How to launch card programmes quicker, cheaper and easier

We explain how to issue physical or virtual cards. And how working with a full-service provider like Monavate, helps save time, budget and hassle.

Issuing cards has never been quicker, cheaper or easier to do. Why?

The short answer is FinTech.

The slightly longer answer is that new and advanced financial technology is now available to card issuers looking to cut time-to-market, costs and complexity.

There’s a great parallel with the software industry.

It used to be hard to start a software company. You’d have to buy hardware, build a server room, gain licenses and write bespoke code. Thousands of pounds, many hours and take-away pizzas later, you could finally build the product you wanted to bring to market.

Today, anyone with a laptop and an internet connection can get started. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other providers have bundled everything together as-a-service in the cloud. They’ve lowered barriers to entry, cost and complexity. And that’s not just for start-ups, but anyone wanting to launch a digital business idea.

Nowadays, it’s the same for those issuing cards. Whether that’s Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, UnionPay or other cards. Credit cards, debit cards, prepaid cards or commercials cards, (sometimes also known as ‘pay later’, ‘pay now’, ‘pay in advance’ or ‘pay for business’ products) can all be issued without the need to deal with the card scheme or a bank.


How do I issue payment cards?

There are many moving parts to issuing cards. An understanding of what happens when, and who does what may help you decide whether to do all, some or none of the activities in-house.

Firstly, if you’re issuing physical cards, you’ll need to make, personalise and get cards in the hands of your customers. This means engaging a card manufacturer, a personalisation bureau to put data on the chip, magnetic stripe and front of the card, and a fulfilment house to get the cards to customers. Some companies offer two or all three of these services to make things easier.

Working backwards though, you’ll need card numbers to put on physical or virtual cards. Which you can only get from the card schemes: Visa, Mastercard, Discover, JCB, UnionPay and so on. This means either joining the schemes direct or working via a BIN sponsor to use their assigned BINs and account ranges.

Your connection to the card schemes, and by extension to all the other participants in their network, enables your customers to use their cards. That’s in shops, online, in-app wherever the cards are accepted. But you’ll need to handle the authorisation, clearing and settlement of funds. This means either connecting to the schemes directly or via an issuer processor.

What’s more, you’ll need to deal with the general ledger of credits and debits, plus the configurations of the cards in your portfolio, e.g. spending limits and whether certain features are enabled or disabled. Again, you can either do this yourself or via a processor.

Last but not least, you’ll need to comply with card scheme rules around data security, chargebacks, reporting and more. You’ll also need to adhere to regulatory requirements around how you onboard customers and monitor for fraud, anti-money laundering and sanctions-screening purposes. The choices here are up-skill to do this yourself, contract with an existing partner or engage specialist vendors.


Save time, budget and hassle with an issuer/BIN sponsor

If it sounds like a lot of work to get cards into customers’ hands, that’s because it is.

It takes time to issue requests for proposal (RFPs) and conduct due diligence on each supplier you wish to engage. Then there are the legal fees or in-house legal expertise needed to negotiate and execute the contracts. And the resource to manage the suppliers afterwards.

Only you can determine whether your business strategy, proposition and volumes justify going the long way around. Or whether short cutting the card issuance process via a consolidated provider may be more suitable.

If you’re interested in card issuance via one provider, on one contract, with one point of contact and point of access, then come and talk to us. At Monavate, we can sponsor your card programme with the major card schemes, as we’re an e-money institution and direct card scheme member.

We’ve partnerships in place with suppliers across the value chain to speed up card issuance. But if you’ve arrangements in place, we can integrate with whomever as our offering is modular.

To find out more about issuing BIN sponsorship and the Monavate difference, contact us today.