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National News

With Sector Struggling, Ag Lending Declined in First Quarter

April 25 – Agricultural lending continued to decline in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Ag Finance Databook, released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The quarterly report said economic conditions in the farm sector remained weak, causing borrowers to reduce spending on farm inputs in response to persistently low profit margins. (more…)

Yes, Banks Can Help Market Local Small Businesses

By Dwayne Spradlin

From sponsoring the high-school baseball team to revitalizing the stores on Main Street, local banks and small businesses have always provided critical support to America’s towns and regions. Deeply rooted in their communities, the two have much in common: they share a local focus, a dedication to staying independent and a commitment to personalized customer service. (more…)

Five Essential Qualities For Banks in Today’s Digital and Cloud Environment

IBM has identified five essential qualities for banks seeking to thrive in today’s increasingly digital and cloud-first environment. Like many other industries, the established players in banking are constantly facing changes and new competition. These challenges stem primarily from on-the-cloud start-ups and agile FinTechs, a group of businesses that Moody’s Investor Service estimates as high as 4,000-strong worldwide and on the receiving end of $19 billion in venture capital funding.


KC Fed President Backs Plans to Trim Security Holdings

By Bill Poquette, Editor-in-Chief

April 21 – Federal Reserve officials are signaling they want to start unwinding the central bank’s $4.5 trillion balance sheet. This is making some market watchers nervous about the effect on monetary policy and the economy, but consensus on the issue is elusive, with forecasts ranging from little or no effect to major disruption. (more…)

Economy Expansion Continues in All 12 Districts

April 20 – The pace of expansion in the U.S. economy was equally split between “modest” and “moderate” in reports from the Federal Reserve’s 12 district banks for the April Beige Book. Economic activity increased in each of the districts between mid-February and the end of March and the pickup was evident to varying degrees across economic sectors.


BMO Harris Bank Launches FinTech Partnership Program with 1871

April 21 – BMO Harris Bank has announced a partnership with 1871 – a leading technology and entrepreneurship ecosystem which is currently home to nearly 500 high-growth digital startups in the Merchandise Mart – that will provide a select group of FinTech startups the opportunity to participate in a three-month mentorship program.


How Do Banking Apps Measure Up?

April 18 – In its latest “Monkey Memo,” The Design X-Factor, Malauzai Software provides an in-depth analysis of mobile banking apps customer ratings, comments and feedback as published in Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Malauzai’s research found that 70 percent of the negative feedback was related to customers’ frustrations with a particular policy or procedure enacted by the financial institution and poor and/or lack of communication. (more…)

Tight Inventory Squeezing Housing Market

April 18 – Freddie Mac released its monthly Outlook for April, which was headlined “Where Have all the Houses Gone?” The report focused on how the tight housing inventory will affect home sales during the spring homebuying season. (more…)

Compliance Index Shows Few Regulatory Changes in First Quarter

April 17 – On the heels of a burdensome fourth quarter in 2016, U.S. financial institutions encountered fewer regulatory changes in Q1 2017 than any quarter in the nearly five-year history of the Banking Compliance Index. Simultaneously, regulatory agencies issued just 57 enforcement actions against financial institutions in the quarter, an unprecedented cooling 64 percent below the average number of EAs per quarter dating back to Q1 2013 when there were 157 EAs. (more…)

Wells Fargo Announces Support for PayPal Wallet for In-Store Transactions

April 19 – Wells Fargo & Company has announced that Wells Fargo customers will soon be able to use PayPal to conveniently and securely make purchases with their mobile devices at participating merchants whose payment terminals are set up to accept near-field communication (NFC) payments. Currently, Wells Fargo customers can pay for purchases online and on mobile at millions of merchants where PayPal is accepted. This agreement will leverage the companies’ collective mobile leadership, and allow customers to use a Wells Fargo Debit or Credit Card to use PayPal to make NFC payments using an Android phone.


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