FinTech Australia Spotlight: Sniip

‘Competition or Collaboration?’ – the story of a start-up, Sniip

Sniip is one of the many Australian fintech success stories – from its start, as a small company in Brisbane, to now securing a partnership to work hand-in-hand with a huge billing company, BPAY. 

We spoke with Damien Vasta, Managing Director of Sniip – who came up with the idea for Sniiip after experiencing clunky mobile payments. This caused him to realise the current experience is not good enough. Damien asked:

  1. Why do customers have to pay a bill the way that the bank tells them to do it or the way the biller tells them to do it? Why can’t there be a code to scan or a push notification into an app where customer bills are available to store, manage and pay instead of through an email or in the post?; 
  2. Why can’t the customer decide how they want to pay their bills and how they want to receive a bill? – Why is a customer required to set-up their own manual reminders just to remember to pay a bill?; and finally,
  3. Why can’t customers schedule their payments for the due date and then file the bill without ever having to worry about it again?

Sniip aimed to solve a key problem – “How do you turn a static bill into a point of payment?” – Well, Sniip suggests the answer is fairly straightforward. Using a QR code enables customers to make a fast payment on a mobile using a secure digital wallet (you can load your credit and debit cards onto Sniip in advance). As a result, Sniip takes a static medium, for example, a household bill, and turns it into a dynamic transaction via instantaneous mobile payment.

Damien mentioned that Sniip started as a mobile-commerce, or ‘m-commerce’, service for the retail sector. He realised that QR codes could be better utilised to enable more convenient payments by mobile on print advertising. Consumers enjoy using QR Codes due to their quick response time and ease-of-use. After 2020, and the wide-spread use of the QR Code for COVID-19, it is clear that he was right. 

Sniip then realised he could solve a bigger problem than retail – making bill payments much easier. But in order to do that, Sniip faced a range of challenges – ultimately, hitting a wall with billers who didn’t think they had a problem to solve. BPay was too big of a competitor and Sniip was a small start-up – it wasn’t a fair competition. The big players in billing, namely the banks,  controlled the payment process. Consequently, Sniip was only able to sign up four direct billers. This meant that the company was left with a poor value proposition for bill-payers. Damien knew that the product would only work if it became widespread, which wouldn’t be possible under the current ecosystem dominated by financial institutions such as the major banks and BPAY.

Sniip pivoted their offering. Instead, Damien focused on creating a better BPAY experience. He saw that BPay could be an opportunity for collaboration, rather than competition. Although people use BPAY day-to-day through their banks, there are a range of limitations on how customers access BPAY that Damien sought to resolve. Sniip saw this as an opportunity to go out to the modern consumer who does not expect such restrictions and almost now demands flexibility, including  the ability to switch between banks, cards, use BNPL or cryptocurrency and more services not being offered through the banks or  billers. 

Sniip is now a Payer Institution Member (PIM) with BPAY and also has a strategic partnership  with American Express (AMEX)   as it has delivered the huge BPAY biller network to AMEX cardholders. Through Sniip, AMEX is able to offer their customer base access to more than 60,000 billers across Australia, meaning extra flexibility, convenience and time-saving for customers in terms of managing their bills. Consequently, Sniip unlocked an exciting customer-centric payment experience.

 

A list of bills on your phone presented via Sniip and paying a bill with Sniip

 

Looking ahead, Damien exclaimed that BPAY has been critical to the company’s recent growth, but it is just the beginning. Sniip has invested heavily in it’s tech capability for the last three years and this commitment will soon see payment capability extend to all SME billers. Damien envisioned that Sniip will be the default, bank-agnostic bill payment option for mobile-centric customers across Australia.

As a clear success story, what does Damien recommend to new start-up founders hoping to experience a similar trajectory to Sniip? Well – Sniip has been seven years in the making and is only now just seeing the results of perseverance and hard work. In his experience, persistence is everything, and he noted that there are always ways around obstacles. Pivoting is important, but you must do so while staying true to your vision. Damien ended our conversation by outlining his number-one key learning: “At the end of the day, make sure that whatever your business is doing, you are always solving a problem; this is the absolute key to growth and success.” 

 

Sniip and Amex

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