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BBVA acquires mobile start-up to boost digital offerings

BBVA has acquired Simple for $117 million as part of the financial institution’s focus on investing more heavily in the mobile and digital spaces.

BBVA claims to be Mexico’s largest financial institution and also has a presence in Spain, South America and the United States. The deal will help BBVA expand its presence within the U.S.

“BBVA has bought into our vision to reinvent banking with modern tools and great service and they are committed to giving us the resources we need to expand,” said Adam Erlebacher, chief operating officer at Simple, Portland, OR.

“Over time we will partner with BBVA’s U.S. banking franchise to bring new financial products to Simple customers,” he said. “We are thrilled to be working with a company that shares our vision and understands the value of continuous innovation.”

Boosting mobile innovation
Simple offers consumers a FDIC-issued account that is linked to a Visa card. Digital banking tools include mobile Web and an iPhone and Android app for consumers.

Simple claims to have a user base of 100,000 customers that use the company’s tools to balance and budget their finances. The company uses Bancorp to hold customer data.

Under the deal, BBVA will give Simple additional resources to grow its portfolio of products within the United States.

Additionally, Simple plans to make a harder push into new markets with the backing of BBVA.

Simple will continue to operate as a stand-alone company.

Additionally, the acquisition lets BBVA grow its mobile and digital innovations both in-house and through start-up acquisitions as part of its BBVA Ventures program.

Other examples of start-ups that BBVA is investing in include point-of-sale mobile payment company SumUp and Freemonee, which leverages transactional data to push out relevant retail offers for consumers.

Bank on mobile?
BBVA will also be able to expand its U.S. footprint as a result of the deal.

BBVA’s U.S. arm – BBVA Compass – has been active in the mobile space over the past few years with mobile products and marketing.

In May, the financial institution used a mobile and social sports-themed campaign with virtual bobble heads to increase credit card applications (see story).

Additionally, the bank rolled out Kindle Fire and Windows Phone apps in November 2012 (see story).

“The majority of our usage happens on mobile, and it should be obvious to all that mobile is critical to the customer experience,” Mr. Erlebacher said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York