The American Bankers Association has a new head of innovation.
On Tuesday, the ABA announced that Brooke Ybarra has been named senior vice president of innovation and strategy and will lead the group’s Office of Innovation. This division, which was created in May 2020, is meant to help banks with innovation strategy, public policy and venture investing.
Ybarra’s main task is to help member banks zero in on startups and emerging technologies that will help them evolve. She will also advocate for policies that support responsible innovation in banking. Previously, she served as vice president of innovation strategy at the ABA, and held roles at Marriott International, Accenture and the CIA.
The two-year-old Office of Innovation has already published content to help its members explore the market for potential fintech partners. For instance, over the past year, it has issued reports about cryptocurrency and the state of digital lending, the latter of which was meant to help banks scope out potential partners. It plans to publish two more papers this fall.
The Office of Innovation also coordinates presentations and briefings for individual banks and state banking associations upon request, on topics such as major innovation trends, digital banking, effective fintech partnerships and more. It conducts research on startups and funds that could benefit the banking industry. As a result, the ABA invested in bitcoin company NYDIG in December 2021 and Canapi Ventures’ second fund in March 2022.
On the policy end, the Office of Innovation develops ABA policy objectives relating to innovation, such as digital assets.
“Under her leadership, ABA’s Office of Innovation will continue its important work of not only identifying the technologies that will shape the future of banking, but also the policies needed to allow banks to efficiently utilize those technologies and spur additional innovation,” Rob Nichols, the ABA’s president and chief executive, said in a press release.