In a recent announcement through businesswire we see that U.S. Bank has agreed to acquire Bento Technologies, aka Bento for Business, the 2014 startup based in San Francisco that specializes in payments technology to improve cash flow for SMBs. There has been a great deal of emphasis on the SMB space, particularly in the pandemic timeframe as many smaller businesses have failed and ongoing cash flow concerns are a top priority. Digital financial processes are not usually associated the SMB space, and a number of vendors have developed solutions to address the traditional gap in bank products and services in that space. So as we pointed out to members in the CEP Outlook for 2021, collaboration between banks and fintechs is one way to address the product and distribution advantages that each have. One way of doing this of course is through acquisition.
‘The acquisition is part of the vision at U.S. Bank to bring payments and banking services together to simplify cash flow and money management for small businesses. Bento’s accounts payable-based software complements the bank’s existing Elavon and talech accounts receivable software solutions, providing U.S. Bank clients a holistic one-stop experience for both their accounts payable and accounts receivable needs….“Business owners work hard every day to turn their passion into a business. Our goal is to make money management easier for them so they can spend less time on administrative tasks, and more time on doing what they love – serving their customers,” said Tim Welsh, vice chair of Consumer and Business Banking at U.S. Bank. “This is why Bento Technologies is a great fit for U.S. Bank.”
Bento has strong spend management capabilities, facilitated through virtual card technology, mobile integration and associated analytics. Knowing where the money is across financial operations is a key to understanding and managing business cash needs, so this looks like a good fit all around.
“Our focus is to provide customers with digital capabilities they need to manage their finances from anywhere, while also retaining the visibility and control that are important to managing cash flow efficiently,” said Shailesh Kotwal, vice chair of Payment Services at U.S. Bank. “Pair that with the banking products and the global footprint of U.S. Bank, and it’s clear to see a great opportunity for our customers.”…The expense management tools from Bento Technologies will blend well with the other services U.S. Bank offers businesses, from credit, deposit and card accounts, to modern and secure payment acceptance and digital money movement….”Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Farhan Ahmad, founder of Bento Technologies. “In 2014, Bento pioneered the concept of smart corporate cards and automated spend management for small businesses. I’m proud to say that we have saved our customers millions of dollars since then. We are now very excited to join U.S. Bank in order to accelerate our vision of creating a one-stop financial operating platform to help small businesses that serve communities across the country.”
Overview by Steve Murphy, Director, Commercial and Enterprise Payments Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group