If you have not heard of Aliaswire, it’s because they operate behind the scenes, working exclusively through banks to modernise business’ billing and payment practices. Today, the company’s DirectBiller platform powers digital billing and payments for more than 800 businesses and processes nearly $6billion annually.
With DirectBiller, banks can offer their commercial clients a modern, custom-branded billing and payment experience for their customers. In 2021, the company saw a 400 per cent increase in the number of payments made on DirectBiller and a 70 per cent increase in the total dollar value of payments processed vs. 2020. The biggest drivers of those increases were from major utilities, insurance companies and the public sector.
Aliaswire‘s CEO Jed Rice is a payments industry vet. Before taking over at Aliaswire in February 2020, he had successful stints at PayPal, mobile payment provider Paydiant (acquired by PayPal) and edocs (acquired by Oracle), one of the early innovators in e-billing, payments and online account management.
What has been the traditional company response to financial technology innovations nationally?
There is a lot written about fintechs disrupting banks and other incumbents. Many see it as a necessary part of how innovation happens in financial services. Aliaswire’s focus has been to drive innovation by working with the existing players in financial services ecosystem, e.g., banks, merchant service providers. Despite all the disruption seen in the last decade, the incumbents still control the levers of finance, and we believe we can make more meaningful change happen more quickly, by working through these existing industry players. At the same time, we are also helping banks fend off competition from fintechs by accelerating the bank’s ability to deliver new innovation to their clients.
How has this changed over the past few years?
In the payments space in particular, the role of banks has changed quite a bit. For years, online bill payment was the domain of banks, an extension of the banks’ move into online banking. Consumers and businesses could go to their bank and pay all their bills in one place. But as payments have become a more integral part of the customer experience, businesses want to have more control. Aliaswire has enabled banks to offer that service to their commercial customers without disintermediating those relationships. This gives the business more control over the billing and payment experience without taking on all the required investment and domain expertise.
Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?
The payments landscape has changed dramatically over the years. Our banking partners provide essential stability and security to the payments ecosystem. By default, they are not built for maximum agility and flexibility.
Aliaswire is a fintech focused on creating simple, intuitive, always-on payment experiences. Our job is to be nimble; to help banks adjust to the needs of the payments market without having to upend their own culture to do it. In that regard, I see Aliaswire as an important driver of change for our banking partners.
What fintech ideas have been implemented?
I think our business model and value proposition are part of three broad fintech themes. One, digital impacts all aspects of people’s lives, and especially payments and financial services. Everything we do is focused on enabling more modern digital payment experiences that remove friction for all involved. Two, and related to that, business experiences increasingly have to match our consumer experiences. This is especially true in payments and finance. And three, there is a big focus on the speed of payments. How can we accelerate transactions for both the consumer/business paying a bill and the organization validating and reconciling it? Aliaswire is working with its clients and partners, e.g., Nacha, Citi, Mastercard, etc., to enable faster, more secure account validation to speed payment cycle time and remove friction from the process.
What benefits have these brought?
Digital has minimised the friction in the payment process – for customers paying bills and businesses receiving them. That reduces billing and processing costs for the businesses and makes for more satisfied and loyal customers. Modern, digital payment capabilities enable businesses to meet their customers where they are, for customers to pay via the method they prefer. That’s an important differentiator for those businesses. Equally important, we’re enabling stronger relationships between banks and their commercial customers and creating competitive barriers against fintechs and other financial institutions. Banks are re-asserting their role as the trusted financial advisor to their commercial clients by helping them adapt to changing market needs.
Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?
Specific to payments, customer expectations for modern digital experiences will continue to rise and that puts pressure on businesses (and their banking partners) to innovate to meet customers where they are. That means more embedded payment experiences built into customer relationships, new payment channels and methods that make it as seamless as possible, and faster processing times.
Fraud and security will always be challenges in the world of payments and finance – for both banks and their clients. We know bad actors will continue to get more sophisticated and we in the industry must always stay ahead of that.
Can these challenges be aided by fintech?
Yes, on both counts.
Aliaswire, like many others in the fintech industry, was founded to modernise financial experiences. We can help banks and businesses keep pace and move more quickly to meet their customers’ demand for intuitive digital experiences.
Fintech is addressing fraud with new security tools and practices such as real-time bank account validation. These types of best practices not only protect all the parties in a transaction, they also take friction out of the overall process and increase the confidence of both billers and their customers.
Banks are under attack from fintechs because fintechs are generally better positioned to offer the banks’ business customers more modern, digital experiences. Billing and payments in particular have become critical customer touchpoints — one of the most important in recurring billing relationships. By leveraging the modern bill payment capabilities of fintechs, banks can help their commercial clients address this emerging need, and to be a more strategic partner to them. Aliaswire is helping banks address their competitive threats and fortify their position with their commercial clients. In doing so we also provide them with profitable new revenue streams. That’s how we will have the greatest impact.