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Simon Jones ClearBank As one of the pioneers in Banking as a Service (BaaS), ClearBank has gone from strength-to-strength, bringing technology that’s transforming the clearing and agency banking landscape, to offer real-time payments and banking services.
This month, we talk to Simon Jones Chief Customer Officer at ClearBank on how they are helping to transform and innovate in the payments and agency banking sector.
Simon, could you tell our readers a bit about you, ClearBank and the customers you serve?

I joined ClearBank just over a year ago now, bringing with me over 30 years of experience in Finance, Treasury and Transaction banking across developed as well as emerging markets & digital payments. Prior to joining I was responsible for treasury solutions at JPMorgan in EMEA, supporting clients around the world. I have worked with FinTech’s over the last decade and learned so much along the way, I am keen to share my experiences thus far, that is why I am currently a Mentor for TechStars, Barclays Accelerator programme.

ClearBank offers a full suite of Banking-as-a-Service products to financial institutions, whether this be building societies and banks, or FinTechs. Through our banking licence and our intelligent, robust technology solutions, we enable our partners to offer real-time payment and innovative banking services to their customers.

LinkedIn named ClearBank as one of the top 25 start-ups in the UK, that is quite an accolade! How have ClearBank cultivated its culture?

Thank you! Since we started in 2015, we have been actively working to create and implement the innovative, passionate, inclusive workplace and a highly diverse company culture that we have today. We run monthly ‘Insights Into’ and ‘Lunch and Learns’ where different departments are in the spotlight discussing what they do, how they do it and most importantly – why they love it. There are also weekly stand-ups, run by a member of our Executive Team to make sure everyone in the business is involved and aware of what is happening; given that we have been working remotely for over 3 months now this has been a great morale booster.

We work hard to ensure that wherever possible there is a flat hierarchy. We understand that people come into the firm from different backgrounds and levels of experience, but their opinions and perspectives are all highly valued. To ensure that everyone is heard we have regular team and line-manager check-ins, an approachable HR team and a CEO with an open-door policy.

What are the latest hot topics in the clearing and agency banking landscape?

Talks about ISO 20022 have been prominent in the payments industry for the last few years, however, it became even more important when the Bank of England announced last year that they were basing the renewed Real-Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) service, including CHAPS payments, on ISO 20022 messaging. Whilst ClearBank’s API was built with ISO 20022 as messaging standard, this was not the case for traditional players who have had to adapt their systems in response.

Another hot topic has to be the New Payments Architecture (NPA), which is a series of changes to the UK payment rails (Bacs & Faster Payments). If transition into ISO 20022 as messaging standard did not give traditional players enough motivation to innovate, this will force them to reassess. Legacy systems will need to be largely revamped to comply and function with the new real-time payment systems. This brings about the century-long question…should you become direct members of the payment schemes or go through an agency banking provider? The benefits of direct membership, you have no reliance or external parties, the cons? Well, all the responsibility falls on you to maintain and update these systems.

The days of batch processing are near gone, as we see financial institutions increasingly opt for API integration. The benefits of this are endless, but essentially the ability to connect in real-time to UK payment rails, processing each transaction as it comes provides, allows our clients to offer the near real-time settlement of payments that the end customer now expects.

What does the future of payments look like?

Advances in technology by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Whatsapp have set the new standard for consumers, and that really is access 24/7/365. Long gone are the days when people waited 10 working days for cheques to clear, instead, they now want to take a picture of one on their mobile and receive the money instantaneously. With this change expected, financial service providers need to gear up and provide consumers with the ability to make payments in real-time.

How is ClearBank helping to innovate in the market?

ClearBank was founded with the aim of enabling an open and competitive banking marketplace. Before its conception, the payments industry had undergone a period of consolidation and was predominantly serviced via four traditional banks. As a result, there was a lack of innovation in the sector and any real drive to change. Free from the legacy architecture experienced within the traditional four clearing banks, we at ClearBank have created the unique and uncharted space within which we operate.

We have removed the cost and complexity of providing access to the UK payments infrastructure by way of a single API. One ISO 20022 simplified JSON scenario-based API, allows financial institutions to access our full suite of Banking-as-a-Service products and services with seamless integration.

For more information on ClearBank and their services visit their website.

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