Takeovers, Conversions Dominate Core Processing Space in 2013: Year in Review
Two big acquisitions – along with the typical string of announcements touting individual contract wins – dominated the headlines this year in the core processing for credit unions arena.
Harland Financial Solutions, provider of the venerable UltraData platform to about 330 credit unions, was sold to Toronto-based Davis + Henderson Corp. this summer.
But the blockbuster was Open Solutions Inc.’s sale to Fiserv Inc. early in 2013. The 800-pound gorilla of credit union core processing immediately confirmed that it was going to sunset the once-ballyhooed Acumen platform and began touting contract wins for its new acquisition.
“I think Fiserv acquiring OSI was definitely interesting and did shake things up a bit. Most notably the Acumen initiative was discontinued in favor of OSI’s DNA platform. This threw a curveball to some credit unions that were either already in-process or preparing to convert to Acumen,” said Scott Patterson, vice president of new business innovation at Callahan &Associates in Washington, D.C.
“However, this change may end up being a good thing in the long run for these credit unions as DNA should prove to be a stronger platform with an immediate wide base of users that can help push developments forward more quickly in the near term,” Patterson said.
Consistent through all this change? Symitar’s dominance of the large credit union market and continued success across the asset groups, helped along by CUSO partners such as MDT Technologies in Michigan and league-owned Synergent in Maine serving as independent service bureaus for the Jack Henry &Associates property.
Callahan has been tracking these numbers for years and the consultancy’s 2014 Credit Union Core Processors Market Share Guide bear out the new trends and old.
For instance, while Fiserv still has 2,305 credit unions in the core processing fold, almost a third of all credit unions in the United States, its CUSA platform, once used by more than 900 credit unions, primarily smaller ones, is now in place at 413, according to the Callahan guide.
Another well-known provider to small credit unions, the part of the market most hit by consolidation and closings, also shows smaller numbers. FedComp, which once served as many as 2,500 very small credit unions, now has 815 in the 2014 Callahan survey. And R.C. Olmstead, a longtime mainstay of mainly Ohio credit unions, is at 54 after claiming as many as 130 in years past.
But opportunity could well continue going forward. “A key theme we’re hearing here at Callahan in our conversations and client roundtables is that credit union executives are worried that the big providers may not focus on the credit union difference and evolving the systems fast enough,” Patterson said.
“The concern is that primary business focus will be on driving short-term share price and private equity deals as opposed to platform or capability evolution. If the economy continues to improve as expected, 2014 could be another big market growth and M&A year – note the two big Digital Insight ownership changes in 2013 alone,” Patterson said.
“Of course, that sort of focus doesn’t often align well with the credit union management focus. Credit union executives are generally looking for core system technology partners that are focused on enabling them to continually do more for members and be ahead of the technology capability curve relative to large competitors,” he said.
“If this concern becomes reality, it may open doors of opportunity for relatively smaller, and possibly even credit union-owned, solutions,” the Callahan executive said.
Indeed, Symitar’s Episys core is being used by 587 credit unions while Sharetec, offered through four regional distributor-owners, claims 291 users and CU*Answers’ CU*BASE is in place at 225 credit unions, EPL Inc. is at 71, and CMC’s FLEX is at 259 and CompuSource Systems is at 294, according to the Callahan survey. Another CUSO, Share One, says it has 104.