The technology vendor 3i Infotech Ltd. plans to use its acquisition of the Napa, Calif., lockbox operator and bill printer Regulus Group LLC to expand its operations in North America.
The Mumbai vendor also says it can expand Regulus' operations into other markets, in Asia and elsewhere around the world.
"Regulus gives us a very strong footprint in the U.S.," Vivek Malhotra, the chief operating officer of 3i Infotech North America, said in an interview last week.
Though much of the offshoring in recent years has gone in the opposite direction — with U.S. companies moving work to India — Mr. Malhotra said expanding in the U.S. makes perfect sense. "Not everything is offshoreable."
Regulus, which serves more than 4,000 clients, has 10 lockbox centers around the country and four statement-printing facilities, providing a large base for cross-selling 3i Infotech's other software development, consulting, and information technology infrastructure services, he said. "It more than doubled our presence in North America."
The Regulus acquisition, which closed in June, was 3i Infotech's second in the past year. In the fourth quarter it bought J&B Software Inc., a developer of payment processing software.
3i Infotech paid $80 million, for Regulus, and will pay up to $20 million more if Regulus achieves certain performance goals. Regulus had revenue of $148 million in 2007.
Despite the widely discussed decline of checks, Brian Mulford, Regulus' chief product and information technology officer, said he believes prospects are strong for his company, which processed 2.5 billion payments last year.
The check volume decline attributable to the ongoing shift to electronic payments is only 2% to 3% a year, Mr. Mulford said. "In the last decade we've seen almost no attrition due to electronic presentment."
The main competition for Regulus is not electronic payments, but companies that print their own bills or process payments in-house, he said, estimating that 50% to 80% of Fortune 1,000-scale companies do at least some part of that work themselves.
Josh Wendroff, Regulus' product marketing manager, said they present his business with a big opportunity.
Between check conversion and check truncation, the rising cost of printing statements, and the growing demand for electronic presentment, "all these choices equal a great headache," he said.
Both Regulus and 3i Infotech have their roots in the financial industry. Wells Fargo & Co. spun off Regulus in 1995 as it exited the retail lockbox business. Until 1999, 3i Infotech was an internal department of ICICI Bank Ltd.
Mr. Malhotra said 72% of 3i Infotech's revenue comes from the financial services industry.
In addition to using Regulus as a beachhead in North America, 3i Infotech wants to take the Regulus T2 processing platform to other markets, he said. "Our first choice, a natural target, is India," where 3i Infotech already has relationships with nine of the nation's 14 largest financial institutions, but the plan is too preliminary to put a time line on it.
Dana Gould, an analyst at Financial Insights, a unit of International Data Group Inc., said that with the acquisitions of Regulus and J&B, 3i Infotech has become a company for bankers to watch.
"It looks like they're positioning themselves to be a major player in the payments market," Mr. Gould said.
Payment processing is likely to become a growth business for specialized outsourcers, he said. "We have so many payment alternatives now, I don't think the banking industry is doing a good job of staying on top of it."