Paypa Taking flight:
Reshaping the digital payments landscape

18 JANUARY 2023

For Paypa Plane CEO Simone Joyce, a $25 late fee led to the development of a digital payments solution that’s in demand from banks and businesses across the globe.

Founded by Simone and Jonathan Grant in 2018, Paypa Plane is a Brisbane financial technology (FinTech) company helping banks and large enterprises to uplift their digital payment capabilities without changing their core systems. 

Simone says the company does this with white label ‘Smart Payment Agreement’ solutions that manage transactions and automate payment-based customer care, leading to a better scheduled payments ecosystem for banks, payment service providers, businesses and payers alike. 

Paying up

Simone’s first exposure to the world of digital payments came in 2013, when she took part in the ilab Accelerator program at the University of Queensland. But she says it was a payment fail for one of her childrens’ after-school care services that really inspired Paypa Plane. 

“I got hit with a failed payment fee of $25, which was frankly outrageous,” she laughs. “I didn’t understand why the payment failed, because I had provided the correct details. 

“The more I looked into it, the more I realised the failure was a result of old software and manual processes, and that it wouldn’t have happened if there’d been an appropriate system in place to manage them. 

“I’m sure everybody’s had an experience where a scheduled payment didn’t go through and they’ve been hit with a late fee. We’re all having more automated payments come out of our bank accounts and off our cards every month – everything from utility, mortgage and insurance payments to relatively small things like Netflix and gym membership fees are coming out of our accounts frequently. That’s a trend we’re seeing not just in Australia, but globally. 

“As I investigated it, I realised the missing piece was a connection between the business and the payer. And that connection, if it came in the form of a living digital link, could give both parties full transparency over payments, so the payer could see when the payments were due, and make changes based on their personal circumstances. 

“With a Smart Payment Agreement that encompassed multiple payment methods and gateways, they could say, ‘Oh, don’t take the payment out of this bank account, put it on the 

card this month’. Or, ‘Monday’s not a good day for me because the school fees are coming out, so let’s pay this on a Wednesday’. 

“These are things that, before, would have required the payer to call the business, or to just take an inconvenient payment on the chin. But with a Smart Payment Agreement, they can provide

ongoing consent, and make changes that are appropriate to their lives.” 

As Simone and her Paypa Plane team developed their Smart Payment Agreement technology, they realised that banks and large enterprises were their ideal customers. 

“We wanted to make the biggest impact possible, across a broad spectrum of consumers,” Simone says. “In order to do that, the most logical way for us to distribute this technology isn’t to knock on the door of every small business in Australia – it’s to go to the source, and provide our software to banks and large enterprises.

“Banks and large enterprises have core transactional capabilities, and those core transactional capabilities were usually built 20, sometimes 30, years ago. They still work, from a mechanical perspective, but they’re not really suitable for our digital-first society. Our technology sits over the top of these core legacy systems, so they can sit seamlessly alongside new, real-time and emerging payment systems without a lot of investment in their infrastructure.” 

Cleared for take-off 

While getting Paypa Plane off the ground came with its challenges, the company’s partnership with Australia’s largest bank is indicative of its meteoric rise. 

“FinTech is similar to other start-up verticals like MedTech, in that anytime you’re operating in a highly regulated environment, there’s a higher cost of entry,” Simone says. “You can’t go to market with a boot-strapped product that kind of does what you want it to – it has to fit the purpose from the get-go, because you’re dealing with people’s money and financial information. 

“That means there are higher costs involved in the early years, which makes capital a challenge. For us, it was about finding investors that understood the journey we were on – investors that understood we’re a software as a service (SaaS) company, and we have long sales cycles, but the contracts we sign have high future value.” 

In 2022, Paypa Plane announced a partnership with Commonwealth Bank, using Paypa Plane’s technology to assist the bank to bring new real-time payment services like PayTo to life for their business clients.

“Securing Commonwealth Bank as an investor and a client was a significant achievement for Paypa Plane,” Simone says. “It was a milestone, not just for us as a company, but for the vision we have for the future of the payment system in Australia.” 

That same year, Simone was nominated for Business Person of the Year at the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards. 

“That was a really nice surprise,” she says, “and it was nice to have that recognition. I think it’s important for people to be aware of what companies like Paypa Plane are doing in Brisbane. We have some very strong FinTech companies in Brisbane, and one advantage of that is that we’ve got access to some really interesting talent here.

“We have a number of world-class universities in Brisbane, of course, but we also have a lot of developers here who have experience with processing high volumes of data and complex information, so there’s a strong talent pool for us to draw on.” 

Since starting with a team of six in 2018, Simone says the company has grown to 43 employees in early 2023. 

“We expect to finish 2023 with about 55 team members,” she says, “so that’s a solid growth trajectory.”

Going supersonic

Simone, who also serves as the Chair of FinTech Australia, says Brisbane is an ideal base for businesses that want to make a name for themselves in the sector. 

“It’s an exciting time for the city, and that’s reflected in the rapid population growth we’re seeing here,” she says.

“Being based in Brisbane comes with access to innovation initiatives like Advance Queensland, which are the envy of start-up ecosystems in all of the other states, and to support networks like FinTech QLD, which is helping to connect the community here. But it also comes with a lifestyle that you just can’t get anywhere else. 

“For me, as the mother of four children, there’s just no better place for me to be. There’s a culture that’s unique to this city – we work hard, but we don’t expect people to spend all of their daylight hours in an office, then go home, come back to work and repeat. We understand the importance of a healthy work-life balance.

“For anyone looking at doing business in Brisbane, I’d recommend talking to as many people as possible. There are so many people, like the team at the Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), who are ready, willing and able to help, and so many locations you can choose from. And I think the effort you put into creating connections here will really pay dividends in the years to come.”

In the coming years, Simone says Paypa Plane will continue to expand from its base in Brisbane. 

“We don’t need to move in order to serve clients everywhere,” she says. “Brisbane is our headquarters, and it will remain our headquarters, even as we expand globally. 
“We’re looking forward to maintaining our foundations here at the same time as we look to broader markets in Australia, but also around the world, especially the United States. I love the potential for us there. 
“At the end of the day, we’ve only built about two per cent of what our payments system will eventually become. The future for this business, and this industry, is very exciting.” 

Looking up at Skyscrapers in Brisbane City