Jeff Plagge on Zelle, RTP and Implementing New Tech at Community Banks

March 9, 2018

On the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, Jeff Plagge -- president and CEO of Northwest Financial Corp. in Arnolds Park, Iowa, and a former ABA chairman -- discusses how a smaller community banking company like his, with $1.8 billion in assets, can make investments to stay on the technological cutting edge.

“People’s perspectives on what is fast continues to change,” says Plagge, whose bank is in the pipeline to implement person-to-person payment app Zelle. “Zelle is now the real-time alternative” for P2P, Plagge says. He adds that the Clearing House’s RTP initiative, on whose advisory board he serves, will offer a similar service for business customers.

“It’s not quite as discussed as Zelle right now,” Plagge says, but “in my perspective, it’s one that banks need to be paying attention to equally or even more so than the P2P space.” A substantial part of banks’ deposit base comes from commercial accounts, and as business customers “experience faster payments personally, they are going to expect to experience faster payments business-wise.”

Plagge also explains how he leads in-house implementation of new technology in the bank. While it provides more control, it makes it imperative that the bank find in-house tech talent, Plagge adds -- which is where Northwest’s footprint in Omaha, Neb., comes in handy, as it can attract talent in a metro market that might not consider the rural Iowa towns where Northwest also operates. Listen to this episode.

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