What Hath Fiserv Wrought?
The announcement last month by Fiserv that it would acquire Open Solutions Inc. for roughly $1 billion, most of that in debt assumption, has sent some shivers through the credit union core processing world.
Fiserv has confirmed that the Acumen, once billed by Fiserv as the core processing system for tomorrow, will not live.
“Acumen will not continue on. We will not continue to install it in the U.S.,” said Mark Sievewright, president of the Credit Union Solutions group at Fiserv, in an interview. He denied that the acquisition will cause Fiserv to tighten its financial belt by killing off a few elderly, high-maintenance cores systems.
“This transaction does not cause us to transform the rest of our business. Consultants like to speculate that we offer too many cores, but we are not planning additional changes in our portfolio,” said Sievewright.
For credit unions snagged in a legacy core abandonment, the acquisition could be tumultuous news. But for everybody else, not so much.
“The Fiserv acquisition of Open Solutions has the potential to really shake up the core marketplace,” said Scott Hodgins, research director at consulting firm Cornerstone Advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz., in an interview.
Many cores are old, and many cores struggle to integrate the kinds of 21st century services. such as mobile banking and mobile remote-deposit capture, that they never were designed to handle. Cores have had to be tweaked, and tweaked more, to coax them into functioning in ways that credit unions and their members demand in 2013.
Sievewright said his view it that he now can sell what amounts to DNA Plus, that is, a well-established and solid but comparatively youthful core platform that, said Sievewright, will be augmented by adding smart features from Acumen and a range of integrated Fiserv add-ons.
And Fiserv, with its deep pockets and reputation for servicing what it sells, probably also can fix the reputation that had been developing around DNA that cash-strapped Open Solutions was not servicing what it sold. “OSI’s service reputation was a deterrent to DNA sales, and the Fiserv acquisition should end that,” said Hodgins.
“DNA solves Fiserv’s problem at the high end, where Symitar had been cleaning their clock,” added Brad Smith, CEO of Abound Resources, a consulting firm in Austin, Texas. He predicted that DNA sales would pick up among “the larger credit unions that can afford this core.”
Sievewright underlined Fiserv’s commitment to its range of products. “We are constantly improving and enhancing our existing cores. I do not see any of cores at end of life right now.”
While he was at that commitment, Sievewright took pains to also extend it to Open Solutions’ CUnify, a core aimed at the industry’s smaller institutions. “CUnify fits well in our portfolio,” he said.