The VibePay app turns two! And a lot has happened since first releasing the app to 1,000 beta testers in September 2019.
In the past two years the team have listened to users to improve the app and have looked for opportunities to make the experience unique. Some important milestones were achieved in the process.
Sep 2019: release app with emphasis on group payments.
Mar 2020: introduce feed to summarise activity for adding bank accounts, and sending and receiving payments.
Aug 2020: roll out new front-end to improve responsiveness (a complete rewrite in React Native).
Oct 2020: introduce third-party integrations for streamers enabling them to instantly receive 100% of donations made; feedback is really positive.
Feb 2021: add bank account transaction history to give users a holistic view of their finances without logging in to multiple banking apps or carrying card readers.
Jul 2021: introduce channels to improve experience and lay foundation for future work; feedback is great.
Sep 2021: introduce first voice activated account-to-account payments in Europe.
After PSD2 legislation was passed early 2018, VibePay was one of the first to receive an FCA license to provide payment and data services. Important lessons were learned along the way. First, although Open Banking remains a relatively new development, users are embracing it and we see that a typical user links at least one bank account and refers others to the app. Second, sellers, small businesses, and online merchants have let us know they are looking for ways to avoid cards and wallets. We think that account-to-account payments, like those we offer, are a viable solution. Third, users want to transact and interact in the same environment, not in different ecosystems such as social and messaging apps. The VibePay app is well-positioned to meet this need.
There remain challenges, of course. The banks' APIs are often down, which makes it difficult to ensure a reliable service. Facilitating insights into transactional data received from the banks is also not trivial. Finally, support for cross-border payments is still unsatisfactory and restricts the type of sellers that the app can support.
Nonetheless, with our app’s unique value proposition in place, attention is now turning to VibePay Pro to offer sellers the functionality they need. Channels set the app up for a two-way dialogue between consumers and sellers. Pro will also make it easier to sell products and services directly via the app, or anywhere else, with custom payment links. Plans are also in place to offer further integrations, for example, to pay with the app on any Wix website. These features allow payment directly from a bank account and avoids the need for cards or wallets at checkout.
We are also delighted to see that investment keeps coming to the Open Banking space. In the infrastructure layer, Yapily have raised $51m and TrueLayer have just announced $130m raised in Series B. VibePay is positioned well to profit from this trend in the next three to five years. The smart money is inevitably going to move up the value chain to products and services built on these gateways and who own the relationship with end users.