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Feature Stories Fintech Fintech for Good North America

Fintech for Good: Kasasa On Empowering Community Banks and Credit Unions

In 2022, The Fintech Times posed the question: ‘what sets a ‘fintech for good’ company apart from the rest?’. This year, we wanted to hear directly from global fintechs that align themselves with the ‘fintech for good’ ethos. Why do these companies perceive themselves as agents of positive change in the industry?

Today, we hear from Gabe Krajicek, the CEO of Kasasa, as he shares its mission to empower community banks and credit unions by offering innovative financial products and marketing services, nurturing the human connection in banking, and bolstering local economies.

Tell us about your company
Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa
Gabe Krajicek, CEO of Kasasa

Kasasa is an award-winning financial technology and marketing services company that partners exclusively with community banks and credit unions to help them thrive in today’s market.

With our innovative products and a customer-centric approach to banking, we help local community banks and credit unions to profitably grow and retain core deposits so that they can preserve the human element in banking.

We serve hundreds of community financial institutions nationwide, representing three million consumer bank accounts and $20billion across 3,000+ branches in all 50 states. Our combined network of banking branches represents the 4th largest network in the country, which has given back nearly $3billion in rewards to Kasasa account holders since 2003.

For community financial institutions, Kasasa is a financial technology and marketing provider committed to driving results to help them recapture market share. Our branded retail products, world-class marketing, and expert consulting services have helped our clients attract, engage, and retain more consumers.

For consumers, Kasasa offers reward checking accounts people love, innovative loan solutions such as the first-ever loan with Take-Backs™, and easy access to community banks and credit unions to inspire people to bank locally. Kasasa partners solely with community banks and credit unions – the only place people can find its banking solutions.

Why do you think your company is a ‘fintech for good’?

Trillions of dollars in the US banking system represent tremendous power, which is being held in fewer and fewer hands. When people open accounts at megabanks or neobanks, they are fueling this consolidation of power and their money is moving out of their local community.

Conversely, community banks and credit unions are a force for good – supporting their local economy and the people within their community. By supporting their efforts, we’re helping to restore this balance of power. Community financial institutions have a vested interest in ensuring all their customers prosper. They are a trusted partner that provides people with personalised guidance and products that actually help them take control of their finances rather than sinking deeper into debt.

Kasasa supports community banking by designing accounts that are beneficial for both consumers and more profitable for institutions. Kasasa accounts are designed to encourage consumers to make their community bank or credit union their primary financial institution. When the consumer does so, the community financial institution is able to profitably grow core deposits, and then do more good in the community.

This is sustainable because it’s good profits growing good profits. The ripple effect is thriving families, in vibrant communities, all across the country. It’s a virtuous cycle where we all win. Where you bank matters, on an individual and societal level.

How do you measure your impact?

It’s easy to rattle off numbers like, $20billion in deposits with funding costs of less than one per cent that has paid $3billion to millions of consumers in communities across all 50 states. Or that Kasasa clients outperform their FDIC/NCUA peers in demonstrable ways as a result of these stable core deposits, while accountholders get things like five per cent-plus interest rates or $200 in rewards and ATM refunds.

But what keeps me going is the real human impact that these numbers represent. I can recall countless stories, like when the head of operations at a community bank was unusually late for our meeting because he was busy helping an elderly woman who had overdrawn her checking account.

He arranged a standing weekly meeting to get her back on track. Every week, she would bring her bills and receipts, and the two of them sat down together to sort it all out. Had she been banking at a megabank they would have charged off her balance, shut down her accounts, and alerted someone like CheckSystems – essentially making her unbankable. Thank goodness a real human intervened in a human way instead.

Or the man with disabilities that brought his bills in every month so a service rep could help him pay them online. And the widow who knew nothing about their finances; before her husband passed, he told her to “go to the credit union, they’ll take care of you”. He was right, they did. Or the loans that could be harshly collected but instead are worked out collaboratively with the consumer when they are having hard times. I could go on with hundreds of other stories…

For nearly 20 years, I’ve encountered innumerable situations where community financial institutions show this kind of love for the people they serve. It’s real people helping real people – and that’s what’s missing in the world of finance. At Kasasa, we’re committed to helping community banks and credit unions preserve the human element in banking and keep people’s money in their community where it can do more good.

What more can be done to make finance more ethical, transparent, and accessible?

Finance can be more ethical, transparent, and accessible by promoting financial literacy, advancing technology, and by collaborating for a greater impact.

Financial literacy is critical to empowering people to make informed decisions and navigate the increasingly complex financial landscape. Community banks and credit unions are uniquely positioned to step in and provide resources to the most vulnerable (underbanked, underserved, and disenfranchised) among us.

They often provide workshops, school deposit days, fairs, and other programmes aimed at improving financial literacy. Plus, they take a personal, one-on-one approach to finances to ensure their customers are equipped to better take control of their finances. The people they serve are not just account numbers; they are their friends, family, and neighbors.

Technology enhances transparency and accessibility while reducing costs and enabling wider access to financial services. Fintechs help in this area because they are more accessible than traditional banks; but what’s missing in the industry isn’t more technology, it’s human connection and personalised guidance, especially for those who have been traditionally underserved by financial institutions. Community banks and credit unions provide this missing piece while offering technology to make their products and services more accessible.

Personally, I aim to prove that the best returns come from companies with love as a core value. Good profits are the only profits that last because they ensure all stakeholders win. If you profit from doing good, then you can aspire to make as much as possible because each dollar is evidence of the good you are doing in the world. Kasasa partners exclusively with community banks and credit unions because of the inherent good they do for their local economies and the people within the communities they serve.

Partnering solely with community banks and credit unions is the type of collaboration that generates a transformative impact. Kasasa provides the financial products people love so our partner community financial institutions can continue supporting their communities.

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