Payments become more customer centric in era of Open Banking

New regulations, technologies and market entrants are forever changing the way consumers and businesses think about payments. Traditional payment providers, particularly banks, must not only ensure they do what they have always done better than before, but also evolve in the new digital landscape. To survive and thrive, they need to leverage the opportunities while mitigating the threats they face.

Payments are becoming increasingly integrated and automated. The influence of “Uberisation” has stretched to this space, whereby goods and services are being paid for seamlessly following a purchase. Real-time, account-to-account payments are also on the rise, allowing funds to be transferred instantly both domestically and across borders. Consumers are adopting new trends at a rapid pace, embracing contactless, smartphones, wearables and integrated tools to enhance their buying experience.

Commercial payments, meanwhile, have historically been focused on key client requirements seen from the business perspective. Most companies seek solutions that provide process efficiencies, policy compliance and control of spend. However, commercial payments are now likely to catch up as they are increasingly driven by expectations from employees based on what they are experiencing as consumers.

Until a couple of years ago, little had changed in the way payment mechanisms were developed for more than two decades. Yet over the same period, both technology and customer expectations advanced drastically, shaped by internet-based services and communications.

That all changed in 2018 when the European Union’s revised Payment Services Directive came into force. Enablement of third-party access to data from banks led to the rise of Open Banking, allowing tech-driven non-banking firms to build new and exciting payments services.

One such company is EedenBull. Launched in 2018 by a group of senior banking professionals and experts in digital payments, EedenBull’s mission is to create payment services that enable its partner banks and their customers to secure long-term competitive advantages and customer satisfaction. While many fintech firms are trying to disrupt traditional banks, Eadenbull is working with them to provide the innovation and tools they require to provide more customer-centric payments solutions.

“Some payment solutions are customer centric, but many are not,” says Nicki Bisgaard, chief executive at EedenBull. “That’s why so many banks turn to us. We’re not only looking to embrace change, but also actively drive it. We think of ourselves as a different fintech as we are in equal parts finance and technology. We’re payments experts utilising technology to create truly customer-centric solutions. We challenge the existing, we aggressively look for weaknesses and we constantly seek to improve and change.

“Many banks realise they don’t have the expertise, bandwidth, scale or even the technological platforms to innovate and excel in this highly competitive space. We understand their pain points and their challenges, while also appreciating the value of the trust they enjoy in the market, their expertise, distribution power and customer base.

“Our partner banks enjoy first-mover advantage, publicity and a new competitive edge. They also get access to specialist payments expertise and the opportunity to shape forward developments and features.”

EedenBull’s first programme is Q Business, which provides simplicity and control of spend for small and medium-sized enterprises, larger companies, not-for-profit organisations and the public sector. It is also adding a solution called Q VAT that automates the return of cross-border VAT incurred when employees are traveling abroad, an integration tool named Q Integrator enabling clients to automate accounting and finally Q iPay which allows clients to upload invoices and pay them by card.

Q Business is now being made available to customers through 65 banks in the Nordics and EedenBull has already onboarded more than 9,000 companies on to the platform, one new customer, on average, every four minutes. It is seeking new partner banks in Europe and recently launched a tech hub in Edinburgh to develop new technologies and platforms that tap into opportunities in business-to-business payments.

“The world of payments is changing and much faster than you might think,” says Mr Bisgaard. “New players will continue to enter the marketplace and challenge the more traditional financial institutions with new and exciting payment products. Transactional data is where the true value will be going forward, allowing the prediction of future customer behaviour and the creation of more customer-centric innovation in payments.”