Interview with Tom Livock, Head of Enterprise Sales at AccessPay
AccessPay is a Manchester-based FinTech that is reinventing the way finance teams are using technology. The strength of their innovation has been recognised in Business Cloud’s latest FinTech 50 ranking. We spoke to Tom Livock, Head of Enterprise Sales at AccessPay, to find out more about how they are modernising corporate finance as well as what is next for the industry.
Can you tell us a little bit about AccessPay and how you help businesses?
AccessPay helps corporate customers connect their back-office (ERP) systems to banks for the purpose of payment and cash management automation. As the world’s first cloud-based BACS service, we see ourselves as the next generation in corporate banking, helping those in finance and treasury roles streamline their banking operations by replacing archaic online portals with an automated approach. Put simply, we help you wave goodbye to clunky spreadsheets, daunting password management and time-wasting manual processes through our three value pillars that separate us from the oversaturated FinTech scene. We’re technological trailblazers, industry leaders in customer service, and guarantee a live solution in 12 weeks or less.
Has Open Banking had a big impact on corporate finance innovation?
While Open Banking is firmly establishing itself as the industry’s future, I don’t think it’s there quite yet. So far, Open Banking has largely been aimed at consumers rather than corporates, and banks have been somewhat hesitant to adopt. This means that its suitability for corporates is limited owing to authentication and questions of open authorisation (OAuth). AccessPay have adopted it for the retrieval of bank data such as balances and transactions however, and the issues mentioned are on the path to mitigation already.
How do you think Covid-19 has affected corporate cash management?
Put simply – and it probably goes without saying – it affected corporate cash management significantly. Finance teams typically work in a single location for ease of operation and streamlined communications, but the pandemic made them disparate and geographically scattered. This is problematic for several reasons. Most obviously it interrupted workflows, as corporates had to adjust to virtual communication for complicated procedures. This also meant that a team’s knowledge was more widely spread, and it became more difficult not only to access a central data repository in the office, but also the expertise of colleagues and seniors. The use of physical tokens to access banking portals was shown to be drastically archaic, and a whole host of security risks followed. When working from home, employees are more susceptible to phishing, and the increased reliance on file transfers can open businesses up to cyber-attacks. The silver lining is that Covid-19 raised awareness of these issues, but cloud-based solutions have been able to solve most of them.
What key trends do you predict are next for corporate finance?
2022 will assuredly demonstrate some form of return to economic normality, and as the banking landscape adjusts to the so-called ‘new normal’, both new and established concepts will emerge in the spotlight. A broader range of connectivity options is a key consideration, as both financial APIs and Host-to-Host connections are viable choices for your banking operations. The transition to ISO 20022 is fast approaching too, and is something finance and treasury teams need to keep in mind.
What are AccessPay’s short and long term goals?
In the short term, the team here at AccessPay want to enable more customers to have access to next-generation corporate banking by eliminating the need for banking portals. We’re genuine believers in the benefits associated with the removal of manual processes, in terms of monetary savings, workflow modernisation, and overall improvement to internal culture. In the longer term, we plan to become the de facto gateway for corporates seeking to streamline their multi-bank operations.
Have you faced a lot of resistance to change from businesses? How do you think the perception of cloud-based products has evolved?
As mentioned, AccessPay were the leaders in cloud-based BACS services. From our inception in 2012 through roughly to 2015 however, we encountered barriers. It might be hard to remember in the 2020s, but cloud services were initially treated with considerable suspicion. Early clients and prospects of ours felt that that cloud-based services were less secure than those on-premise. With the advent of global cloud-based services however, such as GCP (Google Cloud Platform) and Microsoft Azure, payment via the cloud has become the norm, and banks themselves have adopted these techniques for global payment solutions.
What are some of the key challenges facing UK FinTechs at the moment?
There are a couple of factors here, but the common offenders – funding and adoption – thankfully aren’t applicable. In fact, perhaps quite the opposite: the FinTech scene risks oversaturation, being reminiscent of the California Gold Rush. The expectation is that your startup will become the next trailblazing unicorn, but this simply won’t be the case for the vast majority of businesses. The second problem is one of distraction. When one thinks of FinTech, it’s undeniably synonymous with cryptocurrency. Thanks to figures such as Elon Musk, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin dominate FinTech news, overshadowing FinTechs that often have vastly more grounded, demonstrably helpful services. Finally – and less interestingly – is the challenge of regulation. While this doesn’t apply to every demographic within the FinTech scene, many businesses continue to grapple with the necessary evil of legal regulation – a process that many are hoping to simplify in the coming years.
How important do you see the role of financial services in supporting climate change?
This is a hot topic, once again, with cryptocurrency. As a new and ‘scary’ financial medium, we’re yet to fully understand its environmental implications. More generally though, we’re likely to see much greater collaboration and a more integrated approach between financial services and other sectors in coming years as climate change continues to become a more pressing matter. At AccessPay, we’re doing our part here – the move to cloud encourages a paperless approach and a more modern approach to work in general, allowing home working to be a possibility and reducing the need for unnecessary travel.
To find out more about AccessPay check out their website here.
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