Digital Disruption Allows Community Banks Like John Steinmetz’ Vista Bank to Compete

DALLAS, TX / ACCESSWIRE / June 8, 2021 / Dallas, Texas – $1.4 billion Dallas-based Vista Bank leveraged cutting-edge technology to help small business owners keep their doors open and their employees off the unemployment line during the pandemic.

When the CARES Act was first implemented in March 2020, Vista Bank pivoted quickly to bot technology to speed the processing of the surge in loans issued under the Paycheck Protection Program and the Main Street Lending Program. The software enabled the Bank to complete loans in just two minutes, thirty times faster than a banker could traditionally enter them manually. The Bank’s team also expedited the lending process by utilizing modern technology in marketing, creating a funnel to attract and manage a queue of leads for its lenders. By focusing on these key areas, Vista Bank was able to quickly serve multiple clients at once, meaning it could adapt to the deteriorating economic environment, and provide small businesses with the capital they needed in real time.

That reliability and efficiency amidst a national crisis was appreciated by Vista’s clients, including a Dallas hairdresser who tweeted often about receiving her PPP loan from Vista Bank in less than 24 hours. This was just one example out of the thousands of PPP loans that the Bank processed efficiently.

“Our bankers, many of whom worked around the clock for weeks at a time quickly adopted the new technology, allowing us to make PPP loans as small as $92 to small business owners who needed them most,” noted Vista Bank CEO John D. Steinmetz. “It’s what community banking is all about and I couldn’t have been prouder of the many community banks, just like ours, that stood in the gap for main street businesses across the country.”

While some in the financial industry have been hesitant to fully embrace social media, Vista’s CCO Cathy Landtroop noted that the Bank utilized social media listening tools during COVID, allowing them to respond to hundreds of questions in real-time on Twitter and other platforms serving as a resource for accurate, timely financial information as the 2020 economic crisis unfolded.

Scaling its online presence across the board during the pandemic, particularly on mobile phones, which Mr. Steinmetz recognizes as the new “branch,” the Bank launched an innovative website as well as an online and mobile banking app platform simultaneously in 2020. Quickly adopted, Vista Bank clients enjoyed more financial autonomy, as they were able to easily send and receive money, monitor their accounts, and track their business and personal budgets by having their financial information organized in one place.

Now, as the pandemic ends and the world adjusts to a new normal, the Dallas bank is developing a multi-year plan that will deepen its use of technology across all of its services and better serve a population that will do its banking increasingly online.

Vista Bank’s COO Auden Herrera noted that the Bank has progressed from using bot technology to implementing robotic process automation (RPA) technology. One of RPA’s strengths is its ability to streamline tasks that are repetitive, making it the perfect solution for the loan processing system as well as other areas of business.

The pandemic escalated the desire for clients to be able to manage their banking center needs 24/7. Seeing the trend coming, Vista had already implemented Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs) and deposit functional ATMs with plans to onboard instant messaging and a call center in the near future, which will allow Vista Bank to expand its after-hours conversational banking options.

The new technology has allowed clients to benefit from online document signing, empowering easy remote onboarding processing as well as signature ceremony requirements. To speed transactions, bank clients also enjoy utilizing ID verification through a mobile ID scan. Additional technology upgrades included real-time cybersecurity and fraud threat notifications, upgrading camera and ATM technology in banking centers, email and phone systems loading to the cloud for Disaster and Recovery systems.

The Bank didn’t stop there according to CFO Robert Bruce, leveraging the latest technology in its lending department in order to minimize the risk for stakeholders. With its adoption of Moody’s Analytics, the Bank is able to meet the policies for the Allowance for Loan and Lease Losses (ALLL) and the accounting standards for the Current Expected Credit Loss (CECL). Vista Bank is using this software to stress-test multiple property types, ultimately leading to a stronger lending portfolio and an ability to more extensively evaluate new loans.

At the direction of CEO John Steinmetz, the Bank will continue exploring digital innovation such as fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency to keep Vista Bank on the forefront of community bank technology.

By continually implementing technology into all facets of its services, Vista Bank’s leadership believes it will position the Bank to not just serve its clients today, but be able to continue competing with larger regional and big box banks for years to come.

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