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.

fire.com 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 fire.com’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, fire.com 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: https://guidedogs.ie/

 

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.’

Openbanking.org

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 www.fire.com/donate 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 fire.com!

How do I Adopt Open Banking into my Business?

Fire.com 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 Fire.com business account where you can create new Open Banking Payment requests and integrate them with your business.

In addition to this, Fire.com 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

What are Open Payments?

The arrival of Open Banking represents a seismic shift in the way consumers and businesses use financial services. 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.

For consumers, Open Banking is better suited to meeting the needs of our increasingly digital society – offering greater choice and access to highly personalised services. For businesses, it presents the opportunity to create exciting new financial products that are more secure and cost-effective than ever before.

A one click society

Thanks to the rise of mobile apps, voice assistants and streaming media, consumers now expect quick and seamless experiences with every digital interaction. And payments are no exception – indeed, contactless payments accounted for 19% of all payments made in the UK in 2018.

In addition, consumers are increasingly customers of more than one bank or hold multiple accounts and access to accounts via mobile app has become the norm. The result is that everyone now carries a payment device in their pocket.

Account transfers traditionally presented considerable friction for the payer, with account details requiring manual entry. These have been left behind in the one-click revolution. Until now.

One of the new developments arising from Open Banking allows approved payment processors to set up (initiate) an account transfer payment for the payer to authorise in their online banking or mobile app. Termed “Open Payments”, this form of digital payment doesn’t require data entry from the payer, reduces settlement time for the payee and, in some cases, instant reconciliation.

Not only is the experience faster for all parties, it’s also more secure than other payment methods. And, with fewer parties involved in the payment process, Open Payments are also significantly more cost-effective for businesses than traditional debit or credit card payments.

How Open Payments work

Leveraging Open Banking technology, Open Payments allow people and businesses to pay directly from their account, in real-time. It’s safer, faster and more cost-effective than other payment methods available today. Here’s how it works.

The process starts when a payer is prompted to pay using Open Banking. An Open Payment request can take the form of simple web links, so lend themselves well to many payment scenarios. Here are a few examples of how the links can be displayed.

Website button

 

Bus stop shelter

 

Open Banking Payment Terminal

 

The payer’s view

When a customer opts to pay using Open Banking, they are first asked to select their account provider from a list. They authenticate and sign into their account as normal via online banking or mobile app. When logged in, they are presented with the payment details and asked to authorise the payment. The payer is then shown a confirmation of payment before being redirected back to the business they are buying from.

Check out the payer’s view of Open Payments in our explainer video:

 

Find out more about Open Banking payment technology in our white paper: From Open Banking to Open Payments – a better way to pay, and get paid.

Online retail and Open Payments: a perfect match

How e-commerce businesses can benefit from frictionless bank account payments that provide fast settlement, reduce fraud and cost less than card payments.

For years, consumer buying behaviour has been shifting increasingly towards online retail, driven by a range of factors including convenience, ability to compare deals and attractive pricing. Many high street brands are increasing their proportion of selling online, with bricks and mortar retailers experiencing a 10% reduction in footfall over the past seven years.

This shift has been dramatically accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, with shops closed and many people unable to leave their homes. Online sales across multiple sectors have increased significantly and it appears this reflects more than just a temporary change in behaviour. A study by Morning Consult found that 24% of customers don’t intend to start shopping outside again in the next six months, while financial news website PYMNTS found that 23% of consumers who have shifted their routines online due to the pandemic don’t intend to change them.

Stay ahead of the competition

While this is good news for e-commerce, the sector is now set to become even more competitive, so online retailers need to ensure they convert occasional visitors into loyal customers to maintain and grow their market presence. It is vital e-commerce businesses focus on providing a best-in-class online customer experience to ensure they stay ahead of the competition and capitalise on increased consumer demand.

Online shoppers are quick to abandon websites that provide a poor experience and the majority of those will never return as customers. A recent study by PwC found that, after product price, speed and usability are the most important aspects to customers when shopping online. One key element of this is payment: customers want more choice and convenience when it comes to their payment options.

Introducing Open Payments

Mobile banking is already expected to overtake high street bank branch visits by 2021 and the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to drive even greater adoption of online banking. With more people than ever having access to their bank account via their smartphone, this presents an opportunity for a new kind of payment method: Open Payments.

Open Payments is a completely new way for businesses to accept real-time bank transfers from customers. With no data entry required, Open Payments provide a fast, frictionless payment experience for the customer and it benefits businesses too, with faster settlement, less fraud and lower fees than other payment methods.

Open Payments is enabled by the recent Open Banking initiative, which has been rolled out in the UK and Europe to provide more regulation, governance and consumer protection for online payments, while increasing opportunities for businesses to accept payments.

Using Open Payments, digital retailers can now accept payments by adding a simple ‘Pay by Open Banking’ button to their payment options. By clicking the button, customers are instantly redirected to their online bank account or mobile app to authorise the payment, the details of which are automatically populated and simply need to be confirmed.

Business benefits

In addition to faster settlement and lower fees for online businesses, Open Payments is the most secure digital payment option – every party in the payment process is digitally authenticated, minimising opportunities for fraud. Some e-commerce merchants may also benefit from the automated reconciliation feature of Open Payments, which dramatically reduces the time spent on manual reconciliation.

Open Payments also allow rich data to be pulled through with a payment, meaning information such as customer ID, time of payment, campaign number and product code can all be collected from a payment – aiding learning and product development.

Don’t get held up on payments

While many parts of the retail sector are facing a long, slow recovery from the pandemic, e-commerce is well positioned to grow its market share considerably. But online retailers need to remain focused on the customer experience to ensure they take full advantage of the increase in demand.

By making small customer experience improvements, such as adding frictionless, cost-effective payment methods, online merchants can differentiate themselves from their competitors, reduce costs and streamline backend efficiencies – giving them the time and space they need to focus on business growth.

Fire Open Payments – a new way to get paid

The arrival of Open Banking represents a major change in the way consumers and businesses will use financial services. By opening up access to the account to regulated third-parties, it enables innovative new ways to pay and be paid – exactly the mission fire.com set out on nearly a decade ago.

Fire Open Payments is a new feature from fire.com combining our Euro and Sterling accounts, Open Banking and our payment request to enable businesses to accept account-based payments from customers. Whether you’re selling online, face to face or remotely, Fire Open Payments enables you to distribute payment requests to your customers, who can then pay you in a simple, frictionless and safe way directly from their bank or payment account – with the funds settled and reconciled automatically into your fire.com business account.

Integrating the acceptance of account-based payment flows is straight forward. You may create payment requests in the fire.com business account portal or use our API to integrate Fire Open Payments with existing systems for a fully automated collection and reconciliation service. The service is suitable for fire.com business customers of every size, from small start-ups to large corporates accepting tens of thousands of payments a day.

Cost-effective – Accepting payment via open banking is cheaper than other ways to get paid. There’s one, simple, low fee. Reduced chargebacks. Instant reconciliation.

Fast – Funds settle into your fire.com account quickly – typically within six business hours. Payments are executed via Faster Payments (Sterling) or SEPA Credit Transfers (Euro).

Secure – Fire Open Payments is one of the safest ways to collect payments. All parties are securely authenticated, minimising opportunities for fraud.

Currently available as a beta for UK & Ireland business customers, try it now by signing into firework and creating a Payment Request, or check fire.com/fireopenpayments to find out more about the service.

Fire Open Payments is also available as a white-label for banks, gateways and acquirers who are looking to quickly deploy compelling account-based payment solutions to their customers. Check fire.com/pisp-as-a-white-label or contact sales@fire.com for further information.

Owen O Byrne
Chief Product Officer, fire.com

Introducing Fire-UK

As part of our growth plans, we at fire.com are pleased to announce the launch of our new entity, “Fire-UK”.

For several reasons we decided some time ago to create a UK-based legal entity. Firstly, as an authorised e-money institution we are set up to ensure the services we offer our UK-based customers will not be impacted by Brexit. Secondly, as an active payments initiation and account provider in open banking we wanted to be close to the UK payments ecosystem. Finally, we wanted to make sure that we could continue to grow our team based in Shoreditch while staying close to our customers.

We are also delighted to welcome two new board members to the fire.com team – Mike Smith and Lucy McClements.

Mike joins us with a Director level background in Financial Services, having been a UK Bank Commercial Director and on the Board of an SME Lender. Mike was also: a member of the PSR-sponsored Payment Strategy Forum; on the Link Network Members Committee; a Non Executive Director of Faster Payment Scheme Ltd; a Member of the Emerging Payments Association Advisory Board; a Payments Awards Judge.

Lucy McClements joins us with over 20 years’ leadership experience following an executive career with the FCA, FSA and Bank of England. She has held a variety of Board Advisory and Committee roles and provided governance insight and executive advice to many regulated firms. As a newly licensed entity, Lucy will support Fire-UK by providing further Governance, Compliance and Risk Management expertise.

As a provider of multiple sterling and euro payment services, fire.com helps businesses manage and automate payments with all the tech, accounts and cards needed.

On the 16 October 2019, we took the final step in our preparations and our UK customers have now been migrated from Fire-EU, our Irish company, to Fire-UK. There is no change to the way fire.com customers use their accounts as a result of this move.

With thanks to all our customers.

fire.com