BPAY Group is making headway with its goal to bring innovation to Australia’s payment system through its developer portal, and by expanding its global reach and cloud-based approach.
In this week’s CXO Challenge on the iTnews podcast, BPAY Group chief information officer Angela Donohoe shares how the e-payment company is building new foundations and enhancing its current systems.
Donohoe said new entrants to the market, such as fintechs, are beginning to pick up BPAY products and services, despite not always recognising the potential.
“It may not seem to be as contemporary, but actually BPAY sits across established and trusted payment rails in the market. It's convenience that is [being] offered,” Donohoe said.
“We've made [connecting to BPAY services] easier because we've been investing in building API's, which make it much easier for new entrants to connect into our services and that's been great, because we're reducing friction.”
Using BPAY Group’s developer portal, clients can select from a variety of customised APIs to support their business deliver better customer payment needs.
Donohoe said there are two main reasons why the portal is an important aspect to help modernise the Australian landscape.
“It's a preferred, modern way of connecting to third-party services, so that was our primary motivation," she said.
“But we have two audiences.
"We have our existing customers, over 160 financial institutions and payment providers, who connect into our ecosystem.
"While they are established, as those parties look to their own technology roadmaps and modernisation of their technology stack, they're looking at connecting within existing service relationships and we're seeing a preference for APIs.
“The second audience is new entrants, who really expect more modern ways of connecting to services.
“So it's those two audiences that drove our strategy regarding APIs”.
Donohoe said BPAY is seeing “an awful lot of interest” in its developer portals and “it certainly has outstripped our expectations”.
This past April BPAY launched two additional APIs which will enable members to send real-time payments, and to add and change biller details.
The two new additions bring the total number of APIs to six, with four APIs already released in 2019 during the initial launch of the developer portal.
“We've also been working on streamlining our developer portal to make self-service more effective," Donohoe said, adding that feedback received from users had been "taken onboard".
BPAY’s AI document intelligence company Sypht is expected to “prosper” since launcing in the US market.
A collaboration between BPAY Group and Boston Global Consulting's BCG Digital Ventures, Sypht uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to pull unstructured data from a wide range of sources.
From there, it can turn documents into data and insight to allow organisations to gain deeper understanding.
“The leadership team of Sypht have really taken the opportunity to demonstrate the capability of taking unstructured data and converting it into usable data that can really help solve problems in business," Donohoe said.
BPAY's cloud environment
Donohoe said BPAY has been “embracing cloud services” over the past four years, spurred on by its exposure to aging data centres.
“We embarked on a very ambitious program of exiting our data centres and migrating to private cloud platform services," Donohoe said.
BPAY took a “very conservative approach” given it is owned by the banks and services the financial industry.
“I say that we're unapologetically conservative on what we do because trust and security is absolutely paramount to what our customers expect of us," Donohoe said.
“We took a progressive and staged approach to migrating to the cloud.
"We basically transformed the platforms that we use, the way that we build and operate servers [and how] we utilise storage.
“We transformed our database technologies and most importantly, learned to adapt our operating model to work in a hybrid way, which is a blend of in-house services and working with third party providers.
“We also transitioned to the use of SaaS-based solutions for our office technology, so things like Office 365, moving to cloud-based CRM, cloud-based HR systems, and progressively we continue down that path.”
Today, BPAY has about 75 percent of its platforms in public and private cloud, and 100 percent of its developer tools in the cloud.
BPAY commited to agile development practices “about four years ago", Donohoe said.
“We also embrace different toolsets that would enable continuous integration and delivery, automated testing, automated security and testing of our code," she said.
Donohoe said the goal was to build an adaptable workforce “who is not change resistant”.
“It's been incredibly valuable for BPAY, and a nice measure of that is our release velocity," she added.
“Four years ago, we would have two major releases of BPAY payments technology a year and now we have releases every six weeks at minimum, to the point where our customers are pushing back a little bit and saying, ‘You're a bit fast for us’”.
The agility was invaluable during the Covid-19 pandemic, which Donohoe said the team was prepared for.
“I'll say in technology, we get it right when we invest in capabilities that nobody thinks is needed right now, but when the time arises, you have it readily available,” she said.
“What's been really pleasing is actually the adaptability of the whole BPAY group workforce.”
Donohoe said BPAY is now revisiting some of its earlier practices to improve parts that “were a bit rough and ready when we rolled them out”.
NPP, BPAY and eftpos merger
Last year, eftpos, BPAY and NPP Australia agreed to merge as one entity to reduce costs and better compete with the growing number of overseas payment platforms.
Donohoe sees "a lot of opportunity that could be explored” once the merger is cleared by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
“There is opportunity to consider how BPAY payments could operate across those [NPP] rails in the future, and we have a friendly relationship with eftpos as well," she said.
"We have shared knowledge, for instance, around API approaches and developments in the past. And so we think there are opportunities to explore [collaboration].
“It's something that we haven't really got into a lot of depth with at this point.”
To the future
Looking ahead Donohoe said there’s numerous things to look forward in the coming months.
“I'm excited about the additional APIs that we have on our roadmap," she said.
“I'm also excited about BPAYs consideration of digital identity opportunities.
“We have been evaluating ways in which BPAY could be playing a role to facilitate secure use of digital identity in the market.
“That's something that I hope will turn into something really interesting for our business over time.”