CT’s largest bank watches its competitors only online as it refines its own digital lane

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While Liberty Bank of Middletown plans to launch its first online-only or ‘digital bank’ in 2021, this strategy is not for everyone, including one of Liberty’s biggest local competitors.

People’s United Bank, based in Bridgeport, which has emerged as Connecticut’s leading deposit bank in recent years – mainly through a series of acquisitions – is well aware of the threats posed by digital banks. However, at least for now, he has no plans to cast his own.

That’s according to Ravi Vakacherla, who was recently appointed chief transformation officer at People’s United.

“Never say ‘never’, but right now we are focusing on digitizing banking and not just an internet-only bank,” Vakacherla said in a recent interview. “We continue to examine the market and assess our priorities, and while we may take a different route in the future, we currently have no imminent plans to launch a standalone digital brand. “

Ravi Vakacherla, Chief Transformation Officer, People’s United Bank

It’s not that People’s United isn’t focused on improving their customer-centric and back-end technology systems. It is investing heavily in these areas, and the bank’s recent creation of the new role of Vakacherla and the “business transformation office” it oversees aims to make digital customer experiences more transparent and secure.

It will also help inform the bank’s product strategy and fintech partnerships.

“It’s not so much of a big change, but to do things in a more focused way,” said Vakacherla, who has worked at People’s United for 15 years and previously was responsible for digital, product management and banking.

The formation of the new office within the bank had been in the works for a long time, but the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in reduced branch traffic for many lenders since it hit Connecticut in March, has helped to speed it up.

“COVID-19 was not the cause of BTO as much as a catalyst,” Vakacherla said.

People’s United, which has total assets of over $ 60 billion, has partnered with various fintech companies, including Blend, which has helped improve its collections of online mortgage applications; Numerated, which boosted the bank’s small business digital lending platform; and Zenmonics, which has enabled more customers to open accounts and deposit digitally.

Part of the decision not to start an online bank just with a standalone brand rests on trust and relationships, said Vakacherla.

People’s United, he said, is focused on “delivering tremendous value, deep support and expertise, unique solutions and developing meaningful relationships with our customers, which is why challenger banks are not really known “.

“We are known for our ‘know-how’ and are working on some really interesting ways to translate that into expertise in the digital space,” he said.

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