Fiserv Ratchets Up R&D Spend, CEO Says

  • Philip Ryan
  • March 8, 2017
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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Fiserv has increased its research-and-development spending to 7% of revenue this year, up from 5% last year, CEO Jeff Yabuki said at the Bank Innovation 2017 conference here on Monday.

In 2016, Fiserv recorded $5.5 billion in revenue — which means somewhere around $385 million flowing into tech. The company expects that number to increase.

Yabuki discussed the new strategy and the state of fintech during a fireside chat with Bank Innovation Executive Editor & Publisher JJ Hornblass.

One of the areas of focus is faster payments. While the industry as a whole still has some way to go in the speed, ease, and convenience of digital payments, Yabuki said, the majority of Fiserv’s payments innovation efforts go to expediting payments. “The fact that I can take a nap and still stop an ACH payment is telling,” he said.

Fiserv serves 135 million deposit accounts, 80 million online banking active users, and 22 million mobile active users, which puts it near parity with U.S. banking giants — Bank of America passed the 20 million threshold in mobile users last June.

Fiserv is the technology partner of INV Fintech, this site’s sister accelerator.

Yabuki also commented that America’s diversity should be reflected in the technology it builds. One difference he mentioned was the split between urban and rural customers. “The only thing growing faster than technology is customer expectations,” he said.

In terms of the fintech ecosystem, Yabuki said he believes banks will come out on top of the tech giants in the battle for the customer experience, but they will need help, and this represents a huge opportunity for startups. Acquisitions are a part of the company’s DNA, Yabuki added, and are still relevant today, as they can help increase the product set.

Yabuki has Fiserv on a path for growth. It faces an uphill battle, helping the long tail of banks in the U.S. catch up or stay reasonably abreast of customer expectations — a fact acknowledged by Yabuki.

“We want to thrive as a company, not just survive,” he said.

To a large degree, Yabuki’s 11-year reign at Fiserv has been driven by an aggressive innovation strategy. Yabuki was asked whether the company’s innovation efforts have become more prominent than its acquisition pursuits. Essentially, Yabuki hedged on that, however several conference attendees said they expect Fiserv to continue an aggressive acquisition strategy. “It’s what got them here,” one attendee said.

 

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at pryan@royalmedia.com.

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