If you search for brands that are solving customer problems with innovative financial products, then you’ll come across names like Chime, DoorDash, Lyft, Stash and WisdomTree. If you look more closely, you’ll discover that the banking engine enabling these products for tens of millions of customers is a community bank based out of a small Oklahoma town with a population of just over 50,000. To answer the question of how that improbable underdog story came to be, you’ll have to go back over a decade to when a scrappy, prophetic bank crossed the path of a payments executive from New Zealand with a flair for the fantastical.
Mark Sumby started his career in payments at American Express, but later found himself drawn to startups and industry innovators because that’s where he feels most at home. “It was really exciting to be on the ground floor of a new industry,” Mark recalls about his time working for Wild Card Systems.
He lent his expertise and talents to various payments processors and banks over his career, and with each experience, he gained a new critical lesson or invaluable skill that would prepare him for his cornerstone moment to come years later at Stride Bank in Enid, Okla.
Mark’s superpower is analyzing the market for potential clients, so when he and the team at Stride came across a small but promising startup called Chime, he knew that something magical was afoot. But not in his wildest dreams could he have predicted what would happen next. In 2020, as the pandemic shut down lobbies of banks that were suddenly facing a moment of reckoning for putting off investments in digital account-opening capabilities, Chime found itself well-positioned to scoop up the homebound customers that needed to open bank accounts online. As millions of customers flocked to Chime, its partner, Stride, a century-old community bank that holds those accounts for Chime members, suddenly found itself scaling with a fintech unicorn.
We had the opportunity to speak with Mark, who shared with us more details about his career path, Stride Bank.
How did your work with Wild Card Systems help prepare you for your current career?
They were one of the first key processors that created solutions for big banks in the U.S., and I knew that I wanted to be in banking eventually, so that exposure was a great bridge for me to learn more about the industry from the banking side.
Tell us a bit more about Stride Bank.
Stride is a platform enablement bank that provides partners with the ability to offer FDIC-insured bank accounts and access networks they wouldn’t normally have. We are currently in the top 20 on Visa’s global issuers platform, and we expect to break into the top 10, alongside JPMorgan Chase and other large banks. We are also a 110-year old community bank, so we have a firm foundation and long history of navigating the regulatory landscape. We know how to manage parties in accordance with guidance by our regulators so we can be around to serve customers for the next century.
How has your role evolved and how has it contributed to the company’s success?
When I first started at Stride Bank, I wore many hats, including working in business development. Over our evolution, we started to hire strong compliance and operations people and I continue to guide our contract negotiations, business development activities, and relationships with key partners.
The period of explosive growth starting in 2020 established us as a major player in the space. During that time, we brought on big names and millions of accounts, which showed that our relationships with third parties were buttoned up and handled responsibly. Our transaction volume grew 50x, we went from settling $6 billion, to $25 billion, and in 2022, over $35 billion, and our bank has tripled in size in just a few years’ time. That level of growth has required us to quickly mature our technology, operations, accounting, and oversight, but our team has navigated those challenges beautifully.
Senior Vice President — Stride Bank