Urban FT, Inc. today announced it has completed the acquisition of iParse LLC, an Oregon-based tech firm and holder of a number of mobile banking-related patents.
Terms of the deal between the two privately held companies were not disclosed. iParse will operate as a separate unit of Urban FT, and, except for the iParse founders, who are retiring, current staff will continue working for the expanded company.
“The iParse tech strategically complements Urban FT’s suite of white-label mobile banking solutions by providing a proprietary way to bypass core processor integration, while delivering a robust mobile banking service for financial institutions to offer to their customers,” says Urban FT CEO Richard Steggall. “We’re calling this newest Urban FT deployment option our ‘mobile banking plug-in’ solution, and it’s a game changer because now credit unions and banks of any size can play—and play competitively—in the mobile banking space. We see this acquisition as a strategic growth initiative that further differentiates us from our nearest competitors.”
Urban FT expects to be ready to implement its new mobile plug-in option within 60 days.
Kasey Kaplan, Urban FT’s president, explains that offering a mobile banking solution has been out of reach for many smaller financial institutions because core processor integration has been too expensive, too resource-intensive or too risky. The iParse mobile banking technology simulates integration by plugging into the core.
“This new deployment method fills a significant unmet need in the diffusion of mobile banking across financial institutions of all sizes,” he adds. “A financial institution can, literally, be up and running with this turnkey out-of-the-box solutions within days.”
Urban FT plans to work directly with financial institutions that want to launch mobile banking via the new mobile plug-in deployment option, but Steggall expects the greater opportunity is working in conjunction with payments processors, including those that already offer their own mobile banking services.
“We’re opening up what’s been a white space for processors,” Steggall says. “Of course, many processors already offer mobile banking, but their smaller clients can’t afford it. And, from the processors’ perspective, it’s not resource-effective to develop a service their smallest clients can afford.
“By partnering with Urban FT, processors can monetize what’s been unmonetizable until now and give their smaller clients an important new service opportunity—at a reasonable cost and without significant operational impact,” he continues. “We also see this mobile banking plug-in as an opportunity for financial services trade associations to help smaller organizations deliver mobile banking to their customers and members.”
Is there a market for another white-label mobile banking service? “Absolutely,” responds Kaplan. “You can’t be a serious competitor in retail banking without a mobile banking service.
“On the bank side, we size the market at approximately 12,500 potential targets, and we know that almost 42 percent of credit unions have yet to launch any form of mobile banking,” he continues. “In addition, we’re confident that our mobile banking plug-in option will be attractive to smaller financial institutions that have introduced a solution already but may not be happy with the cost or service levels.”
Within the next 12 months, Urban FT predicts it will double the number of financial institution clients it now serves from 75 to more than 150, in addition to its nonbank clients, representing leading national brands in telecommunications, insurance and travel.