The six features every full-stack A2A payment solution needs
Oct 22, 2021 · 6 minutes
Finding the right Open Banking payments provider can be tricky. Direct account to account (A2A) payments are a new concept which many are unfamiliar with, so it’s no wonder it can be confusing.
Given the large number of providers appearing who offer an ‘Open Banking solution’, it can sometimes be difficult to figure out which is the best solution for you. There are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s vital that you know what to look out for before making your choice.
In this blog, we want to lay out 6 key factors to bear in mind when deciding which provider to use to deliver an Open Banking A2A payment method to your customers. We will be covering each of the below points in detail:
A ‘full-stack’ payment solution provider is vital
Consumers demand great UX
Robust payment solutions need real-time notifications
Refunds & payouts are essential
The need for robust reporting
Ease of integration
Why is a full-stack solution important?
Open Banking payments have a number of elements to them, including bank connectivity, payment journey UX, and the appropriate features for proper reconciliation. Some Open Banking providers specialise on one particular element over the rest.
For example, some providers purely specialise in building out integrations to banks, but do not concentrate on the full payment journey that the consumer will need to take. This means it is not a viable payment option for your business.
A full-stack solution provider specialises in all the elements of an Open Banking payment solution. A full-stack solution must:
Provide comprehensive, and reliable, bank coverage
Take on the burden of delivering a best in class payment journey experience for the consumer
Deliver a rich feature set in order to accommodate all standard functionalities expected of robust payment solutions (single payments, recurring payments, refunds, payouts, appropriate reporting)
Provide flexibility in integration, allowing merchants to decide how much of the UX of the payment journey to own themselves
You must not compromise on User Experience
For all payment methods, ensuring great UX is paramount. If the flow takes too long, the user is confused or does not feel their money is safe, then conversion is going to be impacted. This becomes even more important to remember when introducing a relatively new type of payment, like A2A payments, to customers.
Given that consumers will likely have not been exposed to Open Banking A2A payments as much as they have other payment options, provider solutions must ensure that consumers understand what they are doing, and why, at each stage of the journey. The solution must hold customers' hands and ensure they are able to complete the payment quickly, without ever feeling that safety is being compromised.
The benefit of Open Banking payments to consumers is maximised when authentication is done on mobile. A good provider will understand this and make it easy for consumers to complete the authentication flow in as efficient a manner as possible. Even more vitaly, a great provider will understand that all consumers are different and that the journey needs to be malleable enough to fit everyone’s needs. Using APIs to build a bespoke journey provides the opportunity to create a greater consumer experience and allows the provider to own the UX.
Real-time notifications are important
For payment methods to be viable to merchants, they must be able to accurately reflect the state of the payment in real time. On top of this, the solution should be able to automatically update the merchant about the state of the payment in real time.
Only with accurate, reliable and complete payment state notification updates can Open Banking A2A payments propose to compete with cards.
It is important to bear in mind that, whilst Open Banking is an incredibly powerful tool which unlocks a world of possibilities in payments, it is not perfect. An example of this is the fact that Open Banking does not provide a notification about if or when payment funds land in the destination account. Arrival of funds is the only way to have 100% certainty that any one payment has been successful. In order to deliver notification of funds received, providers must offer advanced functionality on top of their core Open Banking offering.
Merchants considering which provider to go with should make sure that whoever they choose has the capability to deliver 100% accurate notifications of funds received.
Real-time refunds and payouts
No merchant needs explaining how important the ability to refund customers is in a payment solution. Merchants need the ability to fully, or partially, refund customer payments. Refunds are a fundamental pillar of a full-stack payment solution.
Payouts are an equally important feature to some merchants. If a payment solution is not able to cater to the payout needs of merchants who need it, then the solution is often not fit for purpose and should not be considered.
Whilst these features can be, and are, delivered in a number of ways by solution providers, not all solutions are equally robust. To be realistically usable the following requirements should be met:
The payments should be automatic - there should not be a need for authentication by the bank account owner for each refund/payout.
The payments should be executable in batch - having to manually execute each refund/payout individually is not scalable.
The payments should be able to be initiated via API - in order for merchants to integrate the refund/payout process into their existing systems they must be executable via API call, with no manual human intervention necessary.
The payments should execute in real time - in order to deliver the benefits of Open Banking, the refund/payout funds should hit the customer bank account in a matter of seconds rather than days.
Reconciliation is a fundamental part of any payment process, and therefore any payment solution that is implemented must be able to meet the reconciliation needs of merchants using it.
When selecting a provider, be sure to validate that they have robust reporting APIs for all their features including payments, refunds and payouts.
Ease of integration is key
Integrating a new payment solution into your offering can be challenging. Traditional payment methods are often very complicated, with dozens of API endpoints to connect to, complicated documentation, and long lead times to integrate. Difficulty with integration is often down to traditional payment methods being built on legacy systems and old technology.
Open Banking is a very new concept relative to traditional payment options, and as such providers have no excuses when not delivering slick and modern integrations. Merchants should ensure that their provider of choice has simple, clear and easy to follow documentation with high quality and efficient support in place. Merchants should also ensure that the integration process takes a matter of days/week rather than months.
Your chosen solution should give you the flexibility to make use of their own UX journey if you want to prioritise simplicity and speed of integration, or provide the APIs for you to build out your bespoke journey if owning the entire UX is a priority for you as a merchant.
Tick off these six features and you’ve found yourself a winning open banking powered A2A solution.