Magazine article American Banker

Tech Scene: Yodlee's Deal Raises Stakes for Little Guys

Magazine article American Banker

Tech Scene: Yodlee's Deal Raises Stakes for Little Guys

Article excerpt

A year ago few people had heard of Yodlee Inc. or VerticalOne Corp., or of what they do, which is online account aggregation.

Today the technology is so popular and the number of vendors offering it so limited that the proposed merger of these two firms has sparked strong reactions.

On Monday, uMonitor Inc. of Germantown, Tenn., a smaller competitor, denounced the deal on antitrust grounds.

It would "be detrimental to the industry at this early stage," said Dinesh Sheth, president, founder, and chief executive officer of uMonitor. "People are still evolving, and there are still a lot of innovations to be done, and this can stifle competition."

Some people say these claims are inflated, but Mr. Sheth may have a point. Yodlee, of Redwood Shores, Calif., seems already to have gathered up many of the prime customers for account aggregation, including America Online and Citigroup Inc. VerticalOne, a subsidiary of the Internet banking pioneer S1 Corp. of Atlanta, serves Wells Fargo & Co. and Yahoo Inc., among others.

S1 Corp. chairman James S. "Chip" Mahan 3d said the combined company, to be called Yodlee, would be "an unprecedented force in the industry."

Yodlee is already introducing its next generation of services. On Monday it announced new partnerships with several technology firms. A deal with National Interbank will help Yodlee consumers transfer funds. A pact with CheckFree Holdings Corp. will help customers pay bills electronically. And an arrangement with FinanCenter.com will help them analyze their financial holdings.

But not everyone is as frightened as uMonitor. Ettache.com, a Mountain View, Calif., aggregation company, has adopted a can-do attitude.

"If there is a larger player in any industry, it may slow technology, but it makes the standards even higher for us to prove our efficacy, and we are working even harder," said Rajiv Saxena, co-founder, president, and CEO of Ettache. …

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