Greenwood hired its first chief compliance and risk officer earlier this month, as the digital bank targeting Black and Latinx communities grows its leadership team ahead of a planned summer launch.
Lynn Tillman-Cherry joined the Atlanta-based challenger bank after serving 10 years as the chief compliance officer of Brightwell Payments, one of Atlanta's largest fintech companies, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
Before her time at Brightwell, Cherry spent 12 years in a number of roles at Skylight Financial, another Atlanta-based company that offers paperless payroll solutions.
"I was drawn to it immediately, first from a personal standpoint," said Cherry, when she first heard of Greenwood last October. "I am a product of the community that Greenwood is targeting, and the mission itself resonated with me. I actually went and signed up for my Greenwood account last year, before Greenwood even knew who I was."
The venture, started by Atlanta-based entrepreneur and founder of Bounce TV, Ryan Glover, civil rights leader Andrew Young and rapper and activist Michael "Killer Mike" Render, raised $3 million in seed funding from private investors last fall.
The digital bank, which plans to offer spending and savings accounts in addition to virtual debit cards, peer-to-peer transfers, mobile check deposits and free ATM usage in more than 30,000 locations, amassed 500,000 signups in the first 100 days since opening its waitlist in October.
The impetus for Greenwood, Glover said, is to provide more financial services options to Black and Latinx communities, demographics which historically have been inadequately served by the traditional banking sector.
Glover told Banking Dive last month the neobank plans to offer a "robust mosaic of banking services for our community — a one-stop shop, if you will."
That mission, Cherry said, provides her with the opportunity to grow her skillset.
"We are leading with the deposit account, savings accounts and the debit card, but there are more things planned in the future, some of them are products that I haven't worked with for a very long time," said Cherry, who started her banking career at Wachovia in 1997, before it was acquired by Wells Fargo. "While I bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to Greenwood, I also see this as a learning opportunity."
As head of Greenwood's compliance, Cherry said she expects the digital bank will adopt a regtech solution for its compliance program, with a focus on emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence.
"AI definitely comes into play. There are some things that are repeatable and forecastable, and I'd like to have that ingrained into our process," she said.
Cherry said she hopes to work closely with regulators, and is looking forward to future opportunities to clarify Greenwood's innovative approaches to serving its target demographic.
"Getting regulatory buy-in is important to us. It's kind of your saving grace," Cherry said. "Instead of asking for forgiveness later you show the regulators upfront what you'd like to do, and have them help you craft it into something that meets full approval."
Greenwood's upcoming launch comes as some of the nation's largest institutions have pledged equity investments in Black-owned banks and social justice efforts in the wake of last year's racial reckoning sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
"I think it is encouraging to see everyone addressing the same problem, it's not necessarily a Black or White problem. It is an every one problem," said Cherry, on recent efforts from the nation's largest firms, including Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi and JPMorgan Chase, to provide Black-owned banks with more capital.
"Any investment by any bank helps the industry as a whole. It preserves choice among consumers, Black, White or whatever the race may be, it preserves their right of choice between a traditional bank or Black-owned bank," she said.