Bank of America Corp., once again putting its capital behind a company whose technology it uses, said Tuesday that it is the lead investor in a fourth round of equity funding for Yodlee Inc. and that the aggregation company is developing a Web site for B of A to be launched next quarter.
Bank of America also said it had acquired an undisclosed equity stake in the privately held company.
The investment was spearheaded by the Charlotte, N.C., company's strategic alliance and investments unit. A Yodlee spokesman said the total amount raised was in the neighborhood of the $16 million it raised in its second round of funding, in 1999, but neither he nor Bank of America would say what B of A contributed in the latest round.
In its third round of funding, in June 2000, the Redwood City, Calif., company raised $54 million from investors including Chase Manhattan Bank, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co., and E-Trade Group Inc.
Daniel Friel, a senior vice president with the unit, said in an interview Tuesday, "We think there is going to be a lot of value created not only through our investment in Yodlee itself, but also because we will be a fairly large provider of their services to our own client base."
He added that Bank of America wants "to be able to share in the upside that we help create, but we are not in it purely for financial return. It's also about the alliance relationship creating the ability to use the technology inside the bank."
Bank of America has made similar investments before in companies including CheckFree Corp., whose bill payment and presentment services it uses.
John Rosenfeld, a senior vice president and consumer e-commerce executive at Bank of America, said of the equity stake: "When you partner with a vendor, it's a lot different when you just buy products. You get a higher level of commitment from the organization. They're going to work much more diligently to make sure they meet the customer's requirements."
Bank of America customers who use the aggregation site will be able to pull together information from banking, brokerage, mortgage, credit card balances, and other accounts at no charge.
"We did not take an off-the-shelf product," Mr. Rosenfeld said of the aggregation service. "We are working with Yodlee to deliver a customized product that has added features."
Those features will include automatic enrollment of Bank of America accounts into the aggregation service; decision-making tools; and personalized home pages with news and stock updates.
According to Celent Communications, of Cambridge, Mass., as many as 19 million Americans will be using aggregation by 2003. Many large banks, such as Chase and Citibank, already offer the service; Bank of America has more than 3.7 million online banking customers and is one of the largest providers of Internet financial services but is a relatively late entrant to aggregation among big banks.
"We wanted to take a very careful approach to this," Mr. Rosenfeld said. "We took our time to do it right rather than be first."