Executive Letter: Sharing the Success of Wisconsin Banks Abroad

By Rose Oswald Poels

I am always excited to brag about Wisconsin banks – your strength and resiliency, and all you do for your customers with the media, elected officials, and other groups. Last week, however, I had an opportunity to do so in a very unique format, and in what likely will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Beginning on Monday, March 29, I had the honor of participating in a virtual trade mission between Wisconsin and the Country of Luxembourg which focused on fintech and the future of banking. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), along with the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, the Ministry of the Economy, Luxinnovation, and the Luxembourg House of Fintech organized this first-of-its-kind virtual trade mission since physical travel to Luxembourg was not possible due to the pandemic. The virtual trade mission was organized over three days featuring speakers, panel discussions, and Q&A sessions. WEDC reported that over 150 people registered to participate in the trade mission.

Day two of the three-day mission was focused on the Future of Banking. WEDC Deputy Secretary Sam Rikkers and Fiserv’s Chief Digital and Data Officer Byron Vielehr opened this day of the conference. Byron shared information and data to show how the pandemic has accelerated digital banking adoption among banks and their customers, and how digital engagement is redefining the business model for financial institutions. During the panel breakout discussion, I had the opportunity to highlight, among other things, the success stories of Wisconsin banks and how you have leveraged technology and other creative delivery methods to stay engaged with customers after COVID first appeared last year.

Because of its geographic location in Europe, and in light of the open banking/open API environment businesses and banks operate in there, Luxembourg is a hub for a vast array of fintech companies. Several panelists from Luxembourg shared how their fintech companies provide a wide range of services in areas such as lending, regtech, payments, big data and artificial intelligence, and cybersecurity. The panel also discussed how banks in both regions will continue to leverage technology to grow in the future and responded to attendee’s questions. While I am quite sure I would have preferred to be on this mission in person, it was an honor to represent all of you in this virtual trade mission. It provided me with a unique opportunity to learn more about how banks in Luxembourg work closely with fintech providers, and it allowed me to share the strengths of Wisconsin banks with participants in various parts of the world.