An online community about banking? Really?

Ever wondered where bankers go to discuss financial services issues online. Well neither had I, but then Brad Garland of The Garland Group invited me to join Banktastic.com.

What’s Banktastic? Here’s how the site positions itself:

A community helping bankers quickly find relevant, industry specific information and share it with others.

It could just as easily have been called CreditUnion-tastic, but that’s just not as much fun. People are discussing all kinds of issues like:

  • Who will win the p2p lending wars in the US – Prosper, Zopa, LendingClub, Virgin?
  • What is your favorite bank marketing campaign of all time?
  • Just wondered what some of our experts thought the next big thing will be in banking? I still meet with smaller banks that think that remote deposit capture is new and they have a problems getting a good marketing plan created. Any ideas?

The site is in “semi-private beta” which means you need to be invited to join. I still have one invite left, let me know if you want it.

Thanks to Brad and Mark (I was fortunate enough to meet them at BarCampBankSeattle earlier this year) and the gang at The Garland Group for creating this forum. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

UPDATE: I neglected to give my friend and CU influencer, Morriss Partee his due props here. His EverythingCU is a great repository of information about all things Credit Union. They have 5,621 members (including me) and have tons of topics and discussions daily about all kinds of topics, ranging from

  • Getting management approval for cutting edge campaigns
  • Auto Lending Channels
  • Philosophy and Practice
  • Web Site Re-design
  • The best ad you NEVER Ran
  • Name change?
  • You know you’re a marketer when…

It’s an amazing resource, and I owe it to Morriss to give him a plug along with Banktastic.

Banktastic!

I was going through my RSS feed, and came across Robbie Wright’s The Life and Times of a Credit Union Employee. I always enjoy Robbie’s perspective, even more so since meeting him at BarCampBankSeattle.

He started a discussion about a master RSS aggregator of all the bank and CU related blogs. In the good comment thread that ensued Mark from the The Garland Group, who was also at BarCampBankSeattle, posted about his new project called Banktastic whih does exactly that.

Nice work Mark, a blog roll for all of us! Thanks for including me. I even added it to my blogroll.

A final reflection on BarCampBankSeattle.

I have been reviewing my notes and trying to write some coherent posts about BarCampBankSeattle to sum it all up. I’m finding that a tall order.

So much of the weekend was about the relationships, the dialogue, the intense collaboration, that it doesn’t do the experience justice to write it out.

I think I captured some of the key takeaways pretty well on NetBanker, in my latest guest blog post.

Have a look and please shoot me a comment there.

BarCampCreditUnion?

In the end, no banks showed up at all. It was mostly credit unions, consultants to credit unions and suppliers. One surprising thing to emerge from BarCampBankSeattle was the talk about the mission of the credit union movement and its relevance in today’s world. Didn’t expect that, but it was a vibrant, and I would argue important discussion to have.

Banks were invited, specifically Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo. I know that Ed Terpening, VP of Social Media at Wells, was planning on coming, but couldn’t make it. I look forward to meeting him at some point. But in the end BarCampBank had no bank representation. An odd state of affairs.

When we talked about innovation and supporting communities, we all thought that that was the job for credit unions. What was incredibly reassuring is that there are many people who are passionate about what credit unions can do for communities and their constituents.

We need to be vigilant to ensure that credit unions don’t become, as Jesse put it, small shitty, inefficient banks. In the end, it was a great marriage of a discussion around banking innovation and the role credit unions can continue to play in the service of people and their money. I hope the conversation continues, because it’s exciting for me to see the next generation of CU leaders engaged in the credit union mission, who see it as a movement and believe in it passionately. Sometimes I wonder if the shift from Boomers to Gen X and Y will lead to a shift away from strong credit unions supporting their communities. We had an amazing blend of younger people, new to the CU world, and some long time champions of the movement – it was an excellent cross-section. This weekend gave me renewed faith.

Why BarCampBank?

One of the interesting things about coming to an event like BarCampBankSeattle is trying to explain it to people who have no framework with which to contextualize it.

What’s a BarCamp? Why a BarCamp for banking? Why not just have a regular conference? What are you doing down there in Seattle? Why on Earth would a grown man go to Banking Camp?

It’s only now struck me that with new tools emerging to allow for greater online collaboration, whether you’re talking about BaseCamp, Facebook, Del.icio.us, LinkedIn or Second Life, the needs for in-person collaboration is changing. For people who are not using these new tools, nothing has changed and therefore they don’t need new ways of interfacing with their peers. But for those of us who have embraced these new tools and found that they have significantly improved their ways of collaborating and working together, we want our real world events to change too.

Along comes BarCampBankSeattle. I wouldn’t be interested if a traditional conference was organized this way because you’d be in a room full of people who want content served to them, just like people who are used to traditional web experiences (the irony of a term like “traditional web experience” is not lost on me) want content served up to them. They aren’t used to co-creating and collaborating.

So the idea of BarCampBank – that the right people are here and the right things are being discussed – really works because the people who have opted in to this process are all on the same wavelength when it comes to collaborating and working together. The guys at Trabian are leaders in this space, because their employees live in different cities and still work together through tools like AIM, Twitter, blogs, Facebook, BaseCamp and so on. So a loose, informal heavily collaborative event like BarCampBank makes perfect sense to the people who are here because we want new models for in-person meetings that fit into our new working relationships.

The penny dropped and it’s amazing to be here.

I’ll format my thoughts properly and post some content this week – I promise.