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It all started in late October 2014. Cédric was working in Oniryx (a Belgian IT consultancy company). He was in charge of the Finance, which involved paying a lot of invoices. He had to do it mainly through manual entry and verify a lot of things:
Cédric was amazed that there was no easier way to get this done so he looked at a way to simplify the payment of those invoices and designed a QR code.
In November 2014, he suggested the idea within Oniryx and there was a general consensus that this was an idea worth pursuing. However, since this meant developing a product and the activity of the company was consultancy, it was decided to host this activity in a spin-off.
In January 2015, while doing the necessary market analysis, Cédric discovered that, in fact, there was already a European standard payment QR code that could be put on invoices to simplify the payment…
So, the idea at the time was to provide an e-invoicing portal in which the payment would be performed by scanning a this EPC QR code in your mobile banking app. We called it Scan2pay and the development of the platform started!
On May 19th 2015, Teal IT was created to provide consultancy services and develop products like Scan2Pay. The name of the company comes from a book called “Reinventing organisations” by Frédéric Laloux. The “teal” colour being the one used to describe self-managed organisations and “IT” standing for information technology. We went teal… In everything we do, we start by living the values we believe in:
In Belgium, no bank was supporting the standard QR code on which Scan2pay was based. So Cédric took his pilgrim’s staff to request that they support it.
In the meantime, the development of the e-invoicing portal was performed by consultants from Oniryx and a first demo version was available in September 2015.
We announced this in a press conference on September 25th but no journalists were present to see the demonstration and we only had two articles as a result.
In December 2015, our first live version was available in Production. Since the platform was more than just a way to pay, we also decided to rename it to Digiteal. The name is close to “Digital” and contains the “Teal” that is the essence of Teal IT’s values.
The team was quite large at the time, most of it being consultants from the sister company – Oniryx. However, we did not do a proper market validation, the traction was low because we had to convince a lot of parties to make it work: banks to support the payment QR code; Issuers to send bills through our portal; Invoice recipients (companies or individuals) that would choose to receive their invoices in our portal.
At that point, we had a portal and some letters of intent from big issuers that would add the QR code or integrate with Scan2Pay if the banks would support the payment.
By the end of December 2015 Teal IT had no more funds and it was decided to put the project on-hold until the banks would support the payment by the standard QR code…
In June 2016 KBC/CBC accepted to support the standard EPC QR code and you could already pay using their mobile banking app.
Cédric could then do some demos and hoped that other banks would follow… but no other bank did. He faced a grim outlook. It could have been the end of the story.
In October 2016, tired of waiting for the banks, Cédric had a pivotal moment. He decided to take a big risk and not wait for the banks anymore.
The new idea was to become a payment institution and rely on SEPA standards so that Teal IT could provide the payment by scanning a QR code to anyone in the entire SEPA zone, whatever bank their account is in.
In November 2016 Teal IT moved to its new (though tiny) office in Creative Spark, Mont-Saint-Guibert. Nadea got back on board and Christian joined Digiteal to help get a sales traction. We started working with Simont Braun on the payment institution certification in order to pursue the new strategy.
Cédric gathered investors from family, friends and some business angels to make a Seed capital increase, because at that point, there weren’t sufficient funds. In December 2016, a capital increase of 625K€ was made and things started to roll. A substantial amount came from John Nève, Cédric’s father, who believed in the project and had a 17 years experience as a Lead Business Consultant at SWIFT.
Jonathan joined the team in January 2017 and we started to transform the e-Invoicing portal into an e-invoicing and e-payment platform.
To perform the scan of the QR on the paper invoices, we still needed a mobile application, so we started looking for a mobile developer.
Thanks to Grégory Delguste, our coach from the Réseau Entreprendre, we met Steve Bunlon that was in his last year at the University of Technology of Compiègne (France). He needed to do an internship in a company and he had good mobile development skills.
Steve started the mobile app development. He worked as an intern from March to June 2017 and made such a great job that we hired him in September 2017.
Also in March 2017, we submitted a first version of our payment institution file to the National Bank of Belgium (NBB).
After a few back and forth communications with the NBB, we arrived in June 2017 with compliance related questions and we understood that we were lacking expertise in this area. We needed a compliance officer and procedures. So, we reached out to our contacts and we met with Philip Mees. Things directly clicked with him and on the same week he was present at a meeting with the AML compliance team of the NBB.
After some hard work, we not only had a description of the procedures but with everyone’s help we also got them implemented in Digiteal. Our file to the NBB was considered complete in September 2017 and on October 31st 2017 we received our payment institution certification from the NBB. At that point, we had the authorization to operate our payment service.
In the meantime, the development and the commercial contacts were very active and we had around 10 pilot companies that wanted to use Digiteal.
We were live with our service on November 14th and the official launch was announced in a press conference that gathered close to 10 journalists. This resulted in more than 15 newspaper articles and radio/TV interviews.
On November 22nd, in the middle of the Forum for the Future conference in Brussels, Cédric received a phone call from the EC’s National Contact Point (NCP) in Belgium.
They announced that we were selected by the European Union to accelerate the deployment of our concept in other countries. We therefore received an EU grant of 950K€ as part of the Horizon 2020 program.
It was unbelievable and took some time to sink in for the entire team. We were very happy to hear the news and keep on the good work to make EU citizens’ lives easier.
We’ve started working with integrators, our commercial contacts keep us busy and we participate in as many events as possible to stay up to date and spread the word.
The rest of the story remains to be written. One by one, great people have joined the adventure and it is thanks to them that we were able to do so much.
Sadly, there are still a lot of those paper invoices and a lot of people losing time and money managing invoices today. There lies our mission to simplify your everyday life with Digiteal.
Teal IT was the first payment institution in Belgium to be certified on the new PSD2 regulation. It was an important step to full PSD2 adoption.
We requested to extend our services to become a third-party payment provider to take full advantage of the new possibilities brought by PSD2: access to account information and initiate payments everywhere in Europe in realtime and with an enhanced security.
Teal IT might still be small but we want to do things the right way. Compliance and procedures can be boring sometimes but it is absolutely necessary to play by the book when you are operating a financial business.
Listening to our customers, we understood that there is a product missing on the market. It is often difficult to enter into a financial agreement with someone you do not trust yet. To solve this problem, we added an extra product to our Digiteal offering called Trusted payments. It turns out a lot of companies are in need of this so we used cases from Catalyze Finance (private lending), Carbu (fuel distribution) and SafeCarTrade (used car trading) among others to design this new product.
In August, after a lot of work from the development team, it was ready to go live !
In October 2018, the local administration of Braine-L’Alleud was our first case of B2C recurrent invoicing. They sent bills for three schools. The adoption rate was 3 times higher than what we were hoping for! We hoped to achieve 30% in 18 months and after two months we were already at 18% !
This was a great experience, that also helped us further improve the application based of user feedback.
A startup providing payment services requires some cash to build and operate. Compliance, top notch development with a great attention to security and customer privacy are all quite expensive.
In December 2018, Teal IT raised more than 1.000.000 euros to improve its services and deploy to the EU. We are proving that our solution works in Belgium and it is time to expand!
Last but not least, we decided to change our company name to Digiteal SA. It is the name and brand that our clients know and trust.
After being the first Belgian payment institution to submit our file as a third party payment institution, we received the green light from the National Bank of Belgium in February 2019. This enables us to provide payment initiation services and access to account information services to customers throughout Europe.
We value the open banking initiatives of the European Commission and their transposition in national law to force the banks to open up and to enable more third party services to their customers.
Digiteal provides a trusted payment service that comes in handy for example when you want to sell a used car.
To avoid scams, false identities and fake payments, you can now make a Digitrust ! The identity of both parties will be verified and the money will be secured until the transaction is completed and confirmed by both parties.
This solution is recommended by Autoscout for safe car sales.
At Digiteal, we started our activity with the idea of having a positive impact on our planet. While we want companies to send fewer paper invoices, we felt that reducing paper was not enough.
So we decided to extend our partnership with Graine de vie and plant a tree for each customer that starts receiving invoices through Digiteal. This leads to less paper waste and less CO2 in the air of our blue planet.
BePaid became our first integrator to use the SDD services of Digiteal. They started providing this service for accounting offices. Now, companies can easily convert their customers into automatic recurring payers.
BePaid switched to Digiteal for the variety of its offering that improves their cashflow, and that, for a sensibly better price.
Through a partnership with Buckaroo, Digiteal now allows card payments (Bancontact, Ideal, Carte bleue, Maestro, Mastercard, Visa).
Of course the use of solely SEPA standards for payments by our customers would help keep costs down, but it meant that potential customers who still wanted to accept card payments had to have two payment service providers. By offering both, we help them through a single integration, a lower pricing and a better user experience for their customers.
With the Digitrust, Digiteal was already enabling C2C transactions, crowdfunding, crowdlending and all the way to an easy trade finance solution. There was one extra use case that we started servicing in June 2020 which is marketplace payments.
Marketplaces need to have a payment service provider that can collect the funds, hold them until the fulfillment of the order, split them between the seller and the marketplace operator and then transfer the funds to both of them. This was already possible through Digitrust and we were happy to service our first marketplace in June 2020.
At Digiteal, we believe in international standards. One of those standards is PEPPOL for B2B invoicing. We became a PEPPOL access point to be able to send and receive invoices on the PEPPOL network.
The first use case is to be able to deliver those invoices to public services in a B2G manner because this is mandatory in some cases. More importantly, the reason for this is to have electronic invoicing from the ERP of the sender to the ERP of the recipient with no data conversion, no data loss and a much more efficient and cost effective process.
If you are doing B2B invoicing and you are not using PEPPOL yet, we advise you to give it a try to get paid faster by your business customers.
Through a partnership with Exthand/BankingSDK, we are providing 01financials as a way for non regulated entities to get access to bank statements: their own or the ones of their customers as long as these customers give their explicit consent.
It can be used for accounting, credit scoring, multi-banking from a single application, expense management and much more. This access to account service completes the services of Digiteal that can position itself in three domains: invoice presentation (both B2C and B2B), payments (including marketplace payments) and access to bank statements. Digiteal is the only provider enabling all three of these services which spares our customers invaluable time to launch their new products.