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‘Don’t let any legacy tie you down’: How Piermont Bank blends humans and technology to service midmarket SMBs

  • Piermont Bank serves mid market SMBs with a hybrid blend of digital and human bankers.
  • CEO Wendy Cai-Lee joins us on the podcast to talk about building a bank that addresses SMB pain points.

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‘Don’t let any legacy tie you down’: How Piermont Bank blends humans and technology to service midmarket SMBs

While we use the term challenger bank to refer to many of today’s top competitors in digital banking, the truth is very few are actually chartered banks. They are a user experience layer on top of an incumbent bank’s infrastructure. Not Piermont Bank. 

Started in 2019, Piermont is a fully chartered commercial bank. It uses a combination of technology and human interaction to serve businesses founder and CEO Wendy Cai-Lee says still aren’t serviced. These are businesses with more complexity with accounts receivables and payables, with employees, looking for loans of $750,000 to $10 million — not the solopreneurs and microbusinesses supported by other challenger banks. 

Wendy Cai-Lee joins me on the podcast to talk about how Piermont uses its hybrid delivery model to serve this market. We also discuss Piermont’s strategy around providing direct to business commercial banking as well as a banking as a service platform targeting fintechs that want to bank a similar customer. Wendy Cai-Lee is my guest today on the Tearsheet Podcast.


SubscribeApple Podcasts I SoundCloud I Spotify I Google Podcasts The following excerpts were edited for clarity.
The importance of a charter Piermont started up back in 2019. We’re the first fully chartered hybrid commercial bank. In the last few years, there’ve been a couple of different descriptors around for so-called challenger banks. I think you have seen that the regulators have come out with some guidance in terms of who can refer to themselves as banks. That actually is the main reason why I decided to go with the chartering process, because at the end of the day, the FDIC insurance is really, really valuable.
Whether you are a neobank, challenger bank, regular commercial bank —  however you want to describe the various different types of banks that have surfaced — having FDIC insurance and the regulatory expertise behind it is critical to the institution’s ability to create new products, to really be more aligned and more reflective of all the changes in the marketplace, and be more relevant to the end customer.  [That’s true] whether it’s within the fintech ecosystem, or outside of it — the FDIC insurance allows the banking institution to be able to generate and keep a cost-effective funding source so that eventually we can get to a point where we can create real, meaningful lending products, right to the marketplace.
Because until you can have the entire spectrum of cash deposit management, payments solution and lending, you can’t really create that holistic suite of services that’s really needed in the marketplace — it doesn’t matter who you are, whether consumer, commercial, fintech or not.  So yeah, so FDIC insurance is important. 
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