Century-Old West Town Bank & Trust Scales Up Hemp and CBD Banking With Help From Innovative Compliance FinTech Platform RiskScout
When West Town Bank Executive Vice President and COO Melissa Marsal was researching ways to be able to bank more hemp and CBD businesses, it was a chance meeting with Justin Fischer, founder of RiskScout, that led to her finding the perfect solution to her needs.
For nearly one hundred years, West Town Bank has served as an Illinois state-chartered financial institution with a national presence.
As the hemp and CBD space continues to grow, the need for reliable banking partners has entered the spotlight but due to the sheer amount of compliance necessary for banks and credit unions to onboard and maintain these accounts, many will often turn these businesses away. This hesitation has resulted in a multi-billion industry operating largely on a cash only basis, which not only impedes the industry’s growth but also poses a heightened threat for criminal activity and prevents the proper tracking of billions in finances across the nation.
With this understanding, Marsal sought out ways to be able to offer banking services to many more of these types of higher-risk, underbanked and underserved industries, and she knew a streamlined approach around compliance was going to be the key to success.
After meeting Fischer at a Pittsburgh-area conference in 2019, the two struck up an impactful conversation, which led to a fast and strong partnership between the two companies.
Only four months later, West Town Bank was fully geared up to scale its hemp and CBD banking initiative nationwide.
“RiskScout has allowed us to scale our program on a broader stage than we would have ever been able to do without needing to add additional staff,” exclaims Marsal.
Right now, depending on each client’s needs, West Town Bank can offer its full suite of Treasury Management Services, as well as Merchant Processing Services.
“RiskScout helps us navigate the onboarding compliance aspects much faster, which are far different than any other typical business client we work with because they’re not going to have to be held to the same standards. The prospect comes to us, we get the information we need, and we get it expedited to ensure a seamless onboarding experience.”
As Marsal explains, up until she found RiskScout, there weren’t really any good programs on the market that helped with providing enhanced due diligence and ongoing monitoring.
She continues, “RiskScout gives us one place to house this information, with reminders and everybody having access to it, including our regulators and our auditors. Their platform is first-in-class when it comes to user experience, and I don’t know of another system that is doing it as well or even similar to RiskScout. It has significantly made our compliance department more efficient.
“Prior to RiskScout, our teams worked in Excel spreadsheets and Word documents, and it was a lot of manual work to track and manage. We now have it all condensed within RiskScout, which is a lifesaver for the ongoing management of high-risk customers. If you’re a financial institution that offers more than one product or service to the hemp and CBD industry, RiskScout alleviates the pressure of the customer entering the data multiple times or having multiple relationships with different areas of the bank. It pulls it all together.
“Basically, it allows us to say, ‘If you’re a hemp or CBD customer, we’ve already vetted you through our compliance program utilizing RiskScout. Now you pick and choose your products or services. This is all we needed to make sure we can bank you and now we’ll place you with whatever resource, service or solution you need and you don’t have to give us that information again.”
West Town Bank has now been using RiskScout for over a year and has been able to quickly scale up its banking of hemp and CBD customers. And now Marsal has her sights set on new endeavors as well.
“Because of RiskScout and the efficiencies we’ve garnered from it, it has allowed us to expand our purview to look at other higher-risk industries as well [such as money services businesses, Private ATMs, cryptocurrency, and more], which RiskScout can also help bank. Had we not utilized RiskScout, we probably would not be entertaining these ideas. RiskScout allows for this and will be a part of our growth into other sectors. They are a “true” long-term partner of the bank.”
For more information on West Town Bank & Trust, visit http://www.westtownbank.com.