CEO: Jouk Pleiter

FIRM: Backbase

INNOVATION: Customer experience portals that promise next generation internet banking

The business rationale behind BackBase's burgeoning success in financial services is the same old saw: banks' online presence isn't customer centric, doesn't connect all the silos, and the technology and services available haven't kept up with the rest of the Internet, or with what customers expect.

BackBase's solution? Widgetization. "Our core value proposition is a customer experience portal," says Backbase CEO Jouk Pleiter. "What we do transforms existing data into widgets, or mini applications, similar to the app store on iPhone."

Backbase's portal is a presentation layer tool-already optimized for the iPad-that consumes Web services presented by banks' existing applications. Available widgets give banks a retailer-like presence online, bringing things like co-browsing, chat, customer ratings and other user-generated content to the online banking portal. Also available are next generation PFM tools, including ones that allow users to tag expenses for budgeting purposes. Banks can select which widgets they make available to which group of customers and consumers can decide which of these they'd like available on their personal start pages.

Backbase's U.S. FI customers include Vanguard and Visa, and the company says it expects two-to-four retail banks to be live by the end of the year. International customers include ABN Amro and ING.

Analysts are in love with Backbases's offering, for a couple of reasons. First is the fact that the product gives banks the ability to segment customers and deliver highly targeted messaging behind the online banking login. Though he wouldn't give specific results, Pleiter says the cross-sell and upsell rates using these tools behind the login have been "astonishing." Second, the focus on the customer experience and rich user interface makes it a "Facebook like payment experience," tweets Jim Breune of Netbanker.

"The whole idea of being able to create little widgets that are customizable on a front-end dashboard for a customer is extremely important," says Celent analyst Jacob Jegher.

Another interesting offshoot is that widgets used online could be ported other places, like Facebook or as an iPhone app.

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