As the first nationally chartered U.S. bank to offer cryptocurrency approved in partnership with the OCCER, Vast Bank continues to push the envelope and redefine the U.S. banking standard.

Founded in 1982 and based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Vast Bank originally offered its services to the surrounding community and later expanded its customer base to a regional level. In addition to having customers across all 50 states, it is also the first U.S. bank to implement the SAP S/4HANA Banking solution.

Vast Bank is independent and wholly owned by the Biolchini family out of Tulsa, Oklahoma. This style of ownership not only cultivated a sense of community within Vast Bank, but also reinforced its guiding principles for high performance. In a recent SAP customer interview series, Stephen Taylor, chief innovation officer for Vast Bank, shared that alignment among the executive leadership team was imperative when it came to launching its digital transformation with SAP.

“The support and definition Vast Bank received from SAP when it came to aligning the technical solution approach to all the guiding principles was a core aspect for implementation,” Taylor said.

In the interview, Taylor spoke with Matthew Donovan, global director for Business and Marketing Development at SAP, on leading the company’s digital transformation.

Responding to New Trends

Until recently, the banking industry remained relatively unaffected by greater technological advancements and consumer demands. However, Taylor noted two trends that have caused shake-ups. First, the arrival of financial technology companies (fintechs), including Venmo, PayPal, and Chime, has disrupted the traditional delivery of financial services from established financial institutions. In addition to this, younger generations of consumers now view technology as a necessity when it comes to anything involving money. For long-standing institutions like Vast Bank, a shift toward prioritizing digital consumer trends ultimately changes the expectations of what it means to do banking.

Instead of resisting change, Vast Bank decided to respond. It recognized emerging fintech companies as partners, not as existential threats to its business model. Taylor said working with fintech companies was necessary to cultivate the best experience for customers. This decision coincided with Vast Bank’s aspiration to provide a technologically rich banking experience as it expanded its regional and national customer base. So, when consumer demands pointed toward cryptocurrency, Vast Bank secured a strong partnership with regulatory bodies to responsibly lead in the crypto space.

Implementing Digital Transformation

Vast Bank encountered limitations as it transitioned to offering real-time cryptocurrency services for its customer base. First, it was essential Vast Bank protected customers and their assets in the cryptocurrency space. “It is important that a bank does that in a safe and sound way,” Taylor said. Besides safeguarding its own customers, the company needed to ensure customers could also participate and interact within the greater banking ecosystem. At the end of the day, Taylor said it became a balancing act. “We still have to integrate processes that are both modern and current for customers, but also help them participate in the financial ecosystem that is not real time,” he said.

With a project that required a large investment and extensive core processing changes, executive alignment was a critical component of Vast Bank’s digital transformation. “You are going to run into challenges, especially when you are doing something new that no one has ever done before,” he explained. As the planning for digital transformation was underway, Vast Bank made certain of collaborative alignment across all executive leaders and their designated teams.

Working with SAP helped enable the core transformation at Vast Bank. “In order to provide real-time event application and structure to our customers, our system needed to be a core that we can manage and control while also supporting the real-time ecosystem,” Taylor said. Coming together with SAP allowed Vast Bank to bring on supplementary partners, solution implementers, and software developers to fill in the overall solution.

Deliver Early and Deliver Often

Despite the obstacles Vast Bank experienced, there are still net benefits of becoming the “first” implementer of SAP S/4HANA Banking. “It is challenging, but the ability to overcome adversity is the best opportunity for growth,” Taylor said. It is now able to tackle markets that were not accessible before, which is a key component to driving industry change. Furthermore, Vast Bank will be able to grow faster in experience and change, as it is now able to process and access data at a deeper level provided by the SAP for Banking solution portfolio. Taylor pointed out quantifiable benefits the business experienced post-implementation. More specifically, Vast Bank was able to decrease its customer onboarding time from 45 minutes to as little as 90 seconds.

Looking forward, Taylor established three core objectives for the near future. First, Vast Bank aims to continue building out solutions and further expand its partnerships with fintech companies. Also, it is on target to complete the delivery and conversions of its migration to SAP. Lastly, Vast Bank strives to offer additional services and emerge as a leader in the cryptocurrency space.

“We are really excited about the next couple of years, especially when we get on our new platform, apply different levels of automation, and have access to new data,” Taylor noted. “We are pretty excited about the future at Vast.”

Lindsey Staskus is an SAP iXp intern for North America Integrated Communications.