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Interviews

Amir Wain, i2c: "Agile Processing is about giving issuers the control to innovate"

Thursday 8 September 2016 | 09:07 AM CET

Legacy processing technology is out of step with how the marketplace works, making it impossible for issuers to test options and apply what they know about their customers

Who is i2c for those who do not know you? What is your business approach and who do you target?

i2c is a payments processing company focused on giving financial institutions, global brands, and governments around the world the control to be strategic and agile about their payments business. Our cloud-based platform allows financial institutions to create and execute their unique payments vision and business strategy without technology and time constraints.

i2c was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Silicon Valley with offices in London, Dubai, Sydney, and Singapore. We serve customers in 216 countries and territories spanning all time zones. We partner with some of the world’s largest financial institutions and brands, including Oxfam, TIS, Banco do Brasil, Incomm, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, The Bancorp, MasterCard, Visa, and Discover.

What are three key elements of Agile Processing Model that differentiate it from other technologies aimed at helping financial institutions in the digital age?

Agile Processing is a next-generation payment processing solution that gives card issuers the control to create and execute their product roadmap and drive more revenue from their payments business. Three important concepts are central to Agile Processing: composition, context, and control.

By composition, I mean the ability to ideate and configure any payment or business process. The concept is very similar to LEGO bricks. i2c’s platform is comprised of a library of blocks of functionality — like digital coupons, multi-currency purses, and advanced card control and alerts — that can be rapidly assembled to bring new solutions to market. Issuers can quickly create and configure new, customized solutions on an inherently secure platform. No coding is required. We are not in that business. Hard-coded legacy processing technology is completely out of step with how the marketplace works, making it impossible for issuers to test options and apply what they know about their customers' experiences.

Context in payments means taking into account and acting on preferences, external events, entitlements, purchase history, and other cardholder information relevant at the moment in time to the individual cardholder to create timely and relevant payment experiences. Older payment processing technology is context blind. Agile Processing’s data architecture leverages attributes of individual cardholders to create smarter payments solutions and participate more deeply in commerce activities. Context is key to curating personalized purchasing experiences for consumers that can drive revenue and improve loyalty.

Contextual Payments Requires a Human Centered Data Model

In the end, Agile Processing is about giving control back to the issuer, so they can configure, test, deploy, change, and iterate innovative programs based on market feedback—on their timeline and on their terms.

According to a Celent study, half of financial institutions feel a loss of control with regards to the market’s digital transformation. What specific variables/ factors have led to this situation?

The challenge financial institutions face is that older payment processing technology was not designed for the realities of today’s mobile and social consumers. Digital and mobile was never a primary focus and is not supported natively in those platforms. As a result, most payments and FI technologies lag behind other social-first offerings, like Facebook, which had to reinvent itself to be a mobile-first platform.

Challenges Today’s Issuers Face
 

What are the biggest challenges currently facing the payments industry at a global level? What about in Europe – are they different in any way?

The superheated digital environment has compressed the timeline of the innovation diffusion model between early adopters and laggards. In the pre-digital world, the gap could be around a decade. But now, that time can be as little as 24 months, much shorter than just a few years ago. Legacy payments technology was never designed for this time scale. Of course card issuers want a solution, but none can afford to risk their reputation by sacrificing reliability and stability for flexibility and innovation. The payments industry needs a solution that fuses reliability and scale with innovation and speed. That is what i2c means by Agile Processing. Agile does not just mean fast, it means fast and reliable.

In Europe, issuers face the added challenge of rolling out multiple programs tailored for the needs of each individual country and market. A one-size-fits-all approach simply does not fit. Mass customization of programs that can quickly scale up and down to individual markets is a key success factor, and that requires a flexible, configurable payments platform.

Also, with huge reduction in interchange income issuers need to be creative to find new sources of revenue to drive growth. A good example is real-time in-authorization commerce, where digital coupons and other incentives can be applied directly without the consumer or merchant having to do anything. This is where an Agile Processing platform like i2c’s can have an immediate impact on the program’s profitability.

In your opinion, what does innovation in payment processing stand for?

Innovation in payments processing is about giving back control to the issuers and their cardholders. They need the freedom to create a product roadmap vision, test it, modify it, and deploy it using a sandbox to scale model to get to market quickly and drive revenue. This is a very different model than working with an innovation lab over many months to roll out solutions.

Continuous improvement and innovation is a very important component of Agile Processing. Our platform has regular monthly updates, and we have more than 200 people coding every month, putting in half a million hours a year. This means that new functionality and capabilities rolled out by us every month is available to any customer who wants to take advantage of them.

What are the major trends you see in the credit and prepaid sectors and how can innovation in B2C & B2B prepaid be harnessed?

People are traveling more, and the demand for multicurrency travel card solutions is growing. Consumers are looking for safe and convenient ways to make purchases in local currencies, both at home and aboard. Advanced card controls are important. Contextual payments and mobile and digital engagement continue to be important trends, especially as mass affluent customers embrace digital wallets and payments.

About Amir Wain

As founder and CEO of i2c Inc., Amir Wain is responsible defining the company’s vision to create the infrastructure driving the next generation of global integrated payments and commerce solutions. Widely recognized as a payments industry pioneer, Amir played a key role in expanding the global market for prepaid/stored value solutions and in advocating open standards for mobile payments systems. Amir founded Innovative Private Limited and Avanceon, Ltd., where he currently serves as a board member.

About i2c

i2c provides smarter payments and integrated commerce solutions that give financial institutions, corporations, brands, and governments around the world the control to deliver the high-impact, personalized experiences today’s consumers expect. i2c’s single, global cloud-based platform supports virtually any card-based, virtual, and mobile payments program as well as loyalty and back office solutions. Our customers use i2c’s Agile Processing platform to create and deliver profitable, customized credit, debit, and prepaid solutions that meet the highly differentiated needs of cardholders in 216 countries and territories.

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