An insider look at the emerging Request-To-Pay market

Wednesday 11 March 2020 08:18 CET | Editor: Mirela Ciobanu | Interview

Request-To-Pay (RTP) schemes are emerging around the world as a new way to facilitate payments from consumers and businesses

AcceptEasy has a decade of experience preaching and practicing the concept for corporates. The SaaS vendor was recently acquired by the Serrala Group, a leading fintech company and provider of payments software headquartered in Hamburg. The Paypers sat down with Peter Kwakernaak to discuss the emerging RTP market.

Why does the payments ecosystem need RTP? What are the benefits for payers and payees and how is it gaining traction over other similar options? 

RTP at its core is the idea of pushing transaction details from a payee to a payer’s device and into the chosen payment flow. How much, what for, to whom, to which bank account, by when. And crucially, a unique reference to match the payment later on for cash allocation.

Doing so enables the payer to simply authorise the payment, instead of entering those details from scratch into a bank transfer. No hassle, no mistakes, real-time confirmation and perfect reconciliation later in the payee’s system.

In ecommerce and POS this is a given: the webshop or card terminal presents what we need to pay, and we pay. Wonderful, but leaving two enormous industry gaps:

  1. Offering this experience when reaching people at a different time in a different place. With a bill, invoice, dunning notice, reminder, conversational transaction, QR code, anything.
  2. Enabling payment directly from someone’s bank account. With an (instant) SCT that is irrevocable - unlike SDD - and much cheaper than a wallet or credit card.

Some countries developed cross-bank online payment methods like EPS in Austria and iDEAL in Holland to solve #2. For #1, AcceptEasy was first to market with its dynamic link (delivered by email or any other communication channel) to a unique payment page presenting the pre-filled transaction for payment with such methods.

Many countries still don’t have an online account-to-account payment option – but PSD2 and Open Banking open the door. And while we are live in 20 countries offering whichever payment methods make sense, the RTP concept has not yet become mainstream like it has at home.

Now, the RTP schemes emerging from the EPC and Pay.UK aim to capture many of the same benefits – in a more ambitious and infrastructural way. And, they formalise scenarios like delaying, splitting, and rejecting the RTP – which we have also tackled in the real world.

Could you elaborate a bit more on the Request to Pay (RTP) services your company is offering, what different use cases does AcceptEasy support?

Our cloud-based platform is the universal RTP connector. We’ve integrated with hundreds of business applications to generate RTPs for any process, deliver them via any channel, and arm them with any payment method or provider. Those elements combine into end-to-end solutions that speed up payments, streamline processes, provide real-time transparency, capture customer behaviour, eliminate reconciliation problems, and improve the customer experience – in turn improving conversion, cash flow, retention, and more.

We do this on behalf of hundreds of corporates, reaching millions of people for billions of euros. Insurance, energy, telco, housing, mobility, lending, and more. With use cases in onboarding, billing, service, dunning, and collections. Think also of last-minute orders or last-chance (emergency) payments by small businesses to their suppliers. Instead of waiting days for money to arrive and match, our service completes the order-to-cash cycle in seconds.

How big is this market and what are the key growth markets?

Europe still sends lots of paper or its digital equivalent (a dumb email and/or PDF). If online payment is possible, it’s hidden in portals which passwords you forget, and which take days to confirm that the payment has been received. A 2019 survey by Global Industry Analytics mentions 27.7 billion B2C e-bills in 2024. B2B digital invoices volume will also be in the billions by that time. While numbers are hard to get and interpret, we know that the opportunity is tremendous. We’ve already done it successfully in various countries and have already proven the concept in many others.

The EPC Request to Pay Multi-Stakeholder Group recently published ‘specifications for a standardisation framework’, as a guidance document supporting further work on an RTP scheme (account-based/SCT). This is still work in progress, what payment methods does AcceptEasy currently offer and what would be the advantage of the RTP scheme?

The scheme has pretty grand ambitions: it effectively wants a network whereby the payee pushes a PAIN message directly into a PISP app – which will often be a regular bank app. That app then needs to support not just direct payment, but also the various other scenarios that the RTP standard foresees. First accepting the RTP instead of paying it, paying it later, asking for an extension, splitting the payment and rejecting the payment. Whether in a (web)shop, for an invoice, or for p2p. This also gets you into the highly complex world of payee and payer registries: where to deliver a given RTP? Whose bills can I expect?

This will take many years to succeed at scale. The bank app as your bill pay inbox has seen mixed results, and the RTP scheme is a heck of a feature set to get right in every bank app’s unique footprint. Also, people still want choice: to pay by bank or card or wallet, and even if it’s by bank, to pay from different accounts. Last but not least people prefer to communicate on their own terms via the channel of their choice. 

In the meantime, we can deliver on the premise, and promise, today. Our platform still features a payment page, but it can offer any payment option including any bank app supported by our TPP connections. It can deliver the RTP via every real-world channel, straight into people’s inboxes, and supporting the alternative scenarios. We gravitate towards bank-based payment methods, powering SCTs wherever we can. Or, in the US, verified or even real-time ACH payments.

In all, we applaud the recognition of what we’ve been doing for years. But we encourage banks, corporates, and ISV’s to not wait for a standard.

What synergies will the merger between the AcceptEasy and the Serrala Group unlock?

As a global B2B fintech software company, Serrala optimises end-to-end solutions from inbound to outbound payments for organisations seeking efficient cash visibility and the most secure financial processes. A strong market share with more than 2,500 customers worldwide provides us with many inroads into the US and European markets.

In return, Serrala can extend its services around AP, AR, and Payments with EBPP and RTP functionality alongside all the real-time payment capabilities we can provide. Together we can better serve enterprises in their quest to digitisation in all of their onboarding, servicing, billing, and collections processes.

About Peter Kwakernaak

Peter Kwakernaak is Director Solutions Success at The Serrala Group, responsible for RTP and EIPP. He promotes and delivers the AcceptEasy request-to-pay and e-billing solutions for existing and new customers. AcceptEasy was acquired by Serrala in February 2020.

Peter has a track record in building successful businesses in fintech. As CEO of AcceptEasy he was responsible for strategy and (international) growth since 2008. Before that Peter was CCO of Neteconomy providing risk & compliance software for banks. Neteconomy was sold to Fiserv in 2003. In 1997 Peter founded MaXware Benelux, specialised in payment factories and bulk payment channels. MaXware became part of Clear2Pay (now FIS) in 2005.

Peter holds a master’s degree in business economics from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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Keywords: fintech, request-to-pay, payments , RTP scheme, account, B2B payments, bills, payees, payers, bank transfer, POS, ecommerce
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: Europe
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