BPAY: Uncovering new business opportunities with APIs

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Editor’s note: Today we hear from Jon White and Angela Donohoe from BPAY Group. BPAY Group is best known for BPAY, the leading electronic bill payment system in Australia, handling one-third of the market. Learn how BPAY Group is positioning the organization for the future by using APIs to streamline workflows for existing customers and new businesses.

BPAY has been a leader in the bill payment industry in Australia for 22 years and provides a secure, fast, and convenient way to connect individuals, businesses, and banks to help people stay on top of their bills.

One of the reasons that BPAY is the preferred bill payment service for so many Australians is our commitment to human-centered design. We’re continuously talking with customers and looking at ways that we can deliver better experiences, products, and services, such as peer-to-peer payments. During these conversations, we noticed some ways that our processes were causing friction for existing or potential customers.

For example, we traditionally used a batch processing system to handle requests between billing companies and banks. But that could cause headaches for some customers, as an error in even one request could cause the whole batch to be rejected. Plus, many “neobanks” (new types of digital-only banks) wanted to work with real-time transactions instead of batch processes, which take longer to complete.

We realized that APIs had the potential to solve many of the challenges impacting customers while opening the doors for future product and business development. We developed a few customer-facing APIs and tested them in closed betas. This experiment went far better than we expected, and we realized that there was a huge appetite for APIs among our biller customers.

While we had developed many APIs for internal systems, developing APIs that were easy to consume by our customers was a new challenge. We needed to move away from our home-grown API development approach and make our API environment more powerful, versatile, and easier to use. The API experts at The Singularity worked with us to develop a strong API strategy. We decided that we would need to support our new strategy with a scalable API management platform.

After a rigorous search, we landed on the Apigee API Management Platform. Apigee was the only solution that met all our technology and business requirements. With Apigee, we have a solid foundation for APIs that will help us deliver more value for all customers.

Creating a custom development environment

BPAY is a trusted brand in Australia, so it was very important to us that we maintain our reputation for excellent customer experiences. When setting up our developer portal, we started with a closed pilot and used developer feedback to make the portal as convenient and simple to use as possible. The Apigee developer portal has many built-in features to help us customize experiences, and if we run into roadblocks, the Apigee team at Google listens and helps us create the custom experience we want.

The developer portal has already proven to be extremely popular. In its first month live, we registered 104 developers in the sandbox environment and 10 developers in the production environment. That was before we even started marketing our developer portal, so we expect those numbers to rise quickly.

Breaking new ground with APIs

We’ve already released four foundational APIs, with a goal of eventually releasing dozens. Our APIs are helping us create smoother experiences for customers. We mentioned that when processing a batch of payment files, one mistake could cause the entire batch to get rejected. Our APIs now enable businesses to validate all payment information before submitting a batch file, dramatically reducing the chances of errors. They can even use our APIs to automatically generate batch files in the right format for different banks.

While APIs improve service for current customers, they also open the doors for new areas of business. Buy now, pay later (BNPL) services, which enable customers to spread out payments across weeks or months, are already popular in retail spaces. After releasing our first APIs, we connected with two BNPL billing services. These companies use our APIs to validate customers’ bill payment information and then pay the bill in full on behalf of customers. This was a completely new use case for us, one that could not have been implemented without our APIs.

The payment service NoahPay also adopted our APIs to validate payment information and let customers pay bills using funds from their WeChat accounts. This is an exciting new market for us, as it’s one of the first examples of how we can connect to international digital wallets through our new APIs. It’s also a great way to introduce users of WeChat, a messaging app used by more than 1 billion people in China, to the BPAY brand.

Planning for the future of bill pay

We have big plans for APIs in the future, and Apigee helps make these plans a reality. We plan to establish a generous freemium monetization model that will allow customers to make up to 200,000 API calls for free each month with tiered payment plans above that. This will enable us to open the doors for smaller organizations while providing optimal support for larger businesses and banks that might need to make millions of calls. Having powerful end-to-end monetization features built in to Apigee means that we can process monetized transactions with ease.

Built-in reporting functionality will also help us make sure that we’re understanding the market’s need for APIs and always providing our customers with valuable services and support.

Apigee greatly streamlines creating self-service API environments. Even as we grow our business, our internal teams will be able to continue providing excellent customer service without needing extra staff to answer questions, help with integration support, and constantly check API security. APIs are the way of the future, and Apigee prepares us meet the challenges that come along with it.

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