Case study: BCB delivers fiat payment services for digital asset firms with ClearBank
- Cost-effective access to Faster Payments (FPS) – offering all the advantages of the UK’s faster payments infrastructure to end customers, without incurring the significant costs of being a direct scheme member.
- BCB Group has enjoyed a more than 400% increase in transaction volumes since 2020 using the ClearBank platform.
- Virtual accounts and virtual IBANs provide BCB with the flexibility to support its financial institution customers with one or just a small number of real accounts.
- Greater efficiency in managing a high volume of accounts while maintaining simple reconciliations, supporting the firm to scale without increasing the cost or complexity of servicing customer accounts.
BCB Group is a leading crypto-dedicated payment services provider, serving many of the industry’s largest clients including Bitstamp, Crypto.com, Fireblocks, Galaxy, Gemini and Kraken. It provides payment services in over 30 currencies, FX, cryptocurrency liquidity, digital asset custody and BLINC, which is BCB’s free, instant settlements network for the BCB client ecosystem.
Responding to corporate and institutional demand for essential and excellent infrastructure in digital asset markets, BCB Group was created by payments, digital asset and banking experts. Founded in the UK and developed to encompass key relationships across global financial services communities, BCB Group positions itself as one of the first multi-jurisdictional regulated cryptocurrency service firms.
- Finding a trusted partner: as a firm pushing the boundaries in a nascent industry, BCB Group wanted to ensure that the fiat leg of the customer journey was underpinned by an experienced partner, one that aligned with its purpose and vision to deliver the best possible payment experience.
- Building in the same country: BCB Group is based and regulated in the UK and wanted to work with a fully regulated UK bank with international ambitions to work shoulder-to-shoulder with as they scaled.
- Alignment on vision and mission: the firm was mindful that incumbent firms were concerned about working with a digital asset provider. That required finding a banking partner who appreciated the role of digital assets in the evolving payments landscape and had a risk appetite that matched its own.
Seeking a reputable, innovative and secure partner that they can trust – the obvious choice was ClearBank.
“The technology and capabilities, the compliance framework and the alignment to our business goals mattered. We wanted a partner that would work with us as our business grew, and understood our vision,” explains Oliver Tonkin, Co-Founder and Deputy CEO at BCB Group. “ClearBank offered a powerful combination of a risk appetite that’s supportive of the digital assets industry, proven payment capabilities, and market-leading account products. It also stands out for having experienced transaction bankers alongside a dedicated digital asset team and a compliance team that are specialists in our sector.”
Reliability, safety, and security for BCB Group and its customers were a key priority in the search for a banking partner. Collaborating with a fully regulated UK bank with a scalable solution and a proactive risk approach to digital assets, instilled BCB Group with confidence it had found an ideal banking partner.
BCB Group was onboarded and fully integrated into the ClearBank ecosystem in less than 2 months via ClearBank’s single API.
“There are lots of banks and services out there who are piggybacking off agency models to offer similar products, but ClearBank has built and developed a modern technology stack that provides direct access to payment schemes. That gave us confidence it would deliver and what we could achieve together as we grow,” comments Tonkin. “It was also important that ClearBank offers a single, coherent tech stack, unlike other providers who have bought things or created a bank on a different infrastructure that then you’re spending time building connectors.”
Availability is central to the BCB Group offering. However, when issues arise, the client ClearBank Portal comes with tools to enable a swift resolution to payment investigations, available 24/7 with a clear escalation process. Communication between BCB Group and ClearBank is not simply restricted to necessary or emergency queries for help. Instead, BCB Group has a dedicated ClearBank relationship manager on hand that supports from onboarding through to go-live and beyond – with involvement from tech and other relevant teams as needed.
ClearBank’s API provides BCB Group and its customers with access to the UK’s Faster Payments scheme (FPS), facilitating real-time, scalable accounts that seamlessly clear transactions. Funds are credited to their account instantly and as ClearBank’s platform is available 24/7, customers can move money whenever they want.
While BCB Group could have built the integration, the process for becoming a direct participant is often long and complex. It also appreciated that approach would require ongoing capital investment and ongoing maintenance for regulatory testing requirements.
“Partnering with ClearBank was the most efficient and cost-effective way to access FPS as they maintain the connection, updates and so on. Together we’re making the on and off ramps between fiat and crypto seamless for our customers. That enables the firm to do what it does best: building an industry-leading experience and rolling out new products and features,” explains Tonkin.
As a result of the collaboration with ClearBank, BCB Group can offer its customers all the advantages of FPS in terms of payment speed and security without incurring the significant operational costs of being a direct scheme member.
BCB Group has enjoyed a more than 400% increase in transaction volumes since 2020 using the ClearBank platform.
BCB Group is utilising ClearBank’s Virtual GBP Account solution. These virtual accounts are built for flexibility with the freedom to open millions of accounts, each with its own addressable virtual International Bank Account Number (vIBAN), with no limit on the number of logic layers that BCB can create within their ledger.
This structure enables BCB Group to support a huge number of customers with one or just a small number of real accounts. Every customer has their own virtual account, which, on the surface, behaves exactly like a real account. It provides an infrastructure for BCB to see where funds are held for each of its customers without the cost and complexity of managing individual real accounts for all of them.
“ClearBank’s virtual accounts were a foundational element for us to build our capabilities on, managing the flow of payments to and from our clients. That was particularly true for our exchange clients who wanted to offer virtual accounts and IBANs, under their name or using their name and provide that to their customers,” says Tonkin. “From our perspective this structure means we can manage a high volume of accounts whilst maintaining simple reconciliations, enabling us to scale without needing to worry about the operational impact.”
Digital assets are gaining ground due to fundamental shifts in consumer behaviour, technological advancement, and emerging regulatory regimes in the UK and EU. BCB Group wanted to work with a tech-first payment expert like ClearBank, which it believes is better placed to meet the payment needs of its customers now and into the future.
“True partnerships are built on shared goals and alignment. We appreciate that when ClearBank talks about its vision, it's not ‘we’re thinking about this or that’. It’s ‘here’s our plan and the timetable’,” comments Tonkin. “It is focused on its core business of being the best possible payment bank, not lending, mortgages or capital markets. That focus is important as we continue to build together.”