When the word “disrupt” is thrown around in the startup world, it is often used by a startup founder believing their technology can dismantle an entire industry.
But talk to Brian Alvarez-Bailey and you’ll soon realize that he has something different in mind when it comes to “disrupting” the community banking industry.
“Narratives have gotten out that fintechs can disrupt or displace community banks,” he told Hypepotamus. “I think all of that is nonsense. I think fintech, like any other tool, plays a role in community banking. And I think the community banking industry and fintechs can play in the space together. I think one without the other would be not taking advantage of a true opportunity.”
Alvarez-Bailey is looking to bring fintechs and community banks together with his new startup Allison.
The low-code platform and SaaS startup helps increase depository opportunities for community banks and credit unions. Alvarez-Bailey describes it as a “virtual financial container” that connects fintechs with community banks.
“It’s about marrying the swiftness, efficiency, and stability you get from building new financial technology with the stability and the trust that comes from community banks and credit unions,” he added. “We don’t want to displace [community banks]. We don’t want to put them out of business. We want to grow them.”
Fintech startups often struggle to get off the ground if they can’t find bank sponsorships. On the other side, community banks often lack the infrastructure to onboard emerging fintechs.
Addressing the community banker’s pain points is something personal for Alvarez-Bailey. Not only did his grandmother work at a community bank for many years, but he himself worked in the FinTech remittance and financial services worlds before starting Allison.
Speaking with community bank CEOs, Alvarez-Bailey recognized that their biggest pain points post-Dodd Frank is the cost of their internal compliance and legal upkeep. Many of these institutions have been consolidated – or shut down all together – over the last 15 years as the financial regulation landscape has changed.
New Town, New FinTech Problems
Alvarez-Bailey may be relatively new to the Tampa Bay area, but he is already making a splash in the local startup scene.
After building his career up in Austin, he fell in love with Tampa after visiting at the beginning of 2020. “To me it had that Austin 2010-ish feel,” he told Hypepotamus. He was also already really impressed by the movers and shakers in the startup community, like Lakshmi Shenoy over at Embarc Collective.
He recently took home to the top prize at the regional Black Founders Demo Day. He will go on to represent the Tampa area at Black Founders Demo Day in Miami this coming December.
Alvarez-Bailey is one of a growing number of fintech entrepreneurs building in Tampa – an industry supported by a wave of newcomers to the city and the growing startup infrastructure supporting financial, HR, and insurance-focused ventures.
“I’m a person that looks at problems as opportunities. And the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity,” Alvarez-Bailey told Hypepotamus. “That doesn’t necessarily mean that I think I can solve all of the problem, but I contend that if you solve enough of it, there will be ecosystems built around that solution that has solved the greater problem. Allison is really part of a larger solution that will ultimately happen within the next five or 10 years.”