Arvest Bank of Arkansas shadowed by Google

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

What is happening: The Fayetteville-based company announced Thursday that it has entered into a five-year agreement with Google Cloud to host its data.

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

Why is this important: To stay competitive and continue to attract younger customers who grew up with digital wallets, brick-and-mortar banks are scrambling to keep pace with digital-only “neobanks” like Chime and Varo.

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

Yes and: Banks create and use a lot of data that is expensive to maintain. Investments in hardware can be a deterrent for any business. Outsourced data services like Google’s can help businesses stay agile.

The context: Arvest has total assets of $26.6 billion and is Arkansas’ largest bank by 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 say : Laura Merling, chief operations and transformation officer at Arvest, 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 undergoing refresher training to avoid job cuts. A test with Google Cloud and historical data from Arvest means some transactions happened 30-50% faster than before, Merling said.

MeanwhileSimmons Bank of Pine Bluff began investing in its digital transformation in 2018, reports Arkansas Business, which is estimated to cost $100 million.

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

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