Digital Banking to Support SMBs: Virtual Fireside Chat with U.S. Bank

Published on May. 05, 2020

How is U.S. Bank assisting small business customers during these hard times? And what’s the role of digital banking in the new financial landscape? On April 21, 2020, we held the first virtual event of our Fintech COVID-19 webinar series: “Digital Banking: Assisting Customers When They Need It the Most”. In this session, Saeed Amidi sat down with Irv Henderson, Chief Digital Officer (Small Business) at U.S. Bank.

Irv Henderson and his team are responsible for developing and driving the One U.S. Bank digital strategy and execution for small business customers. Prior to joining the company, Irv was the CEO & Co-Founder of talech Inc., a software company focused on providing small business owners with the tools and insights to run their business.

During this Fireside Chat, Henderson discussed U.S. Bank’s response to COVID-19 and provided his insights into how this pandemic affects the relationship between banks and SMBs.

You can watch the full Fireside Chat below:

One of the first priorities for Irv and his team was building out the digital process to support the SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The team created the bank’s PPP application within three weeks at an incredible pace of product development and worked in shifts to design, develop and deliver as quickly as possible.

With the realization that the pandemic would bring a surge in entrepreneurship, people getting creative and inventing out of their homes, and the use of virtual warehouses, U.S. Bank accelerated their virtual booking systems and online ordering. Furthermore, they accelerated their contactless payment systems to get them into the hands of SMB owners. U.S. Bank is also offering their SMB Management Software, talech, to new customers and existing customers without charge. talech is a software at the center of point of sale systems for restaurants, bars, retail outlets and professional services, providing Small and Medium Businesses (SMB) owners with an overview of their business.

Reimagining their Relationship with SMB Owners

Irv Henderson identified a key tectonic shift in the relationship between banks and SMBs that is becoming more relevant as a result of COVID-19: 

“Banks recognize that, as business owners are changing their behavior in the way they run their businesses, the bank is being increasingly disintermediated, in terms of its core relationship to the business owner. Business owners are running their business through software tools and increasingly accessing the financial tools that they need, [such as] lending and credit cards, through other sources and not even going to the bank.”

"Banks are reimagining their relationship with the business owners"

U.S. Bank acquired talech Inc. back in 2019. With this acquisition, Henderson highlighted that even before the pandemic, U.S. Bank saw that a bank should be a critical catalyst to help business owners by providing them with the tools to help them run their businesses seamlessly. To take some examples, these tools should allow them to easily access their account balance, understand their cash flow, and forecast that cash, which gives them more control over what’s happening, especially in regards to the viability of their business.

“That’s the core thesis around why, from a software perspective, [talech] is inside the bank,” said Henderson, “because the bank is reimagining their relationship with the business owners. With COVID-19, the impact on small businesses will be transformative in the way the bank relates to small business owners, and it will accelerate the tools that business owners use to run their business.”

How Non-Banking Solutions and Software Tools Will Help Banks Assist Their Customers

U.S. Bank sees a shift to an automated future, in which software tools and non-banking solutions will become essential for Banks to remain engaged and, more importantly, support their customers.

“The future state of how the bank works with other software solutions, I think, will be even more collaborative,” said Henderson. “We’re down a journey right now where non-banking capabilities, [such as] payroll management and labor management, require us as a bank to partner with non-banking solutions to deliver those capabilities.”

 Furthermore, Banks are in a strong position to be able to offer more options that will allow small business owners to preserve their cash, such as forbearance and delaying credit card payments, which is more important now than ever before as the future effects of this situation are unpredictable.

“We’re now getting ready for the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program,” Henderson said. “There’s clearly a very strong need for the funds for small businesses, so I think right now what we’re trying to figure out collectively is how big is the hole that COVID-19 has created.”

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