Guide

How Swile unlocked innovation with a future-proof payment infrastructure

Matthieu Blandineau
17
November 2023
0
min read

Swile is a worktech company that created the first employee super app that provides a unified, personalised and modern experience that enhances engagement at work. The company has 5.5 millions users and 85,000 corporate clients, including Carrefour, Le Monde, PSG, Airbnb, Spotify, Red Bull, and TikTok.

Swile’s mission is to create a fulfilling working world by enabling companies to easily offer benefits to their employees, from meal vouchers to mobility advantages through gifts and travel expenses. 

Quentin Vigneau is Head of Payment at Swile. Quentin and his teams are in charge of building all the systems related to payments and managing Swile’s payment operations.

The need to internalise payment capabilities

Swile defines payments as all the systems and processes that enable to move money and allow the relevant parties to understand how this money is moved, from companies to end users through internal auditors and regulators.

“Given Swile’s mission, payments are its backbone and most critical strategic infrastructure. Payments are what make or break our P&L,” says Quentin.

As part of its activities, meal, gift and mobility vouchers and corporate travel booking, Swile operates three main payment flows:

  • Collecting funds from companies to credit their Swile accounts through credit transfer or direct debits

  • Enabling employees to pay for meals, gifts and mobility with Swile-issued cards

  • Collecting fees from affiliate restaurants with direct debits

Swile launched using the services of a BaaS provider for card issuing, account holding, and payments. As part of its growth, Swile acquired its electronic money institution licence and decided to internalise capabilities previously provided by its BaaS provider for increased product flexibility and better unit economics.

A significant driver for Swile was the ability to offer accounts with their own IBANs to their customers. With their own IBANs, Swile gets more control over their payments, facilitates payment attribution, and increases customer trust.

Integrating as a SEPA indirect participant in 3 weeks

To answer its needs, Swile decided to become a SEPA indirect participant, but didn’t want to bear the technical complexity of integrating directly with their sponsor bank and building the systems to operate as a SEPA indirect participant.

This decision to work with a partner to handle this technical complexity was driven by the will to keep Swile’s payment product and engineering resources focused on card issuing, which is more core to Swile’s business.

Swile’s main criteria when evaluating a solution to integrate with their partner bank were the quality of the API, the simplicity of integration, and the quality and granularity of data made available. Such data include bank account transactions and balances, payments received or initiated, and real-time payment statuses.

Based on Numeral’s API and documentation and the previous successful collaborations between Numeral and Swile’s sponsor bank, BPCE, Swile selected Numeral as their payment infrastructure.

Swile integrated the Numeral API into their core banking system and integrated with their sponsor bank in 3 weeks instead of 6 to 9 months for direct bank integration.

“While we heard from our ecosystem that a SEPA indirect participant project could take a full painful year, integrating with our sponsor bank through Numeral has been a walk in the park. Numeral teams did a great job guiding us at each step with our sponsor bank. We just plugged Numeral in, and it worked” - Quentin Vigneau, Head of Payment at Swile

Being a SEPA indirect participant unlocks more control and visibility on payments but requires support for additional complex payment flows, including returns, recalls, and inquiries. Taking advantage of this control and supporting those flows requires the right tools.

“In addition to the built-in integration with BPCE and the easy implementation with our core banking system, Numeral saved us at least 6 months of development on the payment operations capabilities linked to operating as a SEPA indirect participant,” says Quentin.

More efficient payments

A future-proof infrastructure supporting Swile’s growth

With Numeral, Swile saved significant time and resources on their SEPA indirect participant project. As a fully managed payments infrastructure, Numeral also protects Swile from future SEPA scheme updates introducing breaking changes.

“Using Numeral as a head of product, I have the luxury of not having to look at SEPA rulebook updates. I know that Numeral will absorb most of the required changes,” says Quentin.

This allows Swile to keep focusing its product and engineering resources on core products that will fuel Swile’s growth.

“Numeral saves time for my teams to work on products that will have real customer impact, enabling Swile to win RFPs, close strategic customers, and increase customer satisfaction,” says Quentin.

“Significantly reducing the cost of automation”

Having multiple bank accounts connected to Numeral enables Swile to automate more and more processes linked to their payment operations. Leveraging the Numeral API, Swile can trigger treasury movements based on specific events, unlocking powerful scenarios.

Swile started by automating its safeguarding workflows, previously done manually by the finance team. Doing so saved them significant time every day.

“Having these payment automation capabilities built into Numeral unlocks many possibilities. It significantly reduces automation costs, allowing us to automate processes that we would not have optimised quickly. Taken end-to-end, removing manual tasks from these processes will save significant time for our finance teams,” says Quentin.

Automating these tasks also removes room for errors and allows for accurately tracking all movements. It makes Swile’s payments more resilient.

Finally, it has also benefited Swile’s finance organisation itself. Automating most tasks allows Swile to keep a lean finance organisation with all team members working on high-value tasks. This leaner organisation allows for easier communication and collaboration with other teams.

Looking forward: end-to-end optimisation of direct debits

Moving forward, Swile’s payments team is looking to leverage Numeral to automate even more payment flows to support their growth.

The next significant project is to increase affiliates' direct debit success rate.

As of today, 43% of Swile’s initiated direct debit failures are due to incorrect or outdated affiliate bank account information, such as incorrect account numbers or lack of support for direct debits by the affiliate's bank.

Swile is looking to leverage Numeral’s upcoming counterparty accounts information verification capabilities to reduce direct debit failures related to these causes significantly.

By generating and managing direct debit mandates in Numeral, Swile could prevent a further 12% of direct debit failures due to direct debit mandates-related errors.

Finally, 15% of direct debit failures are due to a lack of funds in the affiliate’s account. By implementing Numeral’s automated retry capability, Swile will be able to automatically retry direct debits rejected for this reason at a better time in the month to increase direct debit success probability.

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