What are SWIFT payments?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Sending money overseas is as simple as any other transfer. The ease and accuracy of international transfers is due to SWIFT, a messaging network that connects banks and financial institutions across the globe. In this article, we discuss what is the SWIFT network and answer some of the most common questions regarding SWIFT payments.   

 

What are SWIFT payments?

SWIFT payments are payments sent through the SWIFT network. Short for Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, SWIFT is a messaging network used to process international bank-to-bank transfers. Note that this network does not actually process payments nor does it hold funds. Instead, it is responsible for transmitting payment messages and instructions between banks, which used to facilitate the transfer of funds.  

SWIFT is based in Belgium and overseen by the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), along with G-10 central banks. The network counts with over 11.000 member institutions based in 212 different countries, who used SWIFT to send over 35 million payments per day in 2020. These member institutions include banks, money brokers, clearing systems and enterprises.  

[/et_pb_text]smart routing can help prevent failed payments.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” custom_margin=”||||false|false” custom_margin_tablet=”” custom_margin_phone=”” custom_margin_last_edited=”on|desktop” custom_padding=”|0px||||” header_3_font_size_tablet=”22px” header_3_font_size_phone=”20px” header_3_font_size_last_edited=”on|phone”]

 

How does SWIFT work?

SWIFT is a messaging system used to ensure an accurate and seamless transfer of funds between countries. It assigns a SWIFT code to each financial organisation, that is composed by:

  • Four digits for the financial organisation code
  • Two characters for the country code
  • Two characters for the city code
  • Three characters for local branches (this is optional, so financial organisations may choose to add a different identifier here)

SWIFT codes can also be called BIC (Bank Identifier Code), SWIFT ID or ISO 9362 code. This code can be found online, by adding your bank’s name and your own account number and sort code. You may also find it in your own online account.

In order to make a SWIFT transfers, payers will have to insert this SWIFT code, along with the information below so that the transfer can be routed correctly.

 

What information do you need to provide for a SWIFT payment?

To make a transfer using SWIFT, senders need to provide the name of the recipient, their address, the name and address of the acquiring bank (recipient’s bank), the SWIFT code of the bank (also named BIC) and the recipient’s account number or IBAN. These details will be used to track the payment and ensure that it arrives safely in the correct account. Note that SWIFT codes only identify the acquiring bank, and not the individual customer. Hence, senders need to provide account identifiers such as the IBAN. Customers can find these numbers by logging in to their account portals online, via the banks’ app, or by visiting a physical branch.  

 

How long does a SWIFT payment takes to be processed?

SWIFT payments aren’t instant. They may take between 1 to 5 working days on average. The transfer times may vary slightly depending on the countries’ time differences, the currencies and the banks themselves. For instance, if there is no direct connection between your bank and the acquiring bank (assuming you are the payer), SWIFT may use an intermediary bank and take longer than usual to route the money.

[/et_pb_text]chargebacks are initiated by customers who request a transaction cancellation.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ _module_preset=”default” text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” inline_fonts=”Lato”]

 

What are the transfer limits for SWIFT?

Opposed to other networks, SWIFT does not have any transfer limits. You can send as much or as little money as you would like, provided that you have enough funds in your bank account to cover fee costs. Note that fees are usually non-refundable.

 

How much does SWIFT cost?

SWIFT payments incur a charge of around 3 to 4% of the total transfer, which includes admin costs and currency conversions. These charges may differ depending on the banks and currencies in question. The issuing and acquiring bank may also request a fixed fee for the transfer, which may total around €10 to €40. If you see a fee of this range, your bank is likely to be using SWIFT to make the payment.

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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What is the Electronic Payments Network (EPN)?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Automated Clearing Houses make bank-to-bank transactions possible. Each country has its own ACHs, which are responsible for processing all bank transfers. In the UK, for instance, bank-to-bank transfers are processed through the BACS system. In the US, the responsibility of processing bank-to-bank transfers relies on two clearing houses: the EPN and the Federal Reserve Bank. In this article, we focus on the Electronic Payments Network and its role within electronic bank transfers in the US.

 

What is the Electronic Payments Network (EPN)?

The Electronic Payments Network (EPN) is an automated clearing house that processes both credit and debit bank-to-bank transfers. It is a private institution owned by The Clearing House Payments Company LLC (PayCo), which is owned by some of the largest private banks. The list includes JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, HSBC, Citibank and Capital One.

The EPN was also responsible for remarkable ACH upgrades, including making this system 100% electronic. This has served to optimise the efficiency of bank transfers, speeding up payments and enabling individuals and businesses to better control their cash flow. The EPN is particularly useful for batch transfers such as payroll and dividend deposits.

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Electronic Payments Network vs Federal Reserve

In the United States, there are two Automated Clearing Houses (ACH) used to process bank payments: the Federal Reserve Bank (FedACH) and the EPN. The main difference between the two is that THE EPN only handles transactions from the private sector, whereas Reserve Banks handle government transactions. They collaborate with each other if transactions involve both the private and public sector. For instance, if an individual is to receive a government loan, the transaction is processed by both the EPN and the FedACH. Together, they handle more than $50 trillion in Electronic Fund Transfers every year.

 

How does it work?

EPN is generally used for bulk credit or debit bank transfers. Credit transfers include employees’ salaries, benefits and dividends, whilst debit transfers include loan repayments, utility bills, mortgage repayments or insurance premiums. Let’s use the example of employees’ salaries to demonstrate how the payment would work. Firstly, employees provide their company with their bank details. The company then submits its employees’ details to its bank. The company’s bank is responsible for passing these details to the EPN in a batch. The EPN routes the electronic transfer to each employee’s bank, which credits the funds to their customers. Once the company’s bank debits the transfer for its account, the payment is settled. Have a look at our previous article if you want to read more about ACH payments, including processing times and transfer limits.

[/et_pb_text]Merchant Acquirers are banks that manage the merchant's account for them.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ _module_preset=”default” text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” inline_fonts=”Lato”]

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What is vendor management?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Each business often has its own list of vendors or suppliers that enable them to optimise operations and deliver better services. Naturally, large companies deal with the highest number of suppliers for various business areas. Having a wide range of suppliers on board requires efficient management of each relationship and service provided. In this article, we discuss what is vendor management and how it can benefit your business.

 

What is vendor management?

Vendor management is a term that represents all the activities and tasks necessary for a business to manage and optimise relationships with its vendors. “Vendor” is a synonym of contractor or provider, as it includes any third-party business or individual that provides services to a company. The types of vendor vary significantly depend on the size of the business and the industry it operates in. For example, vendors may range from business consultants to software providers and manufacturers.

 

Why is vendor management important?

In order for a business to function optimally, all of its suppliers must be managed efficiently. Supplier issues may impact, for example, product availability and customer service, which causes serious disruption in the business. Therefore, it is fundamental to ensure that all the supplier operations are running smoothly. Taking into account the payments sector specifically, all payment providers must be managed efficiently in order for businesses to deliver the best checkout experience to customers.

For insurance, payments is a determining factor of customer retention. A poor checkout experience incentivises customers to look for the same service somewhere else and, with the wide range of insurance providers available, it is likely they might find an appealing offer. In order to offer great payment experiences, insurers need to leverage all of their PSPs (payment providers) in the most efficient way possible.   

[/et_pb_text]Vendor management tools enable faster onboarding.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” custom_margin=”||||false|false” custom_margin_tablet=”” custom_margin_phone=”” custom_margin_last_edited=”on|desktop” custom_padding=”|0px||||” header_3_font_size_tablet=”22px” header_3_font_size_phone=”20px” header_3_font_size_last_edited=”on|phone”]

 

Some components of vendor management

Now that we have discussed the general benefits of vendor management and its relevance for businesses, we will dive into some of its components.

 

Provider selection

Selecting providers requires liaising with each provider and determining which are the most suitable for the business’s growth plan. Price and functionalities always play a part in this decision, so it is important to have a good idea of what each provider offers. Vendor management tools enable businesses to have a general overview of the providers available, and more easily analyse its compatibility to the business’s needs.

 

Provider onboarding

The onboarding process consists of gathering, analysing and signing all the documentation needed to finalise the contract. Though the contract is finalised between the two companies involved, a vendor management tool can help speed up the process.

Onboarding goes hand in hand with the actual deployment of the payment provider into your IT system (considering only payment software vendors). This deployment can be incredibly long, expensive and resource-wasting, especially when there is a lack of compatibility between IT systems and technologies. For instance, traditional companies have older IT infrastructure that makes it more difficult to integrate with modern technologies. Imburse does all the heavy-lifting of integrating to providers for you, ensuring you have full access to all payment providers and technologies in any market.

[/et_pb_text]Vendor management speeds up the onboarding process.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ _module_preset=”default” text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” hover_enabled=”0″ inline_fonts=”Lato” sticky_enabled=”0″]

 

Provider performance

Once the selection and onboarding of providers is complete, it is time to fully optimise the relationships with providers, ensuring that everything is running smoothly and that all services are as cost-efficient as they can be. A vendor management tool can help you have a clearer overview of all the providers’ operations, which enable you to prevent potential disruptions, strengthen the relationships with current providers and reduce costs where possible.

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based payments middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What is a payment link?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Making a payment online has never been more straightforward. Payment links can be confusing to understand, especially because there are disparate definitions of this term online. In this article, we will define what is a payment link, what it is used for and its advantages for customers and merchants.

 

What is a payment link?

A payment link is a payment request that companies send to their customers so they can pay for their order. This payment link can be sent via any digital method, such as email, text, app, internet browsers or social media. Once customers receive the link, all they have to do is click on it and finalise their payment. This payment type is usually used when products or services are ordered outside the traditional physical or e-commerce shop.

 

Types of payment links

The term itself is quite broad and you may find that some people have a different idea of what a payment link entails. For instance, you may see “payment link” referring to a checkout button in any online e-commerce shop. This button takes the customers straight to a checkout page so they can insert their card details and complete the payment. “Payment button”, “Pay by link” or “Buy button” are simply other designations for payment link, and they all mean the same.

There are also invoice payment links, usually sent via email as a request for payment. The email invoice will contain the payment link and the merchant’s name, address and VAT information. By clicking the link, customers will be directed to a payment page where they can complete the payment.

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Alternatively, a payment link may be sent via SMS, email or social media, related to an uncompleted payment. Rather than providing the option to pay directly on the website, some ecommerce businesses may send their customers a payment link via SMS, email, social media or apps. Customers then need to click on the link, which leads to a payment page on a browser, and pay to complete the order. Payment links can be time-limited, so this is something to be ware of when purchasing products or services online.

 

Advantages and downsides of payment links

Payment links are an easy and convenient way to pay, especially if you install them on your website. This way, customers can complete their orders directly on the website and avoid going back and forth with browser tabs, or going in and out of apps. Payment buttons are also fairly easy to set up on your website, either through coding or plug-ins.

Invoice payment links are equally convenient and require little work from customers. The easier and more straightforward the payment process is- the better for merchants. A seamless payment experience makes it less likely for customers to leave your website halfway through placing an order, which naturally drives more sales.

There are various payment providers that offer payment links, the most widely known being PayPal. In Q2 of 2021, PayPal had 403 million users (Statista report). With so many users across the globe, PayPal likely is some of your customers’ favourite payment method. If you want to start taking PayPal payments, you first need a PayPal business account. You can then generate payment links and send them via email or social media, or even embed the link on your website.

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How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What is a hosted payment page?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Every time customers want to purchase something online and click on the checkout button, they are directed to a payment page. Hosted payment pages are essential in delivering the seamless and safe payment experience that customers are expecting. However, you may have not heard of the term “hosted page” before. In this article, we discuss the meaning of hosted payment page, the fundamental components of a hosted payment page and its benefits for merchants.

 

What is a hosted payment page?

A hosted payment page (HPP), also known as a hosted payment gateway, is an external web page that enables customers to add their card details and finalise a payment. Think of an ecommerce shop, for instance. The ecommerce business needs to deploy an external payment provider so it can process payments. Payment providers are the ones to offer a hosted payment page, so that merchants can allow their customers to safely complete the checkout process.

The difference between a hosted payment page and a regular payment page is that hosted pages are external, and not actually part of your website. Once customers click on the checkout button, they are instantly directed to a different page (the HPP), where they can insert their sensitive data and complete the payment. Customers’ sensitive data will not pass through your website at any point. All the information stays with the external provider and not with the merchant.

 

Advantages of having an hosted payment page

 

Higher security

Higher security is one of the biggest advantages of having an hosted payment page. Compliance with PCI DSS is mandatory for any business that handles payment data, whether that is storage, transmission or processing. However, merchants pass much of the responsibility of data protection to the payment provider they use because they don’t actually deal with any sensitive data. Outsourcing data protection to a third-party takes immense pressure off the business. It also ensures customers that their data is safe, which is a big plus considering the increasing general concerns with online security.

[/et_pb_text]The Insurance sector is facing increasingly more money laundering threats.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” custom_margin=”||||false|false” custom_margin_tablet=”” custom_margin_phone=”” custom_margin_last_edited=”on|desktop” custom_padding=”|0px||||” header_3_font_size_tablet=”22px” header_3_font_size_phone=”20px” header_3_font_size_last_edited=”on|phone”]

 

Easier integration

Hosted payment pages can appear as a separate window or be embedded into a website. If they appear as a separate window, this requires the customer to move tabs, making the process a little less seamless. Either way, the set-up process is fairly simple and usually only involves copying and pasting some code on the website. It doesn’t take a whole IT team to integrate it, so it won’t drain your internal resources.   

 

Customisability

Most hosted payment pages are customisable, so you can keep your branding throughout the whole customer journey. Merchants are able to change the layout of the page, the images that show up and the colour schemes, amongst other visual items. Customisability also means that your third-party provider’s branding won’t be shown to customers. This way, your customers can have a more seamless payment experience from beginning to end. White-label solutions are great to establish your brand and maintain credibility- you can read more about it on our previous blog post.

 

Which providers offer a hosted payment page?

Most payment providers offer their own hosted payment page. However, there can be substantial differences between the type of hosted payment page on offer. That is why it is important to consider factors such as how is the integration process, how customisable is the page and how seamless the payment process will be (i.e. is it user-friendly? Is it optimised for mobile usage?). Other factors to consider are the variety of payment methods offered by the provider and how many countries/currencies they support. The choice of hosted payment page will depend a lot on your business’s operations and needs.  

[/et_pb_text]E-wallets are convenient and fast.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ _module_preset=”default” text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” inline_fonts=”Lato”]

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

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What are BECS payments?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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Very much like the UK uses the BACS scheme to process bank-to-bank transfers, Australia uses its very own payments scheme called BECS. In this article, we explore the BECS payment system and answer some of the most common questions around BECS payments.

 

What is BECS?

BECS stands for Bulk Electronic Clearing System and it is an Australian system that processes bulk electronic transactions. It is managed by AusPayNet (Australian Payments Network, formerly APCA), a self-regulatory body composed of 120 members that include leading financial institutions in Australia. BECS functions under AusPayNet’s regulations and standards, and it carries an average yearly value of more than $15 trillion.

BECS electronic transactions can be direct debits, direct credits and one-off bank transfers. Card networks such as Visa and MasterCard are not involved. Instead, the sums of money are transferred bank-to-bank via the BECS scheme. Though it is generally used for low-value transactions, payers can actually transfer up to $100 million.

[/et_pb_text]BECS payments have no transfer limit.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” custom_margin=”||||false|false” custom_margin_tablet=”” custom_margin_phone=”” custom_margin_last_edited=”on|desktop” custom_padding=”|0px||||” header_3_font_size_tablet=”22px” header_3_font_size_phone=”20px” header_3_font_size_last_edited=”on|phone”]

 

What is BECS used for?

BECS Direct Debits are mainly used by companies with subscription models, such as insurance and utilities companies, for the collection of recurring payments. BECS Direct Credits are mainly used by companies to make bulk recurring payments such as paying employees’ salaries or benefits. BECS credit transfers are mostly used by individual customers to make one-off bank-to-bank transfers. Direct debits must be agreed and approved by the payer (customer) before they can be set up, and they have to be managed by the payee (company). Direct debit mandate management includes the storage, update and management of the Direct Debit contract.  

In order for companies to start taking BECS Direct Debits, they must be approved and registered by a financial institution. Once they are registered, they will have a unique six-digit number that serves as identification.

 

Advantages of the BECS scheme

Because BECS processes only bank-to-bank transfers and doesn’t involve any card network, the fees for BECS payments are much cheaper. It is also open to everybody that resides in Australia and has at least one bank account. Direct debits contribute to higher customer retention, because the payment is recurring and will be processed even if the customer’s card has expired. Direct debits use the customer’s bank account details, not their card details. Generally, direct debits also benefit the cash flow of the business, because the payments collection is automated and companies know what payments to expect and when.

[/et_pb_text]BECS payments are settled on the same day.[et_pb_text _builder_version=”4.9.2″ _module_preset=”default” text_font=”Lato||||||||” text_text_color=”#000000″ header_font=”Lato||||||||” header_text_color=”#000000″ header_font_size=”24px” header_2_font=”Lato||||||||” header_2_text_color=”#000000″ header_2_font_size=”24px” header_3_font=”Lato||||||||” header_3_text_color=”#000000″ header_3_font_size=”24px” inline_fonts=”Lato”]

 

How long does it take for a BECS payment to be settled?

The money sum is taken off the payer’s account as soon as the payment is initiated, and payments are processed and settled on the same day. Same-day settlement was introduced in November 2013 to improve efficiencies in transactions. Payments are exchanged in bulk, six times a day (10.00am, 1.00pm, 4.00pm, 6.30pm, 8.45pm and 10.30pm). Payment settlement will therefore occur during one of these times. However, it may take up to three days to receive confirmation of a BECS Direct Debit payment.

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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What is a card network/ card scheme?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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We have all heard of companies like Visa, Mastercard or American Express. They are all card payment networks and play an integral part in payment processing. In this article, we explore what are card networks and their role in payment processing. 

 

What is a card network?

A card network or card scheme is a system that links merchants to card issuers and facilitates the transaction. The card network creates a virtual infrastructure through which both issuing and acquiring banks can communicate. Whilst they aren’t responsible for actually processing the payment (the payment processor or PSP does that), they are the connector that links all the payment players and allows for the transaction to happen. Card transactions can’t happen without a card network.  

Card networks make money by charging their own interchange fees to issuing and acquiring banks. Rather than charging a set fee per transaction, however, they charge a percentage of the total volume of transactions. They also charge the merchant (payee) for merchant services fees. In 2015, the EU set a limit of 0.30% for service charges for both debit and credit cards. Merchants may not accept all of the card networks available. It is common for smaller businesses not to accept American Express, for instance, due to its higher service fees.  

 

Card network vs card issuer

Card issuers are issuing banks that deliver the credit or debit physical card that corresponds to each customer’s bank account. Every time customers opens a bank account, they will receive a physical card linked to that account that they can use for any purchase. Card issuers are only responsible for issuing the physical card, not processing the payment.

Most banks are card issuers. Think of, for example, Santander, HSBC, Barclays, Metro Bank, Citi Bank. Card networks like Mastercard or Visa don’t actually issue any physical card, they simply help to process the payment. However, there are a few exceptions. American Express and Discover, for instance, is both card networks and card issuers/banks. In your physical card, you are able to see both the name of your bank/card issuer, and the name of card network that your bank uses. Usually, the card network logo is displayed at the bottom left of your card.

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Some examples of card networks

 

Visa

Visa is the most used card network in the world. Just like Mastercard, it is solely a card network, not responsible for issuing cards. Visa’s most known products are credit, debit and prepaid cards, though it also operates an electronic funds transfer division called Interlink. In 2020, Visa generated $21.8 billion in net revenue and reported a payments volume of $8.8 trillion. The American company is based in Foster City, California. Both Visa and Mastercard are also publicly traded.

 

Mastercard

Headquartered in New York, United States, Mastercard is the second largest card network in the world. It is very similar to Visa in terms of the products it offers, though fees vary between the two card networks. In the 2nd quarter of 2021, Mastercard had over 1 billion cards in circulation across the globe. Both Visa and Mastercard dominate the card network market (Statista report).

 

American Express

Also headquartered in New York, American Express is both a credit card issuer and card network. It offers credit cards to individuals, small businesses and corporations. It has a wide variety of credit cards to choose from, including cashback cards, British Airways cards and Amazon cards. American Express is the 5th most popular credit card company in the world, with 63 million cardholders. It serves mainly high-income customers with high credit scores in over 160 countries.

 

Discover Card

Just like Amex, Discover is also both a credit card issuer and card network. Headquartered in Illinois, U.S., Discover Bank offers current and savings accounts, various types of loans and credit cards. Compared to Visa, Mastercard and Amex, Discover isn’t as widely accepted both in the US and in the rest of the world. Much like Amex, the resistance likely comes from smaller merchants who find its interchange fees too high.

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Union Pay

Headquartered in Shanghai, China, UnionPay is the largest card payment network in China. It covers 176 countries and regions, including 90% of Europe. UnionPay also has an app that enables its over 200 million users to make mobile payments. Like Amex and Discover, UnionPay issues its own debit or credit cards. Its range of cards also include travel cards that offer benefits such as access to airport lounges and access to tourist attractions.

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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What is an API (Application Programme Interface)?

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By Mariana Almeida Marques

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It is common to hear about APIs in the technology sector. APIs have effectively changed how developers write and connect to applications. However, if you are not a developer, API may not be the easiest term to understand. In this article, we discuss what are APIs, how they work, and real-life examples of using this tool.  

 

What is an API?

Succinctly put, an API, or Application Programming Interface, is a set of rules that connects two applications. Think of APIs as intermediaries that enable applications to talk to each other and exchange data and/or functionalities. They allow companies to share their software with third-parties, such as clients, business partners or other developers. These third-parties can make use of the software’s functionalities and work on those functionalities without having to write all of their own code.

 

Types of API

There are various types of APIs available. The types of API are defined based on its usage/who can access them. Below are some of the most widely known APIs.

Public– According to ProgrammableWeb, there are currently over 24.000 public APIs available. Public APIs open for external users and any developer or business can access them. Some examples are Skyscanner or Twitter. Essentially, any kind of travel booking or social platform that lets users share, post or request information from third-parties (such is the case of Skyscanner). You can find more detailed examples in the next section of this article.  

Private- Internal APIs, on the other hand, are only available to the company’s own developers and are not shareable with external users. This means that only the company’s developers have access to the backend data and functionalities and can work together on them.

Partner-There are also Partner APIs that companies may share with business partners. However, partners can’t access APIs automatically. Though companies may show their APIs on a public developers portal, partners need to undergo a specific onboarding process to get the login credentials and finally be able to use the API.  

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Some API examples

Restaurant order- Using a real-life example, think of making an order at a restaurant. You first access a system/menu with all the meal options available. Then, you need to make your order either via the waiter or through a mobile app. The waiter or mobile app serve as the connection between you and the system/kitchen, allowing for your order to reach the final destination and be processed. This communication between “systems” is needed for everything that users search for. Initially, users trigger a request to the server, who performs the necessary actions and brings the results back to them.  

Travel booking- Many travel websites let users compare the prices and availability, amongst other functions, of hotels and flights around the globe. This is only possible to API connections that enable users to access information from various websites at the same time. Whenever users make a search on a travel website, they trigger an API request to access information from a particular hotel or airline in real time.

Universal logins- It is common for websites to let users sign up or log in using another account. For instance, websites may let you sign up with your Facebook account, so you don’t actually have to insert your email address and a new password. This process uses an API that connects the website you’re entering to Facebook so you can be quickly authenticated. The API here is responsible for picking up your Facebook account details and sharing them with the website you want to sign up to.  

More generally, APIs can also be used to share data (i.e. programmes that need data from third-parties), to do app integrations (i.e. Hootsuite for automating posts on another app) or to embed external content into platforms.

 

What is an API key?

An API key consists of a unique code to identify the developer/user who made an API request. It also serves for authentication and tracking purposes, almost like an ID used to monitor how the API is being used. API keys naturally help companies to restrict access to their software. Companies have the option to only give keys to a specific group of clients and to control how many people use their software.  

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How do APIs work?

The process starts with an API request, for which you need an API key. The third-party initiates an API call, requesting the API for information. The API effectively works as the connector between the third-party/application and the web server. If all details are correct, the API will collect the information from the web server and deliver it to the application. Much like in the real-life examples above, users trigger a request for specific information, such as a destination and date for flights, the application receives this request, collects this information from the airlines’ website and delivers it to the user.

 

How Imburse can help

Imburse is a cloud-based middleware connecting large enterprises to the payments ecosystem, regardless of their existing IT infrastructure. Through a single connection to Imburse, enterprises can collect or pay out using a variety of payment technologies and providers around the globe.

In a world where consumers payment preferences and technologies are ever-evolving, Imburse works with insurers to future-proof their payment requirements. Regardless of the business area, market, or requirements, Imburse will connect you to your choice of technology and provider.

Reach out to our team below should you want to discuss how Imburse can help you. Our team is happy to show you what our platform can do for your business and offer you a free demo.

 

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