At the Fintech Connect event, held in December 2021, Kani’s founder and CEO Aaron Holmes outlined why accurate and verifiable reconciliation and reporting of payments data is essential for payments and fintech companies to grow and scale – this is only becoming increasingly mission-critical for fintechs during 2022, as transaction volumes increase, regulation tightens and consumer behaviour continues to adopt digital and integrated payment methods.
The key to success for fintechs is not how much data they can pull in, but whether they’re extracting the maximum value from it. That includes understanding what’s happening with your products and customers, assurance that all the money is in the right place, and making sure that you’re always on the right side of the rules.
Reconciliation is a frequent challenge that all fintech firms contend with, and in the face of stricter regulatory demands, it’s now just as much of a core strategic priority as customer acquisition and product launches. We’re already seeing regulators take much firmer stances, with increasingly higher thresholds placing even more burdens on time-pressed businesses.
For example, the recent 2020 update from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority states that in no circumstances would it be acceptable for reconciliations not to be carried out at least once per business day. If you’re a payments company or a fintech company, is your finance team doing those key reconciliations every day? And if you are asked by your regulator to evidence that, would you be in a position to do it?
You would think that such a tech-focused industry had gotten to grips with this by now, but seamless reconciliations can be extremely difficult to achieve, even for well-established fintechs. If you’re a payments company, you’re probably working with multiple third parties, and those third parties produce a lot of complex payments data. A typical card issuer, for example, might be working with many processing platforms, many card networks, and many banking relationships. All of this data is in different formats and it’s a nightmare to interpret.
Many finance and compliance teams still rely on getting data manually from SQL queries, and then they try to generate reconciliations and compliance reports using tools like Microsoft Excel, which are just not able to keep up with fast-flowing data sources. If your finance team is mostly reconciling using Excel or SQL queries, and if you’re not reconciling at least daily, then you’re at risk of non-compliance with some of the regulatory requirements these days.
Build or Buy
For early-stage fintechs that want to scale, more data creates more problems. They need to have bank-level reconciliation tools in place, but building these in-house tools is a substantial task in and of itself. It’s the old ‘build or buy’ dilemma. Fintechs wanting to do in-house reconciliations are looking at a minimum of £250,000 in IT build costs, and then typically nine months to build a basic functional version of a possible reconciliation or reporting platform.
We’ve seen first-hand, time and time again, that such IT build projects rarely arrive on time, or under budget, with delays and costs spiralling far beyond initial estimates. Even when a build is completed, quite often the reality falls far short of expectations. The IT team may be unfamiliar with the requirements of the finance team, and the finance team might not be familiar with the intricacies of transaction data.
A lack of understanding means delays in articulating requests or queries, which creates even more logjams in the reconciliation process. Ensuring regulatory compliance becomes difficult to evidence, and doesn’t leave a clear audit trail.
Another challenge is not just the initial build, but in maintaining that system going forward. Every time there’s a change in the data that originates from a processing platform, or from a card scheme, or there’s a new compliance report needed for a regulator, in-house teams need to develop that new functionality.
Maximising key Strengths
To be truly disruptive, and to scale successfully, fintechs need to focus on their core offering, without being pulled away by labour-intensive and time-consuming back-office tasks that are common to all payments firms.
Kani’s mission is simple – to reduce complexity for fintechs. We achieve this by automating the data and finance reports that are mission-critical to them, which would otherwise be lengthy, manual processes. We want to give fintechs maximum control of their data, and give in-house operations, finance and compliance teams the tools that they need to perform more efficiently. Our award-winning Software-as-a-Service platform is completely data-agnostic. We consume data from processors, acquirers, card networks, banks, and third parties, bringing all that data into a common place.
It’s really important that in-house teams have a single, common view of all their data, and are able to explore and interrogate it in a way that is best for them. Our business intelligence solution enables data normalisation and modelling, whilst being easy to use, giving clients the ability to explore data, build their own dashboards, and include forecasting functionality so they can see what’s likely to happen in the future. Clients are assured about the integrity of their data, and can schedule automated reconciliations or do intraday reconciliations as the data comes in.
Kani’s platform contains a suite of pre-configured reports which can be supplied directly to regulators – reports that would have otherwise taken intensive manual effort to generate. We can also develop new functions too, such as new regulatory reports as required.
Our platform’s also fully white labelled, so it looks and feels like a common tool for your internal teams, and third parties can log into your platform and be fully grounded in in your company aesthetic.
“Kani is the most complete platform we’ve used as a business when it comes to data analysis and reports. It’s the best tool for reconciliation purposes, but we find it extremely helpful to analyse transactional data and customer behaviour. Last but not least, their support team is always available to help building or customising queries. It’s a great tool, especially for teams that are not familiar with coding.”
So far, Kani Payments has reconciled over €8bn in transactional payments data for clients spanning challenger banks, processing platforms, e-money institutions, payment gateways, infrastructure providers and card networks. 2022 will see Kani Payments expanding into North America and Asia, delivering intelligence, assurance and compliance to even more businesses, and empowering them in being able to launch and scale quicker.
If you want to learn more about Kani Payments and what we can do for your data reporting and reconciliations, get in touch at: kanipayments.com/get-in-touch/