SAN RAFAEL -- Mobile banking and payments software developer Clairmail Inc. today announced it entered an agreement to be acquired by a London-based publicly owned provider of mobile payment networks for $173 million.

The deal with Monitise plc (London Stock Exchange: MONI.L), pending shareholder and regulatory approvals, would create a combined company with 13 million registered consumers across four continents and more than 600 employees, according to 8-year-old Clairmail, which has 240 employees. Together, they process billions of transactions a year and more than $10 billion of payments and transfers on a current weekly annualized basis. A third of the top 50 North American financial institutions -- including eight of the top 13 -- have chosen the companies' services alongside hundreds of smaller and medium sized financial institutions customers.

[caption id="attachment_11961" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="Pete Daffern"][/caption]

Clairmail Chief Executive Officer Pete Daffern will remain in his role as head of the Clairmail business and will join the Group Executive Board of Monitise, bringing his substantial experience and expertise to bear across the Group growth strategy.

"Clairmail is an undisputed mobile banking leader with a strong roster of financial institutions of all sizes, having been chosen by more than a third of the top 50 North American banks to provide innovative mobile solutions to their customers," said Alastair Lukies, Monitise Group chief executive.

The acquisition would expand Monitise's reach into North America mobile payments and banking through Clairmail's direct-sales channel and relationships with leading financial institutions.

For Clairmail, the acquisition brings the potential to expand the company's award-winning mobile banking technology to new customers across new markets, according to the company. The acquisition provides a step change in growth potential for Monitise through direct sales in the U.S. driven by Clairmail's mobile banking team and expertise. This, combined with Monitise's existing and unmatched strategic partnerships with Visa Inc. and FIS, provides the enlarged group with a leading position in the US and three significant routes to market.

Started in 2004, Clairmail (415-526-7000, www.clairmail.com) has attracted $34.1 million in funding, most recently with $13.8 million in October 2010.

The company expanded from Novato to San Rafael two years ago. Clairmail opened an office in London in November to pursue opportunities further outside North America, according to a spokesman. Earlier this month, Clairmail announced a partnership with London-based international payments provider VocaLink, whose ATM switching platform connects more than 60,000 machines.