New banks

‘It’s difficult for a smaller, local bank to compete against the mega banks’: Inside Trustco Bank’s evolving digital experience

  • New York’s Trustco Bank recently implemented a digital banking platform to improve customer user experiences.
  • The local bank has witnessed over a 50 percent increase in mobile deposits.

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‘It’s difficult for a smaller, local bank to compete against the mega banks’: Inside Trustco Bank’s evolving digital experience

Sometimes, digital transformation programs work as planned, as evidenced by Trustco Bank’s recent surge in app store ratings. The company went from 2.7 stars to 4.5 stars out of 5 for its iOS app after upgrading its tech.

“Prior to implementation, our iOS application had a stagnant rating of 2.7 stars in the application store,” said J.R. George, Trustco Bank’s administrative vice president. “The enhanced application currently has a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars and is still trending upward.”

New York-based Trustco Bank, which reported $5.2 billion in assets in 2019 and has 148 branches, has observed higher levels of digital adoption and customer interactions since recently implementing a digital banking platform that includes online account opening, digital payments, lending and customer servicing.

The bank has seen a 10 percent increase in users on its mobile app over 5 months of implementation and its mobile deposit use has increased over 50 percent. 

Trustco used a digital banking program called Architect which is offered by digital payments and financial services technology provider Fiserv. It provides banks with digital capabilities that can be incorporated within customer’s own products. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the bank sought to develop its digital capabilities to adapt to growing customer needs for digital banking. 


“When COVID-19 hit, people expected progress to be put on hold, but for us it was the opposite,” said Robert J. McCormick, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at Trustco Bank. “We invested in our digital experience and the reaction from our customers and staff has been overwhelmingly positive.” 

Trustco Bank’s staff members have been deeply involved in the digital conversion process by learning tools such as online account opening and mobile deposit to facilitate and educate customers on the bank’s digital changes.  

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, digital adoption was evolving through increased competition between incumbents and challenger banks. Despite this however it was not widely incorporated as many traditional banks lagged behind on digital services. 

Since the pandemic started digital transformation has greatly accelerated within banking and financial services industries. The trend is unlikely to reverse once the pandemic is over as more financial institutions continue to embrace digital.  

“As Covid recedes in 2021, branches will open again, but the world will not be the same. There is no going back. People learned to use cashless payments and digital banking, these new habits won’t be unlearned,” said Jake Tyler, CEO of Finn AI, a conversational AI platform for banks.

 “We’ve seen years of digital adoption happen in the space of just a few months. How many times a week does Amazon come to your house now to drop something off? How many times have you been to a bank branch in the last 6 months? Banks without quality digital onboarding and self-service experiences will find themselves at a material disadvantage.”

According to a report by Deloitte, the pandemic has inspired FI leadership to recognize the significance of digital transformation as a means to reach customers. In Trustco Bank’s case, digital adoption has also given the “hometown bank” a competitive advantage. 

“For several different reasons, it is often difficult for a smaller, local bank to compete against the mega banks like Chase, Citi and Bank of America,” said George. “The Architect platform offers a comprehensive package of digital services that helps us compete against the bigger banks while often out-competing smaller FIs or FIs of the same size.”

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