A tiny group of core banking software vendors has cornered the U.S. market — FIS, Fiserv, Jack Henry, and D+H (through its recent acquisition of Harland). Together they own about 96 percent market share. Other players — some small, some niche and some based in other countries — exist, but each holds just a small sliver of that remaining 4 percent.

Core banking software is the heart of any bank. It's the behind-the-scenes engine that processes all deposits, payments, loans, most bank transactions and customer data. Some banks still use core software purchased 30 or more years ago, and have layered on top of it "ancillary" products such as online banking and mobile banking software, creating a complex IT environment that is hard to manage and upgrade to launch new products and comply with emerging regulations. This means there are many U.S. banks in sore need of a refresh. The U.S. core banking market is worth about $2.9 billion this year, according to Celent. The analyst firm expects that revenue to grow 3.7 percent per year, reaching $3.3 billion in 2017.

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