Future 50: Radical app aims to make B2B payments faster, simpler and less expensive

Olthem Payments' EchoPay app

The new EchoPay app will make business-to-business payments faster, easier and less expensive - Credit: Olthem Payments

Suffolk-based Olthem Payments has launched EchoPay – a radical B2B payment app.


The Future 50 programme is supported by the partner businesses - Credit: Archant

"For large businesses taking money by card is really inefficient,” says James Ward, MD of Future 50 member Olthem Payments. “It’s expensive, it takes up to three days for the money to arrive and there’s friction...

“Our new EchoPay app does it all – instantly. It transmits the money consistently, for a fraction of the cost.”

Every large card transaction carries a relatively high cost because three elements have to come out of it. There’s the scheme fee fee that goes to Visa or MasterCard; there’s the interchange that is shared between the issuing bank and Visa or MasterCard; and there’s the margin for the acquirer processing the payment. 

James Ward MD of Olthem Payments

James Ward of Olthem Payments felt there had to be a better way to make B2B payments than by using a card - Credit: Olthem Payments

“For my customers, 90% of the money they take by card is on a debit card,” Mr Ward explains. Olthem uses open-banking technology to bypass this, creating fast and frictionless B2B payments.

The new EchoPay app allows QR codes to be added to invoices for customers to scan and approve instantly. Additionally suppliers can send secure requests for payment direct to their customers phones.

“Typically, it works best when a customer is paying for something that has already been supplied on credit, or something they are taking away with them.” Mr Ward says. 

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Stowmarket-based Olthem was established in late 2017 and in just four years has built up a customer base that stretches from Orkney in the north to Jersey in the south, with a card-payment turnover in excess of £250 million a year. 

The company operates in four key areas: food retail; hospitality; wholesalers supplying hospitality; and wholesalers supplying retail. “Anything retail-based has been crazy. Anything hospitality or in their supply chain has been in tatters, though they're busy now,” says Mr Ward. 

There is huge scope for growth – and not only within the UK. “Open banking works in Europe and Australia,” Mr Ward says. The EchoPay app can be installed on Android or Apple phones, making it simple for businesses to make or receive fast, frictionless payments for a fraction of the cost of card payments. 

For more information see www.echopay.co.uk and www.olthem.com

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