FilmChain’s API Integrations for Delivering Fast & Reliable Payments.

Authors: Irina Albita (co-founder, FilmChain) and Liv Stannah (Lead Software Engineer, FilmChain)

The film and TV industry relies on legacy manual and error-prone payments solutions.

FilmChain is a fintech platform that collects, allocates and analyses film, TV and digital media revenues in a transparent and efficient way. We collect funds from film buyers globally and distribute them proportionately to agents, actors, production staff, and investors. We use blockchain smart contracts for revenue allocation and use traditional payment rails for money in and money out.

The film and TV industry continue to rely on manual, opaque and error-prone payments processes. Due to a lack of infrastructure, payments are delayed for years or never reach the right owners. On top of that, payments in difficult to track cheques are still the norm in many of the top markets: the US, Canada.

From a product perspective, FilmChain had to solve three areas:

  1. Store multi-currency balances — Ability to create unlimited sub-accounts in multiple currencies (different IBAN for each project)
  2. Receive API reconciliation — Ability to pull via an API information on incoming transactions
  3. API integrations — Ability to automate the settlement of payment requests via an API that communicates with the FilmChain system

FilmChain integrated with neo-banks like Wise and open-banking platfroms including Tink to deliver a seamless payments system to thousands of film participants.

Wise specialises in providing fast and cheap international payments. Through their Payouts and Accounts Automation API, we are able to process large batches of payment requests to our film participants and track the status of each individual transfer, directly from our platform. The transfer fees are much lower compared with traditional banks, and fee information is transparent. To support development, Wise provides extensive API documentation with helpful code samples and a sandbox environment for testing integrations.

Wise is for you if:

  • You want access to cheap and fast international payments
  • You require multi-currency accounts
  • You need to make large batches of payment requests funded by a single pay-in

Tink provides a great way to maintain flexibility where interaction with traditional banking providers is still needed and traditional banks remain custodians of the funds. We’ve integrated with Tink’s Transactions API to get continuous access to aggregated data on incoming transactions from film distributors into our collection accounts.

Tink’s Transactions Product is for you if:

  • You want to hold funds with traditional banks
  • You require continuous access to financial data from multiple accounts
  • You need up-to-date, clean and categorised financial data

We’ve also integrated with Stripe and Coinbase to automate the collection of payments on our platform. Stripe’s Checkout API provides us with a secure payment page for receiving payments, whilst Coinbase’s Commerce API allows our film investors to make cryptocurrencies payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin.

Our key learnings:

  • Be patient. It took significant time to identify and reach out to new payments providers and banks. Most of the new-banks and fintech solutions had great support teams. Linkedin was also a great source for identifying the right role in the organisation.
  • Don’t assume they know your industry. The complexity of the film and TV industry and the specificity of our requirements were not always easily understood. It took several calls and emails to explain the set-up our clients demanded of us. We prepared in advance a technical spec document that we shared before the first meeting to shorten the time.
  • Explore quickly and move on. We used well-defined exploration sprints (1–2 days) that an appointed engineer and myself as a lead would do to understand if a solution was viable for our requirements or not. We asked the companies for technical documentation and sandbox access. If a solution was not viable, we explained the key challenges in an email and asked to be kept informed if new features/updates would be made in the future.

What’s next for FilmChain

What drives us at FilmChain is that the money made by the films we love will get to the right people. We continue to support the independent sector of production companies, film funds and sales agents.

FilmChain is moving up the value chain targeting large media enterprises: studios, networks and broadcasters with a scalable royalties management system with integrated payments. We look forward to modernising further payments infrastructures for the biggest companies in media.