Wednesday, 05 August 2020


Co-published Article

Time for real-time payments worldwide

BPC Banking Technologies leverages a unique proposition with ecosystem linkages to implement modern payment infrastructures from real-time national payment systems to transit fare collection services for smart cities

The movement towards national real time payments is not new or over. In fact, it is gathering momentum in the the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America , where the market for legacy system replacement presents a significant opportunity. The movement has amplified the calls for transformation, greater financial inclusion and meeting the agenda for a cashless society. Real time, mobile and contactless capabilities are driving industry players in the global payments landscape to create unified processing hubs that centralise and consolidate transactions from origination to settlement.

Oleg Patsiansky, digital banking expert at BPC Banking Technologies (BPC) is teaming up with his colleague Irfan Ahmed, instant payment expert, to drive the company’s roadmap towards real time national payments initiatives. Their vision is to bridge the experience we get from modern digital and open banks to deliver a unique proposition at a national level for central banks with a wider impact. They believe that offering real time payment is no longer restricted to speed; it needs to create value beyond, with an ecosystem for all participants to thrive, from end users to banks adding new players such as telecoms, SMEs, billers and governments. The rapid digitalisation is finally making it possible to create digital ecosystems that interconnect businesses and consumers as well as facilitate transactions with unparalleled ease.

BPC, which operates in over 80 markets, has been collaborating with 22 national payment systems worldwide. Their latest collaboration in Yemen has taken them on a whole new journey when it comes to a nationwide real time payment system. Over 20 million Yemenis lack access to formal financial services, and 90% of the population remains unbanked. Local banks have found themselves increasingly disconnected locally (due to divided territories) and globally.

BPC has engaged with all the major banks in Yemen in addition to digital wallet providers to create a relevant ecosystem at national level. As well as impacting the economy, an ambitious project such as this also reconnects banks to the public and expands access to financial services. The SmartVista platform proved instrumental in developing the Instant Transfer Scheme (ITS) for real time retail payments. It ensures compliance with industry standards for bank and e-wallet interfaces such as ISO20022 or ISO8583. It also fosters a secure, well functioning and interoperable infrastructure for ecosystem partners, reducing the reliance on cash.

Advances in technology are now both accessible and affordable compared to the cost of maintaining legacy systems, driving a rapid shift towards payment product transformation. In emerging markets such as Southeast and Central Asia, there is little legacy infrastructure to hinder the transition, opening an opportunity to leapfrog towards the latest technologies in a simpler manner than in developed markets. This means providing payment capabilities beyond the card, such as enabling QR Code payments for contactless payment, a trend that is accelerating due to the coronavirus pandemic. New payment infrastructures and rails support these and make digital payment services accessible to the previously unbanked or underbanked.

Responding to these rapid market changes, BPC’s customer base has expanded beyond traditional banks and payments processors into new areas such as smart cities, where the payment experience remains core. Working with city authorities to promote digitisation, BPC, with its new O City company, is paving the way for infrastructure modernisation, including transit systems, and the introduction of international smart city services. As an example, in the city of Aktobe, Kazakhstan’s fourth largest city, BPC automates the fare collection service in public transports. It responds to the need for digital payments to ensure efficient operations of the transit system; it also helps commuters maintain social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Commuters can manage their payment methods through an app and track their journey history. The open API architecture of O City simplifies integration with third parties while keeping a single view of activities. New services have been introduced, allowing for the automatic application of social benefits such as discounts and subsidies upon payment.

In both cases, consumers have been able to transact in real time straight from their mobile devices. BPC is helping incumbent institutions to modernise, dramatically reduce time to market, and to gain more control, so they can respond quickly to market changes with minimal disruption to business as usual.


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