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Kony’s Acquisition of Pivotus is a Giant Leap for Digital Banking

You know that moment in a superhero movie when the team is finally assembled, secret weapon in hand, ready to save the day? We’re having one of those. In what’s being called a “first of its kind transaction”, Kony has acquired Pivotus, the tech innovation subsidiary of Umpqua Bank. With this acquisition, Kony has gained a powerful new tool in our mission to provide our banking clients with the richest, most engaging digital experiences on the planet. By marrying Pivotus’ innovative, personalized solutions to Kony’s DBX portfolio, we’re preparing to usher in a new era in which banks can finally offer their customers the best of both worlds: a fully customizable digital platform with that all-important human touch.

Pivotus’ Story

Pivotus was founded in 2015 as the innovation lab of Umpqua Holdings Corporation, the parent company of Umpqua Bank, one of the Northwest’s most customer-focused financial institutions. Pivotus was tasked with creatively bringing Umpqua’s customer service into its digital operations; providing customers with the digital experience they demand, with the personal touch that is Umpqua’s hallmark.

The result was Engage, a chat-based application that connects customers with (real, live, human) bankers. Engage lets customers peruse a list of available banking associates, along with their interests and areas of expertise, and choose the best personal fit for their banking needs. From there, customers and bankers establish an ongoing relationship, so when a customer has a question about a transaction or wants advice about opening a new account, they’re not interacting with a faceless chatbot or nightmarish 800 number: they’re talking to Steve (Or Sharon, or whomever).

Kony has acquired Pivotus from Umpqua, but we will continue to collaborate with Umpqua Bank. By adding Engage to Kony’s DBX portfolio, we’re better positioned than ever to give banks and credit unions cutting-edge digital experiences without sacrificing their unique identities.

We can all agree that the digital banking revolution has delivered incredible efficiencies for banks and convenience for customers, but it has come at a cost. In recent years, customers have been lured away from their local and regional banks by fintech companies and the big three banks, largely because of the irresistible convenience of their mobile apps and instant transfers. Banks who tried to keep up have often been forced to buy expensive, generic packages that kept them from playing to their strengths.

Kony takes a different approach: putting small and mid-sized financial institutions back in the game by delivering customizable apps on an API (application programming interface) platform without sacrificing what makes these institutions so appealing to consumers: personal attention, financial expertise and local presence. Our customers want to be able to compete with Venmo, they don’t want to become Venmo. Rilla Delorier, Umpqua’s EVP and chief strategy officer put it nicely when she said that “Customers don’t need help that often, but when they do, they want a human”.  Engage helps to re-center human interaction in the customer’s experience.

Kony, Pivotus, and Customers: A Win, Win, Win

Engage will be available for purchase as a standalone service, but we’re truly excited about integrating it into Kony DBX for a seamless app experience. We envision a customer logging into their banking app, noticing a bounced check, and immediately being able to interface with their banker through Kony DBX Engage, who cannot only rectify the situation but recommend adding overdraft protection. That is the sort of interaction that engenders loyalty and allows bankers to do what they do best. Customers are assured a one-to-one interaction via their mobile devices, and bankers have customer data at their fingertips, empowering them to identify the best possible solutions.

Kony’s acquisition of Pivotus is unique; while it’s common for banks to acquire technology from fintech companies, it’s rare for a fintech leader to purchase assets from a bank. Yet it’s an arrangement that fits with Kony’s culture, which has always prioritized learning from our customers to better serve their needs.

Kony DBX Engage represents an exciting customer-focused approach to banking – a hybrid approach that brings the best of digital technology and the benefits of a real, live banker together to deliver a unique banking experience, and it represents a heartening corrective to the notion that technological solutions must always lead to a loss of human connection. We couldn’t be more excited to share this landmark innovation with the world.

Thomas E. Hogan is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of industry-leading digital application and platform company Kony, Inc. He has been at the forefront of innovation in the enterprise software market for more than three decades.

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