Request to Pay is gaining traction in Europe stimulated by SEPA Instant and eInvoicing regulations.   This webinar hosted by Mike Chambers, Chairman of Answer Pay, discusses how we’re well placed to support banks looking to enter this market thanks to our innovative approach in conquering the classic “chicken and egg” problem.


Mike Chambers: Good afternoon everybody thank you so much for joining this podcast the title of today’s podcast is “Investing in Answer Pay, capitalising on Request to Pay” and to help us dive into this exciting opportunity for investors I’m really pleased to be joined by Ralph Ohlhausen.  Ralph is a seasoned expert in financial technology and also to be joined by Peter Cornforth from Answer Pay, thank you both for joining us today.  Ralph I wondered if we could with a quick introduction from you and then Peter perhaps if you could follow on from Ralph?


Ralf Ohlhausen: Thank you Mike it’s like it’s great to be here.  Well my name is Ralph Ohlhausen and I have been for the last 10 years or so working in the Open Banking space, from the beginning, which led to the creation of PSD2 in Europe and OB in the UK.  As you know I have been also working on the API standardisation, for example I’m co-chairing the Berlin Group Advisory Board and I have also been involved in the creation of the Request to Pay scheme at the European Payments Council where participate in various multi-stakeholder groups


Mike Chambers: Fantastic Ralph thank you so much great to hear your credentials for today’s call and Peter quick introduction from you.


Peter Cornforth: Thanks very much Mike and always hard to follow Ralph, yes I’m Peter Cornforth CEO here at Answer Pay.  My background is 15 plus years in payments, the last five or six of which were in Open Banking.


Mike Chambers: Fantastic Peter, great to hear your credentials for this call as well and Peter I’m going to start with you in terms of a question and that question is around the fact that Answer Pay has been in the market for three years it’s been providing Request to Pay services for that period of time and I wondered whether you could tell us a bit about the growth and the development that you’ve seen in Request a Pay during this time?


Peter Cornforth: So Answer Pay’s been in it from the very start whether it’s part of the December 2019 pilot with Pay.UK, through to being the first provider launched in 2020.  We’ve absolutely seen a massive wave of interest at the moment perhaps spurred on by the activity in Continental Europe where we’re seeing a big pilot taking place at the moment EBA Clearing and seven of Europe’s largest banks all looking to do Request to Pay.  We’re very well positioned to help with that given that we are integrated with EBA clearing as a technical provider but also listed by the European Payments Council as one of their technical providers too.


Mike Chambers: Thanks Peter that is really a positive indicator in terms of things that have been happening over the past few months.  Ralph as an industry expert what’s your take on the development of Request to Pay and particularly how does Answer Pay fit into that picture?


Ralf Ohlhausen: It’s been a truly transformative journey Mike.  Originally Request to Pay was billed as the missing brick helping the biller and the acquirer side to sustain their payment initiator role as the market is shifting more and more from pull payments [e.g. Direct Debit where a merchant pulls the funds from a consumer account] to push payments [where the payer initiates the payment process].  But in the meantime it has also emerged as a game changer to prevent Authorised Push Payment fraud and to provide a more controlled way to pay during the cost of living crisis.  Answer Pay and its innovative approach has been at the forefront of this revolution right from the start and they’ve not only kept pace with the  market but have also contributed to shaping the way it goes.


Mike Chambers: Thanks for that and and I guess let’s just build on that sort of Request to Pay piece and to ask you Peter from your perspective and your role within Answer Pay, what sets answer pay apart and in that context what makes it a compelling investment opportunity?


Peter Cornforth: Great question and I’m personally invested in Answer Pay as well so I feel very strongly that we are well positioned to take advantage of this market.  I think what sets us apart is that because we’ve been in this from the very beginning we’ve been able to evolve and adapt, finding new problems as they occur and innovating on top of that. Our most recent innovation is around  “how do we break the chicken and egg problem?” When you have a two-sided marketplace trying to build a network that Request to Pay is, it is actually very difficult to grow both sides at once – the chicken and egg problem.  Answer Pay has actually managed to solve that particular problem where we’re able to cover all billers across Europe so that any retail bank or PSP that would like to join would ensure that its customers can get full coverage of the biller and utility market – I think that’s probably our biggest differentiator.


Mike Chambers: I’m going to pick up with Ralph on that differentiator, the ability of direct access to break the chicken and egg problem.  Let me ask you then Ralph, I know this whole idea about direct access is something that you’re close to.  I wonder if you give us your perspective around how direct access is breaking the chicken and egg? 


Ralf Olhausen: Yeah, that term “Direct Access” has been coined as part of Open Banking, whereby if a bank doesn’t offer a proper dedicated API interface for third-party providers then they have to allow access directly by their customer interfaces and the most efficient way to do this is by leveraging the mobile customer interface which is API based as well and therefore very stable and efficient so APIs are still being used but just not purpose-built and not contracted I guess the best example of this in action is probably Plaid in the US.  In the US they don’t have open banking regulations so Direct Access was actually the primary way of integrating and that was massively successful so much so that it allowed Plaid to grow to a valuation of over 13 billion and into a such a strong market position that all major banks have now built dedicated and contracted apis for them and similarly for other third parties.  Now in Answer Pays context this means that the merchant or biller doesn’t have to create something new and incur costs until they really want to while Answer Pay can provide ubiquitous coverage of all the suppliers in a given market so when a customer logs in and chooses which suppliers they want to receive Request to Pays from then all of their relevant suppliers are available.  I guess it’s worthwhile noting that going forward the same approach and technology can be used to address new opportunities in the Open Finance area and actually for all Open Data in general.


Mike Chambers: Thanks Ralph, I think it just it’s remarkable isn’t it you know in the last couple of questions in very short focused answers it’s absolutely clear that Answer Pay has not only adapted to the changes in the Request to Pay market but has been instrumental in driving its growth and Peter, Ralph thank you so much for helping us unwrap that and gain that understanding by sharing the insights today.


Peter Cornforth: Thank you very much.


Ralph Olhausen: Absolutely right, Answer Pay is well positioned to make significant strides in the Request to Pay space and beyond.


Mike Chambers: Fantastic thank you both for your time today.

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