When the online lender SoFi announced its acquisition of Galileo Financial Technologies, a banking-as-a-service provider, for $1.2 billion a little over a year ago, it seemed an unusual match.
Galileo provides bank technology to a who’s who of challenger banks — and SoFi’s rivals — including Chime, Varo, Dave, MoneyLion, Current, Revolut, Aspiration and TomoCredit. All have stayed on as Galileo customers.
Last week, SoFi hired former banker and Google executive Derek White to be CEO of Galileo and plot its future. Galileo’s founder and former CEO, Clay Wilkes, will become vice chair of the unit and join SoFi’s board.
In an interview, White shared some of his and SoFi’s plans for Galileo, including an international expansion and offering embedded banking to companies outside the financial services industry.
White has been in digital banking since 1996. He was most recently vice president of global financial services at Google Cloud. Before that he was chief digital officer of U.S. Bancorp in Minneapolis. He was global head of client solutions of Madrid-based BBVA, and group-wide chief digital and design officer at Barclays in London. He also had a hand in the 1996 launch of Wingspan, one of the first internet banks, while he was at First USA.
We first met when you were running the Barclays Rise-Techstars fintech accelerator in New York City. You’ve changed jobs a few times since then.
DEREK WHITE: After Barclays, I went to BBVA for three years and ran a $25 billion revenue line. Then life called and we moved home to the States after 20 years away from my home state of Utah. Then I helped Andy Ceceri at U.S. Bank. Then I went to Google and now the job of a lifetime has come up in my home state of Utah.
As I look at it now, I was very, very fortunate to be in the early days of the internet and financial services. We built one of the first internet banks. Then I was very active in the creation of one of the first mobile money services in the United Kingdom and a leading mobile banking application. The next wave is open banking, hence the move to Galileo and the opportunity to leverage a 20-year history of innovation at Galileo that Clay Wilkes created. Anthony Noto at SoFi acquired Galileo as an opportunity to continue to serve and to help scale emerging fintechs, and it’s all about open banking, banking-as-a-service, embedded finance, invisible payments — however you want to refer to it.
What does open banking mean to you? I’ve heard people say recently they think of open banking as simply the ability to siphon information from bank accounts into fintech apps. To me, open banking means much more than that.
Open banking is about recognizing how people interact with technology and money. At the very foundation of it, it’s recognizing that human behavior has changed and humans’ interactions with money and technology have changed. The top 50 reasons why a human would walk into a branch have changed. All of that is now available on a mobile device. So the customer expectation is that you can do all of that on a device, and at Galileo, and through open banking, we enable people to get the information they want when they want it, where they want it, in their mobile device or wherever that might be, whether it’s on a screen or increasingly voice-enabled.
Open banking isn’t just about banks. if you look how cloud and [application programming interface] technologies are changing the below-the-glass experience of what the customer doesn’t see, it enables the exchange of information in real-time formats, across not just banking, but also into other industries. And every industry now, especially in the digital world, is looking at the movement of money. And that’s…