New leader, new mission for the banking-as-a-service branch of SoFi
When online lender SoFi announced its acquisition of Galileo Financial Technologies, a banking-as-a-service provider, for $ 1.2 billion just over a year ago, it seemed like an unusual match.
Galileo provides banking technology to the elite of challenger banks – and to SoFi’s competitors – including Chime, Varo, Dave, MoneyLion, Current, Revolut, Aspiration and TomoCredit. All of them remained Galileo customers.
Last week, SoFi hired former banker and Google executive Derek White to be the CEO of Galileo and plan for its future. Galileo founder and former CEO Clay Wilkes will become unit vice president and join SoFi’s board of directors.
In an interview, White shared some of his and SoFi’s plans for Galileo, including international expansion. and offer integrated banking services to businesses outside the financial services sector.
White has been in digital banking since 1996. Until recently, he was vice president of global financial services at Google Cloud. Prior to that, he was digital director for US Bancorp in Minneapolis. He was Global Head of Client Solutions at Madrid-based BBVA and Group Director of Digital and Design at Barclays in London. He was also involved in the 1996 launch of Wingspan, one of the first Internet banks, while he was at First USA.
We first met when you were running the Barclays Rise-Techstars fintech accelerator in New York. Since then, you have changed jobs several times.
DEREK WHITE: After Barclays, I went to BBVA for three years and managed a $ 25 billion revenue line. Then life called and we moved to the United States after 20 years away from my home state of Utah. Then I helped Andy Cecere at US Bank. Then I went to Google and now the work of a lifetime has shown up in my home state of Utah.
As I watch it now, I was very, very lucky to be in the early days of the Internet and financial services. We built one of the first Internet banks. Then I was very active in building one of the UK’s first mobile money services and a leading mobile banking app. The next wave is open banking, hence the switch to Galileo and the opportunity to leverage a 20-year history of innovation at Galileo created by Clay Wilkes. Anthony Noto of SoFi acquired Galileo as an opportunity to continue to serve and help evolve emerging fintechs, and it’s about open banking, bank as a service, integrated finance, invisible payments – what however you want to refer to it.
What does open banking mean to you? I’ve heard people say recently that they see open banking as simply the ability to siphon information from bank accounts into fintech apps. To me, open banking means a lot more than that.
Open banking is about recognizing how people interact with technology and money. Basically, it’s recognizing that human behavior has changed and that humans’ interactions with money and technology have changed. The top 50 reasons a human would enter a branch have changed. All of this is now available on a mobile device. So the customer expectation is that you can do it all on one device, and at Galileo, and through open banking, we make it possible for people to get the information they want when they want it, where they need it. want, in their mobile device or anywhere. it could be, whether on a screen or increasingly voice-activated.
Open banking is not just about banks. if you look at how the cloud and [application programming interface] technologies change the experience under the glass of what the customer does not see, they enable the exchange of information in real-time formats, not only in the banking sector, but also in other sectors. And now every industry, especially in the digital world, is interested in the movement of money. And this is where the industry meets banking through the movement of money, whether it’s buying online, buying online, entertainment, and payment subscription services. And that’s what we do. We enable the movement of money through APIs and associated data.
Some of Galileo’s fintech customers are competitors of SoFi. How do you keep them comfortable with SoFi ownership?
Clay Wilkes, Founder and CEO of Galileo, and Anthony Noto, CEO of SoFi, have been very active in discussions with all the key clients, and the only thing you see with neobanks and fintechs is that he this is the best technology. Galileo is the technology market leader. It’s about making sure they have the technologies that enable the business model they want to deliver and the end-user experience. Our job is to make sure they continue to have what they need to grow their businesses.
Galileo suffered an outage in 2019 that disrupted some of these fintechs, including Chime and Varo. Can you comment on this and all that Galileo has done to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
Galileo is very actively migrating to the cloud and evolving its technological capabilities to ensure that we have the robust infrastructure and capabilities to deliver to customers in real time.
When you combine SoFi, an online lender and digital bank, with Galileo, a fintech banking and payments provider, what do you get?
First of all, I would say SoFi is much more than a lender. It offers the most robust product offering of any digital bank. I was involved in fintech before fintech was fintech. We built the world’s first internet bank, Wingspan. With any new business, you start with a very narrow product offering. SoFi found a great niche with loans, and then they significantly expanded that product offering.
As SoFi develops new products and services, it may offer the underlying technology to others in the ecosystem, whether they are financial institutions or not, as the bank as a service and open banking go well beyond financial services alone. And I would suggest that pairing this technology as an open and open-ecosystem service platform with the front-end user experience of financial products offered through SoFi creates an amazing ecosystem and platform, not only products, but an ecosystem that is the future of financial services. And that’s why I joined.
Do you see SoFi becoming more of a technology company and less of a provider of financial services to consumers?
They are one and the same to me. It’s the way you provide financial services the way people want financial services. I have watched how humans interact with technology and money for such a long time. At first when the internet app came out, people thought no one would ever apply on the internet. And then you’ve moved on to mobile banking and you’re just looking at how behavior has changed during COVID, and it all depends on how the technology enables better end-user experiences.
Is there anything you bring from your experience at Google, BBVA, or US Bank that you think you can implement here?
When I was in other organizations, including a large cloud provider, I spoke with CEOs and Boards of Banks around the world. Everyone is looking to reinvent themselves, to rebuild themselves, including their basic banking systems to create APIs that allow their businesses. And so one of the things I bring to a brilliant tech company at Galileo is an understanding of the financial services landscape, the ability to scale the product and expand the product offering, as well as scale in geographic areas. I have had the privilege of working in all major regions of the world.
There is a huge opportunity which is open banking. Globally, the trends and changes towards open banking are similar to the impact of the Internet and mobile banking. Open banking is going to drive this, and Galileo has been the market leader in this area for 20 years and is still the best kept secret. We now have the opportunity to expand this not only to the United States and not just with neobanks, but to expand it to other verticals, products and geographies.
Can you tell where you develop first?
I can say that we are already present in Mexico and Latin America.