If you’re a business owner, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to banking. Your options include Miami-based rising star Novo, Brex, NorthOne, Juni, and a host of other neobanks.
However, the founders of Fort Lauderdale-based Locality Bank, which just launched today, make the case for banking locally. “The modernization of banking needs to start at the community level, where there’s a unique and concentrated focus on the actual problems people face,” Corey LeBlanc, Locality Bank’s COO and CTO, told Refresh Miami. “Then it’s about tailoring technology as a tool to address those problems.”
LeBlanc underscored that, unlike many challenger banks, Locality Bank is a “true bank.” By that he means that Locality Bank has gone through the process of getting a state charter and securing FDIC approval. This stands in contrast to some startup banks, which leverage the technology and charter from a traditional bank.
For LeBlanc, this independence gives Locality Bank more control, both in terms of their technical stack and the cost of services. Ultimately, he argued that this enables Locality Bank to better serve their clients. “At the end of the day, we want to be able to look across the table, whether it be digitally or in person, and be able to tell customers, ‘we can help you,’ and know that we can in the way that we’re promising.”
And how does Locality Bank differ from other community banks that offer services online? “We’re building everything digitally from the ground up,” asserted LeBlanc. “We’re building the backend infrastructure and architecture so that we can continually iterate in an efficient way.” Consumers benefit from this, in LeBlanc’s estimation, because they get better services and a lower price than competitors.
Originally hailing from Louisiana, LeBlanc expressed excitement about the prospect of working with businesses in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. “It’s a beautiful market,” he said. “It’s one of the largest growing communities in the nation.” LeBlanc also noted that the majority of Locality Bank’s 12-person team have decades of experience working in the South Florida market. Locality Bank’s Chief Lending Officer, Drew Saito, is a Fort Lauderdale Native.
In a statement, Locality Bank CEO Keith Costello, who was formerly President and CEO of the Broward Bank of Commerce, commented: “The overwhelming demand for our stock is a validation of our idea that South Florida needs community based financial institutions. While there are lots of banks in Broward County there are only two headquartered here. January 12 is the same day we opened Broward Bank of Commerce in 2009, thus we will be the first community bank to open in 10+ years in South Florida.”
Investors have shown significant interest in Locality Bank. The organization originally anticipated a $23 million fundraise but ended up raising $35 million last year. “We worked with local investors that we knew and we had a great response,” said LeBlanc.
Today’s launch, LeBlanc explained, is an MVP. For now, opening an account is limited to a select group of early stage testers who will iron out any kinks. “But the goal is to get this in the hands of as many of our customers as possible.” On top of commercial banking, Locality Bank plans to offer services including commercial real estate lending, Small Business Administration lending, and deposit and business treasury services.
Temporarily, Locality Bank is operating out of Fort Lauderdale co-working space General Provision. However, they are currently in the process of renovating their headquarters at 1400 South Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, where they hope to move this summer. For now, potential business customers can add their names to the waitlist by visiting LocalityBank.com.
PHOTO AT TOP OF POST: Locality cofounders Corey LeBlanc, Keith Costello and Drew Saito.
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