First Fidelity Bank, a 100-year-old community bank, is entering the competitive banking-as-a service space with global payments and banking infrastructure fintech Episode Six as its platform partner, the companies announced Tuesday.
Unifimoney, a San Francisco-based multi-asset digital wealth management platform, is the first customer to go live with the new BaaS solution, the companies said in a statement.
The new offering includes real-time payments and card issuing and processing services geared toward the embedded finance market.
The solution also offers anti-money laundering, identity verification and fraud detection services through integrations with application programming interfaces like Astra Finance, an instant payments platform; Sardine, a fraud protection platform; and Prove, an identity verification and authentication platform, according to the statement.
“Open banking is as much if not more of an opportunity for community banks than a threat,” said John Symcox, chief innovation officer at First Fidelity Bank, said in a statement. “It allows us to bring best-in-market solutions to clients and customers at high speed and low cost. The future of money is, we believe, going to be banking plus other services offered as a bundle. We want to be a part of enabling this and core to this ecosystem of new money services.”
The family-owned bank and Episode Six will generate revenue through transaction fees and interest, Symcox said in a separate statement to Banking Dive.
With the growing number of bank and fintech partnerships, the Treasury Department called for more oversight of the fintech sector in November. The department said nonbanks, particularly fintechs, are rebundling core banking services outside the bank regulatory boundary and creating competition in the banking industry.
While speaking about regulators increasing their scrutiny of bank and fintech partnerships, Symcox noted “innovation always outpaces regulation,” so the bank and Episode Six must be prepared for it.
First Fidelity plans to add three to five more BaaS or payments-as-a-service customers in the near future, Symcox said.
“First Fidelity Bank is a Community Bank that sees technology as a competitive advantage, providing our clients with innovative solutions,” CEO Lee Symcox said.
Typically, traditional payments are initiated and settled on specific mechanisms like ACH or wires, but the new BaaS solution is working on ways to provide multiple payment mechanisms, John Symcox said.
“E6 tech is hyper configurable thus allowing our clients to personalize their solutions in a compliant manner,” Episode Six co-founder and CEO John Mitchell told Banking Dive in a statement.
First Fidelity conducts due diligence for business entities before starting any relationship, while the customer due diligence can be performed by either the business customer or First Fidelity, depending on the relationship setup, John Symcox said.
“There are many BaaS solutions in the market now,” Ben Soppitt, CEO of Unifimoney, said in a statement. “They promise the world, but actually launching can be painful, slow and expensive. FFB and E6 have solved this with a platform and process built for the future, not the past. And they’ve done it in a way that makes launching a BaaS solution much easier, allowing us to get to market quickly.”