From Static Payments to Modular and Programmable Solutions: Revolution in Progress

Jean Guillaume, Xpollens CEO, was interviewed by The Paypers as part of their report on Embedded Finance and Banking-as-a-Service in 2023. A great opportunity to showcase all the benefits that Embedded Payments can offer to businesses.

It’s happening right now. Not tomorrow, not in some hypothetical future. But right now. Gone are the days when Carrefour had to create its own bank to offer payment cards to its customers. Also gone, is the world in which finance directors would be required to validate transfer orders over weekends. Embedded Finance with the Banking-as-a-Service model has opened up alternatives to these complex, tedious, and costly models while creating modular and programmable solutions. Here’s how it’s disrupting the market:

No need to be a large company to offer payment to customers

Before PSD2 (Payment Services Directive 2), companies without a banking licence needed to go through a bank to offer their customers payment solutions, be it for credit solutions or payment cards. There were two possible options:

• The company could set up its own bank (such as Carrefour Banque), with all the costs and complexity of obtaining authorisation, integrating, or creating its own Core Banking System.

• Or it could use a co-branding model, backing its brand with that of a bank. The brand would agree to place its logo next to the bank’s and could use the products the bank offered. Think how Air France, for example, joined forces with Amex to let travellers collect and spend their miles with a dedicated card.

With such high barriers to entry, offering payment or credit cards to customers has been for a long time the preserve of large groups with substantial resources. Yet today, everything is different. Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS), based on the same model as SaaS, is changing the game. At Xpollens, Groupe BPCE’s BaaS platform, we ‘rent’ our technical platform and banking licence, so to speak, meaning our customers can control their projects with their own brand, distribution, and value proposition. The time-to-market is considerably reduced, and the investment required is incomparable.

Cloud, SaaS, and microservices: technologies synonymous with modularity, scalability, and automation

From account management to card issuing, banking services can now be integrated into business information systems – and that makes a real difference!

Companies can ‘call up’ payment functionalities via API from a BaaS platform, and integrate them into their business information system, or ERP. It can then consolidate these payment solutions with the components of its business information system or even those of another SaaS. This integration allows companies to program functionalities according to their own business rules, which can
then be used for their own internal flow management needs, or to improve the end-customer experience, by making them available in a front office.

As a case in point, when finance directors previously wanted to manage payments, they would first need to authenticate themselves via a lengthy process, then carry out checks, upload files, and so on –
all of which could lead to errors or risks of fraud. Today, all they need do is program their payments, and everything happens automatically.

The company can even decide if the end customer triggers the action directly (for example: ‘I want to be compensated’, in the case of insurance). If the workflow is programmed as such, no further action is required from the Finance department. Welcome to an era where workflows can be automated, programmed, and instantaneous!

At Xpollens, the BaaS technology platform also makes it possible to upgrade one module without touching another, thanks to micro-services architecture hosted in the cloud. This offers three major advantages:

Modularity: a service can be upgraded to meet specific requirements without needing to modify the entire system;

Scalability: services can be expanded on demand to meet the needs of companies with high volumes of payment flows;

Security: in the event of an incident, the affected service is easy to isolate and correct.

A huge value-creation opportunity for brands and industries

The BaaS platform offers a toolbox for an infinite number of different use cases for companies of all sectors and sizes, enabling them to integrate only the functionality they need, according to their business rules. Here are a few classic examples:

A retailer can now create a loyalty programme that allows customers to pay and generate loyalty points in its network using branded virtual cards. These cards are both inexpensive and flexible, created on demand in a matter of seconds, and configured to suit the type of customer. Why not add a cashback option, or a link to your CRM to make the most of the data collected? The programme enters a new dimension with far superior performance.

A travel insurance company offering compensation for flight delays can now pay policyholders as soon as their plane lands, made possible by using the information in its database and an instant transfer solution. In such cases of parametric insurance (where there is no need for an expert to make an assessment), the customer experience is perfect.

The gambling industry is also enthusiastic about instant transfers. These enable players’ winnings to be paid out in real-time, automatically, and securely. Cash management is performed in real-time, even over weekends, without any manual operations. Rules can be also put in place to optimise cash management.

In the words of Jean Guillaume, CEO of Xpollens: ‘Choosing BaaS is always transformative and strategic for our customers, and that’s what’s so exciting about our business”.

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