In our latest interview with Kani Payment’s experts, we find out what it takes to solve common reconciliation challenges, the potential for record matching, and why merchant reconciliation and customer safeguarding are on the agenda.
Hi! Can you introduce yourself and let us know what your role is at Kani Payments?
I’m Agnieszka Lehmann, and I’m the Reconciliation Manager at Kani.
What does your role at Kani Payments involve? What does a normal day look like for you?
We have a portfolio of clients that we set up on our platform. Basically, what I will be working on depends on whatever phase the clients are in, on a project-by-project basis. On a daily basis, my responsibilities are not rigidly structured – I do them depending on what is the highest priority.
There are various clients that are in the onboarding pipeline, we have initial talks and run through demos with potential clients that have not yet set up, we have clients at the next stage that we are trying to set them up on the platform, and we’ve got clients that are already on the platform who we have regular calls with to make sure that everything is working for them.
I cover all of these client portfolios, and depending on their needs on the day, I will be attending client calls, dealing with them, designing solutions, and solving their problems for them.
What inspired you to get into the fintech industry and to join Kani Payments specifically?
My background involved many years working for an issuing bank as a finance manager and other areas of finance operations. My previous role involved having to reconcile settlements to the payment schemes like Visa and Mastercard, find the variances, and report to auditors. I compared the ledger, balance sheet profit and loss and other metrics to the raw transaction data. On a daily basis I had a lot of challenges, as many of these processes were very manual.
At that time, we were working on a bespoke solution in-house with developers to build an in-house platform to replace the reconciliations that we were doing in Excel, in a more automated way. But obviously, that wasn’t the highest priority because we had many client calls and discrepancies with the scheme data we were dealing with. I understood how difficult it was to deal with raw data files that are not human-friendly, but you have to somehow reconcile them and make sense out of them. Building a system to solve those problems was always something that we wanted to achieve, but never really had the time to put 100% of effort towards it.
That’s why I wanted to work for Kani Payments, because Kani Payments is providing the exact solution that we were trying to work on in my previous workplace. One of the things that make Kani’s platform stand out is that it can improve workflows and be customised to the client’s specific needs. It really saves a lot of pain on a daily basis for finance managers and in-house finance teams. I also felt I could use my previous experience on the bank issuing side to help identify clients’ pain points and save them a lot of time, effort and money with the Kani platform.
How do you see your industry evolving and your role evolving? What would you like to achieve in two to five years from now in terms of what you’re able to help clients with?
I think we’ve achieved a lot, but we want to automate many more processes for clients. We can reconcile their settlements, we can produce their payment scheme QMR and GOC reports, but there are more areas where we can streamline and improve those processes. For example, we could provide a better solution for chargeback reconciliations, again working closely with Mastercard, Visa, or any other scheme. We already provide automated solutions for customer fund safeguarding, following the introduction of new regulations after the Wirecard collapse, and there is scope to offer more services in that area.
In the longer term, we could automate more processes, workflows, and more alerts for clients. For example, right now, if someone is doing reconciliation on a daily basis, they don’t have to check the work daily. They can set up instant alerts with Kani’s platform and only log on to the reconciliations when they are alerted to a discrepancy. In the future, we want to introduce more alerts on more specific items or segmented information for clients, to help improve their workflows and make them quicker and easier to complete. Chargeback reconciliations would be something that we could really improve on in the longer time, along with risk scoring.
We cover a lot of reconciliation workflows on the issuing side, and it would be great to provide more detailed reconciliation workflows for the acquiring side too.
What does merchant reconciliation typically involve? And how does it differ to the other types of reconciliation services that Kani Payments offers to its clients?
When you’ve got thousands or even millions of data sets on the merchant acquirer side, it’s hard to scan and reconcile them manually. What Kani Payments can provide is to collect them, make sense of them, properly identify and reconcile them in the system. Then you are able to compare what you’re expecting to receive in terms of the monetary value for them. That obviously helps with the fraud prevention, because then you can eliminate transactions that look suspicious.
Are there any examples on how that type of reconciliation has been made easier for clients through what Kani Payments is doing?
A good example would be to provide merchant statements. We can link all transactions and specific categories on the settlement service. The client can then reconcile this back to their records and make sure that they’ve received all the funds that they’ve requested from the merchant in a fast, automated process.
Could you give a bit of detail on how record matching helps to improve reporting and reconciliation?
It goes right to the problem that clients find when they have a lot of records to deal with. Manually, it’s hard to establish whatever was given, for example in processor data and the details from scheme data. Record matching could help with that, such as applying the criteria for matches you could select.
For example, when you’re comparing two different data sets, usually you have unique fields in them, so then you can compare them using these fields. But if you’ve got a situation where you don’t have unique fields, record matching will come into play. You can combine certain fields in one data set with different fields in another set and apply specific logic to them, to find how likely it is they will match.
If you try to do that in an Excel spreadsheet, it would need so many formulas that you probably wouldn’t be able to open the spreadsheet as it would slow it down massively. But we can apply this logic in the Kani platform to show potential matches much quicker, and the likelihood of them being matched together, which will narrow the variances. That’s the main benefit of record matching in terms of reconciliation improvements.
Are there any new solutions or technologies Kani Payments is working on?
We always explore the potential of new functionality. For example, sometimes payments might be made in batches, and on the data side you will have varying amounts, for example £250 and 10 items, but you don’t know exactly how to break that down because you can’t simply divide by 10, as each item may have a different value.
On another side, you might have your own data in the system. And then you need to find that combination, and how to add them together to arrive to that amount. Sometimes you could visually add them up, for example, if you’ve got two items that overall added up to £200, and you’ve got only two items, which are £100 each. But it’s not so simple on a daily basis as lots of batch payments are being processed per day, with a lot of records behind them.
We are working on a solution that will arrive at possible likely matches for batch payments. It will look at the individual record and identify the items that will add up to the value on the settlement side. That’s something we will introduce to help reconcile the purchase.
Another solution, which is not directly linked to records matching, is chargeback reconciliation. That’s another thing that is difficult to reconcile on the settlement side. Transactions can be challenged by the merchants or by the client. If a transaction is challenged, it could result in a chargeback, but there is a set period of time when the chargeback can be represented. But then it could be charged back again and represented again, which is harmful to merchants because they don’t have full visibility on what happened to the transaction during the lifecycle. We are trying to work on that to provide a solution that will show the whole lifecycle of the transaction, and what happened on the scheme side as well.
What else do you think helps Kani Payments stand out and set it apart from its competitors?
What helps us is that we’ve got people who are experts, people who have worked in the payments industry for many years. We understand the challenges that clients face because we were facing the same challenges when we were doing similar roles previously elsewhere in the industry.
We cover the issuing and acquiring sides, so we can solve the issues that affect both sides, including the settlement side. We provide fully bespoke solutions for anything to do with transaction reporting and reconciliation. We’ve got standardised reports, but we can also cover requests for more bespoke reports tailored to the client’s needs. It’s not only covering the settlement itself, but it could also cover management information too. We can help clients to design reports they will need to show the safeguarding of funds, to show that clients are monitoring and protecting accounts as mandated by regulators.
Another way we stand out is being able to reconcile transactions on the banking side, including Faster Payments transactions, BACs transactions and so on, and reconcile these back to the records.
We’ve got some solutions as well for transaction management monitoring, where clients can monitor for anything suspicious that might be happening on their accounts, enabling them to act quickly to stop it. We provide a wide spectrum of services, not only for reconciliation but also for compliance, anti-fraud and business intelligence.
Are there any other features or services in the pipeline that Kani Payments is developing or anything else we should know about?
Kani Payments is aiming to expand to the United States, and there will be some exciting developments this year. It’s a new market for us, which will give us more exposure to different processors and different kinds of transaction flows.
Would you anticipate a lot of differences in how the US market works?
There are different data sets, regulations, interpretations, processes – all of which will mean different challenges, including on the settlement side. That will be a learning curve for us, but we are well prepared to serve US clients. We’ll also be able to help our UK and European clients that issue cards in the US to solve their reconciliation challenges there.