The Feb. 10 announcement that Temenos had bought Akcelerant for just north of $50 million was a small transaction by Wall Street standards but potentially a big deal in the credit union space.
The Swiss company says the purchase marks a major next step in its move into the North American market. Industry analysts and consultants say it also adds a major player — and a well-regarded real-time platform — to the field of core processors who now compete for the hearts and wallets of U.S. credit unions.
Temenos is headquartered in Geneva and founded in 1993. It says it now has 56 offices that provide multiple financial services solutions to more than 1,600 customers in more than 150 countries.
Philadelphia-based Akcelerant provides its Framework collections, account opening, and loan origination systems to more than 600 financial institutions, CEO and founder Jay Mossman says. That includes more than 450 credit unions.
Mossman claims 18 of the 25 largest credit unions in the country as clients and says Akcelerant is in the sales or contract negotiation stage with four of the remaining seven. The 15-year-old company has been “signing multiple deals per month” across the board, he says.
Mossman adds president of Temenos USA to his title and says Akcelerant will retain its brand. “A Temenos company” will be added as a tagline. Temenos did the same with Trinovus, the 1,300-customer Alabama- and Texas-based banking compliance specialist it bought last year.
Temenos says it has one U.S. customer live on its T24 platform — Independence Bancshares in Greenville, S.C. Seven others have been signed, the company says, and analysts and consultants say they’ve seen Temenos make significant inroads among Canadian credit unions.
“The Akcelerant acquisition strengthens its potential for similar success here in the U.S.,” says Christine Barry, research director for Aite Group. “Credit unions tend to be faster adopters of technology than banks of similar size. Acquisition is a good strategy for entry into this market.”
Of course, Temenos bought a provider of ancillary solutions, not a core processor, but that also makes sense, says the Gonzo Bankers at Arizona-based Cornerstone Advisors. In an emailed reply to several questions, senior directors Scott Hodgins and Sam Kilmer say buying Akcelerant and Trinovus allows Temenos to overcome two major barriers: U.S. regulatory compliance and existing ancillary system interfaces.
They also advised Akcelerant’s existing clients to watch for negative effects on investments and enhancements among products and staff departures — particularly the most creative and entrepreneurial product developers and supporters — at Temenos’ new acquisition.
“It doesn’t always happen, but historically when large, multi-solution corporations buy small, focused private companies, the enhancements of the acquired products can slow down due to focus or management change,” the Cornerstone consultants say.
Mossman says that won’t happen under his watch. “Nothing changes here,” he told CreditUnions.com. “I’m staying. The executive team is staying. There will be no layoffs. No employees will be affected. We’re actually increasing our staff to handle further investment in our products.”
He says he didn’t need to sell the company and had long ago decided on some criteria for doing so. “It had to be good for the employees and good for our products,” he says. “And as for our customers, I wouldn’t do anything that in my view would harm them or our reputation. I’ve built a lot of good relationships over the years.”
As for the competition, core processing and ancillary solutions consultant and contract negotiator John Aranowicz of ICI Consulting in McLean, VA, says he sees the Symitar and Fiserv DNA platforms as the core systems most likely to be affected by the new competition.
Aranowicz says credit union core platforms are “fairly simplistic compared to bank cores” but that they do now require real-time processing. That’s why DNA has been successful, Aranowicz says, although he says it has not performed as well in commercial banking because it does not have the kind of lending capabilities that credit unions would need if they want to get more into business services.
“T24 (Temenos’ platform) has all of the above. A credit union would have very high-end abilities without giving up the real time. And with their SaaS model, their price structure should also be accommodating,” he says. Adding Akcelerant’s well-received tools allows Temenos to offer a more complete suite from a single vendor, something credit unions are used to, Aranowicz adds.
That resonates with the signals out of Geneva.
Temenos CEO David Arnott told Forbes, “FIS, Jack Henry, and Fiserv have their own cores. These guys are kind of getting squeezed out. We wanted to come into the U.S. market with our real-time, modern, rich channel solutions with embedded analytics and modular architecture, but if you go up against these incumbents with just a core, you face difficulties. The opportunity here is to use the customers of Trinovus and Akcelerant to sell our core.”
Mossman sounds a slightly different note. “We want to sell more, but we don’t want to undermine what the other cores are doing,” he told CreditUnions.com. “We’re not looking to be disruptive to a credit union that already has a core they’re happy with. My philosophy has always been to help our customers solve problems where they want them solved.”