Pollinate: Connecting Banks and SMEs

The payments industry has been transformed over the past decade. Whilst Mastercard and Visa both continued to report double digit, year-on-year growth in value and transactions via their card brands, we have seen the rapid rise of payments companies like Square and Shopify, which see the value in the merchant relationship and the payments data. The disruption to the payments industry does not stop there, with Apple’s purchase of Mobeewave, allowing them to turn smartphones into payment terminals and Amazon aiming to offer business financing – with the back end provided by Goldman Sachs.

Despite the rise in competition, banks remain at the bedrock of the modern economy – providing essential capital and expertise to support business and consumers at scale. Pollinate came together in 2017 to re-imagine merchant acquiring for NatWest, culminating in the launch of Tyl in September 2019, founded with a keen awareness that banks are under increasing attack from FinTech players, and must step up to compete. Now also working with National Australia Bank and in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Pollinate recognise the need for a solution that can work globally to help SMEs and banks transition to a more digital future.


What does Pollinate do?

The Pollinate platform aims to connect banks and SMEs, offering merchants a chance to manage payments, understand what they mean, and grow their businesses with their own loyalty and offers scheme — all in one place, with fully integrated data flows. It’s this blend of agility, innovation and a strong understanding of the existing landscape that gives Pollinate its edge.

We’ve launched a number of products which help connect banks and SMEs. Tyl by NatWest is a merchant payment platform developed by Pollinate, working together with NatWest and Endava over an 18 month period. Tyl enables small businesses to accept Chip & PIN, contactless and telephony payments either in-store, over the phone or using a mobile terminal. Pollinate has also launched Payit™ by NatWest, which allows customers to make instant online payments to participating retailers, without the use of a debit or credit card – resulting in a fast, fair, simple and safe payment experience.

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a disproportionate impact on SMEs across the globe. Pollinate Orders was built in direct response to the pandemic to support the hard hit dining sector. Pollinate created the software to enable restaurants, pubs and cafes to quickly turn on online order management for their customers. This includes rapid upload of menus, workflow management tools, pick-up and delivery options. It was built by a team working 100% remotely and in just five weeks to a bank-grade solution.


How is Pollinate different?

Our vision has always been to level up small and medium businesses through cutting edge technology and the unique combined data set of consumers and merchants.​ Looking to the future, we are partnering with some of the world’s leading financial and technology businesses.​ Our MasterCard partnership was the first of our global strategic partnerships to scale our technology, reach more merchants and accelerate our growth over the next five years.

What does the future hold for the company?

We recently announced a multi-year partnership with Australia’s largest business bank, National Australia Bank (NAB) to deploy our digital merchant service platform for its SME customers, whilst also closing our latest funding round of £70m. Banks around the world have had a difficult decade, but they remain the only ones in the payment chain who can connect directly with both merchants and consumers.

The experienced founding team — including Alastair Lukies CBE, who is chairman of FinTech Alliance, co-founder of Monetise and a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Council — was instrumental in building these relationships and understanding the pain points faced by today’s financial institutions. For too long, banks have been on the defensive with many major disruptors challenging the status quo. Pollinate offers something genuinely different to the historic direction of the payments industry, and something that is genuinely useful to merchants.
Interview with Fiona Roach Canning, Co-founder, Chief Product & Marketing Officer at Pollinate.