A WaFd fintech spinoff launched a platform last week to modernize and personalize digital banking, following a $15 million funding round.
Seattle-based Archway aims to boost the profiles of the nation’s more than 10,000 community and regional banks by bolstering their back-end systems, enabling them to integrate core products into modern web, mobile, voice and artificial intelligence technologies. The firm provides a single access point, through an application programming interface, to link a bank’s core technology stack to customer-facing applications.
“[Community and regional banks] are serving people the way the big banks don’t; and locally, these banks are really necessary to the ecosystem,” said Dustin Hubbard, Archway’s president. “One thing they do far better than the large banks and neobanks is on the relationship side.
“Most of these banks survive on the relationships they have with their clients. But for the client, it’s a trade-off on the technology side. We’re trying to close that digital divide so the community and regional banks can really foster those relationships without making them sacrifice [what’s available on the bank’s] technology side,” Hubbard said.
Archway began as Pike Street Labs more than three years ago, when WaFd CEO Brent Beardall and board member Steve Singh saw a need for a robust back-end system to ensure the bank’s continued growth.
“At WaFd Bank, we have built personalized high-value banking relationships with our customers,” Beardall said in a prepared statement. “With Archway, we are doing that in a technology-first environment that enables the highest level of customer service and employee satisfaction.
“Technology can and should drive improved client experience, stronger controls, and more efficiency,” he said. “I have heard from banks around the country that what we have started to build is the solution they have been looking for, and we are excited to back Dustin and the team as they roll out solutions for WaFd and other banks.”
Archway’s funding round was backed by Madrona Ventures, a prominent venture capital firm in the Pacific Northwest and early backer to tech rockstars like Amazon and Redfin. Singh, who invented the Concur expense-management app in the 1990s, is Madrona’s managing director; and Hubbard said Archway’s spinoff from WaFd arose when Singh took note of Pike Street Labs’ doings during WaFd board meetings.
“On the WaFd side, they looked at the pros and cons of spinning us off. It became clear that [the spinoff] was a benefit to everyone involved,” Hubbard said. “WaFd got the benefit of getting the innovation they were getting from us as Pike Street Labs, but as an investor, they get the benefit of us growing to be a [software-as-a-service] provider to other banks.”
Archway is targeting banks with $10 billion to $250 billion in assets.
“Banks of that size have the funds to make some tech investments, they have the ability to be more innovative than their banking counterparts, but they need help bringing that innovation,” Hubbard said.
The siloed nature of customer data presents a challenge for banks. Archway’s first offering was the creation of a data lake for banks to access a more holistic view of each customer, including how long they’ve been banking with them and information on their assets, to allow for more personalized service.
Archway is set to soon roll out other products and integrations, including forecasting, loan processing and other standard banking services.
The company’s “wow factor,” Hubbard said, is its integration with TalkDesk, a call center solution common in the banking world, and Amazon Lex, a conversational AI service.
The solution turns the typically “very frustrating” call center tree — “it’s press 1, press 2, press 3, and then the dog barks and you forget which number you were supposed to press,” Hubbard bemoaned — into something more conversational, and reduces fraud by using a customer’s biometric voice print to ensure they’re talking to the right person.
If a caller fails to match their previously recorded voice print, Hubbard said they’ll still get to the call center agent, but a big red screen will pop up on their computer that reads, “This person failed their voice biometric. They might not be who they say they are.”
Archway’s launch offers “a huge opportunity” to help community and regional banks, Hubbard said.
“I’m so excited to get it out into the hands of more customers, where it really resonates,” he said.