The banking system has long been hard for innovators to access. This is about to change!
Something amazing is happening in financial services: It’s disappearing.
Of course, the financial services sector itself isn’t disappearing. It has rarely been stronger, but the processes are becoming so integrated and seamless that, from an end-user perspective, they’re seeming to fade into the horizon. Thanks to the widespread availability of payment APIs, you can now pay for an Uber or even your check at some restaurants without ever reaching for your wallet. Similarly, Yodlee, and more recently and even more easily Plaid, have made banking data easy to access. This ease of access has spawned almost a thousand new companies, including Mint, Personal Capital, and others, which are creating innovative new consumer experiences that would not have been possible without seamless access to banking data. As one of the Yodlee founders, I have long been passionate about developer-facing APIs that enable new generations of innovation.
Front-end user-facing applications have been able to integrate payments to create seamless consumer experiences for some time. However, traditional wholesale banking’s back-end systems have remained bogged down by inefficient legacy and manual systems that make working with banks cumbersome and painful and limit the possibility of innovation. Many of my portfolio companies were complaining about this lack of access and the challenges of making banking seamless for their consumers. Given the magnitude of the wholesale banking sector, it may seem amazing that no one has modernized it yet. The reason for the lag hasn’t been market size or opportunity; it has been the complexity. The team to solve such an intractable problem must possess both the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley and the hardcore knowledge of the really grungy aspects of banking, including regulatory constraints and audits. Such a team has been hard to find — until now.
Several of my portfolio companies told me that they were working with a new company that is making it as easy to work with traditional banking systems as Plaid made access to banking data and Stripe made payments. Of course, I was intrigued and wanted to know more; I reached out to Sankaet Pathak, SynapseFI’s founder and CEO, and was immediately impressed.
Sankaet Pathak is a visionary CEO who possesses the execution capability to back it up. He’s an ambitious, fast learner who knows more about banking than most bankers I’ve met — even though he only left graduate school a few years ago to start this company! Sankaet has reimagined traditional banking for the twenty first century, transforming it from one of the last remaining large-scale, manual, inefficient, painful systems into the modern, efficient, agile, and open SaaS-based business it should be.
So what does SynapseFI do, and why I am so excited about the company? SynapseFI enables access to almost the entire gamut of traditional wholesale banking capabilities via a simple developer-friendly API model, abstracting away all the regulatory complexity from the developer. Stripe did this for payments by taking away PCI compliance and merchant application load from their developers, and it multiplied the number of developers who could integrate payments and make them seamless. This is much, much harder to do in banking due to the many levels of regulation and compliance that need to be satisfied. Synapse is taking on that load — and taking it off the shoulders of their developers. Their banking API enables web and mobile apps to create bank accounts, transfer money, issue cards, and much more. With SynapseFI, any innovative company — from large financial services firms to nimble fintechs to non-financial startups — can incorporate core banking services into its offerings instantly and seamlessly.
SynapseFI is making banking services modern and accessible, insulating developers and customers from the pains that come from the regulatory burdens of managing these products.
SynapseFI is automating a process so complicated and cumbersome, but also so critical to so many aspects of life, that I expect them to unleash a new wave of innovation — not just in fintech but also in areas never previously considered. SynapseFI was built from the ground up to enable and encourage innovations on top of it. What Stripe did for global online payments and Twilio did for voice-based communications, SynapseFI will do for banking. I can’t wait to see the waves of innovation that emerge from their efforts.
Meanwhile, the market opportunity for SynapseFI’s services is practically limitless. Wells Fargo’s wholesale banking practice, which is the dominant player in the space, has over 32,000 members and generated $7.0B in revenue ($2.1B) in income in Q1 2017. Through automation, SynapseFI is able to provide many of the same services faster, more seamlessly and more cleanly within the confines of a regulatory environment with only a small team operating at a fraction of the cost of their traditional competitors.
Unlike most companies at their early stage of growth, SynapseFI is already running a healthy business. Over 100 financial services companies are using their system, and they’ve already processed over $10 billion in transactions reaching over 1.5 million end users. Amazingly, Sankaet bootstrapped the business through most of that growth. SynapseFI is an under-the-radar masterpiece which has already achieved massive adoption — and like all true masterpieces, they did not take any shortcuts. SynapseFI built its infrastructure layer for the banking sector from the ground up, leveraging the latest in computer vision, AI, and behavioral science.
We are excited to be a part of SynapseFI’s transformation of banking as a lead of their $17M Series A, along with Core Innovation Capital. To learn more about the great work being done by Sankaet and team, check out the TechCrunch article covering this announcement, read the press release, and see Sankaet’s blog post for further details.
Welcome to the Trinity family, Sankaet and team!