Announcing Direct Debits for Euro Accounts

We are pleased to announce that our business and personal customers may now pay by direct debit from Fire euro accounts. Direct debit is a very common way to pay for utility bills, card acquirer charges, Revenue Commissioners taxes and other regular payments, with the funds taken directly from your account automatically at a specified date. Direct debit payments have been available on Fire sterling accounts for some time, so with the addition of this new feature we hope that more customers will use Fire for more of their day to day payments.

All of your direct debit mandates – the permission you give billers to take funds from your account – are available to see and manage using the Fire online portal.

Managing direct debit payments with Fire

For a euro direct debit to be collected from your account, you will need to provide the direct debit collector with your account name, and your Fire IBAN.

IE IBANS – all your euro Fire account are issued with “IE” IBANs so there should be no issue with businesses collecting funds from your Fire accounts.

Disable DD collections – your euro Fire accounts are by default enabled for direct debit payments. You may disable the collection of direct debits for each account using the “Actions” menu.

Notifications – you will receive notifications in advance of any direct debit payments due from your account.

This gives you time to ensure you have the funds to cover the payment, and helps with cash flow planning. If you feel you shouldn’t be paying a certain direct debit, you can cancel the mandate easily to prevent funds being taken from your account (but be sure to let the biller know so they can correct the issue).

Fire already supports payment by direct debit from sterling accounts, so now, with Fire, you can pay by direct debit in both currencies. This new feature is available to all personal and business customers.

Moving from Ulster Bank or KBC?

Fire provides euro and sterling accounts, debit cards, and a range of payment and integration services – check out our full features page for more information. If you are an Ulster Bank or KBC business current account holder you may consider a Fire account as an alternative.

Once your Fire account is open, you will need to contact your billers to give them your new Fire IE IBANs and account details. Check out our Ulster Bank/KBC information page for more details.

We look forward to introducing more features to the Fire business account throughout 2022. If you have any feedback or queries on this feature release, please do get in touch by emailing


Batch API Tutorial

Automating your payout process with batches

In a previous blog post we described the payouts pain point some businesses experience today, how Fire can help automate this process and examples of automated payout processes some Fire customers have implemented today. In this blog post we’ll walk you through the steps needed to set up an automated payouts process in your organisation using payment batches via the Fire API.

Application Set-Up

Firstly, you will need to set up set up a Fire Application to access the Fire API. To do this:

  • Login at

  • Select the “Settings“ Menu.

  • Select the “API” tab.

  • Click “Add New Application“

Give you API Application a name, and select the required permissions.

For this Tutorial we will be showcasing the Batch functionality so select the Batch permissions below:

You then can configure how many approvers are need prior to processing a batch. There are 2 types of approvals:

  • Approvals for adding a new payee for a batch – in line with legislation, you are required to approve new payees on your account using Strong Customer Authentication (SCA). The first time you make a payment to a payee, Fire will send notifications to Full Users so they can approve. This will be a single notification containing the details of all the new payees in the batch. Once a payee has been approved on your account, it is not necessary to approve payments going forward (although you can can opt to approve all payments – see below).

  • Approvals for batches of bank transfers – you can set this to 0 to automatically process batch payments to previously approved payees. This is useful for setting up unattended automated batch payments.

You can also have multiple approvers if you want for either type to enhance security. All full users will get a push notification to approve to their linked mobile devices to approve the batch.

Once you’ve finished above, click “Create“, and take note of your Client ID, Client Key and Refresh Token – the Client Key will not be displayed again.

Note  If you ever accidentally reveal the Client Key (or accidentally commit it to Github for instance) it is vital that you log into firework online and delete/recreate the App Tokens as soon as possible. Anyone who has these three pieces of data can access the API to view your data and set up payments from your account (depending on the scope of the tokens).


You now use these pieces of data to retrieve a short-term Access Token which you can use to access the API. This will be set as the Bearer Token in the ‘Authorization’ header for all API calls. For security reasons, the Access Token expires within a relatively short timeframe – there is a 15 minute window to use it.

In order to create an Access Token, you require:

  • Client ID – The app’s Client ID created above.

  • Refresh Token – The app’s Refresh Token created above.

  • Nonce – A random non-repeating number (that is incremented from the previously used value) used as a salt for the clientSecret below. The simplest nonce is a unix time.
  • Client Secret – A Client Secret is the a SHA256 sum of the nonce concatenated with the Client Key: sha256(<NONCE><CLIENT_KEY>)

To retrieve the Access Token, send a POST request to containing the following JSON body:

You will receive an Access Token and details of the allowed permissions in response:

Once you have the access token, pass it as a header for every API call, like so:

Authorization: Bearer $ACCESS_TOKEN

Whenever it expires, create a new nonce and get a new access token again.

Processing a Batch

The process is as follows:

  1. Create a new batch

  2. Add payments to the batch

  3. Submit the batch for approval

Download a Postman Collection which contains all of the main batch calls you can use to follow along with this tutorial.
In Postman, you can import this collection by copying this URL and pasting it in the import section.

1. Create a new Batch

The first step in making a making a batch payment is creating the batch itself. The batch object can be thought of as a container which you can add multiple payments to which are to be made at the same time. The batch object specifies the name, currency and type of the batch.

There are 2 batch types you can create:

  1. INTERNAL_TRANSFER – All the payments are funds movements between your own Fire accounts.

  2. BANK_TRANSFER – All the payments relate to fund movements outside of your own Fire accounts (e.g to a Payee)

For this tutorial, we will be making a BANK_TRANSFER batch. Send a POST request to with the following JSON:

  • callBackUrl:An optional POST URL that all events for this batch will be sent to – see the section on webhooks below.
  • batchName: An optional name you give to the batch at creation time. Say January 2018 Payroll.
  • jobNumber:An optional job number you can give to the batch to help link it to your own system.

You will receive the batch UUID in response:

2. Add a bank transfer to a Batch

Now that we have a batch UUID, the next step is to add some bank transfers to the batch. This is done by passing the account details, amount and references to the API. If the account details relate to an existing payee, the batch will be processed as normal. If this is your first time making a bank transfer to these account details, you will get a push notification to your phone to approve the new payees in the batch once you submit the batch in the next step. Once these new payees have been approved you won’t need to approve them again in future batches.

POST the bank transfer details as a JSON object to{batchUuid}/banktransfers

You will receive a bank transfer item UUID in response. You can use this UUID to query the status of the payment, or to remove the payment from the batch.

3. Submit the batch for approval

Once you have added all the bank transfers you wish to make, it is now time to submit the batch to make the payments. Send a PUT request to{BatchUUID}. This will result in a 204 NO CONTENT response.

Depending on how you configured the API keys above, this may trigger a request for approval to all full users of the account. They can login to the Firework mobile app to view the details of the requests and approve/reject. Once approved, all the bank transfers in the batch are sent out to the payees and the batch process is complete.

Callback/Webhook real-time notifications:

If a callbackURL was specified in the Create Batch API call, you will be notified in real time when payments are submitted, approved and complete. This is a popular feature Fire offers and will allow your systems to make real time updates accordingly.

Below is an image (using to showcase what a webhook call may look like:

Each webhook call will contain a JWT payload (as seen in the Raw Content section) in the body. You can decode this JWT payload token to JSON in your own code, or by going to for testing purposes. Your system can now receive live updates when Batches are made, approved or submitted.


Jake McCarthy is a Product Analyst at Fire with experience across partner payment solutions, transaction monitoring and payment processing.

Fire Open Payments – What does the Payments Journey look like?

Open Banking Payments provide a disruptive alternative to online payments, but what does an actual payments journey look like for a customer? If you have been following the blog over the last number of weeks, you may have noticed that we have quite a number of Open Banking Payments initiatives, from the Irish Guide Dogs Day through to our own Open Banking Terminal. These are exciting developments, both for us as a company, but also within the larger Open Banking sphere. However, quite understandably, the concept of Open Banking and Fire Open Payments is still an unknown to the vast majority. That is the inspiration for this blog post – to shed some light around the Fire Open Payments journey and, hopefully, prompt more of you readers to consider trialling the process yourselves!


The Open Banking journey with Fire Open Payments

For this particular journey, I am on an e-commerce website and want to purchase a baguette from my local bakery – Tasty Bakery.

Similar to any e-commerce flow I select my products, and go to the “Checkout”. After entering my Delivery Details I then proceed to payment. At this point most of us would be used to fumbling around for our purse/wallet, then squinting to transcribe the card number into the website.

However, with just a tap of a button, I am redirected to the Fire Open Payments journey.

I select my bank of choice from the list.

I bank with Natwest, so I’ll select them from the list. I then consent to the payment, which will redirect me to my Natwest banking app.

I will be prompted to log in to my Natwest app to authorise the payment. This part of the journey will be dictated by the bank itself in terms of how it designs their app flow.

This is an important part of the journey; it ensures that the customer who initiated the payment is the account owner and not attempting to make a payment fraudulently.

After scanning my fingerprint, I select the account I wish to pay from.

A quick tap of the ‘Account Selected’ button and I can authorise the payment.

Thankfully my account balance just stretches to cover the payment and I will be able to complete the purchase!

I will then be returned to my browser where I see that the payment has indeed been successful. I can request an optional receipt before returning to the merchant website, where I will hopefully be informed that my baguette will be delivered fresh from the oven.


There you have it, I’ve managed to make a payment through Fire Open Payments. The main benefits to my mind is the flow itself and the enhanced security. I never had to divert my attention from my phone to complete the payment; everything is contained within my browser and banking app. Having the flexibility to choose the account to pay from, coupled with a live view of my account balance was a bonus too.

This process provided that added assurance by authenticating the payment using my fingerprint – I was confident that no one could fraudulently create a payment on my behalf without access to my thumb! Also, if you’re security-conscious like me, I never save my card details within the browser, so I regularly find myself leaving the comfort of my couch to retrieve my debit card to enter my card number. This step was completely bypassed through Open Banking.

If you are curious about trying the process yourself, scan the QR code below or head over to to make a small donation to Calcutta Connect and trial the Open Banking experience.

Setup your account today and get started with Fire Open Payments

Eoin Kent is a Product Analyst at Fire with experience working on Open Banking solutions – from APIs to UI/UX and everything in between.

Open Banking Terminal by | Point of Sale (POS) App


The way in which merchants accept payments and the devices/terminals used to facilitate these transactions have undergone quite the evolution over the past 70 years. Merchant acquiring technology now comes in many form factors tailored to the business needs of each merchant case. Although, over this time cards have remained the primary payment method which consumers rely on. The introduction of open banking payments unlocks the potential for a new paradigm shift away from cards and towards account based payments. Merchants are beginning to realise the benefits that come with this new payment mechanism and consumers are becoming familiar with a new payment flow.

In this blog post we’ll:

  • Cover a brief background on the evolution of merchant devices and consumer payment methods.

  • An overview of open banking payments and the benefits they can provide to merchants.

  • Introduce the Open Banking Terminal by Fire – transforming your mobile device into a point of sale terminal ready to accept open banking payments straight into your Fire Business Account.

A Brief History of In-Person Payments

When looking back at the evolution of in-person payments we’re going to be focus specifically on the consumer payment method – how are funds exchanged between the merchant and consumer and how quickly does the merchant receive the funds?

Evolution of consumer payment methods over time

The primary consumer payment method by and large remained unchanged until the first big shift from cash to card payments with the introduction of the Diner’s Club charge card in 1950. Since then, we’ve seen card technology go through many iterations from the conception of  the card networks in the  1950’s, the introduction of the magnetic strip in the 1980’s, EMV technology in the 1990’s and mobile wallets in 2008. All leading to more secure and accessible card payments. Although incremental improvements were made over that time the primary consumer payment method largely remained the same, a card payment. The same financial players are involved: issuers, merchant acquirers, card networks and numerous intermediary service providers. Open banking payments help facilitate the next big shift in consumer payment methods from card to account-based payments.

Open Banking Payments and its Benefits to Merchants

As covered in our previous blog post, “Open Banking Payments – What needs to happen next?”, open banking payments in the EU and UK can be traced back to the introduction of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and it’s associated regulatory technical standards (RTS).

With these account based payments there are a number of benefits for merchants and consumers alike:

  • Cost-Effective – No hardware required. Accepting payments through the Open Banking Terminal is cheaper than other ways to get paid. No monthly or recurring fees, just one low transaction fee and reduced chargebacks.

  • Quicker Settlement – By executing payments via Faster Payments (Sterling) or SEPA (Euro), funds settle into your Fire Business Account quickly – within 6 business hours. Reconciliation is automated.

  • Less Fraud – The Open Banking Terminal is one of the safest ways to collect payments. No personal credentials are needed, reducing the risk of fraud.

The Open Banking Terminal by Fire

With the introduction of the Open Banking Terminal by Fire, merchants can realise the benefits of the shift towards account based payments from within the Fire Business Mobile App. Allowing any merchant to quickly accept ad-hoc payments from their customers on the go and have collect the funds straight into their Fire Business Account within 6 business hours.

  1. Enter the amount to be paid in the Fire Business Mobile App.

  2. A QR code is generated in the app to be presented to the customer to scan.

  3. The customer scans the QR code and picks their bank.

  4. The customer consents to the payment.

  5. The customer are redirected to their Bank’s mobile app.

  6. The customer reviews and authorises the payment from within their Bank’s mobile app.

  7. The customer and the business receive confirmation that the payment was authorised and will be processed.

Check out our announcement video to see the full Fire Open Payments Terminal flow in action here. is one of the UK and Ireland’s major Open Banking providers. To get your hands on the Open Banking Terminal by Fire and start accepting Open Banking Payments today, set up a free business account and download the Fire Business Mobile App today.

Jake McCarthy is a Product Analyst at Fire with experience across partner payment solutions, transaction monitoring and payment processing.

Open Banking Payments – What needs to happen next?

The Dream that Might Still be Open Banking

Open Banking was, at one time, set to give consumers access to their bank and e-money accounts with the ability to share information and initiate payments via regulated third party providers. It was a great ambition to bring competition, innovation and a new set of players into the market. It was envisaged that fintechs would bring new benefits to businesses and consumers, allowing secure ways of sharing information and making online payments. It would herald the end of screen scraping and move the industry to API based integration. There are countless benefits that these changes would bring.

A few years on, we find ourselves at a crunch point – a critical time for the era of open banking.

How it started

As a digital account provider, Fire are particularly interested in the payments aspect of open banking. In fact, our interest in open banking payments stems back over ten years. Fire was initially a part of a card based payment gateway business for online retailers called Realex Payments. Back then we set up Fire to be the “collections” account for retailers who wished to get paid when accepting payments directly from their customers’ accounts, rather than accepting cards. Account-based payments remain a major payment method in various countries across Europe.

The arrival of the second Payment Services Directive (PSD2) and its associated Regulatory Technical Standards (RTS) created the legal and regulatory environment for new account information (AISP) and payment initiation service providers (PISP). We became regulated for both account information and payment initiation services, knowing that account-based payments worked extremely effectively in other regions. We also could see that account-based payments were a preferable option for certain retailers to be paid by consumers.

Account based payments offer huge benefits for both retailers and consumers. These benefits include better security, less sharing of sensitive data, lower fraud, potentially lower processing costs and faster settlement times for payees (retailers). Driven by our experience and seeing the underlying value proposition, we set about building Fire Open Payments, an open banking payments solution for retailers to accept payments directly from their customer’s accounts.

How it’s going

In terms of how open banking payments are progressing, it’s a very different story in the UK and the EU. Fire operate and are regulated in the UK and the EU. At a recent UK Open Banking event, a speaker noted that there were as many TPPs active in the UK as there were in the whole of Europe.

The UK has become the undisputed leader in Open Banking. The creation of the Open Banking Implementation Entity, via the CMA, has led to the development of a coordinated approach by the nine largest UK account providers (ASPSPs). This gave rise to the creation of the first era of open banking in the UK. While It is by no means complete, the fundamental building blocks are solid. In addition, the ecosystem remains open and engaged. All stakeholders – from consumer groups, regulators, trade associations, account providers and TPPs are participating in healthy discussions about how best to shape the future. The possibilities for open banking payments remain very strong in such an ecosystem with numerous issues on the agenda, all of which are monitored by regulatory eyes.

In the EU and specifically in Ireland, where Fire is based, the adoption of open banking payments is at the other end of the spectrum. Open banking has not yet taken off. So what’s gone wrong?

To make open banking payments a reality, the ecosystem needs to see a standard implemented in a consistent way. This ecosystem should encourage account providers and third parties to interact and attempt to implement a customer experience that is not just compliant, but a frictionless experience. The UK outcome has clearly demonstrated that this is possible. The fact that the Irish market has not achieved the same level of success as the UK has nothing to do with regulation. The delay in implementing an acceptable user experience by some Irish account providers, when their customers are accessing their account via third parties, has had a serious and detrimental effect on Ireland’s open banking ecosystem. This has been a major barrier for fintechs to bring new benefits to businesses, consumers and the economy at large. The fact the the UK based customers of these institutions enjoy a better experience confirms that the capability exists and leaves us all to wonder why this situation has evolved. Meanwhile, Irish businesses and consumers are being denied the benefits of open banking payments. To put the situation into context, we had a client who was accepting open banking donations that had a conversion rate of 4% with one Irish bank.

What to do next

In terms of what should happen next, we see the UK and Irish markets with a different set of priorities.

In the UK there is recognition of the excellent work completed to date, along with a sense of reality that we are still at the early stages in the development of open banking payments. With the CMA order coming to a rightful close, a transition period will need to be managed as a new entity emerges to carry on the work of the OBIE. This process is currently underway. In addition, specifically in relation to payments, we see this as an opportune time to identify and discuss any barriers and accelerators that could fuel the adoption of open banking payments. Issues such as fragmentation of the market, API uptime, implementing a decoupled experience, devising limits for open banking payments akin to contactless payments, enhancing the exchange of data at payment initiation time to assist with fraud and how variable repeat payments could be rolled out to the full ecosystem and apply to more use cases. These are great topics to be discussing as they all build on what is already in place. We believe the other aspect of open banking payments in the UK that needs consideration is the status of the payment pillar within the new entity. The concept of this being a “Payment Arrangement” is worth examining as it could help to ensure that there is a governance and operating model that is inclusive of all players. This would mean that open banking would have the appropriate level of regulatory oversight.

For the Irish market, there are different actions that we would suggest. Given that the market is behind in its development, we believe that some policy oversight is required. As things stand, TPPs have no indication as to when the issues will be addressed, rendering market and sales planning a fruitless exercise. Leaving the market to sort itself out will delay the delivery of a vibrant open banking ecosystem and continue to deny businesses and consumers the benefits of cheaper, faster and safer payments. Unlike the UK, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) in Ireland has not issued any remedies to address the issues. However, such action may not be necessary if the CCPC, the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) and the Department of Finance were to coordinate a forum and express their clear expectations with respect to the development of open banking payments in Ireland. Such an action would be the first step and could potentially be sufficient to address the issues. The problem is, who will take the first step?

Colm Lyon – CEO & founder

Irish Guide Dog Day – Using Open Banking Payments to assist fundraising

Photo: Roy Keane launches Irish Guide Dog Day (Friday 7th May 2021)

As Irish Guide Dogs for the blind launch their annual Guide Dog Day, we see Fire Open Payments / Account-to-Account Payments in action. are delighted to assist Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind with their annual Guide Dog Day. Guide Dog Day is a major annual charity event in Ireland that focuses on raising funds and awareness for the organisation. Starting this month, Irish Guide Dogs are using’s Open Banking payments solution that allows people to donate directly from their bank account with no card required. Try it out below by scanning or tapping the QR code!

Irish Guide Dogs will receive 100% of donations made through Fire Open Payments. For now, we recommend using Revolut, Fire, Bank of Ireland or Ulster Bank when making a payment; AIB expect to update their approval flow over the summer.

Scan or Tap the code to donate to the
Irish Guide Dogs using Fire Open Payments.

Fire’s CEO, Colm Lyon, had the following to say:

We are delighted to be working with Irish Guide Dogs and helping them to accept donations directly from peoples’ bank accounts. It’s such a simple and easy way for charities to accept donations – no card details to be entered, just tap or scan a QR code and approve the payment. It’s a great moment to see such a leading charity embrace a new and innovative way to accept donations.’

Fire Open Payments is available to charities or any organisation who wishes to accept payments via Open Banking.

What is Fire Open Payments?

Open Banking Payments are account-to-account payments that are initiated by the Payment Service Provider (PSP) directly from the customer’s bank account to the merchant’s bank account. In this case, is the PSP and the merchant is Irish Guide Dogs.

The core of Open Banking is based on customer consent. Open Banking allows customers to initiate a payment using their mobile banking app or online banking web portal. Funds are then transferred to the merchant using strong customer authentication without the use of a debit or credit card.

When making a payment, it is as easy as:

  1. Select your bank from the list.

  2. Authenticate with your bank and authorise the payment.

  3. You’re done!

If you’re interested in adopting Fire Open Payments as a payment method for your organisation, check out our Open Payments Page here or feel free to contact us directly.

Where does my Donation Go?

Irish Guide Dogs will receive 100% of donations made through Fire Open Payments. With the payment QR code above, you can choose how much you wish to donate.

By supporting the Irish Guide Dogs for the blind, you are directly supporting them to meet a growing demand for their services as the organisation costs €5 million to run each year! The Irish Guide Dogs have shared their yearly progress with us.

2021 Irish Guide Dog progress:

  • Breeding Programme continues to grow with 3 litters successfully born so far this year

  • 105 puppies currently being puppy raised. These pups will be the dogs who start formal training later in 2021 and during 2022.

  • 39 pups currently undergoing formal training who will hopefully be successfully matched in the coming months.

  • Assistance Dog Programme waiting list due to open later this year or early 2022 (subject to COVID-19 restrictions).

Photo: Irish Guide Dog’s new Dog Bandana

Further Information on Irish Guide Dogs

Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind is a national charity dedicated to helping people living with sight loss or autism improve their mobility and independence. For over 40 years Irish Guide Dogs have provided life-changing services and support to people across Ireland with sight loss. All services are offered free of charge and include the following:

  • The Guide Dog Programme for people who are blind or vision impaired

  • The Assistance Dog Programme for families of children with autism

  • Orientation and Mobility Training (Long Cane)

  • Independent Living Skills Training

  • The Child Mobility Programme

Irish Guide Dog website:


VRP (Variable Recurring Payments) as an Open Banking alternative to Card-on-File and Direct Debits

The arrival of Open Banking Payments (also known as account-to-account (A2A) payments) is already starting to shift the way consumers and businesses pay and get paid. Regulated third-parties such as Fire are enabling Open Banking payments directly from a customer’s or donor’s bank account to a businesses or charities account. Open Banking is shaking up an industry that has historically been difficult to access – inviting more competition and stimulating innovation.

The figures are starting to back up the hype in the Open Banking payments space. Figures released by the Open Banking Implementation Entity in the UK show how this growth is beginning to really take off in 2021. In 2018 there were 320,000 Open Banking Payments made, and in just 2 years this figure has grown by over 1,000% to 4,000,000 Open Banking payments in 2020 and over 1,000,000 in February 2021 alone.

Given this shift by merchants and customers towards using Open Banking payments a question that often comes up from merchants is “how can I accept recurring payments using Open Banking”. This is to be the next big development for Open Banking in the UK and is called “Variable Recurring Payments”.

If you work outside of the FinTech sector, chances are you have not heard of Variable Recurring Payments before, however, with the key financial, access and control benefits to both consumers and businesses alike, it is worth familiarising yourself now.

Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) Overview

So, what are variable recurring payments and how are they different to card-on-file and direct debit solutions that businesses already have in place?

In short, Variable Recurring (or VRPs) are a new way of making payments using bank APIs, and are a cheaper and more secure alternative to Direct Debits and card-on-file for recurring payments. VRPs allow an account-holder to give permission to a regulated third-party provider to make payments from their account based on restrictions such as payment amount and number of payments allowed. VRPs could be used instead of card-on-file for Netflix, Spotify or Amazon purchases or instead of a direct debit for recurring donations to a charity. One of the first use cases that may be available will be ‘sweeping’. Sweeping is where funds are automatically transferred between two accounts of the same name (e.g. to automatically move money to or from their current account to avoid overdraft fees or to transfer to savings or pensions). VRP is particularly well suited for sweeping as the transfers are quick, cheap and secure as opposed to using cards which can be expensive or direct debits which are too slow.

The main advantages of VRP from a customer perspective is that these payments have tight limits that are setup by the customer using a “consent”. From the business or service provider perspective it gives them a cheaper, faster way to get paid than card-on-file or direct debits that also leaves them less exposed from a risk perspective as they can not accidentally bill the customer for a larger amount than intended, longer than intended and there are also no sensitive card details that can be stolen.

For example, as opposed to a customer giving a business their card details and losing control of how much and how long they can be billed, Variable Recurring Payments allow the customer to set limits on the payments via consent parameters. These consent parameters or limits provide control to the customer by allowing them to set the max amount per transaction, max amount per day, max amount per month, a time limit on the consent etc.

Examples of VRP Consent Parameters:

  1. The maximum cumulative value of payments initiated under the VRP Consent

  2. The maximum cumulative number of payments initiated under the VRP Consent

  3. The maximum payment value per payment

  4. The maximum cumulative payment value per time window

  5. The maximum frequency of payments per time window

  6. Expiry Date of the VRP Consent

The user experience when setting the “consent” with the business using a third-party provider such as Fire would look something like this.

Example VRP Journey

Example VRP journey from a user perspective (Source: Open Banking VRP Proposition Consultation Paper)

Example Variable Recurring Payments (VRP) Use Cases:

As can be seen from these use cases (also from the Open Banking VRP Proposition Consultation Paper) the customer is given a lot more control over their recurring payments.

  • As a home owner, I want to allow my electricity provider to automatically take payments from my bank account but only up to a maximum of £100 per month.
    As a user of a social network, I want to connect my bank account so that I can make quick and easy in-app authentication of payments to my friends and be able to easily disconnect it from an access dashboard with my bank if I change my mind.
  • As a new customer of a subscription service, I want to set up my subscription payments such that it expires after 6 months so that I don’t get caught in a subscription trap.
  • As a ride-hailing app customer, I want to connect my bank account so that payment is made automatically on my behalf as I arrive at my destination with a maximum payment size of £45.
  • As a customer using an online marketplace, I want to do a one-time payment setup for oneclick payments offered by the marketplace to enable a quick checkout process
  • As a customer looking to earn more interest, I want to use a third-party smart saving app that moves money from my bank accounts to my own saving account on a flexible/variable basis so
    that I can save money.
  • As a customer looking to avoid unnecessary fees, I want to use a third-party service that monitors my account to maintain a threshold balance in my account or avoid overdraft fees and moves funds as and when required between my accounts.
  • As a customer in financial difficulty, I want convenient short-term credit to avoid going overdrawn, and then to automate repayments so that I minimise both my overdraft fees and
    borrowing costs.

When will I be able to accept Variable Recurring Payment for my business?

The Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) in the UK carried out a consultation earlier this year around VRPs and Sweeping. The aim of this consultation was to try and establish the next steps forward around giving access to third-party providers such as Fire to Variable Recurring Payments and also around using VRP as the preferred method for Sweeping on behalf of customers. The consultation looked at how this would look from an access, commercial, consumer protections and legal perspective. The OBIE recommendation was that VRP was the most suited method to carry out Sweeping.

There is currently no obligation for banks to provide access to third-party providers such as Fire to these APIs for VRP outside of Sweeping activities from a regulatory perspective. Access for VRP activities would currently still need to be agreed on a bilateral basis between the third-party provider such as Fire and the bank. This is something that we expect to change into the future.

The OBIE recently published their latest API standard version 3.1.8 on the 31st March 2021 which enabled both Variable Recurring Payments and Sweeping functionality. It is worth nothing that this standard is an optional standard that must be implemented by the CMA9 in the UK for access to Sweeping activities. VRP and Sweeping are very tightly coupled together from an Open Banking perspective. Sweeping was mandated by the original CMA order and roadmap whereas VRP was not. The OBIE have created an optional standard for VRP (API standard version 3.1.8 mentioned above) and have also carried out an evaluation and have concluded that the CMA9 should provide this VRP standard to provide for Sweeping access. This will effectively make it mandatory for all of the main CMA9 banks in the UK to provide access to Sweeping using the VRP APIs which opens their doors to allowing third-party providers full access to carry out all VRP activities once new regulatory or commercial access models are agreed. There is still a bit to go with some issues to be ironed out before customers will be able to pay their Netflix and Spotify using VRP as opposed to card-on-file but this is a big step in the right direction.

This new version of the API will allow companies such as Fire to access the bank’s APIs and initiate VRP transactions once the access, commercial and legal frameworks have been agreed, hopefully towards the end of 2021 or early 2022. The discussion around VRP is confined to the UK for the moment, as the EU are behind due to the lack of a EU regulatory mandate for banks to offer VRP or Sweeping access. Fire will keep you updated around the latest developments in Open Banking, Variable Recurring Payments and Sweeping.

While we wait for VRP and Sweeping to become a reality, Fire Open Payments is Fire’s Open Banking Payments product that can be used for one-off payments for your business. You can find out more about Fire Open Payments and try it yourself by reading our previous blog – The Steady Rise of Open Payments.

The steady rise of Open Payments

Open Payments are hitting the mainstream – it’s time to look at adopting the new payment technology

Open Banking Payments are quickly disrupting the way we make payments online. By giving regulated third-parties secure access to financial information, it is shaking up an industry that has been difficult to access – inviting more competition and stimulating innovation.

‘More than 3 million people and businesses are using Open Banking-enabled apps and services in their daily lives.’

‘We’re beginning to see growth in Open Banking Payments. In 2018, 320,000 Open Banking Payments were made. This rose to over 3.4 million in 2020. In 2021, this has jumped dramatically, rising to 1.2 million monthly Open Banking Payments in January alone.’

What are Open Banking Payments?

Open Banking Payments are account-to-account payments that are initiated by the Payment Service Provider (PSP) directly from the customer’s bank account to the merchant’s bank account.

The core of Open Banking is based on customer consent. Open Banking allows customers to initiate a payment using their mobile banking app or online banking web portal. Funds are then transferred to the merchant using strong customer authentication without the use of a debit or credit card.

When making a payment, the customer can opt to pay by Open Banking if the business enables the new payment method. When you select to pay by Open Banking at the checkout, it is as easy as:

  1. Select your bank from the list.

  2. Authenticate with your bank and authorise the payment.

  3. You’re done!

Want to try for yourself? Scan the QR code below on your smartphone camera or head over to to make a small donation to Calcutta Connect to trial the Open Banking experience.

Why Should I Adopt it?

Open Banking Payments are both more cost effective and secure than a regular online payment for everyone involved in the transaction. It has been found that Open Banking Payments can be up to four times cheaper than card payments. The funds are also settled quicker than a typical card payment getting businesses their money sooner – it’s win/win for all parties involved.

Open Banking Payments also leverage new technologies such as making a payment via a QR code or URL link. For example, you can place a QR code on a menu, poster or even a website and the customer can pay by scanning the QR code on their smart device. Alternatively the customer can click on a URL link to take them to the payment page.

As the COVID-19 crisis has sped-up the development of online payment technologies, we are beginning to become a card-less society. Open Banking is at the forefront of this revolution and we are already seeing a huge surge of adoption here in Fire.

Lastly, it’s super easy to set up Open Banking Payments with your business with!

How do I Adopt Open Banking into my Business? is one of the UK and Ireland’s major Open Banking providers. In order to accept Open Banking Payments into your business, setup a free business account where you can create new Open Banking Payment requests and integrate them with your business.

In addition to this, provides access to our API which gives you the ability to automate the following processes for your business:

  • Initiate large volumes of bank transfers to any account in the UK or eurozone from your internal systems.

  • Embed account and transaction information in your inhouse systems, developing better financial control applications.

  • Receive event driven data from Fire, e.g. when a payment is received, so you can update your systems and reconcile faster.

Setup your account today and get started with Fire Open Payments