Eye on fintech: Why the mobile-first banking industry is hot

Being a young entrepreneur has its challenges, but the upside can be huge, and for everyone. No one knows this better than Luvleen Sidhu, one of the youngest female founders and CEOs of a public company. Luvleen is the Chair, CEO, and Founder of BM Technologies (NYSE: BMTX), one of America’s largest digital banking platforms, offering checking and savings accounts, personal loans, and credit cards. She has co-authored the book “Why Can’t Banks Be As Easy as Uber?” been recognized by many industry awards, is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, serves as a mentor to fintech startups through the Techstars accelerator program, and is passionate about empowering entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market in the fintech space. She graduated from Harvard, earned her master’s from the Wharton School of Business, and is a certified health and wellness coach. I recently had a chat with Luvleen about this emerging mobile-first tech-driven banking industry. and this is what I learned.

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Luvleen Sidhu

MITCH: Luvleen, can you start by giving our readers a quick overview of the current state of the mobile-first banking industry?

LUVLEEN: Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumer interest was already heavily shifting toward mobile-first banking. The average American was visiting a bank branch once a year but interacting digitally 20-30 times per month. As people spent more time at home during quarantine, this shift was expedited.

MITCH: Why is mobile-first banking taking off? What’s the advantage here for customers, whether businesses or individuals?

LUVLEEN: As long-time leaders in technology and innovation, mobile-first banking platforms were ahead of the curve when the world went remote at the start of the pandemic. Mobile banking allows people to manage their finances anywhere, anytime. It also provides added security that empowers customers to achieve more financial stability with real-time, easy access, and added control to manage their finances.

MITCH: What kinds of obstacles — regulatory, social, and technological — does mobile-first banking face before it can be widely accepted?

LUVLEEN: According to Business Insider, 97 percent of millennials are already using mobile banking, while 91 percent of Gen Xers and 79 percent of baby boomers also reported seeing the benefits of these services. As this trend continues, consumer desire for and reliance on a physical bank branch will diminish. Many people are inherently skeptical of mobile-first banking because of fears about phishing, financial fraud, and security. However, digital banking is just as safe, if not safer, than using a bank branch. BM Technologies, Inc. (BMTX), and many other digital-first banking platforms, are FDIC-insured and offer the same protections provided by regulators for customers who are victims of electronic banking fraud. Additionally, mobile-first banking platform providers are often leaders in technological innovation. They are consistently ahead of the curve in creating new ways to prevent and combat digital fraud through AI and other technology.

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MITCH: What has been your involvement in this emerging industry?

LUVLEEN: When I was 28 years old, I co-founded BM Technologies (BMTX), formerly known as BankMobile, which is now among the largest digital banking platforms in the U.S. Following a recent merger with Megalith Financial Acquisition Corp., BMTX is now listed on the NYSE and is one of the first publicly traded neo-banking fintechs as well as one of the first de-SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies) of 2021. I helped develop BMTX’s disruptive, multi-partner distribution model known as “banking-as-a-service” (BaaS) that now serves more than five million students on 722 campuses nationwide, which means we serve one in every three college students in the country. Additionally, I orchestrated a collaboration with Google to provide digital bank accounts to our customers and expanded BMTX’s white-label banking strategy with T-Mobile for the launch of T-Mobile MONEY.

MITCH: I understand you’re one of the few female minority entrepreneurs in the fintech industry. What’s that been like? Has it been an advantage or disadvantage?

LUVLEEN: I was fortunate enough to be raised by two strong and independent parents who instilled confidence in me from a young age. When I started my career, it never occurred to me that my status as a female or minority was relevant to my professional success. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I bring a unique perspective to the table and actively voice the importance of equality in the workplace. Of course, there have been challenges along the way, but I attribute my accomplishments to my strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. I dedicate my spare time to mentoring other women and hope my story will inspire young girls around the world to pursue careers in technology, finance, and banking.

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MITCH: Anything else you’d like to add about this topic?

LUVLEEN: In the six years since founding BMTX, I’ve become one of the youngest CEOs of a publicly traded company and overseen the acquisition of over five million customers, a collaboration with Google, and a partnership with T-Mobile — and this is just the beginning! We are excited for the future of BM Technologies and the fintech industry as a whole.

MITCH: Thank you for your time.

LUVLEEN: You’re welcome.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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