XU: Can you start by telling us a little about yourself and how you became the CEO and founder of CreDec
AM: Sure. I have a background in strategy consulting. It’s a dismal confession but I enjoy the challenge of understanding and simplifying complex markets. The challenge is always the same, to find your way you need insight and that comes from data. Our business has always been about providing independent market solutions built on rigorous analysis. I set up CreDec to drive that approach to payments. This is what we have now delivered in the CreDec Virtual Account.
XU: Now can you tell us more about CreDec and how it came from concept to product?
AM: Yes. We saw the requirement for a perfect payment solution for business: to manage all payments from Xero effortlessly and securely and do that collaboratively with accounting partners in any workflow for any bank account, without the need for any integration or to change the bank account provider. And, importantly, to avoid the need to maintain and fund a separate payment account and credit balance. Time and cash are precious to business - they have to be used as efficiently as possible.
XU: How did the CreDec concept develop over this journey?
AM: We recognised the importance of not compromising - we were delighted by the response we’ve had from its launch, starting at Xerocon London 2019. We have eliminated all the friction points. The CreDec Virtual Account is created as a Xero Bank account in seconds in front of your eyes in Xero and linked to the business’s existing bank account. It writes statement lines for all account funding transfers and payment lines in real time.
XU: How important is your Xero integration and how does this integration work with CreDec to change the way accountants and businesses work together?
AM: Xero and cloud accounting was the starting point for the CreDec Virtual Account. It’s where a business’s payments begin, not internet banking, so our integration with Xero delivers a seamless and secure solution to instruct and make payments using Xero’s own user interface. We’ve turned Xero into a bank front end. That’s powerful for Xero and its customers. There’s no technical integration: users just have to authorise the creation of their CreDec Virtual Account and off they go, enabling business owners and bank account signatories to work in any combination of Xero and CreDec roles as they choose. It’s pretty amazing stuff.
XU: What makes CreDec stand out from the crowd and competitors?
AM: Well, we’re the first to have conceived and implemented this new payments model, that delivers exactly what the market wants, without the need to change anything. It’s all instant and real time. There’s nothing to do apart from operate Xero and watch statement lines get written automatically. The key differences are there’s no separate balance in a second payment account to manage: because CreDec doesn’t hold any customer funds. CreDec works with all payments applications and payroll software so accountants and bookkeepers can use CreDec to streamline payments activity for all their clients in any workflow, even clients not in Xero. We also have our own bank payments infrastructure end to end with 5 UK Sort Codes, so we’re not dependent on any other providers and can compete directly with the biggest UK clearing banks.
XU: Today security is more important than ever especially when it comes to finances and payments. What has CreDec done to make sure its integration is secure?
AM: We have 7 regulatory bodies in total. Our direct membership of the Faster Payments Scheme means we’re subject to the most rigorous assurance and audit activity and we’ve designed our entire ecosystem which is all in the cloud to be ‘always on’ using the full geo-redundancy, cyber and encryption capabilities of our global cloud partner. Nothing is taken more seriously at CreDec than the way we safeguard the security of client funds in transit: but remember, we don’t hold any customer funds. Customer funding is paid on or paid back to the customer’s own bank account. The CreDec Virtual Account minimises risk by design.
XU: Why is having all your client bank payments in one place important for accountants?
AM: The ‘in one place’ solution the CreDec Virtual Account delivers for accountants is the ability to support their client accounting and payments activity from their existing bank account no matter who they bank with, all from Xero. It allows accountants to work collaboratively with their clients exactly as needed, without compromise. We know this is very valuable to accountants because CreDec delivers the one thing they need to offer a truly joined up accounting and finance solution to their clients: seamless, secure real time payments that closes the gap between accounting, payments and bank reconciliation: CreDec does all of that in real time. We’ve made the problem of broken client payment processes disappear for accountants.
XU: How has open banking and advancements in digital banking over the last few years helped CreDec grow?
AM: CreDec has been a direct beneficiary of regulators’ policy of widening access to the UK’s core payments infrastructure. We were the first Authorised Payments Institution to join the Faster Payments Scheme as a direct full settling member. CreDec’s payments model is highly innovative and does things in a fundamentally different way that makes us hard to compete with, never holding client funds for example. But to do this at scale at the volumes the expected demand will require, needs direct access to payment systems and enterprise grade scale operations. So yes, to do this you need to be just like a bank, but not a bank.
XU: I know CreDec exhibited at Xerocon London. How did you find CreDec was received by delegates and what did you learn from them?
AM: It was fantastic: a real validation of what we’ve done and the fundamental problem we’ve solved. The big message was accountants need to be able to work collaboratively with their clients in flexible approval, authorisation and funding workflows, client by client, and that’s exactly what CreDec does. The most pleasing thing was hearing time and again the “At last, finally!” message. One delegate said to me “We’ve been waiting for this for so long.”
XU: What does 2020 hold for CreDec and where will our subscribers see you this year?
AM: We’re looking to roll the CreDec Virtual Account out to all Xero partners in the UK this year. Accountants need to see it in action once and it’s a bit like, “wow!” They instantly get that it’s transformative. So we will be appearing at a number of shows this year but also engaging directly with Xero accounting partners one to one to support their adoption of the CreDec Virtual Account.