Project Finance Payments

Imagine one of your members sitting down at the end of the month to pay their bills. Where to start? There’s the student loan, credit cards, car payment, rent, and settling up with friends from lunch the other day… all of which, of course, require separate sets of credentials to specific sites or apps to make each payment. Add in the mental gymnastics of how much money is in each account, when you’re getting paid, what is due when, etc. and it’s no wonder this is such an unpleasant task. 

This scenario probably isn’t too difficult to envision, as we have all experienced this inefficient and often frustrating process ourselves. While banks and credit unions alike have attempted to tackle the issue in their digital banking experience, the result is typically a disjointed series of external links, forgotten passwords, endless clicks and exasperated sighs. It was clear to the Project Finance team that for something as ubiquitous as payments, our offering needed to be different.


Payments Today

First, some background. The payments space has changed a great deal, and if you’ve been paying attention, you know that the payments capabilities provided by a financial institution have become the most important factor for someone choosing a bank or credit union. Considering the myriad opportunities payments present for a FI to be engaged with a member, those capabilities are just as important to the success of the bank or credit union. The magnitude of creating a strong payments strategy has become tantamount to FIs embracing online banking, but with even more urgency as a result of COVID-19 forcing most payments to go digital, as well as the expectations created by instant-gratification companies like Amazon, Grubhub and Uber. 

When it comes to actual execution, we found that the main issue members encounter is that depending on the type of payment they want to make, they have to go to a different place within the bank or credit union’s digital banking experience. It’s understandable how this came to be; the world of digital banking moves fast, and FIs have had to build upon legacy systems to accommodate new technologies. That said, user experience is often compromised when new features are built piecemeal, and the process becomes disjointed. As a result, a member has to know exactly the type of payment they want to make and navigate to that section of the platform to do so, often having to repeatedly connect and enable their accounts for money movement. 

In an ideal situation, the member shouldn’t have to figure out which of the 5+ different types of payments they are trying to make. Rather, they should simply login to make a payment and the back end of the platform should determine what rails to use, which accounts are authorized for payment, etc. Knowing how important payments are to a FI’s digital experience and with that ideal user flow in mind, we set out to build our payments solution. But we still weren’t quite ready: to create a truly next-level experience, we had to consider the full picture and do our research: what else are consumers looking for when they make a payment? What do they value? 

"The payments landscape has become more complex with the convergence of technology and financial services. This added complexity of the new ecosystem has led to the need for FIs to find innovative solutions balancing out customer/member experience, security, and operational efficiency." 

-Mark J. Dixon, AAP, APRP, NCP, Vice President, Payments Strategy for Wespay and a Senior Payments Consultant for Wespay Advisors

1. Convenience

These days, it’s no surprise that any product or service that genuinely makes someone’s life easier tends to be successful. As it pertains to payments, we felt confident that the first step was to present an aggregate view of one’s accounts. In addition to the accounts they hold with our partner FIs, Project Finance digital banking experiences allow members to connect, view and manage external cash, credit card, investment, retirement and loan accounts (and enable them for money movement where applicable) for a holistic approach to personal finance. 

To further streamline the process (and attack the heart of the user experience issue), we put all the types of payments members could make in one location. Whether they are moving money from account to account, paying the phone bill, making a loan payment, facilitating a wire transfer or sending their kid their allowance for the week, it all can be done from a single page via desktop or mobile. 

2. Simplicity

Similar to the element of convenience, customers want SIMPLE. Project Finance guides members through each step of making a payment in a conversational manner, lending a sense of familiarity to the process. FIs can also customize the payment flow according to their bank or CU’s payment rules and branding. To ensure maximum ease for P2P payments, members can search for payees by their email or phone number.

3. Transparency

When surveyed, customers (especially Gen Z, poised to be both the largest and most influential generation and 79% of which are already using P2P platforms) expressed the need for complete transparency when it comes to payments. Whether it’s receiving a notification when a payment is complete or simply being able to review one’s transaction history, consumers want visibility in every step of the process. 

Project Finance offers members a full suite of customizable notifications and alerts via SMS or email, the ability to cancel a payment when possible and a detailed history of their money movement in the spirit of clarity, communication and peace of mind. 

4. Speed and Security

Speed and security naturally remain top priorities for those looking to utilize an FI’s payments offering. With real-time payments on the horizon, (PYMNTS.com reports that 85% of financial institutions will implement real-time payment functionality in the next three years), the need for speed is real and expected by customers. Payments within your FI are instant, while payments to external institutions use ACH rails. Project Finance uses Plaid to link these accounts, and as a third-party validation vendor to comply with NACHA’s new Account Validation rule put into effect on March 19, 2021.

 

Summary 

In conclusion, a great deal can be gained from a strong payments product, for both your members and your institution. Payments present a valuable opportunity for your bank or credit union to be there for members on a frequent basis, providing the convenient, secure and straightforward transaction they are looking for, ultimately building customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers already trust their FI to safeguard their money, so they are the natural candidate for payments as well; this is a key advantage they have against their fintech competitors. 

While it can be tempting to wait and see how certain solutions work out for other credit unions and banks before committing to one vendor or product,  Tom Church-Adams of CO-OP Financial Services encourages FIs to pursue their strategy aggressively, reminding them that “the time is now for credit unions to build definitive plans to go to market with new payment methods. Due to the industry changing so much, he recommends they partner “with providers that share {the FI’s} value system and who can offer members the fast, secure, seamless experience they are demanding.” 

FI leaders can be confident that a high performing payments offering will ameliorate the issues that keep them up at night: member satisfaction, retention numbers, Support Center volume, share of wallet, fintech competition and the like. Project Finance’s unique solution successfully addresses these same topics, as well as the cumbersome user experience consumers face with typical digital banking platforms.

Above all, we find that our game-changing approach to payments is key to our overall mission of making financial peace of mind a reality for everyone. By giving members a convenient, transparent and efficient system to facilitate all payments with their entire financial life in view, banks and credit unions can create a path to stress-free, informed and straightforward banking. Combine a seamless payment experience with our built-in timely nudges, wellness tools and and personalized recommendations, and FIs can truly empower members to live a financially healthier life.

Project Finance Payments Features

FI Benefits

Member Benefits

To learn more about Project Finance payments, email us at info@projectfinance.io or watch this 1-minute video to see them in action!

 

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