How Bottomline Agency Services helped deliver payment rails to the cards market

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Supports innovative Banking Lite Platform

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Robust payment solution provides great cost-effective efficiencies

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Increases competitive edge in prepaid marketplace

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Enables future business expansion into new markets

Customer overview

As the UK’s leading payments specialist, allpay Limited was founded in 1994. It offers payment services including payment collection, prepaid card accounts including card design, manufacturing and bureau facilities.

Handling around £5 billion of payments a year across 55 million transactions, customers include Birmingham City Council, Essex County Council and Bracknell Forest Council.

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New opportunities in the prepaid cards market

Enhancing a card account that offers similar features to a bank current account is an attractive proposition. Thanks to Bottomline Technologies, allpay Limited has launched a new prepaid product with Banking Lite features, increased its competitive edge and is ready to expand into new markets.

Giving an account card to benefit claimants makes good sense for local authorities. But while prepaid saves costs and reduces administration, it’s not like having the money in a bank account if you’re the recipient. Card accounts were originally designed for spending without providing normal banking functionality.

According to allpay Limited’s Kevin McAdam, Director Prepaid, the prepaid market can now have Banking Lite features comparable to an ordinary bank account. For example, processing immediate, same-day payments and having funds collected from the account. One challenge has been finding the right technology to support the complex bank interfacing required. The other is implementing the best software platform to deliver consumer banking functions.

No barriers to change

There were two main problems when introducing Banking Lite into the prepaid market. It had to be easy for local authorities to load prepaid cardholder accounts with benefits payments. Secondly, banking facilities for users had to include the ability to make electronic payments or set up Direct Debits and standing orders.

Delivering a card account with Banking Lite functionality meant having the right banking interface technology, implementing a powerful account management platform for users and finding a sponsoring bank.

Card accounts with Banking Lite functionality was seen as a great opportunity for allpay to innovate and grow its business. Integrating everything would be hard but having worked with Bottomline for several years, the answers were to hand.

“Bottomline was always the preferred provider. They have all the rails [interfaces] associated with payments. Bottomline is very collaborative and supportive too,” says McAdam.

The glue to hold everything together was Bottomline Agency Services (previously named PayCentre Agency). This modular solution allows implementations to be phased across the new payment types and account top-up. It’s a simple yet cost-effective way to transmit funds and is also backed by expert knowledge.

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Seamless implementation

The project to bring all the elements together ran for several months. It involved allpay staff, experienced consultants from Bottomline, a new hosted platform from Carta Worldwide to manage consumer banking transactions and a sponsoring bank, Raphaels Bank, for compliance with banking regulations.

“We had some project management expertise from Bottomline. The implementation of their tried and tested solution was quite seamless.”

Bottomline Agency Services included compliant Faster Payment processing, compliant Faster Payments processing, an API for bank account validation and verification, Bacs direct credits and Direct Debits, and Direct Debit collection managements.

 

This is integrated with the new integrated with the new consumer banking and sponsor bank platforms, and provides an approved gateway into the central clearing system for payment processing.

As soon as the new Banking Lite service for prepaid users went live, it allowed benefit payments to be made directly into the cardholder’s account by local authorities. The apparently simple step relies on complex interfacing.

From a benefit claimant’s point of view, the card account operates like a conventional bank account by supporting Faster Payments and Direct Debits. Access is via a prepaid card portal which allows for statement viewing and payment administration. Robust back-end automation and the right interfaces in Bottomline Agency Services ensure every transaction works smoothly.

Meeting high demand

allpay is focused on providing a quality service and is in regular contact with its banking platform provider (Carta Worldwide), the sponsoring bank (Raphaels Bank) and Bottomline Technologies. A call centre handles calls from local authorities and end users for tasks such as card activation or other requests. A major priority involves meeting high demand for the new facilities.

“We are migrating clients from our old prepaid platform to the new,” says McAdam. “The Bottomline infrastructure is proving robust and solid.”

Around 40 of allpay’s local authority clients are actively migrating or have migrated already. That work has involved tens of thousands of card accounts. Backed by this success, the company now claims significant competitive advantage in the prepaid market.

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