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Take a Fresh Look at USA-based Core Systems Vendors

In 2016, I took a sabbatical after PDFing 464 electronic pages of "Automation in Banking - 2016."  The report wasn't perfect, but even the Financial Management system I built for the Strategic Air Command in 1960 wasn't perfect either.  When Col. Young signed off after the beta test, I wanted to suggest that I extend my discharge date to make sure the system worked on go-live date.  But Senior Master Sergeant Moore advised me never to disagree with Col. Young. I obeyed.  But I secretly eliminated the word "perfect" from my IT lexicon and it kept me honest for 59 years.

I spent my sabbatical on Cape Cod , where I have a shack. It was the right place to do it.  The lobsters were almost soft shell, one and a quarter pounders, very tender, the striped bass were bumping into each other, Captain Al had no trouble finding them with his sonar technology, and Barnstable Harbor was as quiet as the Four Seas Ice Cream Parlor after Labor Day.  What could be sweeter than that?

But when I returned to Atlanta, I got an itch.  Wonder what's going on with the core systems market?  The answers are in Exhibit 16 - Title - "U.S. Marketshare in Numbers of Customers."  And the data collection process for this job came from 13 respected colleagues who have fed me for 31 years.  I know them, I trust them, and they know I will return.

Here's what we discovered:

1. There are 12 companies that sell software or perform processing services for 9,037 financial institutions (banks and credit unions from largest to smallest).

2.  Five of the vendors own 90% of the market.  Been there, done that was their strategy. Competent delivery was their tactical execution.

3.  Seven small companies own 9% and they wouldn't have it any other way.   "Not for sale" signs are on their front lawns to the five that are salivating to get them into their fray.  The sales pitch of the independents to customers is "You own us, we wouldn't dare cheat you."

4.  Startups don't show up for this picnic, and don't get invited because they fail the only test - "Show me Your Customers.."  They don't have any yet.

5.  International core vendors (21 of them) stayed in their own back yard when they saw U.S. in the title of my Exhibit 16.  After 20 years of trying to break down U.S. barriers (even before the POTUS announced his preference as an isolationist) U.S. bankers were not impressed by their architecture-only solutions.  They wanted to hear jargon more suitable to legacy pitches about functionality.

6.  While pundits were bashing experienced software vendors as "legacy," those same vendors were delivering new applications with labels bankers understood - Mobile Banking, Paperless Banking, EmployeeLess Banking, Remote Deposit, Smart-Phone-Can-Do-It Banking, Real-Time Banking (You wanted the tran, you got the tran nice and easy)

7.   I am proud of one chapter in AiB-16 in particular because  it's called, "What are you doing for me now?"  Three vendors responded.
To the bankers who are screaming bloody murder, I say "Wake up and smell the coffee." You are the problem, not the core vendors. And even though I do not own a single share, the money boys know who they are:  FISV, FIS, JKHY, CSVI.


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