Ralph Rogge is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder at Crezco, a company that enables users to instantly send and request money via Open Banking technology. Crezco pioneers a new way to handle B2B invoices and is launching a new cross-border account-to-account solution that is set to revolutionise international Open Banking payments.
Hi Ralph, thank you for agreeing to talk to us. Could you shed some light on how you got into Open Banking and what Crezco is doing in that space?
Sure! Previously I worked in an SME lending company, another fintech, and I regularly dealt with the tedious process of onboarding new borrowers and handling invoices. This involved manually handling 3 months’ worth of bank statements in messy formats and took up valuable time. Upon learning of PSD2, I realised we could receive this data straight from the banks in a machine-readable format, allowing the process to be automated. Following this, I did some further reading on similar solutions in the account-to-account space and decided this was something I wanted to really delve into.
Combining this interest with my previous experiences, Crezco was founded with the desire to apply the principles of automated account to account payments to B2B invoices. There is nothing like an ‘Apple Pay’ or ‘Google Pay’ within this space – so we see it as our job to bring that level of convenience to these business payments.
You have most UK banks on your roster – what has been your experience with getting these traditional institutions to sign up with Crezco?
Having just come back from Money 2020, account-to-account payments are undoubtedly ‘happening’. Banks are becoming aware of this and are thinking of ways to improve this product and its propositions. Initially, I think they were annoyed that they had to work with companies like us. They are slow and have difficult architecture – putting in API fixes is not something they enjoy doing. But this mentality has undoubtedly changed. For example, as part of a bilateral agreement, we are now working with a large UK bank to develop a customer protection solution for our account-to-account payments. Last week they invited me into their office for pizza and a drink – something I didn’t envisage a few years ago! So, in short, I think the days of having to convince banks to ‘buy in’ to Open Banking are almost gone. They are now keen to explore its benefits alongside players like us at Crezco.
What is your vision for international account-to-account payments?
I believe account-to-account payments will grow exponentially worldwide in the next 10 years. However, the main issue will come from the fact that each local Open Banking solution is running on domestic payment rails; Open Banking in the UK runs on Faster Payments, while in the EU, it runs on SEPA, for example. These payment rails do not match, so international account-to-account payments suffer as a result.
We, at Crezco, have tackled this issue head-on and have built a new product, alongside Currency Cloud, that allows these payments to be made by connecting domestic rails. So, for example, it allows for a Faster Payments payment to be made to an account within SEPA. So, now we don’t just offer an account-to-account payment solution but a cross-border one too! We are very excited about this because we simply think it is super cool!
Lastly, but most importantly, what is your favourite place to eat out in London?
I am really worried that, post-Brexit, London is going to lose a lot of its talented international chefs – we will be left with just sausage and mash and not much else! Right now, though, there are loads of great tapas bars that I am a fan of. There is one called Sabor which I recommend to any fan of Spanish cuisine. You cannot book a table, but if you are willing to wait, it is well worth it!
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