Interview: Mark Gabriel, Sunrise Banks – on a financial wellness mission
Mark Gabriel, director of innovation at Sunrise Banks, talks about how partnerships with fintechs can help in the quest to service the underserved.
How do you define underserved? What are the common problems that an underserved person faces?
In our mission to help everyone reach financial wellness, it doesn’t matter where people are financially they can still have unfilled needs. Today, small niche areas have more access to tools to help them through financial situations due to the emergence of fintechs. Technology has become cheaper to develop and more readily available. Thus, entrepreneurs are creating solutions for smaller niche groups.
How can a bank like Sunrise help with this and where are the sticking points in terms of what is harder or more challenging?
Since the beginning, Sunrise has had a strong entrepreneurial mindset focused on the community. We don’t work in a silo and expect communities across the country to come to us to solve problems, instead we reach out to them and work together. We listen to their needs and tailor solutions to get them on the right track. With that mindset, we are constantly pushing ourselves and thinking out-of-the-box to empower financial wellness
How can collaboration with a fintech serve to alleviate any problems or “gaps”?
We’ve partnered with many local organisations since our beginning, inventing, creating, deploying and adapting products to the communities we serve.
The unique thing about fintechs is their deep understanding of their customers’ needs. Their creative mindset and understanding of the need really allows them to create solutions to elevate these problems, sometimes ones that we don’t even know exist. And, together, as our reach grows internationally, our aggregated positive impact multiplies.
What can a fintech provide that a bank cannot? And why not?
Fintechs have a deep understanding of their customers and their problems, which allows them to create a unique and valuable customer experience. This is something that banks aren’t always able to do.
Banks provide the expertise in the compliance and governance regulations. This back-end expertise then allows the fintech to focus on the human-interaction of their business, relationship-building and face-to-face interactions.
Can you give some examples of this in practice?
Our earliest example of this type of partnership was with Employee Loan Solutions (ELS). Many Americans are not able to handle a $1,000 surprise expense.
In partnership with ELS, we developed TrueConnect – a small dollar loan offered as a voluntary benefit offered by employers in all fifty states. The loan is based on the employee’s income, preventing people from over-borrowing. Additionally, the payments are deducted through payroll automatically over the course of a year and are a safer alternative to traditional payday loans.
How might this turn out in the future and what can we expect to see going forward?
As we continue to partner with fintechs, we will be able to help niche communities by solving financial struggles and issues, and putting them on the right track to reach financial wellness. Our API enabled platform will allow fintechs to launch innovative financial solutions to market more quickly with access to expert compliance services.