Award for New Build Treasury: Deliveroo

The fast-growing online food delivery company struggled with payments until the right API solution was found.

by Ben Poole

Updated: November 28, 2018

REUTERS/Jason Reed

It was the final straw. Upon joining Deliveroo, group treasurer Imane Aztout quickly realised that the company needed a robust payments infrastructure to support its growth. Then a bank payments portal the company used to pay its partner restaurants and drivers crashed, leaving the possibility that these key stakeholders might not be paid promptly. A solution had to be found.

“Growing rapidly across Europe and Asia, we wanted to redesign our payments model to support this business growth in a way that could deal with our high volume of payments” she says.

The fast growing $2 billion UK online food delivery company saw a 116% increase in revenue in 2017, up $361 million, so a payments model that could keep up with this scale of growth was essential.

“The most important thing from a treasury perspective was to partner with the rest of the business to enable a solution that doesn’t only resolve paying our riders and restaurants, but makes the user experience much better for our internal stakeholders”.

Imane Aztout, Deliveroo

With high payment volumes, and restaurants and delivery riders as important stakeholders in the business, Imane needed a payment solution that fully integrated into the treasury workstation. She opted for Citi’s integrated applications program interface (API) to automate payment processing across the business.

“We already had an API on the customer-facing side, so by adding an API to the payments side the treasury was able to achieve consistency across the company” she notes. “As well as treasury being able to request information at any time and receive this within a couple of seconds, the move also ensures that all riders and restaurants are paid on time”.

In underlying connectivity, the API is quite similar to host-to-host (H2H) connectivity as both rely on clearing systems. But it is with the connection to the bank that the API comes into its own. “Having the API enables a real-time conversation between the two parties – it is like a phone call” Imane says. “This creates visibility and real-time connectivity, whereas H2H is more like a file batch”.

“The API enables you to initiate payment, but at the same time receive payment status on a regular basis in your internal workstation. You create visibility for the rest of the business – particularly in our case our customer service – you know if the cash has been processed and if the riders and the restaurant have received the money”.

Now that the implementation has been completed, the treasury is enjoying the benefits. “We now have a single global method of connectivity, allowing us to automate, streamline and centralise payments” Imane comments. “We used to have a very fragmented payments approach, where each banking partner had their own way to upload files so we had to manipulate the files to be able to fit. Now it is streamlined, we have the possibility to expand our business with no payments issues”.

With the API proving a benefit for treasury, Imane is already looking ahead to what else it could help with. “We receive real-time payment processing information, but it doesn’t say when payment is rejected or returned – this is only reflected in the banking portal. There are some options here, for example Swift is working on gpi that has payment tracking visibility options, although this is only on cross-border payments. Also, in terms of getting bank statements back, this could be done through API, although we don’t have this yet. It is something we are potentially looking to do”.