Over the last couple of months, I’ve had the dubious pleasure of reviewing several key players in the UK Payment Service Provider (PSP) market, focusing on business accounts. I say “dubious” as the experience was in some instances, very frustrating and as a business owner, I would not have continued with the account if it wasn’t for information purposes. For some brands it felt like they had lost touch with the requirements of today’s businesses and operate on the basis that if it’s not broken, don’t fix it!

So what should business owners expect and what should PSPs provide?


    PSPs offering a business proposition should provide a website that has all the information a potential customer needs to support the important decision to switch to or try a new provider.
    Much has been said about transparency in banking, there are many regulations that brands in this market must adhere to, but what about PSPs? With banks, if you want a detailed description of the product and pricing structure, you can pretty much get most of what you want. OK there is still room for improvement, but the majority is there, and via the brand’s website. With PSPs, it can be a lot harder!Whilst I won’t name names, websites range from being incredibly transparent about their product and pricing to just a series of marketing sound bites, with no true information at all. They are also poorly maintained so that information is inconsistent across the pages, or hyperlinks simply go nowhere!

    How are you supposed to know which is the best provider for your business if you cannot make an informed decision? Sure, people can call for more information or use one of the other methods of communication offered but who has the time these days?


    PSPs must offer an onboarding process that, whilst meeting the needs of KYC, does not take up hours and hours of the applicant’s time.
    So what is the best way to onboard a new business customer? Well it’s not by forcing them to endure countless vetting phone calls; an online process that is then followed up by countless requests via email for further information, and it should not take weeks or even months to complete!If the PSP has specific criteria for its clients, such as a minimum of £1m in FX transactions, make that the first question in the online process or better still, put it on the website! The business owner then knows straight away if they are not the service provider for them and doesn’t waste time.

    Having gone through the process countless times, there are key pieces of information all providers ask for, so why not ask for standard documentation as an upload within the online onboarding process? To ask a business owner to go through an online process of up to 25 screens, only to then ask them to send via email (not great for security) or upload, via a Portal, standard pieces of information is an unnecessary waste of time.

    Once the application is received, in full, process it quickly. Experiences ranged from just 22 hours to months. Applications were held in queues taking days to process or simply lost, requiring the business owner to follow up so that they could be found and then processed. There were those that still used the likes of PDF forms via DocuSign as a method of application, which had to be done three times as the wrong version was sent etc etc.


    PSPs need to ensure that everything an account holder needs to get started is available immediately.
    Any approval / activation email should have all the information needed for the applicant to become a user. In some instances, it took a phone call with the Account Manager so that the user was able to login to their account; the URL to the international payment proposition only to be found in emails rather than on the brand’s website.If currency accounts have been part of the application, they should be available from day 1 and not require chasing for access, with required functionality such as currency conversions (i.e. converting GBP from your balance to your EUR currency balance) or even payments available immediately.


    PSPs should provide a “quick quote” tool so that a business can instantly find out the rate and fees associated with a particular payment without going through the entire payment process.
    I can understand the reluctance of PSPs to offer a transfer calculator outside the logged in customer experience. It gives the provider a chance to offer preferential rates and fees to a customer without other customers, who potentially don’t spend as much, knowing! But why not offer a tool INSIDE the logged in journey. With payment journeys taking sometimes over a minute, requiring multiple 2-step verification with up to 10-minute delays, and with the risk of being locked by behavioural algorithms, there is no way a business owner or their financial teams can easily obtain quotes to support perhaps a budget planning process.


    PSPs need to ensure that their websites work!
    A lot can be said about design, layout, and language but it’s very subjective. Personally, I’m a fan of websites that are uncluttered, simple and without jargon. Using a PSP website should be as easy for a beginner as it is for a super-user.For me, the biggest issue is functionality. Issues that required the repeated deletion of internet caches and history to provide the user with the most basic of function i.e. logging on are unacceptable. Crashing as progress is made through the journey resulting in repeated attempts, only to be told that there is a problem and to try again later is again, unacceptable.

    PSPs need to ensure that any new releases in functionality or process are fully tested before being released to the live environment – have a beta group who are willing to be guinea pigs or test it extensively in a ring-fenced environment. And if there is a problem, fix it… fast!

    Customer journeys and customer experiences are a passion of mine, as you can probably tell 😊 and there is so much more I could say (feel free to drop me a line and ask me 😊) but for now, I’ll offer one last thing.


    PSPs offering a business solution must be capable of supporting businesses when and how they need it.
    I believe the minimum should be:

    • Immediate contact via Contact Centre OR Live Chat within local core business hours i.e. Monday to Friday 09:00 – 17:00 within the market the PSP is targeting.
    • Out of hours Email – Response within 1 business day

    In an ideal world, no Contact Centre would have more than two levels of IVR (interactive voice response) within its structure; no queue would be longer than 5 minutes without offering a call-back feature – this could be that the user leaves a number for the PSP to call OR that the system retains the user’s place in the queue, with a call being placed to the user when it’s their turn. Both give the user the chance to put the phone down and get on with their day whilst waiting for support… with no hold music!

    Live Chat would always offer a queue position, with an option to revert to email if it’s longer than the user is prepared to wait. I have a particular dislike of Chat Bots that simply spout the same answers as the FAQ pages, but as long as there’s an option to talk to a real person…ok.

    Emails would be responded to in the same business day, with 2 hours as the maximum wait.

    And most importantly, the Customer Service Teams would be SUBJECT MATTER EXPERTS, even if it’s via an escalation process. Simply cutting and pasting responses from the website’s FAQ list is NOT providing customer service

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I’m more than happy to discuss any of this in more detail if it’s of interest to anyone 😊 and I think it should be of interest to A LOT of people! After all, there are lots of choices out there, to businesses owners, don’t settle for anything but the best… for you. To PSPs, it’s time to pull your socks up!


Image: Source MS Bing images – Free to modify, share, and use commercially

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