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Company: Andera

Headquarters: Providence, R.I.

Technology: Account and loan origination software.

Why it's one to watch: Andera is forging ahead with its oFlows platform that's built for iPads to help streamline and create possibilities in the ways banks open accounts and originate loans.

What started off as a web development company founded in Charlie Kroll's Brown University dorm room has matured into an account and loan origination software business meant to help banks serve their customers in more places, more efficiently.

"We spend a lot of time thinking about [encouraging innovation]," Kroll, chief executive and founder of Andera tells BTN.

Though Andera's legacy was built around the web browser - and the company currently offers online account opening services to more than 500 financial institutions and credit unions - the Providence, R.I.-based company knew it needed to expand its offerings as new mobile technologies, including tablets, became popular with consumers years after Andera first formed.

"We had to very quickly adapt products and strategies," Kroll says.

To help do that, Andera acquired oFlows, a paperless system for account opening and lending with expertise in multi-channel origination, in late 2011. With the acquisition, Andera, among other things, has been focusing on leveraging native mobile capabilities, such as the built-in camera to send in supporting documents as well as the touchscreen that lets customers sign forms with their fingers or styluses, to reduce the input burdens of opening an account or loan.

"The real promise of mobile is its native capabilities that fundamentally change the process," Kroll says.

Kroll says the oFlows platform simplifies banks' account opening and lending processes across all channels and devices because the product is delivered through one system.

"Institutions no longer need a separate system for account opening and lending, a separate process for the web and branches, separate decisioning engines, signature pads or scanners," says Kroll.

How banks choose to use Andera's oFlows platform varies. Scott Pitts, chief product officer and former CEO of oFlows, outlined three ways. At some banks, branch employees are running the software on iPads to let them have side-by-side conversations with customers. Other banks are bringing tablets to college campuses to book business. Another company is toying with the idea of testing tablets at a local library as a way to work with those individuals who are too intimidated to come into a bank.

But beyond tablets, Pitts notes that bank customers may prefer to channel-hop to take care of a task. "You're seeing a much higher rate of multi-channel interaction," Pitts says. "Ten out of 10 banks would say the future involves a unified communication process."

Consumers, Pitts explains, are expecting to be able to start a communication in one mode with a company and finish out that conversation through another mode. "The next generation of customer interaction isn't just about moving from analog to digital," Pitts tells BTN. "It's about being able to serve customers wherever and however they want."

"Many [institutions] are trapped under a set of disparate, legacy platforms and systems," says Kroll. "Andera helps to address this issue with the oFlows platform."

Looking ahead into the coming months, Andera's product development team has been tasked with working with pilot banks to co-develop features while improving the user experience. Though specific details are under wraps for now, Kroll describes his company's pilot partners as innovative, medium-sized institutions.

Also top of mind for Kroll is growing out Andera's customer base. "Over the next 12 months, it is really [about] rolling out in a scalable way a lot of features that we have pioneered," Kroll says. "There's a major shift going on with financial technology all over as mobile technologies and mobile devices become the primary channel for many transactions in financial services."