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FirstBank Paving The Way for a New Wave

FEBRUARY 04, 2023

As featured in Innovate Nashville Banking & Finance

It’s not often you hear about companies that thrive for over a century, but FirstBank, from its humble start in rural West Tennessee in 1906 continues to evolve and conquer 117 years later. From its original mission of serving a small-town farming community, FirstBank, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee with a multi-state presence, aims to be a thought leader and innovator in bringing blockchain and Web 3.0 technology into the highly regulated banking industry.

Wade Peery, Mike Cagney ( CEO of Figure Technologies) & Matt Maxey (Chief Innovations Officer of Synovus) on a panel discussing the USDF Consortium at LendIt’s Fintech Nexus conference.Association Annual Meeting

“We are on the cusp of a massive wave of disruption at the infrastructure level of the financial services industry,” said Wade Peery, Chief Innovations Officer at FirstBank, the third largest bank headquartered in Tennessee. “Fifty-year-old payment rails supporting the economic activity of our country are slow and expensive due to unnecessary layers of intermediaries. By responsibly exploring new ideas using blockchain technology outside of production environments and a goal to align with existing regulatory framework, FirstBank is validating that banking can become more accessible, inclusive, and efficient with less risk.”

A major initiative by FirstBank has been its founding member status in the USDF Consortium, launched in 2022 alongside four other chartered financial institutions and Figure Technologies, Inc. The mission of the Consortium is to bring programmable money to life through tokenized bank deposits using distributed ledger technology, typically referred to as blockchain. USDF aims to become the banking industry’s answer to the need for a digital dollar.

L to R Faith Owen, Doris Montgomery, Wade Peery, Dan Moore, Suzanne Dorris

To benefit by using blockchain as a payments rail supporting safe bi-lateral settlement, new technology is needed to move money between fiat held in a bank account and a tokenized deposit on chain. Creative and collaborative thinking with key partners Jack Henry & Associates and the USDF Consortium has already resulted in a Provenance blockchain based prototype delivering realtime peer-to-peer payments at roughly one-third the cost of existing solutions. The partners’ multi-phase development approach offers regulators and other banks an opportunity to lean in and further understand this new technology and its resiliency.

“This is far removed from the novel digital assets that customers hold in the crypto ecosystem. Our work has nothing to do with cryptocurrencies, privately issued stable coins, or crypto exchanges. It’s the boring stuff on the backend that enables significant efficiency improvements translating into better banking services benefiting consumers and businesses,” said Peery.

Wade Peery, Chief Innovations Officer, FirstBank

FirstBank is also setting the bar for banking innovation in Nashville. A focused approach is bringing new ideas and opportunities to the bank almost daily. Equipped with a group of deeply experienced bankers dedicated to innovation efforts, the bank is positioned to serve key needs of early stage financial services companies with promising solutions. Offering advice and mentoring drawn from deep banking expertise and the willingness to provide capital to early-stage founders increases the likelihood of successful projects. An open-door allowing founders to have discussions with career bankers to better understand problems and the insight to help navigate the regulatory environment is of tremendous value.

A budding new relationship with Vanderbilt’s Wond’ry Center is one of several exciting local opportunities as the bank integrates into the Nashville technology community. With future entrepreneurs only a few blocks away, the bank is motivated to share its knowledge of the financial system and act as a catalyst to reimagine the future of banking with students. FirstBank is proud to be an industry leader and driver behind the Web 3.0 evolution while helping raise awareness of Nashville as an amazing place to build a business and call home.

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FirstBank has helped customers build momentum for over a century, with more access, answers and the latest products and services. Click on the link below to learn more about how our local banking model helps fuel your future. We keep going strong by banking on your strengths to help our communities go far.


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