Today we’re living in a digital-first, real-time economy, yet traditional financial services have lagged behind, holding up European business innovation. This has only been made worse by the recent global economic turmoil.
As inflation falls and the European economy slowly returns from the brink of recession, now is the time for European businesses to start re-evaluating their payments strategy to ensure it doesn’t stunt their growth, success or profit margins in the long run. Access to reliable real-time payments is now even more critical as businesses look to rebuild and set themselves back on the path to growth.
Here, Elanie Steyn, our General Manager for Europe, explains why Modulr’s continued European expansion is good news for EU businesses looking to embed payments.
The embedded payments opportunity
Modulr was designed to solve a very specific problem in business payments – one of inadequate access to financial services.
As software businesses began to identify the need to deliver new functionality and efficiencies to their customers by embedding payments in customer journeys, it became clear that the traditional banking system was simply unable to deliver the level of payments or infrastructural flexibility required. Payments and payments data needed to be programmatically accessible but traditional banks faced clear challenges in making embedded payments a reality via developer-friendly and seamless APIs. Consequently, there was a huge opportunity for a digital alternative to commercial and wholesale transaction banking.
Modulr set out to build a truly digital, frictionless payments infrastructure for businesses and software platform partners looking to provide new payment experiences. In doing so, we gained the deepest level of access to the underlying payments infrastructure, as well as access to the payment schemes. And now we package up all of that deep payment expertise, together with our technical integrations and the payments permissions we’ve acquired, and we bring them to companies who want to reduce manual processes, reduce inefficiencies and reduce the costs around delivering high volume payments.
A global outlook, with a local European presence
Over the last few years, we’ve made considerable investment in our localised European capabilities, with a strong focus on end-customer experience and requirements. In 2021 we opened an office in The Netherlands and we became licensed as an Electronic Money Institution by De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB).
Over the last 12 months, we’ve continued to take significant strides to solidify this European capability, expanding our scale and presence in countries across the EU through our burgeoning branch network, with Spain and France next on our roadmap. As well as giving us representation in the countries we operate in, branches give us access to local payment schemes and allow us to secure more local IBANs as we continue to fight IBAN discrimination.
Fighting back against IBAN discrimination
IBAN discrimination, when a payment is refused because the bank account is held in another European country, is a source of payment disruption and transactional friction for consumers and businesses alike. And, it’s also a serious issue for European FinTechs and alternative banking providers looking to expand their reach and penetration across the EU.
By setting up local Modulr branches in member states, we can give our clients the ability to offer local IBANs to their customers and avoid this increasingly prevalent form of payments prejudice. Alongside our UK (GB), Irish (IE) and Dutch (NL) IBANs, we’ll be rolling out Spanish (ES) and French (FR) in 2023. By providing cost-effective, inclusive and local services, we can ensure that European businesses and consumers can make SEPA transfers, either domestic or cross-border, quickly, easily and cheaply, regardless of where their account (and IBAN) originates.
Giving European businesses all the cards
Our European capabilities have recently been further bolstered with the launch of our European card issuing service. Modulr customers based in Europe can now create, distribute and manage virtual and physical cards across the EU quickly and intuitively, via API.
This is significant because, while our cards have always been useable in Europe they haven’t, until now, been issued in Europe. It’s an important distinction because cards that are issued in Europe are cheaper to use in Europe. So, by offering the ability to issue cards in Europe, we’re allowing our customers to unlock the wide-ranging benefits of cards, more cost effectively than ever before.
So, whether you’re a European lender looking to issue cards so that you can disburse loans at speed across Europe; or a European alternative banking provider wanting to supercharge your proposition by issuing virtual or physical cards to customers across the EEA - Modulr is now your single point of contact for European card issuing and control.
A real-time Euro payments service
Last year we also launched our real-time Euro payments service, based on the pan European SEPA Instant scheme, which operates 24/7, settles funds within 10 seconds and presents European businesses with significant competitive opportunities.
This new service enables customers to build and launch embedded real-time Euro payment propositions via the Modulr API; allowing them to send and receive payments immediately, under their own or Modulr’s regulated status. By embedding real-time payments directly into their software, businesses in Europe can deliver efficient and competitive payment propositions far quicker and easier than previously possible, and scale and grow their business at pace across EEA countries.
So, all in all, Modulr’s never been better positioned to help European businesses to leverage the many benefits that real-time, embedded payments bring.
Through the Modulr platform, businesses in the EEA can now access an extensive suite of embedded European payments services that include SEPA Instant for inbound and outbound payments, digital EUR account issuing for fund routing and holding, with European card issuing and local IBANs enhancing the setup.
It’s this growing European capability, together with our depth of experience in digital payments and API integrations, that makes us the perfect partner for any EU business seeking to transform the way they make, receive and manage payments - wherever they, or their customers are, in the EEA.
Elanie Steyn is Modulr's General Manager for Europe.
For more information about how Modulr's European card issuing service can help EEA businesses unlock the wide-ranging benefits of cards, more cost effectively than ever before, take a look at our product guide.