Why real time payments can solve your payments woes

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What is Bottomline’s Real Time Payments Service? And what is the purpose behind it? 

Bottomline offers direct and indirect access for authorised organisations, like banks and Payment Service Providers, to use the UK’s Faster Payments system. 

This is a 24/7, 365 day service that provides the capability for an organisation to make real-time payments, up to a value of £250,000, in a single transaction. The continued digitalisation of the world over the last decade has accelerated the need for a quicker, better payment infrastructure to keep up with the pace of commerce around the world. 

Payments have often lagged behind the legacy infrastructure which almost be considered analogue, in a world that is increasingly on line and instant. For example, the recent investments in the US version of real time payments via The Clearing House, was the first major upgrade of the payment infrastructure for over 40 years in the USA. 

Bottomline’s instant payment services enables banks and businesses to plug into the real time payment systems to participate and compete effectively. 

As a SAAS offering, our clients can pay by subscription to remove the capital expense up front for these types of complex projects and literally pay for their usage as they operate. They no longer need to worry about planning the overhead of capacity, compute power and ongoing compliance patches as everything is taken care of by the outsourcing partner. 

Recently, Bottomline added The Access Bank UK Limited to the Faster Payments Scheme (FPS). What is the benefit of being part of this scheme to banks? 

Historically, banks that were not primary members of the Faster Payment Scheme would have to depend on a more senior sponsoring bank to grant them access into Faster Payments. 

The service levels offered were not particularly competitive and prone to many downtime schedules that the primary bank would plan and be aware of. 

The Access Bank is one of many banks/customers to become a direct participant to the Faster Payment Scheme through Bottomline’s Universal Aggregator plug-in solution. It gives them full control over their payments operations and a better service level, independent of a sponsoring bank. 

One of our customers used to suffer from over 50 hours of downtime in a single month through planned and unplanned outages via their sponsoring bank – this was reduced to just 36 seconds once they were live and running. 

The reduction in incoming calls to the call centre was so significant that it received a round of applause on the floor at the end of the month. Most importantly it allowed the bank to reduce its operational costs, raise morale and focus its servicing on a better overall customer experience. 

How does being in the Faster Payments Scheme differentiate businesses from the competition?

The payments industry is going through a digital revolution with the advent of mobile devices, improved connectivity and consumer expectation for real time services. 

Competitive operations in 2019 require banks to be able to offer a full 24/7, 365 day service for payments. Anything less risks the flight of customers to a digital alternative, where banking can be done while on the move, with just a few clicks and a thumbprint to authenticate themselves. 

Some of the new fintech start-ups have no legacy technology and can build digitally native solutions that are linked only to the faster payment services. 

Some of the best known players, like Transferwise for example, can send money overseas to pay a regular mortgage on a holiday home in Europe in just a few clicks of the phone. The payment itself is painless and virtually invisible, as it arrives within a few seconds in the overseas bank account. In the traditional systems, the older technology could not track exactly where the international payment was over a number of days - this cost more money and created uncertainty on when the payment would actually arrive. 

With faster payments you are given that certainty and clear sight of when and how much has arrived in the receiving account. 

What is the benefit to banks of working with third parties, such as Bottomline Technologies, to become part of the Faster Payments Scheme? Why can’t they do this by themselves?

Payments have become a specialist field in many banks, where resource is constrained and priorities on projects can conflict. 

Bottomline offers an easy-to-connect solution to allow secure direct and indirect access to a variety of global solutions: from Faster Payments and CHAPS to Bacs and even cheque fulfilment. 

The risks and cost of ongoing compliance is transferred to the third party, who typically will have a focused investment plan into future roadmap items that a bank can sometimes struggle to secure in house. This means every year there is a rolling programme of new value-add services that can be offered by banks to its customers to turn the utility of a payment service into a revenue generating experience. 

For example, this may include a new fraud alerting service from Bottomline’s embedded machine learning technology that spots unusual transactions or the use of predictive technology to help personalise the next action on the typical workflow of an accountants payment activities in the office. 

Ed Adshead- Grant is general manager, Bottomline Technologies