In 1996, CEOs and senior executives of the nation's largest financial institutions recognized the need for an organization to keep up with vast changes brought about by new technologies. At that time, Frank Wobst, then Chairman and CEO of Huntington Bancshares, chaired the Financial Services Roundtable's Technology Task Force. Through his leadership, BITS was created to allow Roundtable members to collaborate on key technology issues affecting the financial services industry.
As the first CEO of BITS, Catherine Allen initiated work with Roundtable executives to meet the needs of member companies. BITS was established to drive changes in electronic commerce and the payments system through understanding the changing landscape and its potential revenue opportunities. Over the years, BITS evolved as the financial services industry’s technology needs evolved. Leigh Williams, who became president of BITS in 2007, helped shape this evolution expanding the concept of collaboration beyond BITS core membership to collaboration with other associations.
Today, led by Paul Smocer, BITS continues to address newly emerging threats and opportunities, particularly those related to cybersecurity, fraud reduction and critical infrastructure protection. Working with CEOs, CIOs, heads of IT Risk and other senior members of member companies, BITS identifies key issues at the intersection of financial services, technology and commerce and facilitates collaboration to improve the ecommerce environment for member companies and their customers through the development of policies and practices.
Please note that BITS is not an acronym. At one time, BITS stood for “Banking Industry Technology Secretariat.” However, with financial modernization and the emergence of integrated financial services companies involving insurance, securities and banking, that term is no longer used.