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Mobile bankers latest to move to Petaluma

A Larkspur-based software developer, which is part of one of the largest financial-services companies and powering the mobile-banking services of nearly 2,000 institutions, plans to move its base of operations to Petaluma this fall.

FIS Mobile (fismobile.com) leased nearly 5,000 square feet in the ground floor of the Theatre District Office Building near the city’s downtown, enough space for 50 employees. The initial complement will be a mix of existing employees from the Larkspur office and new hires in these departments: Mobile Engineering, Data and Analytics, Client Services, Support and Operations, and Design.

Jacksonville, Fla.-based FIS Global, had acquired Marin County startup mFoundry two years ago then renamed it FIS Mobile. Earlier this year, FIS Mobile opened a “digital innovation lab” in San Francisco, expanding a small presence in the city the growing company established several years prior.

The arrival of dozens of technical jobs to Petaluma is a sign of a “surging economy and job market” in Sonoma County, said Scott Stranzl, vice president of leasing for Reno, Nev.-based Basin Street Properties, which redeveloped the property.

“And similar to Vendini early this month, it follows the trend of Bay Area companies looking north to Petaluma for its attractive employee base, lower rents, and more affordable cost of living,” Stranzl said.

That San Francisco-based online ticketing vendor for live events opened an office for 70 employees in a nearby Petaluma office building in July. Vendini brought workers from headquarters and consolidated the office of In Ticketing, a Sebastopol company acquired a year ago.

FIS Global, previously called Fidelity National Information Services, had a stake in mFoundry before acquiring remaining the 78 percent ownership for $120 million in January 2013. Drew Sievers and Rodney Aiglstorfer co-founded mFoundry in Sausalito in 2004. Initial investors were Apax Partners, Ignition Partners and GRP Partners, expanding to Motorola, PayPal, National Cash Register and Bank of America.

Today, more than 32 million consumers use FIS Mobile-powered moble banking apps for 1,600-plus institutions such as Bank of America, Key Bank, PNC Bank, People’s United Bank and BMO Harris.

Use of mobile banking has been growing in recent years, although there remains skepticism about its usefulness and security in certain segments of the public, according to a Federal Reserve report in May. Thirty-nine percent of mobile phone users and 52 percent of those with Internet-enabled phones (“smartphones”) banked on the go in the past 12 months, based on a 2014 survey. Eighty-seven percent of respondents have mobile phones, and 71 percent of those are smartphones, up from 61 percent in a 2013 survey.

Checking balances and using bill-payment systems were the top banking tasks on phones, but users tended to go to their financial institutions’ websites more often than mobile apps, the Fed’s survey found.

FIS Mobile is the second Marin-started mobile banking tech maker to go big. Started in San Rafael in 2004, Clairmail grew to 200-plus employees before being acquired by London-based Montise in early 2012. Another Marin fintech to go global before that, and ultimately outgrow the county, was Fair, Isaac & Co., best-known for the FICO credit score.

FIS Global is a large financial technology (“fintech”) provider, with more than 42,000 employees and part of the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

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