Jul 22, 2022 - Business

Arkansas' Arvest Bank clouded by Google

Illustration of a phone dispensing money.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Arvest Bank Group, Inc. took another step toward its digital future this week.

What's happening: The Fayetteville-based company said Thursday it entered into a five-year deal with Google Cloud to host its data.

  • The bank will also use Google Cloud's artificial intelligence and machine learning to streamline services and, it says, create a better banking experience both online and in person.

Why it matters: To stay competitive and continue attracting younger customers who've grown up with digital wallets, brick-and-mortar banks are working to keep up with digital-only "neobanks" like Chime and Varo.

  • Most are digital services that pass to other institutions, but Varo is a nationally chartered bank.

Yes, and: Banks create and use a lot of data that's costly to maintain. Investments in hardware can be a deterrent for any company. Outsourced data services like Google's can help businesses stay nimble.

Context: Arvest has $26.6 billion in total assets and is the largest bank in Arkansas in terms of deposit market share, with $13.3 billion in deposits as of June 30, 2021.

  • The company has more than 200 banks in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

What they're saying: Laura Merling, Arvest's chief operations and transformation officer, joined the bank from Google Cloud earlier this year.

  • She told Axios that one of Arvest's data centers will no longer be needed, but employees are getting upskill training to avoid job cuts. A test with Google Cloud and historical Arvest data meant some transactions happened 30-50% faster than before, Merling said.

Meanwhile, Simmons Bank of Pine Bluff started investing in its digital transformation in 2018, Arkansas Business reports, estimated to cost $100 million.

  • Its Coin Checking account, aimed at first-time users, accounted for more than 7% of Simmons' checking accounts in the bank's first quarter.

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