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How to choose the right service partner for your payment card solution – five important things to consider

Denise Johansson

Co-Founder & Co-CEO

When you are planning to launch your payment card solution, choosing the right service partner is one of the most important decisions to make. It may seem like a daunting task – how do you ensure strategic fit, scale and scope, pricing model match, compatibility, and adaptability? In this blog, our Co-founder and CCO Denise Johansson shares her insights to help you in your service partner evaluation process. 

By reading this blog, you’ll learn:

  • How changes in the card-issuing landscape might affect your partner selection
  • What kind of things you should consider when choosing a service partner
  • How you can assess partner fit through a five-step evaluation process

The card-issuing landscape has changed – this is how it will affect your card business and partner selection

At least two developments have recently changed the card-issuing landscape. As a result, the process of finding a service partner has also evolved, and in fact, become more streamlined. 

Firstly, completely new providers and turnkey service models have recently entered the card-issuing market. For that reason, the normally time-consuming process of screening, evaluating, and choosing a card service partner has become quite a bit faster. 

Secondly, the cloud-based issuer-processors of today also offer a greater level of pre-launch transparency. This has enabled testing card services in sandbox environments and running early-stage demos. In other words, the threshold for a card launch can be lower than before. 

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Before searching for potential payment service partners, here are a few things about card issuing and payment processing that are good to know.

How do you find the right partner for your card solution?

Finding the right partner for your card solution will depend on many factors, such as: 

  • The type of card product you are planning to launch
  • Your business model and its suitability for the product
  • Your projections for volumes – both in the short and long term

Whether you wish to work with an issuer-processor through an established procurement process or adopt a less structured approach, it’s important to ensure that your criteria for evaluating partners align with your present and future business objectives.

Evaluate your potential partners for issuing and processing with the following criteria – five important considerations

Ranging from strategic considerations to operational ones, here are some critically important things for you to consider and evaluate when you’re choosing a service partner for your card solution. 

1. How good is the strategic fit between my company and the partner?

Engage with a proven partner who knows your industry, and is equipped to consistently maintain, develop and expand your card product offering. Find out where the partner is heading as a business. 

Ask yourself: what is their true readiness to respond to your volume scenarios? And can they provide the features and capabilities you might need in the future?

Consider these key variables to determine strategic fit between you and a potential partner:

  • Partner’s understanding of your business, revenue logic, and requirements
  • Their reference implementations, especially ones relevant to your needs
  • Partner’s feature roadmap and ability to fulfill emerging needs of your product in the future
  • Partner’s geographical coverage and potential expansion plans
  • Values and mindset fit, which helps in addressing the opportunities and challenges you face together

2. How well do the solution scope and features fit my business needs?

Take a holistic approach to your customer journey. Aim to ensure that your partner can cater to your desired solution scope and features with enough flexibility.

Consider at least the following: 

  • Feature scope
  • Configurability and flexibility of the solution
  • Service scope: service desk, fraud management, dispute handling, anti-money laundering (AML), and KYC
  • Availability of enablers and integration capability

3. What performance level does the partner offer?

Successful card issuing and processing ultimately comes down to first-class execution. This requires that your partner is technically advanced and well-organized. Additionally, they must excel at regulatory and compliance aspects.

Consider these operations-related capabilities:

  • Time to market for obtaining issuing capability and launching your product
  • Cardholder onboarding speed
  • Partner’s committed service level
  • System performance, e.g. average response times
  • Partner’s experience in running the service in the cloud

4. How does the partner’s pricing model match my current and future needs?

Securing a suitable pricing model with your partner is key to building a sustainable card business. Factor in all different costs when evaluating partners and hammering out your long-term card business strategy.

When comparing partners’ pricing, make sure to run the numbers on total cardholder and transaction costs, within your expected volumes. Make sure that the fees are flexible enough to fit your revenue model and business plan. 

Ask yourself: are you willing to commit to minimum volumes? Do you need flexible “pay as you grow” pricing? Or would you consider a slightly higher cost until full ramp-up, if that means that long-term savings can be achieved?

The card issuing pricing model has various dimensions:

  • What do the pricing components look like? 
    • Implementation fees
    • Account or card-based fees
    • Transaction-based fees
  • What is included and excluded from the scope? 
    • Integration costs to your specific systems
    • Business advisory and solution design
    • Program management: runs of files and reports, authorizations, and clearing and settlement fees
  • How are additional features priced?
  • How are additional countries and currencies considered in pricing?
  • What pass-through costs come on top?
  • How predictable is the model when usage patterns change?

5. How compatible and adaptable is the partner solution for my business?

Issuing a tailored and modern card offering puts specific requirements on your partner’s integration capabilities and compliance. 

You should feel confident in your partner’s setup. Make sure it functions smoothly and has accessible interfaces to relevant stakeholders. This enables you to lay the foundation for a flexible and secure payment card offering.

Consider the following: 

  • Partner compatibility with card schemes 
  • Partner compatibility and experience with different BIN sponsors
  • Available partner integrations to different card manufacturers
  • Partner compliance with local regulations 
  • Partner’s capability to support your evolution as a card issuer (e.g. if you apply for principal membership)

Looking for a price for launching a card product?

Use our calculator and get an estimate.

Get ready to launch the winning card solution

If you have any questions about card solutions or related strategic and operational considerations, please do not hesitate to contact us! When you want to succeed with payment cards, we are the right partner to go to. Let’s take your card business to the next level together!

Want to design the ideal payment card solution for your business? Our comprehensive guide has everything you need to know to launch the winning payment card product. Download down below.

How to launch the winning payment card

Your complete guide to successful card issuing in 2020s: Everything you need to know to issue a future-proof card product, including use cases, ecosystem partners, build vs. buy considerations, and more.

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