Mobile expertise leads e-billing firm to buy Davinci

U.S. electronic bill payment and presentment firm <a href=http://www.csgsystems.comCSG Systems has bought Toronto’s Davinci Technologies, primarily for its mobile technology.

Steve Borelli,

executive director of new products for Englewood, Colo.-based CSG, said that the Toronto office will remain largely intact. “”We’re virtually bringing on everybody from Davinci, which would include approximately 15 employees in total. We are really getting both their business talent and their development talent,”” he said.

There were two sales people let go from Davinci, since they represented an overlap with SCG staff, in the months leading up to the acquisition. The deal closed last month but was first announced on Monday.

Davinci co-founders Alan Lysne and Steve Rodin will lead the Toronto office. Lysne, who will take on the role of executive director of development for CSG, said his primary task is to make the technology he helped develop fit with CSG solutions.

It was Davinci’s m-Care product — a tool to provide billing and self-help information on mobile devices — that first attracted CSG, said Borelli. “”The Davinci folks have solved the problem of what to display on the mobile phone in order to fulfill this functionality,”” he said. “”What should be displayed on a PDA (personal digital assistant) or a BlackBerry? That was critical.””

The m-Care solution, to be re-named CSG Total Care, has the advantage of being able to handle multiple languages. “”As a Canadian company, we’ve got to be bilingual out of the gate,”” explained Lysne. “”We’ve got to be able to deal with multiple currency formats and date formats.””

Davinci also brings to the deal customers like Bell Mobility and AT&T Canada. Borelli said that CGS aims to extend that Canadian customer base and up-sell existing customers on its own e-billing tools as well as other products the company offers, like customer analytics tools.

In March of last year, CSG acquired the billing and customer care division of Lucent technologies, including its line of Kenan software. There’s a trend towards mergers in the e-billing market, said Killen & Associates Inc. analyst Michael Killen, based in Palo Alto, Calif. “”Probably what is happening is CSG has some customers, has some software — Davinci probably has (the same), so maybe it’s a natural thing right now that they have to consolidate because the market is so consolidated.””

The market is also split between independent companies like CSG selling their solutions to corporations and banks that can offer e-billing services directly to their customers.

That is likely to continue, said Borelli, but e-billing is just a slice of a bigger pie. Self help customer tools like account management and information is another opportunity. “”I think longer term, the self-care is going to be the bigger piece and we’ll look back at presentment and payment and say that was the foundation to get there.””

CSG also has offices in Cambridge, Mass., Singapore, the U.K. and Australia. Terms of the Davinci acquisition were not disclosed, but it was a cash transaction, according to Borelli.


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