Megavendors and transaction banking: reinvesting in digital corporate banking
Earlier this month, Fiserv announced that it is acquiring Online Banking Solutions (OBS), a privately held provider of niche treasury management capabilities. OBS has seen a great deal of success in enabling community banks, credit unions and some regional banks with the digital capabilities needed to meet the emerging needs of more sophisticated business and corporate clients for treasury management services. As a long-time observer and participant in this space, I think it is fair to say that most of the largest providers of financial services technology (megavendors) have underinvested in corporate banking, especially in modern, digital treasury solutions. From a back-office processing perspective, Fiserv has a key collection of assets (e.g. PEP+, ARP/SMS) on which large banks in the US heavily depend to deliver their treasury management services.
The acquisition brings a suite of first-class front-office digital channel solutions to Fiserv that should allow it to be competitive in offering omnichannel solutions specifically designed for corporate treasury users and that consider the multitude of ways that corporates consume bank information and generate transactions. Celent believes that the winners in this space will have a broad transaction banking strategy that includes international services (cross border payments, foreign exchange, trade finance) bringing all commercial banking assets into a coherent go-forward strategy, if not a single organizational unit. Partnerships to extend transaction banking functionality is a great step toward that end but they need to be well-defined and well-executed to benefit the providers' clients. In 2017, we think that other technology providers will follow suit and broaden their transaction banking solutions.
FIS has certainly made a mark with its 2015 acquisitions of SunGard and Clear2Pay. Bringing these assets together and delivering on a next generation digital platform will be critical for FIS to meet the growing needs of corporate clients for global banking services. Other providers of digital channel solutions such as ACI Worldwide, Bottomline Technologies, D+H, Q2 Software and others will be looking at these developments closely to understand the impact on their competitive positions. With the acquisition of OBS, there are no more niche providers of corporate digital channels left in North America. Almost ten years after the great financial crisis when income from fee-based solutions was the salvation of the industry, reinvestment in the transaction banking business is finally happening.