Monitise announced today that it acquired Clairmail,  in the United States in a deal that values Clairmail at $173 million. Mobile banking is a large growth market in both the US and Canada with recent Forrester data showing that 17% of US online adults are now mobile bankers. So why does this move make sense?  Forrester believes that acquisitions like this are inevitable because:

  • The future of mobile banking is payments.The first wave of mobile banking was getting the basics down including basic functionality like balances, transactions, and location services as well as mobile endpoints like mobile web, apps and SMS. The second wave which has already begun is focused almost exclusively on payments and money movement. Person-to-person and interbank transfers are just the beginning.
  • Clairmail had stiff competition.Clairmail grew from SMS banking solution into a full-blown mobile banking offering. At the same time, the competition grew ever more tough. Case in point. Fiserv made two huge acquisitions last year in buying mComm and CashEdge. Fiserv’s new mobile offering, which will roll out this summer, has payments at the heart. Now, through the Monitise’s acquisition of Clairmail, they maintain competitive footing in the US not just through the acquisition of Clairmail, but through their joint venture with FIS, Monitise Americas.   Those who wish to compete in the mobile banking space ongoing must be as complete.
  • The mobile wallet is on the horizon.Stage three of the mobile banking and payments act is the mobile wallet. Mobile banking expertise will give way to the need for extensive mobile payments expertise including understanding of merchants, payment networks and the payment processes. Monitise provides that expertise and puts Clairmail’s offering in a better position to compete with solutions already announced like FIS/Paydiant as well as those likely to come from Fiserv and mFoundry.

The acquisition of Clairmail by Monitise is a clear indication of the future of mobile banking, and it is a natural and important evolution to full blown mobile payments within mobile banking. The Clairmail acquisition should be an indication to mobile channel managers that even more robust payment and international offerings are now possible and required for a robust mobile offering. A key challenge for Montise and ClairMail will be their ability to deliver new features while doing the work of merging.

Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts on this important announcement.

Brad Strothkamp & Tiffani Montez