The future of money

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Articles - March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Looking backward while looking forward

An intangible, money is becoming even less concrete as it manifests as pixels on a computer screen — although the technological changes under way in the digital-money sector are moving at a far slower pace than technology at large. Perhaps that’s to be expected, as much of this technology is geared toward enhancing money’s age-old functions. 

Today digital money innovations revolve as much around rectifying flaws in the current financial system as boosting efficiencies. Consumers and businesses want to trust the people and institutions managing their money. They want a stable currency. They want to send and receive cash. They want access to loans. They want to feel a connection to local businesses. These goals haven’t changed much over generations, but new technologies, unthinkable decades ago, may make such objectives easier to achieve.


Banks bounce back

Banks may not be hotbeds of mobile finance innovation, but in 2013, many Oregon financial institutions reported record earnings, a sign the region’s economy is on the upswing and that local banks are regaining their footing in the wake of the 2008 economic collapse. Bank executives credit strong performance to the power of niche banking, personal relationships and a decline in problem loans. 

Capital Pacific Bank

Headquarters: Portland

In 2013 Capital Pacific’s loan portfolio clocked in at $187.98 million, up 18% from 2012. Deposits rose 19% to $207 million. “We know exactly why we have been successful,” says CEO Mark Stevenson. “It’s the power of niche banking.” More than half the bank’s deposits come from nonprofits and schools. Capital Pacific also markets itself aggressively as an eco-friendly bank, and 12% of deposits now come from organizations with a sustainability focus or a commitment to green practices. A business-focused institution, Capital Pacific isn’t subject to the increased regulatory costs connected to consumer banking. And in an era when banks are announcing branch closures, Capital Pacific’s lone branch status creates financial and operational benefits. Says Stevenson: “With only one location, we can be more efficient.”

Willamette Community Bank

Headquarters: Albany

Net income for the year increased by 61% over 2012, marking the most profitable year in the bank’s 10-year history. Loan growth and a new management team helped drive profitability, says Stewart Williams, senior vice president of marketing. “We saw loan growth in the Willamette Valley, where we have a number of small-business and medium- business customers looking to expand.” The new management team, led by CEO Dan McDowell, also implemented operational efficiencies. “What you’re seeing is the effect of new leadership coming in,” Williams says.

Pacific Continental Bank

Headquarters: Eugene

In 2013, Pacific Continental reported a record profit of $13.8 million, up about 9% from 2012. Expansion of the bank’s dental lending program helped drive growth, says CFO Mick Reynolds. In 2012 the bank expanded this program nationally, and Pacific Continental now has active dental loans in 30 states, representing about $300 million of its $1 billion loan portfolio. Like most banks, Pacific Continental continues to see a decline in problem loans; the bank’s successful acquisition of Century Bank in Eugene and the  “high retention level of that client base” also helped grow business, Reynolds says. But the biggest factor may be the corporate culture and employees. Hoopla over mobile and online banking notwithstanding, “banking is a people-to-people business, especially on the business side,” says Reynolds. “Our people have been critical to our success.”   

 



 

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