How issuers can win the fintechs battle with agile processing technology – interview with i2c

Wednesday 8 April 2020 08:00 CET | Editor: Anda Kania | Interview

Ava Kelly, i2c: With the entrance of challenger banks that are focused on better customer experience, this has become the new battleground, so issuers also need to deliver an indisputably higher level of quality

What’s new in credit card payments? What are the latest trends in this matter?

Credit cards are a valuable product for issuers – such as banks, fintechs, and other financial services organisations, providing revenue and an extension of services to consumers. For consumers, the benefits lie in the convenience of ready-to-use funds, with choices of repayment options.

Yet credit programmes are often mass-issued with ‘one-card-for-all’ value propositions versus what current consumers are seeking today, something more personalized and relevant to their individual needs. To this end, in order to stay competitive, and to attract new and retain existing cardholders, issuers need to be able to offer card programs that are consumer-centric and customisable to the individual’s needs.

Given this dynamic market reality, issuers must have the flexibility to build credit card services with varied value propositions and be able to quickly modify them when necessary to adjust to changing consumer needs and market conditions.  With the entrance of challenger banks that are focused on a better customer experience this has become the new battleground, so issuers also need to deliver an indisputably higher level of quality when it comes to a customer’s experience.

Cardholders are also looking to have greater control over their accounts and be able to manage them in their preferred channel whether that is via a mobile or online device, SMS or by contacting a call center.

We are living in the on-demand generation where consumers expect real-time delivery. Virtual / instant issuance of card accounts can play a key role here in terms of allowing cardholders to immediately start spending online or through their mobile enabled device, while issuers enjoy the benefit of capturing revenue and top of wallet status sooner.

How do i2c services tie in with these trends?

As a next generation processor, i2c understands the need for programs that are consumer centric, feature rich as well as the need to move at the speed of the market. 

To support issuers, i2c offers a highly configurable,  global platform that provides the agile technology infrastructure and capabilities needed to respond to changing market conditions and stay competitive. Instead of pre-packaged products, i2c provides over 100,000 interlocking payment functions that we refer to as building blocks. These payment building blocks can be rapidly configured by issuers to create their own unique value propositions for credit, debit, prepaid or mobile banking products. Rapid product configuration enables issuers to get to market in days versus months.

Using the i2c platform, issuers can also enable cardholders to set up and manage their preferences for alerts, spending controls or restrictions in different types of merchants or by geography.  For cardholders who travel cross border, they also have the opportunity to carry multiple currencies on just one card and lock in foreign exchange rates before they travel or transact, so they have better control of their spending.

The i2c Campaign Manager tool facilitates the management of real-time, personalized and interactive customer communications including SMS, email, Web or Mobile for marketing, customer support, account management and more. Campaigns can be automatically triggered based on a cardholder’s individual profile or behaviour and then a predetermined set of actions like delivery of a digital coupon can be executed that are customized to that specific cardholder – all in real time.

Moreover, i2c can support any form factor such as contactless payments, which are becoming particularly important during these times of the global pandemic. i2c essentially offers a full suite of services that support all stages of programme execution including processing, programme management, marketing, loyalty, rewards, contact centre servicing, as well as white label cardholder websites & mobile applications, reporting and analytics, settlement and reconciliation as well as fraud management, eliminating the need to integrate across multiple vendors.

Additionally, these benefits can be managed directly by program managers via the self-service online, administrative portal that is easily accessible from any location. Program managers can create, modify and launch programmes with the flexibility they need and on their schedule. This is another key factor in enabling issuers to get to market quickly.

Considering your involvement in global payments processing – can you name some key common threads in terms of openness to payments technology innovation and the types of problems that are trying to be solved in some of the different geographies you’ve pierced through?

Payments innovation extends to new Cloud/SaaS delivery models. We’ve noticed that cloud driven payment capabilities have gained a lot of traction and are still on the rise in terms of adoption. Companies looking to enhance their offering, whether they are looking for speed, omnichannel features or scalability, can find a more flexible and agile solution in the cloud.  While keeping in mind that security must be kept in check at all times, she added that using platforms with proven reliability, 100% availability and stability are critical to long-term success.

Cloud processing is not exclusive to credit card processing. Using the flexible building block cloud-based architecture of i2c, clients can rapidly configure unique solutions over a wide range of payments and open banking solutions including: credit, debit and prepaid cards, mobile and online banking, lines of credit, instalment loans and more.  For issuers looking to expand globally, a cloud based solution can easily facilitate that.

Handling international payments can be a high-risk environment. How can issuers better manage that risk?

In order to successfully face a high-risk environment, issuers should consider advanced technologies, intelligence, and analytics, which are able to monitor large volumes of transactions across borders. The threat of fraud is continuous and always evolving. i2c’s fraud tools and services focus on active detection, fraud analysis and reporting, and case management. We are continuously investing in the development of machine learning, robotics, AI, automation and new ways to engage customers in fraud prevention. Our fraud detection tools are also fully configurable and can also be trigger based so if a transaction looks suspicious our system can automatically execute the actions issuers want to take.

Cardholders can also play an active role in preventing fraud by responding to fraud alerts, setting their own account controls or even locking their accounts, if necessary.

How can issuers better manage revenue optimization?

Revenue optimization begins with addressing factors that impact your speed to revenue. Agile processing technology can enable faster speed to market and therefore revenue. When you have the flexibility to create unique value propositions and rapidly configure and launch new programs in days versus months you are better positioned to compete at the speed of the market, be relevant and capture revenue sooner.

With unique value propositions like multi-currency debit or prepaid cards that enable you to have an unlimited number of currencies on one card at pre-fixed foreign exchange rates, this can appeal to high value travel segment customers that can be also offered credit products and provide additional revenue streams including foreign exchange fees.

Immediate activation of card accounts with virtual and instant issuance helps get consumers spending right away so also drives faster speed to revenue.

Event triggered capabilities ensure that you are executing revenue generation campaigns like rewards or digital coupon incentives in real-time and delivering more relevant benefits to cardholders to drive top of wallet status and long-term loyalty.

Self-Serve Program Management control puts issuers in the driver’s seat to get programs to market faster and quickly adjust to market conditions and new revenue opportunities as they arise.

Real-time data insights also play a key role in identifying where execution efforts should be focused to maximize business performance.

With i2c’s agile technology capabilities issuers have many levers to continually optimize their top line revenue performance.

What business propositions does i2c have in the pipeline for 2020?

i2c invests over 700,000 engineering hours per year issues monthly product releases. Therefore, we are continually enhancing and maintaining our platform capabilities with new, agile payments capability building blocks.

i2c is also focussed on ongoing development of next generation AI capabilities to support fraud management as well as natural language processing capabilities that drive new levels of operational efficiency within our call centers, including human-like services, such as Talkbots.  In 2020 and beyond, the goal of i2c is to stay on the leading edge of advancing technologies that drive a better customer experience and business performance for our issuers.

About Ava Kelly

As Head of Global Product, Ava is responsible for leading the management of i2c’s comprehensive array of global payments products to provide best in class solutions that exceed our customer’s business needs. Ava is a seasoned payments executive with over 25 years of experience in the US, Canada and multiple international markets where she held several executive leadership positions at both VISA and American Express. At VISA, Ava led the market implementation of the US VISA Signature premium product platform, taking it to the market leader position. She created the US Consumer Credit Product Consulting services, ultimately assuming leadership responsibilities for the North America Consumer Credit product team. Ava also led Visa’s global premium product platform strategy that drove market launches in North America, Asia and the Middle East.

About i2c

i2c is a global provider of highly-configurable payment and open banking solutions. Using i2c’s proprietary “building block” technology, clients can easily create and manage a comprehensive set of solutions for credit, debit, prepaid, lending and more, quickly and cost-effectively. i2c delivers unparalleled flexibility, agility, security and reliability from a single global SaaS platform. Founded in 2001, and headquartered in Silicon Valley, i2c’s next-generation technology supports millions of users in more than 200 countries/territories and across all time zones. For more information, visit and follow us @i2cinc.

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Keywords: i2c, credit cards, fintech, issuers, contactless payments
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Countries: World
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