A Latin American fintech is heading for North America backed by $50 million from a Silicon Valley venture capital firm.

Technisys, a 25-year old digital banking firm with origins in Brazil and Argentina, is moving its corporate headquarters to Miami, becoming English first through bilingual hires and internal training, and going after the U.S. financial services market with backing from Riverwood Capital.

“This is the moment to go strong in the U.S.” said Michel Jacobs, the new chief sales officer, ”because there are lots of opportunities.”

The company already has two customers in the U.S., one in Canada, and several active prospects.

“All of this is without having a sales force in the U.S.,” he added. Forrester listed Technisys as one of 10 top digital banking processing platform (DBPP) providers for retail banking in its recent Forrester Wave report.

Jacobs joined recently after years in financial technology, including at FIS. The Technisys North America team now numbers 100 people — 15 locally in Canada and 20 locally in the U.S. supported by 65 people across the company’s near-shore South American innovation labs, he said.

Jacobs said that Technisys will focus on the interaction between a firm and its customers, seeking to understand direction and sentiment rather than simply processing transactions. The future will be digital down, not technology from the core up, he said.

That future may take time to arrive because the leading banking tech vendors — FIS, Fiserv and Jack Henry — typically lock in customers to long contracts, with very stiff cancellation penalties.

“They run hundreds, sometimes thousands, of banks on the same system, a cookie cutter approach, which is how they drive profits,” Jacobs said.

Covid-19 accelerated banks’ push for a more flexible approach, he added.

“Banks started to realize they need to move toward becoming a digital bank, able to interact digitally across channels and not just understand what you are trying to do but why. If you truly become customer-centric you understand the actual need, and that allows you to start changing the way you interact and start adjusting the product.”

Technisys will aim at traditional banks that want to become digital or launch a new digital bank as ATB in Alberta did with Brightside, at challenger banks, and at companies that want to embed financial services in their operations, as Uber has done.

The company is well positioned to help banks go digital because it has been a leader in South America, where adoption of digital in banking was earlier than in North America, Jacobs added.

It started planning for North American expansion plans two and a half years ago. Some of the European mobile banking platforms coming to the U.S. underestimate the complexity of American regulation, the alphabet soup of agencies that have to comply with, Jacobs said. Technisys has been working in U.S. products and compliance for two years, he added. “

“It’s not very realistic to expect that a bank will adopt you without your being able to show U.S. regulatory compliance and U.S. product readiness,” he said.

The company has a delivery center in Toronto and its chief marketing officer was already living in Miami. The company also plans a second delivery center in the Southeast, probably Jacksonville, FL or Charlotte, NC.

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