As ICBA Bancard transitions to ICBA Payments, reflecting on our past will help to fuel our future success. While our name has changed, the goal of serving community banks has remained a constant since ICBA’s payments subsidiary’s inception in 1985. ICBA Payments, as our new moniker implies—signals our continued evolution and expanded offerings to keep pace with today’s dynamic market and community bank emerging needs.

As we consider our roots, and the visionary leaders that put us on the road we venture today, I’m reminded of Chuck Doyle, Bancard’s first chairman, sentiments about why we got into this business in the first place. “Most community banks either did not have a credit card program or wanted to get out of it if they did,” Chuck said. “It was too difficult to manage. Understanding how important it was for the franchise value of banks, leadership felt it was necessary to provide a helping hand. In doing so they made a business case to not only help the members but bring revenue to IBAA [the predecessor association to ICBA]. And boy did it!”

Ruth Christopher is ICBA Payments’ chairman and is a board member for Citizens Bank., a community bank in Las Cruces, N.M., and secretary of its holding company, Amador Bancshares Inc.

Those early bankers rose to the challenge and fought for what community banks needed to remain competitive, and from that passion, Bancard was born for our collective benefit.

I speak from experience when I say that foresight made all the difference. When my bank first started working with Bancard in 1994, I knew that it would help us excel in the card arena, because the Bancard team had the right expertise, strategies, and solutions in place to ensure we did. Their steadfast commitment to our relationship-first community bank business model and single focus on serving community banks and community banks only was another crucial piece of a winning formula.

As we enter a new era of payments demands, ICBA Payments stands ready to help us in an expanded way. Whether it’s guiding us into instant payments via FedNow, instituting programs to tackle fraud, enabling next-generation payments such as Google Pay and Apple Pay, or introducing the cutting-edge of new card features, the ICBA Payments team will support our journey with strategic counsel, enhanced product offerings, and digital solutions. Together, we will proactively prepare for what’s next in payments.

Because of the firm foundation laid by the visionaries behind Bancard, ICBA Payments, and the community banks it serves, is well positioned to compete and excel. This new era ushers in opportunity, and with it, excitement for all that awaits. Today’s payments paradigm offers much potential, and with ICBA Payments, we have the expertise, plans, products, and execution necessary to succeed, just as our founders did.

I look forward to all we will accomplish together, and I encourage you to join us on this journey toward the future of payments.