Build or Buy Your Billing & Payment Solution? Yes, and Yes

Billing & Payments Insight

To build or to buy? It’s a not-so-simple question that is routinely debated by billers when considering updating their billing and payment solution. There are benefits to both but also key considerations billers must take into account before deciding which is best for their organization.

Let’s take a closer look at the build versus buy debate and key questions to determine whether your billing and payment provider has the flexibility needed to offer long-term success.

The Engine or the Car

When discussing building versus buying, it’s important to properly define the difference. Building generally means accessing directly or indirectly the merchant services for payment processing that can serve as the “engine” to your solution. APIs can be used to extend the capabilities of this infrastructure and make it customizable to fit your needs, but what you are initially getting is simply payment processing in the rawest form, and then taking on the act of building user interfaces, security and preferences as layers on top.

The caveat here is that getting an engine relies on having a team of “mechanics” to turn it into a full-fledged car. In a garage, this would mean relying on fabricators, welders, engineers and more to not only build out the car but also maintain it. In addition, keeping those mechanics on staff as changes, compliance and releases are a part of life and need consistent management.

Buying a holistic solution is akin to buying the whole car and working with experts to help put you and your business in the right car with the right accessories, enhancements, cupholders, and keeping you in the know but taken care of regarding features, releases and information. Rather than just getting the engine, you get everything in one package. While not as customizable in terms of getting to dictate every facet, you get a purpose-built solution where all elements are seamlessly integrated and created by one vendor, meaning everything is orchestrated to work together.

Should I Build or Buy My Billing and Payment Platform?

Rest assured, if you are having this debate you are not alone. Organizations of all types face this question when confronted with the need for tech and software solutions – and its answer comes down to a few questions including:

  • What are your short- and long-term goals?

  • If you decide to build your solution, is your organization resourced to implement and maintain this new solution (i.e., do you have the staff, expertise, cross-department capabilities and continued funding to properly maintain your platform)?

  • Are you prepared to handle the compliance and regulatory burdens associated with payments and payments software, or would you prefer that be handled by an outside party?

  • Who is responsible for innovation and the integration of new payment methods and channels?

  • Are there pieces you would prefer to build and pieces you would prefer to outsource?

This is just a small sample of the many questions that go into formulating your plan. Other considerations include your team’s ability to address issues that arise, the necessity of customization, handling exception payments, handling ever-changing consumer needs, etc.

Also, consider the ecosystem as a whole: A typical biller ecosystem comprises many of the payment types and channels below, not to mention back office reporting. Many times this can be daunting to build while other billers find it liberating and allows flexibility within their environment.

Tying all of these payment methods and channels together can be a complex task, especially if you are looking for full visibility into your payment performance. And keep in mind, this ecosystem is consistently expanding. New capabilities and payment types are always in demand and under development, necessitating specific industry awareness and expertise to stay ahead of customer expectations.

The Case for Buying Your Billing and Payment Solution

Buying a proven, fully vetted holistic billing and payment solution is generally the best option for most billers. There are several reasons that billers select to buy their billing and payment solution from a third-party such as Paymentus:

  1. PCI Compliance – The ability to offload this burden allows billers to focus on their core business (providing utilities, serving patients, etc.) without worry that they will run afoul of PCI compliance and regulatory burdens from governing bodies such as Nacha. Compliance is handled in total by Paymentus, ensuring clients are continually in line with the latest regulations.

  2. Expertise – Billers are (generally) not in the business of payments. Working with Paymentus gives billers access to a wealth of industry expertise and experience so they can focus on their core business. As one Telecom client said recently, “We’re not experts in payments. We need someone leading us and that’s what Paymentus does.”

  3. Ongoing Innovation – Innovation is not a one-and-done process. Staying ahead in the fast-moving world of payments relies on extensive industry knowledge, dedicated development capabilities and orchestration to bring it all together. Billers rely on partners like Paymentus to introduce them to new payment capabilities, methods and channels – often before customers even know they’re available.

  4. Optimized Resource Allocation – Buying a comprehensive, holistic solution optimizes cost by eliminating the need to contract with various partners (who may also charge varying fees for every ad hoc capability) and having to add staff to build and maintain your system.

  5. Ease of Integration – A single-vendor solution speeds and simplifies the ability to add new tools or capabilities, and integrate with existing systems or partner solutions (e.g., customer management systems, third-party data analytics providers).

  6. Reporting and Reconciliation – A fully integrated system allows for greater data capture and advanced reporting through the use of built-in dashboards such as Paymentus’ Agent Dashboard. Because all payments flow through a single vendor, all reporting data is more easily captured and actionable in a single view.

The Case for Building Your Billing and Payment Solution

This model is recommended for billers who want to control all aspects of the bill payment process while also being responsible for PCI compliance. Billers opting to build their platform integrate with a solution such as Paymentus’ via API. The reasons billers opt for the build model include:

  1. Complete Control – APIs allow billers to configure almost all aspects of their billing and payment experience. They can configure everything from payments received and convenience fees to the payment methods customers can use.

  2. In-House Expertise – Dedicated internal resources whose sole responsibilities lie within payments offer immediacy and close alignment to your business roadmap.

  3. Limited Needs – Billers looking to satisfy a very specific need without a lot of bells and whistles can realize benefits and cost savings by electing to purchase just the processing software.

There are two large considerations billers must address if they wish to take this route. The first revolves around PCI compliance. Many billers opt to offload this burden to those whose core competencies revolve around maintaining strict compliance with regulations that can be both complex and dynamic.

The second is reporting and reconciliation. Paymentus clients automatically receive Agent Dashboard, regardless of their chosen deployment model. However, should a client use “out of band” payments from other vendors, they will need to feed those through to Paymentus for full visibility within Agent Dashboard or risk having siloed visibility into their payment processes.

The Case for Flexibility Within Your Billing and Payment Solution Provider

Build versus buy does not mean you need to work with different vendors. In fact, most agile providers offer multiple deployment models. Selecting the right partner provider is paramount to the long-term success of any platform transformation project, which is why billers must select a partner that offers the utmost flexibility in how it can deliver its solution.

Paymentus offers billers four deployment models to meet their business needs and goals:

  • Fully hosted (Buy)

  • iFrame integration (Buy/Build hybrid)

  • API integration (Build)

  • Developer Portal and SandBox

This flexibility ensures the long-term viability of your solution because it is underpinned by a single vendor. No matter your deployment, everything centers around a unified platform that is flexible and specifically designed for each deployment option. This ensures that all elements of the system are seamlessly integrated and work together.

Rather than a piecemeal approach, Paymentus allows all clients to tap into our expansive payment capabilities without necessitating additional partners. Everything you need to offer your customers a superior end-to-end electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) solution is available, whether you want to deploy a fully hosted solution, iFrame integration or API integration.

As you consider your deployment approach, it’s important to remember that vendors lacking flexibility in this instance will limit your ability to change models should your business needs evolve over time. This will essentially place you back at square one in selecting and working with a new vendor. The best case scenario for all billers is to start with a partner that can discuss, guide and fulfill their business goals, whatever they may be.

Want to learn more about which deployment model may be best for you? Let’s talk! Contact us today to see how Paymentus can help you optimize your strategy, whether you choose to buy or build.