Thu, 18 February 2021
Episode 144 - Innovation in Fast Money: 4th Annual RTP Network Update - Steve Ledford, The Clearing House
A Global Phenom
Realtime Retail Payments (RTRP) systems are a global phenomenon. These systems exist or will soon in over 50 countries around the world. Some have been in operation for decades. The UK’s Faster Payments system, operated by Mastercard’s Vocalink unit, has been in operation for over ten years. Still others are still in the design stage.
These account-to-account systems (A2A) have gained in regulator popularity because:
Still New to the US
Most Americans still have no idea there’s a new national payment system in operation. Or that a similar one will begin operation in a few years. Wallets like Venmo and the Cash App abound. But an entirely new set of payment rails? That happens once in a generation.
Some of those Americans, on the other hand, may have experienced what a system like this can do. Zelle is a fast push payment system that moves money between banks accounts. But Zelle is more of a directory-enabled messaging layer. The money movement between banks relies on older payment rails like ACH and wires. New Age messaging and user experience; old fashioned settlement.
Key RTP Characteristics
Payments geeks, like Payments on Fire® listeners, know that the Real Time Payments Network takes a different approach. Operated by bank processor, The Clearing House, the RTP Network leaves management of the user experience and the use case up to the bank, the processor, or the provider serving a particular industry.
The RTP Network provides:
In short: the RTP Network provides the plumbing and pipes. What it looks like and how it’s used is up to another stakeholder.
Members of the network are financial institutions who either expose the RTP rails themselves or sponsor third party access so that those entities can make use of them. Nothing groundbreaking there.
An RTRP with RTGS
One of the impressive features of the RTP Network is that interbank settlement, the movement of funds between the sender and receiver banks, happens in realtime. The two banks settle their positions instantly. Settlement happens in realtime for every transaction. That’s what a realtime gross settlement (RTGS) does.
Contrast that with a system like Zelle that provides instant messaging among the stakeholders but typically leaves the final movement of monies between banks to an overnight batch process via ACH. And this is net, not gross, settlement. The amount includes all of the day’s transactions.
The RTP network achieves its RTGS capabilities using the following technique:
A Maturing System
That’s a lot of background to help US contrast this system against the other four mostly digital systems in the U.S. (If you’re not clear on that, join us for the best in payments education at a Glenbrook Payments Boot Camp®)
The RTP Network is in its fifth year of operation. In this Payments on Fire® episode, Steve Ledford updates us on:
So, take a listen.
Here’s Steve talking about those new COVID-driven use cases.
For a snapshot of how the faster payments phenomenon is growing in the U.S. here is the 2020 Faster Payments Barometer.
Find more podcasts, visit Glenbrook's Payments on Fire® site
Tue, 16 February 2021
Episode 143 - The Buy Now Pay Later Challenge to Credit Issuers - Chris Bixby, Sezzle - Payments on Fire® Fintech Series
Continuing our payments in fintech series, we talk about one of the major changes in the payments industry over the last few years: the installment lending phenomenon. Companies like AfterPay, Klarna, and Affirm (that just IPO'd and saw its stock double in one day) are leaders in this buy now, pay later (BNPL) space and appeal to Millennial and Gen Z users as well as the merchants selling to them.
These firms offer a range of installment payment options: three, six, and 12 month payback periods are typical. The interest rate gets lower the shorter the payback period and, for the shortest period, that cost is eliminated. The merchant pays for it as promotional financing. These installment loan options generally increase the size of the sale and, because the BNPL provider may take on the risk and guarantee the sale, they remove a measure of risk from the merchant. In other words, for multiple merchant categories, they increase sales.
BNPL providers accept multiple methods of payment: credit and debit cards and, of course, they may encourage the use of ACH as a low cost funding source.
For younger demographics, a majority of them without credit cards and credit histories, these services enable them to transact.
Sezzle is a player in this arena with a unique, very short term product that charges no interest to the consumer because the purchase is paid back in six weeks. The costs are born by its merchant customers. Sezzle has particular appeal to sub-prime or young consumers who may not even have a credit score.
Take a listen as Sezzle’s Chris Bixby, VP of Growth, and Glenbrook’s George Peabody dissect the Sezzle proposition and discuss the changing face of Retail in the post-COVID era.
Watch Chris describe why his customers choose the Sezzle payment option:
Mon, 8 February 2021
Episode 142 - Don’t Miss Out on Faster Payments, The Next Big Shift in Digital Payments - Russ Jones, Glenbrook Partners
Faster Payments: Fundamental Tech for Payments Innovation
Payments innovation comes in waves. And the wave that’s breaking on the U.S. - having swept over 50 countries around the world - is faster payments. Also referred to as Real-time Retail Payments (RTRP) these systems are fundamentally different from what’s come before:
Most important, these are “clean sheet of paper” payment systems built for the Digital Age.
Glenbrook has been working with these systems for over a decade. Our global experience gives us unique insight into how these systems are used and their real and potential impact on multiple stakeholders.
Why This Course is For You
If you are responsible for payment products and services in any way and you're looking to differentiate your services, join Glenbrook’s Russ Jones and Yvette Bohanan on this deep dive examination of how faster payments is fundamentally altering payments industry dynamics.
Here are other reasons for you to join the workshop:
Take a quick listen to learn more about the workshop from one of its leaders, Russ Jones. George and Russ take a quick, fun tour through why this course is different.
Go here for the workshop detail, schedule, and registration.
Fri, 5 February 2021
Episode 141 - The Data Driven Money Supply Chain - Keith Smith, CEO, Payability - Payments on Fire® Risk Series
The Fintech Phenomenon is rarely about doing something entirely new. It’s about doing things in a new way that better fits the needs of the target market. The fintech model also enables the provider to reach underserved market segments.
Lending is, of course, the core offering of banks. But between their legacy processes, underwriting requirements, compliance demands, and more, they simply aren’t nimble enough to serve new segments in our evolving economy.
And the banking crisis of 2008 left them even more risk averse.
That’s left small business lending wide open to fintechs.
Case in point: the online seller, that small business that makes a product or buys wholesale and sells direct to customers through their own website and, for most, through marketplaces like Amazon and Shopify.
Cash Flow is Everything
Here’s where success can kill a business. If their online store and what they’re selling catches on, they’ve got a tiger by the tail. They’ve already invested their own money to get the store off the ground. But they have to keep buying inventory in order to fulfill orders. Where’s the capital to pay for that inventory to come from in order to do that?
As the founder of multiple small businesses, I can tell you that cash flow management is a daily concern. It’s no different for these Amazon sellers because Amazon pays out every two weeks and it may take a month or more for the funds from some transactions to hit the seller’s bank account. With cash flow “everything” for the SMB, funding business growth is a major challenge. To keep up, you have to reinvest to feed the beast. You take all your earnings and put them into new inventory.
That’s where our guest for this episode comes in. Keith Smith is co-founder and CEO of Payability, a firm that has loaned over $2.5B since 2015 to Amazon and Shopify sellers.
Data Enables the Model
Payability, sitting between the seller and the marketplace, sees massive data sets that help it and its algorithms determine risk. Given the volume of data, the myriad sources of these signals, it’s impossible for humans to do the underwriting. Machine learning can examine far more signals than a human can ever handle. So, as Keith puts it, Payability’s staff “trains the robots” to help the company accurately price financing for those who would otherwise be locked out this kind of business.
The Money Supply Chain
In the business of selling money, you have to have access to it. You have to be part of the money supply chain.
Drastic changes in the finance ecosystem have taken place since 2008. With traditional banks stepping back from small business lending, fintechs have entered the money supply chain, as the new distributor of funds, enabled by their ML-based underwriting and risk models.
The fintech underwriting sophistication has been a boon to traditional sources of financing, both banks and institutional investors. They still sell money; they just do it through the new fintech channel.
The COVID Accelerator
As a funder of online businesses that have benefited from the COVID-driven shift to e-commerce, Payability has prospered in 2020. As Keith put it “we’ve seen four or five years of growth out of a single year.”
In Glenbrook’s payments consulting work, our discussions with merchants, billers, sellers, and their technology parters have included this common refrain. COVID has hurt many but others, able to respond to the challenges and opportunities of the digital shift, have prospered.
Find more podcasts and commentary at Glenbrook's Payments on Fire® site, check out our blog Payments Views, and subscribe to the best payments industry news feed, Payments News. Read our COVID-19 Payments Industry eBook.