Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria has agreed to pay $117 million for the online banking startup Simple.

Simple will have some autonomy and remain an independent brand, the companies said in a press release Thursday. Simple's co-founders, Chief Executive Joshua Reich and Chief Financial Officer Shamir Karkal, will continue to oversee the Portland, Ore., firm's 92 employees.

The purchase will be conducted through the $820 billion-asset BBVA's U.S. division, BBVA Compass Bancshares. The companies said that the deal will help Simple expand into international markets.

"Simple's customer experience is unmatched in the digital banking world," BBVA Chairman and CEO Francisco Gonzalez said in the release. "Simple will reinforce our global digital transformation while BBVA will provide the means to help Simple maximize its outstanding growth potential."

Simple was founded in 2009 and launched commercially in July 2012. The company has more than 100,000 customers in the United States.

"Joining with BBVA gives Simple the resources, autonomy, and global footprint we need to see our vision writ large," Simple CEO Joshua Reich said in a separate press release. "This means that the things our customers love about Simple will remain unchanged. We will continue to embrace our philosophy, our business model, and the way we treat customers. BBVA believes in our vision and the course we have set to transform the industry."

Earlier this month, Reich and Shamir Karkal took to Twitter to hash out, in an atypical public conversation with tech investors, the pros and cons of Simple's various options. The discussion began when Reich jumped into another conversation that tech investors were having about banking in a post-branch world.

The discussion included chatter on whether it made more sense for Simple to buy a bank charter or look at running a money servicing business.