May 25, 2021 at 06:59PM

Challenger bank Agora Services has partnered with digital payment and online banking company i2c Inc. to “provide modern digital first issuing and processing” for credit unions and community banks.

“Challenger banks are encroaching on community banks and credit unions by providing a digitally native user experience that meets the needs of today’s consumers,” the companies said in a Tuesday (May 25) news release.

They cite a new study from Cornerstone Advisors and StrategyCorps that showed the number of consumers who use a challenger bank as their primary account grew 7 percent last year, with  the largest banks fighting back using the app strategy offered by challenger banks.

The two companies say their partnership will create a “challenger bank-like platform” made with credit unions and community banks in mind, providing services like card issuance for debit, prepaid and credit cards in a “digitally native environment.” In this way, they hope to help community banks and credit unions (CUs) deliver their products.

“Community banks and credit unions need the flexibility of offering mobile-first services without sacrificing the attention paid to customer and member service,” said Arcady Lapiro, founder and CEO of Agora Services. “Agora is the only provider bringing challenger bank products directly to smaller financial institutions without requiring a core overhaul.”

Agora says the partnership gives it greater ability to provide a digital banking lab, complete with challenger bank services and “innovative products.” The bank says it is the first of many planned collaborations with i2c designed to support credit unions and community banks.

The partnership comes on the heels of a new small and medium-sized business (SMB) solution unveiled by Agora last year, Agora SMB, which will help compete with larger banks. Agora SMB offers users new options for plastic and virtual employee cards, as well as receipt managing sub-accounts for tax purposes, real-time notification and fully mobile use.

Karen Webster’s conversation with i2c CEO Amir Wain from last month delved into the challenges and opportunities facing community banks.

Agora Services, i2c Partner On Digital Banking For CUs, Community Banks …

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