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BetaBank submits FDIC application for digital bank focused on equitable SMB lending

Gaby M. Rojas

Today, Beta Financial Services, Inc. submitted an application with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) to organize BetaBank, a digitally native bank built for small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) with a mission to provide fair, accessible, and cost-effective deposit and lending services. BetaBank will be built entirely on Google Cloud with Deloitte and others supporting the creation of the bank and its products to help small business owners meet their financial needs more quickly and with fewer hurdles than traditional banks.

Small businesses comprise more than 99% of all U.S. employers and employ 58.9 million citizens yet more than half of small business owners do not have their financial needs met by current financial institutions. A disproportionate majority of those refused capital are historically underrepresented and underserved groups. Sixty six percent of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous or person of color) business owners receive at least a percentage of the requested funding from banks, as compared to 80% of white business owners. In addition, minority business owners who are approved for financing pay on average 7.8% in interest, as compared with 6.4% for non-minority firms.

SMB lending is one of the least automated parts of the U.S. banking system. Nearly all current banks rely on manual underwriting for SMB loans, which involves commercial bankers making personal judgments about SMB borrowers.

“As a child, I watched my father repeatedly let down by our financial system,” said Seke Ballard, CEO of Beta Financial Services and Founder of BetaBank. “He was a successful business owner in North Carolina, but when he needed capital to expand his business to nearby states, he was denied 13 times. Small business owners deserve a better way to bank. BetaBank is committed to building a digital bank that provides small business owners an unbiased and efficient way to access the flexible capital their businesses need to thrive.”

Ballard created a proprietary algorithm that uses cloud-based artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh risk, calculate qualification, and determine the likelihood of default on a loan with significantly more accuracy and speed, and at a lower cost, than traditional banks. This helps lower the barrier for a broader range of small businesses to access the capital they need to scale and grow.

BetaBank will operate entirely on cloud technologies, making it one of the first digital banks in the U.S. to be built on Google Cloud from the ground up. Beta Financial Services selected Google Cloud as the cloud infrastructure on which to build, run, and manage BetaBank. Google Cloud provides a scalable, secure, and sustainable infrastructure to help grow BetaBank’s business and support its networks, while enabling regulatory compliance, fraud prevention, and overall security.

“We are proud to work with BetaBank to build a digitally native bank whose mission of financial inclusion aligns closely with Google Cloud’s goals of creating equitable products that drive better outcomes for everyone,” said Janet Kennedy, vice president, North America, Google Cloud. “Combining Google Cloud’s cutting-edge infrastructure with BetaBank’s powerful vision and lending algorithm will help enable the bank to provide its customers with access to the services they need in a safe and secure environment.”

“BetaBank has the opportunity to push the industry to catch up with society’s demand for representation as shared values become the influencing factor in selecting products and services, and we at Deloitte are proud to support their mission to deliver digital banking to historically underserved small business segments,” said Nick Cowell, Affinity Banking lead, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Deloitte worked closely with Ballard and his team of engineers to design the technological infrastructure to meet the demands of a digitally native bank. Deloitte also supported the design of BetaBank’s digital customer interface, allowing for accessible and comprehensive banking services at significant cost savings to both BetaBank and its customers. When BetaBank opens for business, Deloitte will continue to provide a full suite of managed services to support BetaBank’s operations.

BetaBank is currently in formation and scheduled to open to customers in early 2023. To sign up to join the waitlist and receive updates about BetaBank’s launch, visit betabank.com.

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