Big rewards in payments

Providing Payments-as-a Service is a compelling opportunity for resellers quick out of the blocks and a partnership platform unveiled by the Fidelity Group aims to accelerate implementation across the channel.

High street banks are shutting across the UK, and Generation Y and Z consumers now look upon cheque payments as something from the dark ages. The payment ecosystem is changing rapidly and, in the light of the Covid pandemic, the advance to a cashless society is unstoppable.
Sharp thinking channel players will know the convergence of technologies, increased regulatory requirements and digitalisation are driving the innovation behind a rapid rise in new ways to pay, improving cashflow for themselves and transforming customer propositions into the bargain.
The PaaS model is gaining traction due to cost effectiveness and is a fast[1]moving trend for banks and financial institutions looking to accelerate digital innovation, stay relevant, and avoid losing new and existing customers. Embedded finance is one of the most exciting digital developments in the evolution of payments. With consumers demanding fast and frictionless ways to make payments from a variety of devices, from wallet to wearables, embedded payment options can open new revenue channels for non-financial organisations such as ICT resellers.
The real time payment market has been growing exponentially. According to payment business ACI Worldwide, more than 118 billion real time transactions were made in 2021. That number is expected to leap to more than 427 billion in 2026, equivalent to around a quarter of all global electronic payments .
Back in 2013, Fidelity Group was one of the first industry players to commercialise the Internet of Things, via its bespoke vM2M offering alongside its other channel ventures.
Fidelity is now applying its channel model to the payments sector following an exclusive partnership deal Managing Director Alan Shraga (pictured above) has forged with UK merchant services specialist MWB Solutions, a fintech ISO company which has built a portal and ecosystem which effectively offers resellers ‘payments in a box’.
“When we investigated this marketplace, we spoke to a lot of people, but they didn’t have an automated platform,” said Shraga.
“The managing director of MWBS, Warren Whitfield is a guru in the payment solutions sector and within half an hour of meeting him, I could see his technology stack was miles above anything else we’d seen. The channel adapts well to portals, and we recognised it would probably cost us a million pounds to develop our own. We felt it was better to partner with a Fintech company that has already done it. MWBS is a technology player, but they are not experienced at managing the last mile relationship, which is where channel resellers fit in.”
MWBS is a registered payments ISO which, in the world of payments, means the company is regulated by a large bank to resell their services. The company’s USP is the relationship it has developed with multiple acquirers over an 18-month period effectively creating, a ‘compare the market’ aggregator platform for the payments sector.
“We now have relationships with 14 different banks and sell on behalf of major players like Elavon, World Pay and AIB,” said Whitfield.
“Historically, what has happened with ISO companies is that they grow their business through linking with one brand or bank, employing a load of self-employed salespeople to run around the UK knocking on doors saying, we can save you money. This struck me as wrong. I didn’t feel as though one solution would ever fit the narrative of every customer out there.
“I didn’t understand why there wasn’t a product where you could partner with everybody, meaning a reseller could select a solution that was right for the customer they were sitting in front of, rather than putting a square peg in a round hole.
“Eventually we got to the point where we had a piece of technology that we could white label and deliver to partners. It’s become very successful in the payments space, because it’s the only one that delivers all the information and gives partners access to all the main acquirers rather than just one.”
Shraga believes that resellers can add a powerful payments addition to their ‘as-a[1]service’ portfolio in a matter of days and the products they’re selling can be rapidly authorised for payment.
“What Warren and his team have built is on par with other channel platforms we’ve developed over the years, including our comms portal Anvil. It means a partner coming on board can load their customer opportunities into the payments platform and it would give them a choice of acquirers that would accept their customer business via the SIC code – the Standard Industrial Classification of economic activities.”
One of the most exciting benefits for channel partners is the speed of implementation and the multiple income streams PaaS can deliver.
“We were up and running within two days,” said Shraga. “MWBS do the training exactly like Fidelity and the platform is instantly live as a standalone business model which can be reseller branded. Salespeople can immediately capture leads and achieve multiple incomes from selling payments. This opportunity complements a telecoms or IT resellers’ offering and provides four valued income streams namely commissioning, terminal hardware sales, IoT revenue and Wi-Fi. “Every single company now should have a payment partner. It doesn’t matter what type of company you are. And this isn’t just about just credit card payments. We can facilitate payments across the board, whether it’s on the Internet or via a simple a payment button that someone presses.
“By empowering the channel to manage the last mile relationship with the customer we know historically this reduces churn and improves customer satisfaction.”
As Whitfield stressed, the way his team innovatively applies the technology that sits on the payment device is a key factor for resellers.
“We pride ourselves in joining the dots between everybody that needs to be joined together. The portal dashboard consolidates all the data for the leading 14 banks that we have sitting behind the platform. This means any reseller, or reseller customer, can view their estate via what we call runways, and get real time information on how it’s performing, broken down into leads, quotes, applications and deals each day, month, and year.
“It will also define the number and types of payment devices you have across your estate as a collective and how many customers you have live with each independent bank. It tells you your average rental term and fee for the hardware, your average authorisation fee across the network, and how many live deals you currently have and how many have cancelled.
“Industry attrition within payments is historically quite high. By creating this platform and offering so many options, we can lower the attrition number by delivering the correct solution all the time.
“We fund the terminals upfront so it’s very similar to how telecoms companies fund their hardware and through the portal they can see how many deals they have exposure to on clawbacks.”
One of the key elements Whitfield believes will attract channel players to the Fidelity platform is the control it gives sales teams and, crucially, the data it provides.
“All the members of a partner or customer’s sales team can be added to the platform, and it will deliver back to the company all the applications individuals are working on and how they are performing.
“Data is key these days and as well as giving the customer everything they could possibly want to build their PaaS operation; we’re building as much data as they could possibly need to improve their business practices going forward,” he concluded.
10 reasons to explore Payments-as-a-Service for you and your customers.

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1. It is estimated that nearly 18 million people now own a crypto wallet and a 2020 study by the Marketing Science Institute found that over one-year, online shoppers increased their average purchase amount by 17.4% after adopting one click buying. This creates a new revenue stream which resellers can tap into.
2. With smartphone ownership escalating, any significant return to traditional payment methods is unlikely. Covid 19 has accelerated the demise of cash and by embedding finance into solutions, resellers can gain huge opportunities by getting more products to market faster, driving and managing sales better, meeting customer expectations and improve ‘stickiness’.
Cybercrime in the payments arena is accelerating and giving customers peace of mind is a powerful tool for the channel. By harnessing good and reliable quality data through its portal Fidelity says resellers can fight fraud and financial crime in real-time payments by looking for patterns and trends in transactions.
4. Real time payments are increasingly important for managing liquidity and working capital in all organisations, but for the SME sector in particular, cash management is critical. For tradespeople customers, being able to perform a ‘request to pay’ and request payment immediately, will become even more vital in an ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
5. Providing payment services creates huge opportunities to gain advantages over competitors. Loyalty cards are losing their appeal. These days a customer’s credit card can become their loyalty card too. It can be used to identify the customer, track purchases - across any channel or region - and trigger rewards.
6. Fidelity asserts that with a one button press, resellers can create customer ‘application runways’ on its PaaS portal. Customers are ring fenced, commissions are safeguarded, there’s no duplication and resellers are awarded for the lead. It’s then a simple matter of choosing a favoured acquirer or one of the 14 other banks on the platform and processing the application via a set of forms.
7. For sales teams, the ability to establish useful data on a customer is paramount. Again, with a one button press on the portal, salespeople can learn a company’s turnover on a given terminal, how many transactions they’ve made on that machine, the card types used, the average value and busy times.
8. According to Fidelity, the transparency and depth of the information available in the portal means there is no excuse for miss-selling. All the available product data sheets can be viewed, reseller operational onboarding teams can easily ascertain the income they’re receiving and sales teams can see how much commission they will get.
A typical payments bundle will include a Wi-Fi solution, a payment button solution, a terminal solution and IoT income and value. And long term, should a reseller wish to exit, they would have the telecoms valuation and an additional payments valuation based on a high level of customer management and powerful data.
10. Fidelity claims a reseller, or a reseller customer, can be operational as a PaaS business in under 30 days, with in-house training taking two to three days. Fidelity believes resellers will choose to fund their own hardware to increase margins and is convinced it’s an easy market to get into because it’s so poorly served.
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