Business View Magazine | May/June 2022

77 BUSINESS VIEW MAGAZINE VOLUME 9, ISSUE 5 F I VE STAR BANK customers to send money from their Five Star account and it gives the recipient, importantly, the option of choosing where they want the money to go. Birmingham notes, “It’s part of a broader payment strategy that we have. But, it’s also a really good example of the power of collaboration. It’s helping us, as well as other members, to drive economies of scale in a way that wouldn’t be possible by going it alone. And at the end of the day, it allows our customers to have flexibility and be empowered with their choice of how they want to manage their payment system or activities at the bank.” Five Star is leaning even further into the future of banking with a new service that will allow its customers to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin. The service, run by FinTech NYDIG, has completed the “friends and family” stage of its rollout, and Five Star plans to roll it out to more customers this summer. “It’s very safe and secure, and from a customer satisfaction perspective, it provides them access to a different asset class that continues to have high adoption in the economy and in society,” Birmingham says. “That’s not going to necessarily make or break us from what we will earn off of it. We’ll earn some modest commissions, but most importantly, it supports a strong customer experience. Since we were one of the first to be able to offer this technology and this service, it gives potential prospective customers a reason to consider switching to a bank like Five Star.” When the pandemic hit, forcing banks to close their doors to customers, Five Star’s technological edge kept them ahead of the curve. With the help of the FinTech, Numerated, Five Star was able to get a Paycheck Protection Plan portal up and running overnight. “Even coming out of the pandemic, we continue to talk to them and partner with them to think about ways we can build on and extend our experience in the PPP,” Birmingham says. “To help build out the bank and enhance our lending to small businesses in a way that is user friendly, leverages technology, and takes advantage of the world.” No matter what may come in the future, Five Star Bank is dedicated to providing the best service to its customers by being at the forefront of technology and service. “The next few years are going to be a very interesting, dynamic – and from my perspective – exciting time,” Birmingham shares, “because the need has never been greater for the fundamentals of being a local bank – being accessible to all aspects of the community, helping them solve their challenges related to banking and credit and financial services, and taking advantage of their opportunities. I think those banks that have the ability to be accessible, that have the capacity and can be responsive and overall competitive, have a very bright future.”