Patrick Sells’s brand-new gig: Helping banks innovate and discover fintech partners 

About 2 and a half years back, Jeff Sinnott was speaking with business in the blockchain area to find out if his bank, Vantage Bank Texas, may wish to deal with them. 

“We felt blockchain technology was going to have a major impact on many industries including financial services,” Sinnott stated. “We’d start conversations and then we’d quickly whittle that down to who had the ability to possibly be a good partner for us.”

He liked one business a lot, and his group liked the other companies’ personnel, “but there wasn’t a lot of appreciation of the regulatory hoops and the pace in which we had to verify things,” stated Sinnott, the San Antonio bank’s president and CEO. “They were frustrated with us as well, not understanding some of the things banks have to do.” 

Sinnott turned for assistance to Patrick Sells, who at the time was primary development officer at NYDIG. The year prior to, Sells had actually been American Banker’s Digital Banker of the Year and primary development officer at Quontic Bank in New York.

“You might meet a fintech at a conference,” Sells stated. “But if they’ve never done an integration with yourcore or online banking, it’s a far harder proposition.” 

The 2 guys discovered they had “a lot of kindred ideas” about how neighborhood banks and smaller sized cooperative credit union might prosper, Sinnott stated in an interview. “He had a unique perspective of technology and banking and the regulatory pieces that surround that. I come from a technical background too, so we speak a lot of the same languages.” Sinnott was previously a software application engineer and primary info officer at Vantage Bank Texas. They remained in touch.

So when Sells called Sinnott to inform him he was establishing a brand-new business called True Digital that would assist lenders with digital upgrades and fintech partner due diligence, Sinnott remained in.

Another yes originated from Jeff Ludwig, CEO of Midland States Bank in Effingham, Illinois. 

“They understand the problems and solutions we as bankers face,” Ludwig stated. 

True Digital released today. One of its very first offerings is Mind Shift, a series of two-day workshops that banks’ personnel, executives and board members can take care of find out how to construct a culture of development in their banks.

“What I’ve heard from many banks is, look, the last three to five years we’ve been told that we need to be more innovative,” Sells stated in an interview Monday. “But it’s not clear as to, how do I do that? And how do I get those skills that I need?” The program will consist of emerging innovations like AI, the metaverse and cryptocurrencies.

Sinnott prepares to go to the Mind Shift workshops, beginning with the very first one at the end of January. 

“If you don’t have the right type of understanding across the board of directors, the leaders of the bank, and those working across these efforts, it doesn’t matter if you have the right fintech partner; you’re likely not going to get to the finish line,” Sinnott stated. “You’re going to have a hard time executing, because it’s not easy. I think it’s extremely important for people to understand there’s a type of mind shift or type of thinking, support and consensus you need to have. And most importantly, perseverance, because it’s a tough journey.”

Another True Digital offering is Fintech Finder, a matchmaking platform that will assist lenders hook up with the best fintechs to partner with. Sells prepares to present the platform in the very first quarter of 2023.

Fintech Finder will have information on the services fintechs offer, the banks they deal with, the core banking systems their items incorporate with and who their rivals are. 

“You might meet a fintech at a conference,” Sells stated. “But if they’ve never done an integration with your core or online banking, it’s a far harder proposition.” 

Sinnott hopes Fintech Finder will assist him certify possible partners. When he was taking a look at blockchain business, “We cast a wide net. It was an extraordinary amount of effort and energy, and 98% of the fintechs we talked to were not candidates to move forward with.”

“Fintechs are so vastly different from regulated financial institutions,” Sells stated. “We’ve been trying to force two vastly different things together. And sometimes that works, but a lot of times it doesn’t and just causes frustration. You need to identify what those differences are and then address them and then move forward.”


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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