Developing Bulk Payments for Open Banking has been really tricky. What might seem on the surface to be just a simple implementation of the required endpoints, has actually been a huge team effort, and massive learning curve for us as a leading Open Banking infrastructure provider.
Why is Open Banking Bulk Payments complicated?
In the UK, Bulk Payments are only available to business account holders, making it difficult to get hold of real accounts to test with. In addition, we know we're treading new ground here, with many financial institutions telling us we are the first Open Banking infrastructure provider to integrate with their Bulk Payment APIs. This means we’re in uncharted territory for implementing the functionality, so we’ve had to go back and forth with institutions highlighting bugs, inconsistencies in behaviour, and in many cases, pointing out where their documentation isn’t reflective of what’s in production.
One of the key inconsistencies we noted was regarding trusted beneficiaries. A collection of banks require all payees to be trusted beneficiaries, however, this information can only be found by calling a separate endpoint for those banks. Now, for all of the banks that require it, we have successfully implemented this endpoint.
We’ve also completed additional rounds of testing of our Bulk Payments endpoints, live in production with real accounts. This was due to the variation in mandatory fields that banks had not clearly specified, meaning many requests would be rejected without any indication of what information was missing/wrong. Thanks to one of our clients, Comma who are enabling small business owners to pay all their bills with one click, we were able to work together to test Bulk Payments effectively. As a result, the extensive live testing has enabled us to add additional validation to requests to catch these edge cases and provide our customers with the information needed to make bulk payments a success.
Bulk Payments in Europe
After going live with Bulk Payments in the UK, we received customer requests for the functionality further afield in places like Germany and Italy. European Bulk Payments is generally easier to implement due to the fact that bulk payments are available on personal accounts, making live testing a lot easier than in the UK. In Europe there are tighter standards that dictate only one file type can be accepted when initiating a bulk payment, which makes the variation from bank to bank a lot smaller in comparison to the UK.
We're pleased to make significant progress and can now offer Bulk Payments for over 442 institutions across 5 countries, including all the Sparkassen regional branches and Commerzbank in Germany; and Raiffeisenbank in Italy. As our coverage expands we hope there will be many more companies that are able to leverage this functionality.
In practice (for real customers) what difference will it make?
Our work to add the additional validation to Bulk Payments requests in the Yapily service, protects customers from the ambiguous API documentation provided by financial institutions. We’ve also been really lucky to work with pioneering clients like Comma - who have been able to help us iron out the wrinkles in the functionality, by working with us to extensively test with live accounts. This enabled our team to compare successful and unsuccessful requests, identifying any further inconsistencies in what each bank accepted.
By doing all this leg work up front, it means we can offer a more robust product to our customers wishing to make use of Bulk Payments.
What are we working on next?
We’re continuing to work with brilliant partners like Comma defining the value of Bulk Payments for the market. We will continue to broaden our coverage of Bulk Payments in the UK and Germany, helping more customers who build accounting software, payroll and invoice management solutions to take advantage of Open Banking.