NatWest expects big things from Big Tech in payments innovation

NatWest has purchased a minority investment in Icon Solutions, building on a pre-existing partnership with the payments provider.

The strategic investment is indicative of NatWest’s deepening ties to the fintech sector, with the bank targeting ‘strategic outcomes’ in payments in particular as a means to provide greater customer choice.

London-based NatWest has outlined investments such as this as key to achieving its goal to “build on its long-standing partnerships to drive innovation for customers and colleagues”.

As noted above, NatWest and Icon Solutions have a pre-existing relationship. The duo first partnered in September last year, with NatWest leveraging Icon’s Payments Framework (IPF) to accelerate payments modernisation.

Tom Kelleher, Co-Founder and Director of Icon Solutions, said: “NatWest and Icon have been on a journey together since 2019 to modernise payments at the bank, inspired and led by Ian Povey and Mark Brant. 

“We have a common belief in the adoption of low-code technologies to deliver new payments systems quickly and safely, with a significantly lower cost profile. Overcoming vendor lock in and powering in-house builds with the Icon Payments Framework (IPF), NatWest can now drive change from within. 

“Building new revenue streams, anticipating regulatory change, responding to market changes or competitive pressures. Today’s investment is much more than an investment, it’s a commitment to a future where payments are safe, immediate, and flexible.”

One of Icon Solutions’ core products is the above-mentioned IFF, a low code payments framework which creates workflows and supports software engineering teams to extend and develop integrations for banking systems.

NatWest’s investment in the company showcases a continued desire for the bank to engage with fintech and make greater use of emerging and developing technologies.

Mark Brant, NatWest – Source: NatWest

Commenting at the close of 2023, NatWest’s Chief Payments Officer, Mark Brant, and Head of Group Payments Strategy, Lee McNabb, discussed technological advancements in fraud prevention as well as the rise of Open Banking.

This latter area has become a key focal point for NatWest of late, with the firm operating its own Open Banking solution, Payit by NatWest. Last month, the firm became the first UK bank to join the Crown Commercial Service’s (CCS) new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) for Open Banking services. 

On the Icon Solutions investment, Brant remarked: “Our relationship with Icon Solutions has already helped us to bring our payments estate to life. This investment is fundamental to the delivery of our modernisation in payments technology, which will enable us to better serve our customers and to remain at the forefront of the payments industry.

“We continue to play a major role in developing payment innovations for the future, embracing new technologies, standards and capabilities to shape the future of the payments landscape while improving customer experience.

“Combining the scale and resilience of a bank with the speed and innovation of a fintech like Icon Solutions means we can bring new payment services to our customers quickly and safely.”