As part of its work highlighting innovators in the dynamic tech sector in Nebraska and across the Midwest, the Nebraska Governance and Technology Center is reaching out to regional tech leaders to ask them a few questions about their work, how they got started, and where they see their organization headed in the future. Today we are featuring an interview with Kurt Matis, Founder & CEO of Omaha-based FTNI, a leading provider of accounts receivable (A/R) automation software that utilizes cloud computing to enable companies to consolidate and automate processes and workflows on a single solution.
Tell us a little about FTNI and the work that you do.
FTNI is a leading provider of accounts receivable automation software serving more than 20,000 corporate users from over 1,000 customers across the U.S. and Canada. Our flagship platform, ETran, is a cloud-based integrated receivables hub that enables companies and financial institutions to consolidate and streamline historically manual, error-prone and time-consuming A/R processes and workflows on a single solution.
Our ETran platform is one of the only A/R automation solutions on the market that combines the ability to accept, process and post payments spanning any payment method (checks, ACH/EFT, credit/debit card, cash) and any payment channel (mailed-in, lockbox, in-person, called-in, online, mobile, API/SDK).
Historically, companies have had to manage an ever-growing number of systems and processes to traverse the entire order-to-cash (O2C) lifecycle. Payments must be accepted, deposited (or cleared in the case of credit/debit cards) and ultimately posted into one or multiple back-office systems for cash application purposes. ETran is helping leading companies put an end to siloed systems and processes within A/R operations to achieve new levels of efficiency and cost savings.
What led you to found FTNI?
FTNI was founded in 2007. Following the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21) of 2004, as remote deposit capture (RDC) was increasing in adoption outside of financial institutions onsite with corporates, we saw a strategic opportunity to deliver a platform that knocked down the growing number of siloed systems that businesses had to contend with in support of the electronic deposit of checks and ultimately cash application into companies’ back-office systems.
While our initial idea was to create an advanced RDC solution, we quickly saw the need for adding ACH & credit card processing on the same platform. Over time, we’ve added online and mobile payments, APIs & SDKs to allow companies to embed our payment acceptance services directly within their online interfaces and mobile apps, AutoPay capabilities and more. In recent years, at the request of our customers, we’ve expanded into invoice presentment and payment as well (EIPP/EBPP). All of these additional capabilities have helped to position FTNI as one of the only truly integrated receivables processing platforms on the market.
The growing number of systems and vendors that companies have to support as ACH and credit card adoption continue to increase results in higher costs to support ongoing training, maintenance, security and compliance, and more. Not to mention that very few of the systems that are in place to accept payments provide integration capabilities with back-office systems for cash application purposes.
FTNI was founded, and ETran created, to help companies streamline and automate A/R operations—from payment acceptance, to payment processing, and ultimately cash application into any back-office system—all from a single, Software as a Service (SaaS) platform.
What early barriers did you face?
On top of the normal challenges of launching a new company, we also had to contend with a general unawareness of creating what really was a new category of software and solutions at the time, something we coined early on as “Integrated Receivables”.
Not only that, but we were actively working to disrupt legacy systems that were predominantly installed on-premise by corporate customers. Ten years ago, there was still a general uncertainty surrounding cloud-computing, especially when it came to payments. Obviously, this has been conquered over time due to education and countless successful cloud-based solutions spanning virtually every part of business today.
Another barrier we faced was educating corporate customers that not all payment solutions had to be delivered from a bank. We’ve written extensively about this topic over the years. Banks are not technology providers, much like technology providers (such as FTNI) are not banks. Instead, there is great value in both sides developing partnerships that deliver corporate banking customers with technology solutions and financial services tailored to the modern business environment.
Operationally, as we have continued to grow, we’ve had to not only scale our systems and technology, but also our team. Today we support over 1,000 customers, processing millions of transactions monthly on our platform, and those numbers continue to accelerate each month.
What advantages or challenges does Nebraska pose for a tech firm?
Omaha, Lincoln, and the surrounding area has a rich history of payments companies and talent including First Data, ACI Worldwide, NelNet, PayPal and several others. Even broader, Omaha has always been a technology hotbed dating back to the fiber optic pipeline that powered the boom of call center leaders locally and more recently landing data center locations for Facebook and Google.
Obviously, Midwesterners are known for our strong work ethic and loyalty. With more and more technology leaders growing their footprint in Omaha and the surrounding area, we’ve continued to attract more talent to the area. However, with more talent, comes more competition for that talent.
We are extremely proud of the team we’ve built at FTNI. My co-founders and I have actually been together 20+ years through a variety of technology businesses all based in Omaha. While I feel we have tremendous tech talent, we’ve brought in an equal amount of horsepower on our sales & marketing teams.
The average tenure of our employee base is 5+ years. I believe that is a testament to our teams buying into the significant value our solutions bring to our customers, a fun, fast-paced culture, and the ability to build a career in an environment where everyone can clearly see how their efforts positively impact the ongoing success of our company, and ultimately our customers.
The proliferation of cloud computing has definitely helped to create the opportunities for technology companies like FTNI to find success in places outside of Silicon Valley. We love being here in Omaha, NE. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be.
Where do you see FTNI heading over the next five to ten years?
FTNI is in yet another exciting period of high-growth. We feel very fortunate to have successfully navigated the challenges presented by COVID-19 pandemic. Having a cloud-based solution definitely helped position us to continue growing over the past two years as the lockdowns and remote work environments intensified many businesses' need for SaaS A/R solutions and offerings such as online payment portals and mobile payment solutions in order to keep business moving forward.
We continue to grow our teams across the organization–we are actively hiring right now for positions spanning Sales, Support and Development–largely driven by record revenue and customer acquisition growth in 2020 and 2021.
Over the years we’ve not only expanded to have clients operating in all of the contiguous 48 states, but we’ve also expanded into Canada. We’ve also explored processing European transactions as our clients have expanded. With many companies having more of a global footprint, we’re happy to continue expanding our capabilities as their requirements dictate.
We believe that accounts receivable automation and integrated receivables software adoption is still very early on in its adoption–but accelerating at a significant rate. We are seeing exciting growth when it comes to increased adoption of online and mobile payment solutions across multiple industries including distribution, insurance, field services, real estate and more. In fact, since the start of 2020, over 60% of our new customer implementations have included one or more electronic payment solution(s) of some sort (e.g., online, mobile, API, AutoPay, etc.).
Another exciting development over the past two years has been the adoption of payment acceptance APIs. Our API solutions enable companies to embed our secure and compliant payment acceptance capabilities directly within their own webpages, interfaces and/or mobile apps. This provides their customers with a seamless, convenient payment experience directly within the environments they’re already familiar with.
For our customers, they benefit from industry-leading payment solutions that are bank, merchant processor and back-office system agnostic–so as their business needs and relationships change over time, their A/R platform and processes don’t have to.