Fiserv Inc.’s acquisition of CashEdge should give the Wisconsin-based company serious traction in the person-to-person and small business payments markets, observers say.
The $465 million deal was announced last week and is expected to close in September pending regulatory approval.
The takeover would eliminate the competition the two companies had been waging in signing credit union and bank users to Fiserv’s ZashPay and CashEdge’s Popmoney P2P payment services and better position the merged operation to compete against such newcomers as the clearXchange service launched last month by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Fiserv said it has signed more than 700 companies as ZashPay services and New York City-based CashEdge claims about 200 customers for Popmoney. Small startups such as Iowa-based Dwolla also are attempting to challenge, but the largest player by far in that space is PayPal, which has millions of end users worldwide.
A veteran of the emerging payments industry at the big bank level said he’s confident that CashEdge will help jump start Fiserv’s payments and customer acquisition business overall.
“The Fiserv transaction comes as no surprise,” said Steven Kietz of Woodbury Advisors in Woodbury, N.Y.
“(CashEdge founder) Sanjeev Dheer has been building a successful business for a number of years. I used CashEdge when I was at Citi for online account opening middleware and they did a super job,” he said.
“The P2P offering is spot on. With Fiserv’s reach, the business will grow faster,” said Kietz, who has more than 25 years of experience with Citibank and Chase Card Services and is a former CEO of Mobile Money Ventures, a joint venture of Citigroup and SK Telecom, which recently sold its mobile Web technology to Intuit Financial Services.
CashEdge’s success at P2P use makes the deal particularly appealing to one veteran credit union and banking consultant.
“I'll let the investment bankers opine on the price of the deal, but I think this is a solid pickup strategically speaking,” said Scott Hodgins of Cornerstone Advisors in Scottsdale, Ariz. “Take one look at the core players' SEC filings, and you'll know that all the revenue growth is in payments. While Fiserv's ZashPay was widely considered a cool idea, it had a lot of proving to do for even the biggest e-optimists.
“CashEdge will bring some real end users to the party.”
The deal also will bring to Fiserv new and improved capabilities in the small business arena, said Christine Barry, research director at Aite Group, the Boston-based research and advisory firm.
“Fiserv has much to gain from the CashEdge acquisition,” Barry said. For small businesses, the company can enhance its payments capabilities and add electronic invoicing, an important capability to such enterprises, she said.
"(Our) research has found that small business satisfaction with their primary institutions is on the decline and only 30% are extremely satisfied with their financial institution’s ability to offer the products and services that they need,” Barry said.
She said approximately two-thirds of small businesses they studied would use electronic invoicing if offered by their banks and “approximately 30% would even be willing to pay for it.”
Barry said that despite high levels of interest, financial institutions have been slow to offer electronic invoicing, in part because their cash management/business banking providers don’t offer it.
“Fiserv’s acquisition of CashEdge will enable it to not only offer this important capability as part of its online banking suite, but also, given its large customer base, will likely have a huge impact on overall adoption of electronic invoicing by institutions,” the think firm analyst said.
Fiserv has made numerous acquisitions since its founding in 1984, including three smaller transactions this spring. The CashEdge acquisition is the largest since the $4.4 billion purchase of CheckFree in 2007 that marked the company's initial major move into the nascent electronic payments space.