Umpqua sells unit behind creation of its app for choosing personal bankers

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Umpqua Holdings in Portland, Ore., is selling the assets of Pivotus, its innovation subsidiary, to Kony.

The companies announced the agreement Monday. The price was not disclosed.

Pivotus is the Silicon Valley outfit that developed technology for Umpqua that lets each customer digitally choose a personal banker. The app, which was originally called BFF but later renamed GoTo to appeal to a demographic beyond millennials, lets customers view photos and profiles of Umpqua employees and choose one to be their designated banker. Customers can then communicate with their banker by phone, text chat or video chat.

After testing the app for a year, Umpqua officially rolled it out in September. Under the deal, the $26.6 billion-asset Umpqua will continue to use GoTo but will no longer own the subsidiary that created it.

Kony, a digital banking software provider, will collaborate with Umpqua to continue developing the overall platform, which is called Engage.

“Our partnership with Umpqua, combined with the talented Pivotus employees and the innovative technologies they’ve developed, is a landmark combination that will deliver high impact solutions for financial institutions around the globe,” said Thomas Hogan, Kony's chairman and CEO, said in a press release.

“Umpqua is widely recognized for their innovative approach to leveraging digital to enhance and deepen the customer experience," Hogan added. "The Pivotus team and assets will extend and accelerate Kony’s market leading portfolio for digital banking. We couldn’t be more proud or thrilled to join forces.”

Umpqua formed Pivotus in 2015 as an innovation incubator to develop, test and deliver innovative banking solutions for Umpqua and collaborating financial institutions.

Cort O’Haver, Umpqua's president and CEO, said the sale of Pivotus to Kony comes as Umpqua prepares to accelerate its “human digital banking” approach through a series of strategic partnerships.

“Umpqua’s human digital strategy and customer-obsessed culture are clear differentiators for us,” O'Haver said in the release.

“As the speed of technological change continues to accelerate, it’s important that we’re able to make the most of our strategy and size by developing a network of partnerships that can accelerate our pace of differentiation," O'Haver added. "Finding a smart home for Pivotus — with the capital, technical expertise and customer focus — is an important competitive advantage for Umpqua moving forward, and Kony is a terrific partner.”

Once Umpqua had successfully launched the Engage platform, it seemed like the right moment to find a partner that could continue building out its capabilities, said Eve Callahan, the company's executive vice president.

"With their open API approach and focus on customer experience, Kony makes a great choice," she said.

After the deal closes, Pivotus will become part of the Kony DBX business and the Pivotus Engage solution will be renamed Kony DBX Engage.

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