How community banks can leverage affinity as a competitive advantage and driver for social good
by Miraj Patel, CEO and Co-founder, and Andrew Scarborough, COO and Co-founder of Harness
Thanks to Harness for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! Harness enables financial institutions to build strong relationships with their cardholders — bringing cards to the top of wallet and incentivizing card usage. To meet Harness and the other fintechs in the 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator, powered by The Venture Center, sign up for this year’s online 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator Demo Day!
Harness aims to make giving a fundamental part of our financial landscape, providing financial institutions the power to transform their cardholders into active forces for good in their communities.
Networks dominate our world. Uber and Lyft control transportation, Facebook and Twitter control information, Instagram and Snapchat control social, Amazon and Shopify control eCommerce. These companies exhibit strong network effects. Every user, driver, vendor, partner, and member makes the network more valuable.
The Harness Network revolves around giving. While different in structure and purpose, Harness exhibits potent and easily monetizable network effects. Three main groups comprise this network, each with their own distinct primary goal:
Financial Institutions want more card usage
Organizations want more donations
Supporters want better gratification
This network’s beauty is that card usage, donations, and gratification are all synonymous with the swipe.
Harness unlocks the power of the swipe by transforming it into a tool to drive issuer (financial institution), organization (non-profit), and cardholder (supporter) value. This network destroys the notion of zero-sum swipes and zero-sum donations. By aligning bank, organization, and supporter value: transactions, donations, and gratification are no longer mutually exclusive.
Harness has the power to change fundraising dramatically – empowering financial institutions, organizations, and supporters to make our world a better place.
What led us here?
The banking landscape is drastically changing, and community banks are challenged to keep pace with new technologies and features. We want to help our local banks not only keep pace, but bolt ahead of the competition. Harness provides a defensible competitive advantage for community banks amplifies their main value proposition – understanding, engaging, and uplifting their communities.
Community banks have a tremendous market advantage due to their close customer relationships and access to local communities built on care and trust. We allow local community banks to offer unparalleled card incentives tailored explicitly for their constituents. Whether a community bank of a major university or a community bank of a tight-knit locale, Harness allows banks to turn their specific knowledge into engagement and usage, all while uplifting their surrounding communities.
We see this as the next step in the evolution of the card. Card innovation has become extremely incremental, focused on cashback programs and travel rewards. These programs are costly to launch, and often they are unprofitable at scale. We are adding the philanthropic layer to the card, offering community-focused financial institutions a way to monetize their community ties without losing their authenticity or identity.
What could the future look like?
Fundraising and engagement have been a daunting, scrambled puzzle for decades. At Harness, we have been assembling the pieces of this puzzle and have finally found the solution.
Our model of fundraising-based engagement is rewarding, personal, and simple. The Harness network is a positive-sum: merging the interests of each party into a single force for progress. We have discovered a way to turn interchange into impact. As we look out at the philanthropy horizon, we believe we are at a significant inflection point. Interconnectivity has reshaped how we view change, and we now all feel empowered to leave our mark.
We strive to become our causes. Fervently standing up to injustices, we know we make a difference. In uniting identity and cause, the Harness Network will create enormous value for financial institutions and nonprofits, all while building a sense of ownership and pride for our world.
Thanks to Harness for contributing to the ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator’s Founder Feature series! To see more from Harness and the other founders with a range of solutions from payments and loan automation to cybersecurity and data insights, sign up for this year’s online 2021 ICBA ThinkTECH Accelerator Demo Day!