New York, and San Francisco, fostering an engaging dialogue amongst regulators and industry experts, dispelling misconception, promoting best practices and staying ahead of emerging fintech hot topics,” Darke said in a prepared statement. “With AFC Learning, we will bring the same level of dedication and expertise, facilitating a transformative learning experience for all involved,” D