Europe Fintech

As Tyl by Natwest Launches, how do the big Banks Keep Innovating?

The UK high street bank Natwest earlier this month announced that it had launched its latest venture for businesses – Tyl by NatWest is a card payment provider that offers a quick and easy approach to payment processing and the service goes way beyond card payments.

It has a simple pricing structure and straightforward contracts and aims to get business up and running in 24 hours. Alongside a 24-hour settlement period, helping businesses get paid faster combined with an online portal for a clearer view of your business, whenever you check-in.

Andy Ellis, Head of Ventures at NatWest, explains just how the bank keeps on innovating.

When did the bank first start to embrace digital technology?

NatWest has always led on innovation and evolving customer needs, even being the first bank to bring ATMs to the UK over 50 years ago. Since then, our focus has not changed, and we remain committed to ensuring that our customers benefit from the latest advances in technology and invention.

Our extensive experience in business banking and broad customer base allows us a unique insight into the customer’s evolving needs, and as one of the leading UK banks, we recognise that we have a duty to use technology to constantly make things easier and better for our customers. Our portfolio of Ventures is committed to solving customer pain points and leading the way in digital banking.

How much time/money/energy is given to new forward-thinking initiatives?

We have a dedicated team within NatWest that work across our portfolio of Ventures – including Esme, Mettle, NatWest Rapid Cash and Tyl. We have embedded the very best ways of working from market leading startups across our ventures and manage them through a robust venture capital style model. This compelling mix fosters bold visioning and rich customer insight with aligned resources and stage gated funding that ensures ruthless prioritisation to innovate at the scale to make a difference.

How has this new way of working managed to fit into the typical bricks and mortar way of thinking?

It’s really about blending the best of both worlds. We’ve built our ventures away from the core bank to give them the flexibility and agility to move and iterate swiftly as they develop but also given them access to the expertise and resources of the core bank.

What digital development is NatWest most proud of?

We are proud of our entire Ventures team – we all constantly learn from one another and the team works across multiple Ventures. The fact we have got a portfolio of ventures actively supporting SMEs is our biggest achievement and undoubtedly the development we are most proud of.

In terms of individual ventures, recently we have been rolling out Tyl by NatWest to customers – allowing us to offer a market leading payment solution that will help them beyond just payments.

Tyl is revolutionary in that it simplifies the payment process for customers at a time when efficiently managing cashflow has never been so important for small businesses. We offer next day settlements as standard and are incredibly proud to be supporting our customers by waiving terminal fees until the end of 2020.

What does the future customer look like?

We know that there isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach when it comes to customers and our regular testing and co-creation continues to demonstrate this. What’s clear however is that digital adoption will now accelerate across all sectors as a result of the pandemic so we expect to have more digitally native customers with all the expectations that come with that.

For example, for many of our customers, adopting Tyl will be the first time they have worked with card payments, whereas others may be making the switch having had a negative experience with a payment provider in the past. We recognise the need to work with our customers one on one and tailor our support to the individual.

Are there any further initiatives on the horizon?

As lockdown continues to ease and more and more small businesses are able to welcome back customers, not unexpectedly, we’re seeing the continued acceleration in consumer preferences towards contactless payments. This ranges from businesses taking card payments for the first time, having previously been cash only, to merchants taking more and more contactless payments as a result of social distancing measures and more online or telephone sales.

Whilst Tyl does the payment basics brilliantly – including next business day settlement, swift onboarding and transparent fees – excitingly it goes beyond that with a range of features such as inventory management and customer insights that will enable our customers to make smarter, data-driven decisions to power the future of their business.

What’s more, community is a core part of our approach at Tyl – and NatWest as a whole – and in addition to offering our customers free terminals for the rest of 2020, a charity donation is made for each and every transaction we make for our customers.

How do you examine the longevity of any new schemes?

While our portfolio of Ventures is uniquely equipped to help small businesses combat many of the impacts of COVID-19, it remains true that they were first developed prior to the outbreak of the virus.

The feedback we have had from our customers has been resoundingly positive so far, with many recognising that accepting digital innovations will become an essential component in the future of their business. Lessons are being learned all the time about what the pandemic means for business and the way of working going forward. One thing that is clear however is that the role of digital, in terms of its adoption and ability to flex, is going to be significantly enhanced.


  • Gina is a fintech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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