Challengers: Will Billingsley, ApTap

Written by Aadit Gandhi

Will Billingsley

Photo credit: Linkedin - Will Billingsley

In this installment of the Challengers series, Aadit Gandhi spoke with Will Billingsley, the Founder and CEO of ApTap, about how Fintech can alleviate bill management issues through OpenBanking!

Will, could you introduce yourself to our audience, and tell us what made you start ApTap, and what was that "Aha" moment?

Having grown up just outside of Aberdeen, I spent my formative years in Rockville, Maryland before returning to the UK for a Biology degree out of Imperial College London. I was excited by the prospect of going to one of the best universities in the world, which put me in the same room as some amazing people and really instilled a growth mindset in me. I’m a scientist at heart but the world of start-ups is what gets me going!

I’m one of three co-founders at ApTap – we actually met playing football together at Imperial. Each of us had our own issues managing bills and subscriptions, and we all saw ourselves as green minded. As Open Banking emerged, we started the business by linking people’s spending to their carbon footprint.

A combination of the subscription business model taking over the world, early feedback from users and banks, as well as our own issues gave us the impetus to pursue ApTap as a business.

Since 2017 we have pivoted and refined the idea a lot…

So what does ApTap do?

At ApTap we're building bill management tools that let customers cancel, compare, switch or sign up to services with just a few taps. You can think of us as a data-driven, embedded comparison engine, that starts by understanding the end customer and does all the heavy lifting for them.

This is about packaging up bill management into a simple set of APIs. It’s all about understanding the customer through transactional and usage trends, matching the user profile to the best deal on the market, at the right time, and then facilitating the action they want to take in seconds.

We do this all within our partners’ apps (i.e. we are a B2B2C company), and in turn drive engagement and revenue for our clients. We recently launched with TSB Bank to help their customers be more confident with their money and are onboarding a number of clients onboarding in the coming months.

Where do you see ApTap going into the future? And what differentiates it compared to its competitors?

Our business model puts us in a position to scale quickly with trusted partners. Banks and suppliers alike need to offer a better digital experience and help their customers, which is why we’ve seen the likes of TSB Bank get on board. The beauty is that the value proposition, although centred around users, is beneficial to all parties involved. It’s about clarity and control for customers, and revenue and engagement for banks and suppliers alike.

We have been focused on household utilities and telecoms in the early days because we feel like these are industries people understand. We saw a switch happen in 100 seconds a few weeks ago – I’m not sure anyone can truly match that experience. We will be expanding across industry verticals and looking to rollout internationally as we move forward.

How does OpenBanking help a business like yours?

Open Banking is the lifeblood of the business, a true inspiration for us. We believe in personal data ownership, and OB really puts users in the driver’s seat with regards to how they share their data and who with. Open Banking allows ApTap to get a comprehensive understanding of spending trends, which allows us to build specific user profiles to tailor offerings to.

We also see OB as a foundation to Open Data as a concept. As we progress, we are focused on how we open up personal data across industries to put our customers in total control, while building a tool that offers as much value to our partners and the suppliers on board, as it does to the end customer.

OpenBanking is the hot topic right now, with the Biden administration also beginning to encourage it in the States, what do you think is the next big trend?

The United States getting onboard with Open Banking is a huge signal to the rest of the world that this is something that is here to stay, and grow, although I’m proud to be building ApTap in London – the place that is truly pioneering in FinTech, and now driving global change in financial services.

As above, I think Open Banking is just the beginning of an Open Data movement. We have already seen Open Finance conceptually being thrown around, especially in the credit and pensions spaces. ApTap was recently features in Ofcom’s Open Communications consultation, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Again, this is about giving customers agency over their personal data, but the user experience improvements that come with that are immense.

I think we will then see (and are already seeing) some really interesting developments in the digital identity, cyber security and data protection spaces as the Open Data movement grows.

What segment are you most excited for in FinTech and why?

I’m inclined to say bill management because I live and breathe it every day – I think this is a space that has been drastically overlooked by investors and entrepreneurs throughout recent years, but we’re now on the crux of major change and the subscription business model has taken over almost every industry one can think of. This space has the hallmarks of an industry ready for disruption, and ApTap’s here to play!

Overarchingly, the payments space gets me really excited. The opportunities to empower users, financial institutions, service suppliers, small businesses, freelancers etc. are arguably unmatched in FinTech. This is why we’ve seen Visa on the hunt in the Open Banking space, acquiring Tink after the Plaid deal fell through. The way Open Banking will change payments, let alone innovation in real time payments, is enough to get anyone in FinTech excited. Understand it will take some time to change norms, but as we get deeper into the value prop, I’m hoping we things like credit scores scrapped for better systems.

What advice do you have for burgeoning entrepreneurs?

Work hard but take care of yourself. As a founder, you’ll bear the weight of every decision regardless of how big or small it is. You need to work as hard as you possible can to make sure those decisions are informed and made quickly. The flip side of this is burnout, which will also kill your business. You need to know your limits, schedule out your time for everything (seriously), and be constantly looking to learn. Last summer I broke down what the journey looks like in my Founder’s Pack, which you can find on my LinkedIn profile.

What podcasts are currently in your playlist, and any interesting books / blogs you’re reading?

I’m not a huge podcaster personally. I try and balance reading between business books and fiction, although I’m a big fan of bootstrap stories and Twitter in general: the community at Indie Hackers is awesome for this and I’d recommend following the likes of Nick Huber and Rohan Gilkes on Twitter for inspiring stories. I try and take most things on socials with a pinch of salt, but it’s better than LinkedIn for raw content and interaction.


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The Banq team

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