This spotlight of a leading banking as a service provider is part of Tearsheeet's coverage of BaaS. Please see our BaaS Buyers Guide for more information.
- API Reference: BBVA's Open Platform API documentation
- Established: 2016 - Internal BBVA clients, Q4 2018 Market Launch
- Bank license: Yes
- Who we spoke with: Abhishek Gupta, Head of BBVA's Open Platform
Open Platform came out of BBVA’s acquisition of Simple, a digital-only challenger bank. As part of the transition, the bank moved Simple off its previous provider onto BBVA’s real-time digital CORE. Open Platform took the learnings from the experience of launching Simple (consumer challenger bank) and Azlo (small business challenger bank) to design and build a complete product offering which it could sell to companies outside of BBVA.
Initially targeting other challenger banks, Open Platform soon expanded to the larger banking and payments marketplaces. The combination of payments and banking has strengthened the BBVA offering.
This move into BaaS fits into BBVA’s larger US strategy. In Spain and Mexico, BBVA has a very significant footprint, enabling it to leverage an open banking strategy by opening up API-driven access to customer data. In the United States, where BBVA has a relatively smaller footprint, the larger opportunity was to focus on leveraging BBVA USA’s real-time digital CORE to enable third parties to serve their customers with banking services.
Card issuance, account origination, unified payment endpoint (where multiple forms of payments can be routed through a single service), identity verification (consumer and business).
BBVA focuses on collaboration and education, providing an open sandbox where anyone can play around with its APIs, build applications, and look through guides. Additionally, BBVA USA is a chartered bank, giving it more flexibility to design creative solutions for clients and removing the risk of disruptions in service due to changes in core bank provider.
Other financial institutions that simultaneously hold a bank license and a technology stack, such as Green Dot, are likely to be its biggest competitor. In theory, processors that own their tech stack but have a contractual relationship with a bank, such as Synapse, could be considered a competitor as well, but since Synapse doesn’t own a bank license (they work with Evolve Bank & Trust), clients are dependent on the partnership holding up.
Currently, BBVA Open Platform partners with third party technology companies and anybody looking to digitize their payments and improve customer experience. BBVA feels it is offering an end product, including bank sponsorship and services and a full technology suite to integrate banking and payments into almost any business across industries.
Definition of BaaS
“A platform which gives third parties access to white labeled banking services, which they then, in turn, offer to their customers, under their own brand.”
BBVA Open Platform launched to the general public in Q4 2018. It tested market fit during a beta in 2018 and is now looking to scale. This stage includes onboarding more clients without compromising support levels. As for products, BBVA will continue to add more payment options to its unified payments endpoint. It is also testing demand for additional card and account products.
Clients and Case Studies
Digit: Digit is a popular finance app that saves money for its users without them thinking about it. Digit’s newest feature, Digit Pay, lets customers make automatic payments toward their credit cards with money saved in Digit. Through Open Platform, Digit set up an FBO (pooled) account at BBVA USA to hold funds in its customers’ names. Digit uses ACH and Bill Pay through Open Platform’s Move Money API for the rest.
Modo: Modo tackles a perennial problem with payments: that the natural evolution of decades-old payments solutions has left us with siloed, unconnected, disjointed and proprietary systems. Modo knew that consumers were keen to combine different assets, such as cash, credit, loyalty points, gift cards and coupons, when they make in-store or digital purchases. Through Open Platform, Modo accesses a custom settlement structure operated through multiple pooled accounts housed within BBVA USA’s core. Modo uses Open Platform’s Move Money service to transfer funds into the pooled accounts in real time and transfer funds out to its external partners via ACH.