A Cus­tom Take on Dig­i­tal Cards

The startup Fi­nal is try­ing to put its own spin on dig­i­tal cards, by em­pha­siz­ing mo­bile-based cus­tomiza­tion and sup­port­ing mul­ti­ple uses.

ISO & Agent - - DIGITAL PAYMENTS TECHNOLOGY - BY DAVID HEUN

Aaron Frank ad­mits he was an “ex­pert in credit cards” only be­cause he had a credit card when he dove into the pay­ments in­dus­try three years ago with the idea to launch a new type of card port­fo­lio.

As CEO, Frank built a team of am­bi­tious en­trepreneurs and pay­ments pros to re­search the credit card busi­ness and land a part­ner bank to launch the Fi­nal card, a com­bi­na­tion of a plas­tic card and the abil­ity for a user to cre­ate nu­mer­ous PANS, or dig­i­tal cards, for on­line pur­chas­ing or to use only with spe­cific mer­chants.

The end re­sult is that Oak­land-based Fi­nal cre­ated a twist on the tra­di­tional pay­ments ecosystem in that it seeks to op­er­ate as card-is­su­ing-as-a-ser­vice with Visa branded cards on ex­ist­ing pay­ments rails.

Fi­nal is not cre­at­ing vir­tual cards, per se, which are gen­er­ally dig­i­tal ver­sions of a reg­u­lar card or some­thing cre­ated as a one-time to­ken. “Rather, the Fi­nal cards cre­ated dig­i­tally for dis­played on phones or on the web can have var­i­ous con­trols built in from one-pur­chase use, to one au­tho­riza­tion for mul­ti­ple pur­chases, or one-time uses for travel pur­poses or on­go­ing trans­ac­tions at a spe­cific mer­chant,” Frank said.

First Bank & Trust in South Dakota op­er­ates as the bank part­ner to pro­vide the BIN for the cards and of­fer dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to its cus­tomers. Fi­nal uses Oberthur Tech­nolo­gies for print­ing and pro­duc­tion of the plas­tic cards, and tech­nol­ogy provider Van­tiv as the net­work gate­way provider.

“It was a heavy lift for us to find some­thing that we could do as a fully Card Act com­pli­ant credit card pro­gram and find a so­lu­tion for the dig­i­tal cards that would work on the net­work,” said Alex Cramer, head of cards for Fi­nal.

“The credit card in­dus­try has a lot of legacy bag­gage, with even some of the newer soft­ware be­ing al­most 20 years old, and we had to de­ter­mine how to take that tech­nol­ogy and change it,” said Cramer.

“What no one has thought about, or has been able to ac­com­plish, is pro­vid­ing an ISO on the is­su­ing side of the busi­ness,” CEO Frank said. “On the ac­quir­ing side you have ISOS, ag­gre­ga­tors and gate­way providers. You don’t have that on the is­su­ing side and we are try­ing to put to­gether that model.”

“On the ac­quir­ing side you have ISOS, ag­gre­ga­tors and gate­way providers. You don’t have that on the is­su­ing side and we are try­ing to put to­gether that model,” said Aaron Frank, CEO of Fi­nal.

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