Blog article
See all stories »

Colonic irrigation for payments

We have always had two different payment flows without realizing it: pull and push. 

"Pull" flow is your in-store payment - merchant makes a request for payment, "pulls" payment credentials from customer and then forwards those credentials to the customer's bank to "pull" the payment (which takes days to filter through the clearance and settlement system). ATMs are using the same flow too.

It is easy to see the disadvantages of "pull" flow: exposure of payment credentials, cost of multi-party structure and slow speed. EMV is introducing tokens as risk mitigation tool, but that doesn't address other problems of "pull".

"Push" flow is your utility bill. Merchant makes a request for payment, customer instructs the bank to make that payment. Merchant doesn't know (and doesn't care) how the payment is done. Slow, but cheap and cheerful.

Enter mobile phones and instant payments, say Paym. Merchant (online store, coffee shop, ATM) presents a request for payment - say, via QR code. Customer uses the payment app to scan that QR code, checks transaction data and sends payment instructions to the bank. A few seconds later the funds hit the merchant's bank account (in case of ATM - its deployer). No acquirers, no card schemes... There are still some issues to address, but you get the picture...

Some further food for thought. 

There are three easy ways for customer to receive a request for payment ("invoice", if you like) from merchant: QR code, BLE, NFC. Every smartphone can support QR. Every new smartphone can support BLE (and QR).

So can tablets and many PCs. That makes both QR and BLE interfaces suited for e-commerce...

Retail payment terminal based on "pull" NFC costs over £100. Retail "push" BLE beacon costs £10. (On the phone level, the cost of NFC is also up to ten times higher than BLE).

The latest EMV specs (if you are still keen on "pull") support both QR and BLE.

If you are a merchant (or a consumer, or a bank), that makes you think, doesn't it?.. Especially if you are based in the US, where mag stripe is on its way out and mobile payments are still struggling to blossom.


Comments: (1)

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 27 May, 2014, 12:41Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Innovations such as PayM present a possibility to turn"Pull" bill payments into push payments. While currently the majority of household bills are paid by Direct Debit, billers and retailers alike could compliment the three day cycle of ACH payments by pushing a request for payment to the customer via SMS, which contains the biller's beneficiary information that can be automatically sucked into a PayM payment for prompt, payment in seconds rather than days. It would be cheaper for all parties than cards or DDs and it gives the biller that all important brand engagement - having an albeit automated conversation or interaction with your customer keeps your brand in the front of their minds and gives them choice.

So how about using it for a kind of dynamic discounting option: pay now by PayM for 50p off or we'll collect by DD or card tomorrow?

We just need to work out how to get the biller's account data and - critically - reference data into the PayM transaction and there's a whole new way to get paid - solicit payment. SMS Bill presentment and payment - the new form of EBPP.

Member since




More from member

This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.

See all

Now hiring