Benji Wakeham

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DHL for International Payment is finally here

on Nov 17, 2018

We at Pollen have been preaching about the need for end-to-end tracking of payments since we were founded 3 years ago. Back then, sending a payment was like throwing money into the abyss and praying that your supplier didn’t call you in 5 days time and ask where their money was. From a technical perspective, you received a notification after 14 days to say that nothing had gone wrong, and you presume from that the payment has arrived safely.

Is it too much to ask that when I send a payment I can know when it arrives?

Thanks to SWIFTs GPI (Global Payment Innovation) initiative. DHL for International Payments is finally here.

And as of November 2018, tracking relates to every payment initiated on the network even is the receiving bank hasn’t upgraded their systems. <celebration emoji>

95% of the worlds payments run on the SWIFT network. It’s more of a protocol than a business. A ‘not for profit’ owned by the banks. Think of it like SMTP, with Banks being gmail or hotmail.

They even sound like they’re slightly embarrassed about the situation, and how it’s taken them so long. The following quote is from the head of banking at SWIFT.

“Correspondent banking has been around for a long time and it’s done a good job for many years, but it’s obviously a child of the ’80s and it lacked the transparency and predictability that you really want to see in a modern payments mechanism.”

But that’s the past and this is the future. It’s still far from perfect, as it’s not going to be cheap (£20 plus for the sender) and banks often charge fees (£15 plus) just to receive a SWIFT payment.

That’s why Pollen also offer a ‘Local’ payment method to transfer funds internationally, using national payment schemes via local banking partners to deliver funds. Different methods for different needs.

Pollen will be looking to integrate these capabilities into our platform so that any payment sent will be able to be tracked in real-time by both the payer and payee.

This is a massive step forward for the payment industry and should really help support the current macro trend towards globalisation and frictionless commerce.

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The Pollen Technologies Master Plan

on Sep 15, 2018

Businesses, like consumers, aren't fans of banking software, but they trust them. So the question we at Pollen HQ asked ourselves was; ‘How can we build a better digital business banking experience which doesn’t require the company to actually change bank?’.

How could we offer an amazing user experience, similar to the other software products we use every day (Amazon, Gmail, Uber, Slack, etc). With real-time payment and receivable capabilities, direct API integrations to all of their other systems for seamless transfer of data, and one-click access to third party financial products and services.

We started by laying out a set of core beliefs which would drive our product development decisions:

1. Card payment networks are the present but not the future
Account-2-Account payment networks like FaterPayment, SEPA and ACH are faster, cheaper and more secure.

2. Payments are a commodity
Don’t have a ‘per payment’ revenue model. It’s a race to the bottom. Make payments free.

3. Different businesses require different financial products
All businesses are unique. The more choice and unbiased advice the better.

4. Our revenue model needs to align all stakeholders
Monetise through use, not misuse i.e. penalty fees.

5. Businesses don’t want to change bank
Banks are regulated at that level for a reason. Partner with them don’t compete.

6. Design to solve the needs of your users
Define the purpose of your product for customers first, before the actual product.

7. Data security must be a top priority
You will be handling sensitive data. Go above and beyond to protect it.

8. Connectivity will help all business processes
Don’t silo yourself off like a bank. Play with everyone.

Ok, but what’s the actual product.

Step 1. Defined initial use case
Cross Border Payments, at scale.

During an initial scoping interview, someone commented: “It takes the same amount of effort to do 1,000 UK payments as it does to do 1 international payment”. This peaked our interest as a problem we wanted to fix.

Companies would use our software instead of their banks system to manage cross-border payments. Which were traditionally done with a combination of phone calls to FX brokers, excel spreadsheets and manual data entry. In return receiving no reconciliation, guaranteed arrival amounts/times and standardised beneficiary information; which can delay payments a further 3 days or return of funds which can take up to 14 days. Adding friction and expense to international trade.

From a business point of view, we wanted to build an initial product that solved a pain point through better use of software, whilst developing our A2A capabilities. One that also had a clean, simple revenue model that provided a direct cost saving benefit to the customer.

Step 2. International Collections
Alongside a better customer experience for making and managing payments cross-border, we wanted to enable businesses to also be able to receive funds more easily from international payers.

From within the Pollen platform, companies can do things like set-up a bank account in another country with the click of a button. Hold balances in 30 currencies and trade freely and instantly between them. No more capital requirements and 6 month wait times. So now they have the ability to operate like a multinational corporate, all from a single cloud based platform.

We will also help business with making sure they receive the correct amount of local currency, with our ‘Request to Pay’ functionality enabling them to be guaranteed to lock in a the right amount every time irrespective of currency fluctuations.

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Topics: Company vision

About Pollen

Regulated by the FCA.

Pollens platform is the world's first to provide open banking capabilities to business customers. Enabling businesses to programatically make and receive real-time payments directly into their bank, on time, around the world.

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