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First Financial Bankshares: Small Bank, Big Innovation

Jeff Casey has spearheaded a mobile revolution at First Financial Bankshares, with products that can rival offerings from the big boys.

Casey sees mobile payments as a "game changer" in the banking industry. "The customer really wants that convenience," he says. "And when you can pair it with relevant, targeted, timely marketing, that's a huge value add."


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Casey also believes in the promise of big data will be essential for First Financial. "We have an opportunity to combat the nontraditional competitors, like Google, by utilizing all the data we have," he says. "Banks have traditionally looked at data in a transaction-based way, but instead we need to use data to build a better profile of our customers. The technology is at a point, with all the data analytics tools available, where banks can get closer to managing the entire financial relationship with the customer."

Casey says that today delivery channels are very segmented, and mining big data effectively can help banks get a better view of what customer preferences are. "Right now, banks have a difficult time getting down to the 'why?' of when a customer does something," he says. "The challenge is getting that." To that end, a big project for Casey in 2014 will be utilizing the information the bank has to provide value-added products to its customers. This will include things such as merchant-funded rewards programs and geographically relevant advertising.

[Apple: Always the Elephant in the Mobile Payments Room]

Another big project on the horizon is a standardization effort. First Financial has recently transitioned from being a bank holding company, where its subsidiary banks each had different systems in place, to becoming a single-charter bank. "So we're looking across the organization and standardizing our processes, and that involves bringing together a lot of different systems previously in use," he notes.

Casey is also planning for an eventful 2014 in his personal life: He is set to welcome his first child into the world in October. "Right now we're spending a lot of time getting ready to have a little one in the household," he says.

Casey, also a history buff, says spending time with his family "is the foundation for a good work-life balance."

Personal Snapshot

Jeff Casey

Senior VP of alternate delivery channels, First Financial Bankshares

Size of IT organization: About 30 people

Prior roles: Special projects manager, First Financial Bankshares, various technology management roles working primarily in the chemical industry

Education: B.B.A. from Texas A&M University; graduate of the Texas Tech Banking School in Lubbock, Texas

Hobbies: History buff

Bryan Yurcan is associate editor for Bank Systems and Technology. He has worked in various editorial capacities for newspapers and magazines for the past 8 years. After beginning his career as a municipal and courts reporter for daily newspapers in upstate New York, Bryan has ... View Full Bio

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Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
10/3/2013 | 1:17:44 PM
re: First Financial Bankshares: Small Bank, Big Innovation
Yeah, interesting that he mentioned Google specifically, often a bank won't directly acknowledge the potential of these "nontraditional competitors" to cause disruption. But, smartly, Casey is planning for not just now but the future.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
10/3/2013 | 12:37:58 PM
re: First Financial Bankshares: Small Bank, Big Innovation
For many consumers, they no longer think about a formal "bank" as a must have relationship for them. They can buy things online via paypal and make payments in other ways. Banks no longer hold a grip on the consumer. Granted most consumers will still go to a bank for most of their needs, but some groups (especially younger demographics) find it easier to make payments by alternative methods.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Strategist
10/3/2013 | 1:36:27 AM
re: First Financial Bankshares: Small Bank, Big Innovation
Nate, payments -- more specifically mobile payments -- definitely is where banks are feeling the heat (or fearing they will feel it) from non-traditional competitors, not just Google, but Paypal, Apple, Walmart, Square, telcos, and a host of emerging, tech-based and (so far) unregulated players. A growing number of consumers -- not just the traditional unbanked but also students, middle-class consumers, etc. -- are handling some aspect of their financial services with a non-bank.
Nathan Golia
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Nathan Golia,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2013 | 7:43:50 PM
re: First Financial Bankshares: Small Bank, Big Innovation
Interesting points on mobile, especially combining payments with marketing. Also can't help but notice that he mentions Google as an encroaching force G I just wrote in another comment that the financial services industry is getting close to feeling the disruption of a Google or other tech company opening its own financial services firm. Payments might be their entry.
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