“Digital transformation” among enterprises hasn’t happened with quite the gusto that people predicted it would a few years ago. But today, a startup building fintech technology — for businesses to modernize legacy financial services like payments — is announcing a decent round of funding, a sign of how change is coming, even if slowly.
Volante Technologies — whose low-code cloud payments services are currently used by some 150 major banks and other organizations providing financial services — has raised $66 million in funding. Sixth Street Growth, the growth stage division of the investment firm, led the round, with Wavecrest Growth Partners and Wells Fargo Strategic Capital also participating.
The funding is coming as a mixture of equity and some debt: the company declined to disclose to proportion, nor has it detailed its valuation. Volante has raised $116 million to date.
Volante, based out of New Jersey, will use the funding to make a push into more international services, and to sell to more mid-tier banks to complement the big names already on its customer list.
“This latest investment will further accelerate our product roadmap for our customers, particularly in global real-time payments, UK New Payments Architecture (NPA), and domestic and cross-border ISO 20022 modernization,” said Vijay Oddiraju, CEO and co-founder of Volante Technologies, in a statement. He highlighted the development of open banking-style services, where banks expose more of their APIs to interact around new services, will also be driving some of its next steps. “It will also allow us to expand the reach of our Payments as a Service offering further into the mid-tier bank segment, especially in the U.S. and Europe where FedNow Instant Payments, The Clearing House RTP, and SEPA Instant Payments, respectively, are driving the adoption of modern payments technology.”
Some of the services that Volante already covers include real-time payments, payments as a service, wire transfers in the U.S., corporate-to-bank integrations and embedded preprocessing (to speed up transaction times).
And in some regards, it is a quiet giant. Oddiraju told TechCrunch that its customers included seven of the top 10 U.S. banks two of the largest card networks, and two of the top three banks in Switzerland (a huge banking centre); and that 66% “of all US commercial deposits powered by Volante.”
The company said that its 150 customers include a number of major banks and other financial services providers, such as Citi, BNY Mellon, Goldman Sachs, the Bank of Chile, Wells Fargo, and the Italian postal service. BNY Mellon, Citi, Poste Italiane, and Visa Ventures are also among its strategic investors.
The opportunity that Volante is tackling is that legacy banks, to be more competitive with challenger fintechs, are looking to adopt newer services, either to complement some of their existing legacy products or to replace them altogether. The growth of cloud-based services has enabled many of them to do just that without touching too much of their existing infrastructure.
Volante is not the only startup that’s identified that and looking to sell into that opportunity. Others also building fintech specifically targeting legacy and incumbent providers include FintechOS, 10x, Thought Machine (as of last year, valued at over $2 billion), Temenos (publicly listed), Mambu (as of 2021 valued at over $5B per PitchBook), and many others.
What’s interesting is that this is an area that more modern payments fintechs, like Stripe, have not really approached. Not yet, at least. Stripe Treasury, its banking as a service offering, is offered to platforms and other big businesses in partnership with big banks, but up to now it has not really built out payments and other services targeting those big banks as customers.
On the other hand, the challenge that Volante and companies like it are tackling is that legacy businesses might implicitly understand the benefits of modern approaches, but budget and organizational constraints, coupled with the deprioritizing that comes with the general feeling of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, have translated to only piecemeal commitments to ripping out old infrastructure and services, and replacing them with new.
Indeed, we’ve been in the middle of a funding fallow period, but it’s very notable to me that a number of the contenders I named above have. not raised any money in more than a year, and in some cases two years.
A recent report by Accenture found that while some 86% of businesses have followed some modernization plans in part, it noted that only about 8% of companies could be classified as “reinventors” — that is, “moving to adopt a strategy of Total Enterprise Reinvention” in its words. That 86% speaks to a huge range of outcomes, however. Some projects are implemented and successful, but some projects are extremely small and yet more are introduced but abandoned. That is not an encouraging picture for further digital transformation investing.
The positive picture for Volante is that it’s building and being used by a number of big businesses already, and its focus is right-sized with that piecemeal reality: rather than taking or expecting a large platform approach, it provides individual services and functionality.
“With financial institutions increasingly prioritizing both investment in payments modernization and partnerships with fintech companies, this is an ideal time to expand Volante’s reach,” said Nari Ansari, MD at Sixth Street Growth, in a statement. “We are investing in Volante because we are confident they have a clear advantage over legacy providers and challengers and are best positioned to capitalize on the growth opportunity and further outpace their competitors.”