Q&A with Mark Townley at Azupay

Mark Townley at AzupayAmid the evolving changes driven by market and industry demand, businesses swiftly embraced contactless and cashless payments, initially as a health and safety measure, but the broader perspective reveals that these shifts in payment methods offer significant opportunities. According to a recent article by The Paypers, even SMEs are changing how their payments operate. The study reports that in 2018, over 80% of small businesses in the United States were reportedly handling invoices manually, settling payments through cheques. The adoption of digital processes, particularly automated invoice management, could yield substantial advantages, leading to an 81% reduction in processing costs.

Azupay is a fintech leveraging the NPP’s PayID and PayTo platforms to deliver payment solutions for their clients. Azupay’s compelling value proposition is generated by combining modern API driven solutions that generates benefits such as real-time settlement, straight through reconciliation, cheaper payment rails, and fraud reduction for Governments, Billers, Enterprises, and small to medium businesses.

These intelligent processes also enhance the overall digital experience, providing better visibility and control over payment arrangements and cash flow. The real-time nature of Azupay driven payment solutions also benefits businesses within working capital management, operational efficiency and overall customer experience.

Reed Li, Data Analytics Director at Payments Consulting Network, sits down with Azupay’s Chief Customer Officer, Mark Townley to discuss Azupay’s payment solutions and value proposition.

RL: Please provide a brief high-level overview of your business

MT: Azupay is a leading Australian Payments Fintech and CX company leveraging the New Payments Platform (NPP) to provide smarter, safer and faster real-time payment solutions to Government, Banks, Billers and Businesses.

Azupay was started in 2019 after working with and creating real-time payment capability for the NSW Government. We are now a growing team and are pleased to have well-known banks, large Australia enterprises and many more businesses integrating and offering Azupay’s PayID and PayTo payment solutions to their customers.

RL: What payments services do you offer merchants and/or not-for-profit organisations in Australia?

MT: We offer real-time inward and outward payment solutions to assist businesses to operate more efficiently. We focus our expertise on the real-time payments (PayID, PayTo, PayOut) for the domestic public and private sector market, with a strong emphasis on experience and economic benefits for both merchants and customers.

Our solutions can be embedded anywhere a business needs to make or accept payments. For example, online/eComm, mobile apps, call centre facilitation, digital and paper invoicing and increasingly integrated into in-store and point of sale environments. But these are only examples and there is so much more we solve for. Let us know what you are thinking, and we will help to match you to the right real-time payment solution.

RL: Are there any industry sectors or client types that you focus on for merchant services?

MT: Azupay focuses on two major sectors across multiple industries. Government, Banks, Billers and Large Enterprise and Mid-Market companies and partnerships. The Azupay platform is built for speed, reliability and scalability to support the needs and requirements of large time important payment volumes across business like Governments, Telco, Insurance, Utilities, Super Funds, Property, Sports Gaming and Travel industries (plus more). We are also servicing large box retail, assisting with solutions for instant bank account payments for eComm and face-to-face (in-store) transactions. Our retail solution operates at the speed of credit card payments and provides instant transaction approval confirmation, but payments are direct from the customer’s bank account, which leads to cheaper overall cost to the business and reduces their credit card fraud risk.

And our solutions for Australian small and medium business are supported through a growing network of distribution partners who are pre-qualified and ready to assist small to medium businesses to fast track accepting real-time payments.

RL: What do you see as your key strengths with respect to merchant services?

MT: We are great team of approachable and knowledgeable people, ready to assist any business wanting to explore real time payments. The strength of Azupay is driven by depth and breadth of our experience (we sometimes refer to ourselves as the 4-year-old corporate fintech with 300 years of banking and payments experience) across our board, executive and operational teams – many of whom bring 20 to 30 years of individual experience in banking, cards and payments from a business and technology perspective. The other important factor is the modern technology architecture being cloud and API driven which provides for leading edge scalability, resilience, reliability, security and configurability.

RL: What do you see as your key differentiators with respect to merchant services?

MT: In addition to the depth and breadth of general transaction banking and payments experience (as noted in my previous response), Azupay has focussed on understanding and building for the end user (payer) experience. Whilst we provide services only to businesses at this stage, our solutions are effectively B2B2C. We assist our merchants to provide the best end payer customer experience possible, to speed up adoption of real-time payments and help unlock benefits faster (like cash flow velocity, fraud mitigation and reduced operational costs) for a business.

Azupay’s experience processing millions of PayID transactions and extensive focus group research has culminated in the development of a best-in-class payments experience in the form of our Checkout App. In contrast to other real-time payments providers who simply offer APIs, Azupay has developed a payer experience that makes introducing new audiences to the payment channel intuitive and accelerates speed to market for our clients.

Additionally given our existing customer base on Government, Banks, Billers and Larger Enterprise customers, we have assembled a customer success and onboarding team with deep experience also across the “enterprise sales cycle, procurement and integration process. We know we seem to be a smaller, newer fintech company but because of the team we have assembled, we “punch well above our weight” and understand the requirements and expectations that come with providing payments services to the “big end of town”. The benefit of this also flows on to our small to medium business segment too. We know even though some businesses seem to operate lean, they can also have payments complexities which readily leverage our knowledge and assist with.

RL: What were your key achievements over the last 12 months in merchant services?

MT: Azupay has a proud “pioneering” and “firsts” heritage with respect to PayID and PayTo for business solutions. Azupay was the first company in Australia to offer a unique PayID for business, made available at the individual transaction, invoice, payment level – with banks and other real-time payments providers still only able to offer solutions at the company or account level. Azupay can enable merchants to match individual payments to each transaction, without the need for additional “payments matching” reconciliation solutions or applications and ensures that payments are auto reconciled at initiation rather than after the payment has been made. We have solved straight-through-reconciliation from customer payment to ERP with no additional intermediatory programs or AR processes required.

Secondly, Azupay was the first company to process an external industry PayTo end to end transaction between one of Azupay’s large customers and smaller merchants, back in August 2022.

Azupay is also now one of the largest volume processes on NPP real-time PayOut transactions.

We are proud to be processing PayID, PayTo and PayOut transactions for leading key Australian organisations and companies including State Governments, Telco, Travel & Airlines, Retail, Universities and Schools, Sports Gaming, Online Food Ordering and a wholesale / white label platform partner to international and domestic banks, cards companies and payments services providers.

RL: What merchant services innovations do you have on your product/service roadmap for the next 12 months?

MT: Our core focus remains on ongoing education, awareness, integration, and adoption of PayID, PayTo and PayOut solutions for business. We observe and learn how we best package those into an out of the box solutions suite, through our peer leading Azupay checkout apps.

We are excited also to be exploring further extension of existing Azupay QR payment solutions and the integration and embedding of real time payments processing into wallets and apps with add on loyalty programmes – a joint initiative with a number of Australia leading retailers.

RL: What key criteria or features should a business consider when evaluating payments service providers?

MT: Our team’s business experience includes being both purchasers and suppliers of payments services. We understand evaluation when considering new payments options for a business. We offer 6 key criteria to anyone looking at real-time payment solutions and wondering how to evaluate which vendor, service and solution to consider and partner. They include:

  • Capability – what is the depth and breadth of experience and quality of services and solutions on offer
  • Capacity – can the supplier actually deliver to what they are promoting / suggesting (with references)
  • Credentials – understanding and experience with the industry, business, context and problem to be addressed
  • Commercials – a financial and sustainable business case that works for everyone (buyer, supplier and customers)
  • Connection – Do, have, can we establish a true partnership and personal relationships across key people where we can have open, honest dialogue on any and all things that need to be discussed?
  • Culture – do our businesses and people aligned on shared vision, values, and goals. What will it actually be like to work together? What does each brand actually mean for the other?
RL: What industry changes or trends to do you see occurring over the next 2-3 years that will have a major impact on your business and/or your clients?

MT: We see and support the need for ongoing market awareness and education around Australia’s New Payments Platform for both consumers peer-to-peer payments through to New Payments Platform (or NPP) for Business solutions. NPP payments have been growing positively and we see further exponential growth with business and biller payments when PayTo is fully operational across all the banks, improving the level of understanding around the safety, speed, experience and economic benefits of PayID and PayTo for businesses and their customers.

Topics and discussions in the market about ongoing card fraud, invoice interception (BSB/Account Number changes), surcharging, CX, waiting days for payments to settle into your bank account and delayed reconciliation problems, together with the ultimate shutdown of the legacy existing BECS and Direct Debit systems over the coming years will drive more adoption to NPP options, like real-time payment solutions from Azupay.

I’ll also add, we think an exciting development underway is PayTo agreements and payments processing embedded as part of the customer purchase experience that eliminates the need for the whole checkout queuing experience (whilst maintaining safety and security around identification of payers and payments).

Author: Reed Li, Data Analytics Director, Payments Consulting Network

Reed boasts a rich and diverse professional background, accumulating over 17 years of invaluable experience in an array of roles spanning professional services, consulting, investment banking, finance, and accounting. His expertise extends across a broad spectrum of industries, encompassing payments, banking and finance, telecommunications, healthcare, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), and government sectors.

is a member of our
Real Time A2A Payments Panel.


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