Standard Treasury Is Set to Close First Clients on Road to ‘Revolutionizing’ Bank Technology

  • JJ Hornblass
  • July 12, 2013
  • 2

shutterstock_96035876Standard Treasury, the startup aiming to be the Stripe of Banking Services, is set to close its first two clients, and they are major banks, the company’s founders told Bank Innovation.

The company is also deep into negotiations with around a dozen other financial institutions.

The news is important because Standard Treasury is setting out to do nothing less than revolutionize banking technology — and it very well could do that.

On the surface, Standard Treasury offers banks a simple menu of application programming interfaces (APIs) that allow other companies to seamlessly tap into their services. But scratch the surface on that and the APIs become portals to the very essence of what it means to be a bank — and that puts Standard Treasury in the position of usurping all banking technology. At least in theory.

“This is a long vision,” said Zachary Townsend , one of the founders of Standard Treasury and a former Stripe employee.

Standard is starting with a launch point similar to Stripe’s. Stripe provided APIs for payments for startup companies. Standard is similarly providing APIs to startup companies, but this time to allow them to pipe into banking services. Townsend described this as a “wrapper” around banks which can be used by the technology companies to build interfaces into the banks, thereby making for themselves a better banking experience.

“Banks have a brick-and-mortar business,” Townsend said. “But they really should be more of a trusted data source, like Salesforce. They should have a variety of technology distributors.”

Standard Treasury plans to facilitate that by making each bank into a kind of Salesforce.

Readers of this blog know well how disdainful we find closed technology protocols, which is why Standard should be welcomed as a new IT player. To be sure, its attempt to usurp the existing banking technology paradigm is not for the fainthearted. This is not lost on the Standard Treasury founders.

“Someone has to fight the fight,” said Daniel Kimerling, the other Standard Treasury co-founder and former COO of Giftly.

Standard’s strategy is to take on this endeavor one “beautifully documented, developer-focused” API at a time. Notably, the company is pricing its software-as-a-service not by user, but with flat rates to encourage usage and align its interests with its customers (i.e. the more people use good technology, the better, rather than, the more people use good technology, the more it costs the bank).

The current menu of RESTful APIs includes:

  • ACCEPT: flat-fee ACH acceptance
  • SEND: flat-fee ACH remittance
  • EXCHANGE: foreign currency quoting and execution
  • ACCOUNT: bank and brokerage account creation and deletion
  • STATUS: account balances, inter-account transfers, and more

This would be a noteworthy list — if we were discussing anything but banking. A full slate of banking APIs no doubt much longer — much longer — but Standard’s founders say they will come. And they sound convincing.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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