How BPAY APIs enable HelpPay to help others

- By Collaborative Media & Publishing
More than two-thirds of Australians say they would help a close family member pay a bill if they were stuck for cash.
 
But many don’t and the reason is that they don’t know if the money they give will actually be put towards the bill. In fact, research by HelpPay reveals that 43% of people who have the means to help but choose not to is because of trust where their money will actually go when they give it to friends or family for a bill.
 
It’s a problem the founders of HelpPay set out to overcome by building digital trust into the relationship, especially as they watched the headlines of how many people have lost jobs and income through the COVID-19 pandemic and were struggling to pay bills.
 
“We thought there must be a way for people to scan or upload their billing data and share it,” says HelpPay’s managing director Andrew Ellett.
 
“This must already exist. We were just amazed that it didn't. So we thought maybe there's something that we can do to really make people's lives easier and help them.”
 
So they built HelpPay, which launched in late November.
 
The app allows users to upload and share their bill details with friends or family who might pay all or part of them. It collects only four data points – the bill amount, the due date, the BPAY biller code and the BPAY customer reference number – so no personal information about the payer is revealed.
 
A social FinTech
 
Users can either put in their BPAY biller code and reference number or just scan the bill and reference number with their phone.
 
The app then creates a link to a public payment page which they can share on SMS, WhatsApp or any other social media platforms with anyone they like.
 
HelpPay also has its own social media platform where recipients of a bill can share it with other users.
 
“We're creating a social FinTech,” Ellett says. “We've built a mini-Facebook within this app so you can do in-app bill sharing and payments.” The app only allows payment of bills with a BPAY biller code and which are available via BPAY APIs – that is, they check that bills are accepted according to BPAY’s APIs.
 
If someone decides to help, they pay all or some of the bill via the app, which routes the money (minus a $1 transaction fee) to the biller via BPAY.
 
“HelpPay is a guarantee and trust mark. We will only ever get that money to the provider,” Ellett says.
 
“We’re making it really, really easy and being able to trust where your money is going when you want to give help or when you can provide help.”
 
The app has several fraud mitigation strategies. It only offers the service to Australian companies which accept BPAY payments and only with Australian credit cards. The maximum bill size is $1500 and the maximum payment per transaction is $800. Among other strategies, it uses Stripe Radar as an add-on service to its payment gateway to distinguish fraudsters from genuine customers and has round-the-clock monitoring of transactions.
 
The app recognises that many of the recipients of bills aren’t necessarily the people who pay those bills. Parents pay bills for their children; children sometimes help their elderly parents manage their finances; and flatmates and friends often split bills.
 
This gives rise to the second part of the HelpPay offering – helping service providers change their billing relationship from one-to-one to one-to-many.
 
At the moment, a service provider can only send their bill to one person, who is named on the bill. If they don’t pay, the service provider has little option but to chase them for the debt and can’t do anything to help them.
 
Digitising customer interactions
 
Ellett says HelpPay can change that by allowing service providers to offer it as a payment option alongside more traditional payment channels.
 
“We're offering providers another way to digitise their customer interactions,” he says.
 
“What we really want to do is help providers play a better part as a corporate citizen, play a part in the ethical economy by them putting us as a payment option on their bills. They can therefore release all this technology to their customer base and help their most vulnerable customers.”
 
The app only allows one payer to pay a bill at a time to ensure that bills aren’t paid multiple times or over paid.
 
Key to starting HelpPay was how to securely identify and verify billers. The founders initially thought about starting up offshore call centres to carry out the verification before they realised BPAY had a solution.
 
They use BPAY's APIs to validate billers and customer reference numbers.
 
“We saw that BPAY were releasing their APIs so we got talking to BPAY. We worked fairly closely with their engineering teams and we realized we could go faster to market leveraging what BPAY already had in Australia," Ellett says.
 
“By doing this all with BPAY, we never have to even think about bank account details. It's all generated through BPAY.”
 
Ellett says BPAY has been pivotal to HelpPay’s success.
 
“BPAY are really trying to build out the FinTech ecosystem in Australia by offering their APIs to businesses and it's a new route to market. They're allowing this innovation to occur.”
 
HelpPay can be downloaded from the Google Play and Apple App stores.
 
Published by BPAY Pty Ltd (ABN 69 079 137 518) email: marketing@bpay.com.au. The BPAY Scheme is managed by BPAY Pty Limited.  When you use BPAY payment products, the BPAY Scheme is paid fees relating to processing costs and BPAY Scheme membership.  Contact your financial institution to see if it offers BPAY payment products and to get the Product Disclosure Statement.  Any financial product advice provided by BPAY Pty Limited in relation to BPAY payment products is general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on such advice, you should review the Product Disclosure.

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