Central Payments wants to offer more than a traditional issuing bank.
Propelled by their own rapid expansion over the last six years, the Dell Rapids, S.D.-based prepaid issuer is helping fintech partners get to market faster and with more options.
The key ingredient is OpenCP, their open API platform.
The banking-as-a-service technology hub connects all the players in the payments ecosystem needed to launch a product—network, processor, identity verification, card manufacturer, customer support, etc. Importantly, according to Central Payments Founder and President Trent Sorbe, their partners can easily plug into multiple vendors.
“We’ve done all the hunting and pecking and integrations with best-in-class providers,” says Trent. “Not only do we bring our compliance infrastructure and our expertise around product development, but we also provide a charter and a choice.”
It’s a faster route to market. Central Payments partners don’t have to secure relationships for all the services they need and then seek bank approval of vendors, which can divert precious resources away from a product launch and add months to the timeline.
Instead, partners can choose from multiple vendors, like Ubiquity, and plug right into their systems through OpenCP. At the same time, choosing Central Payments doesn’t lock partners into a specific vendor for each function, which, Trent says, is by design.
Collaboration for the Customer Is King
Similarly, Central Payments puts a premium on choice when partners are designing their customer journey.
“We want to leave the customer experience as open and fluid as possible to see what gains traction,” explains Trent. “Sometimes that can be hard as the bank involved in the process, but we’re committed to innovation and championing new approaches to providing financial services.”
To that end, Central Payments works collaboratively with clients within the bank’s robust compliance framework. “We’re scrutinized pretty heavily, and we’ve come through that with a lot of confidence. If financial services is a road, we keep you from going into the ditch, but we let you change lanes. To be a good partner requires constructive criticism and creativity. We’re not here just to say no. But, we also expect our partners to be flexible as well.”
Last fall, after celebrating five years since their own debut, Central Payments decided to further their commitment to innovation by launching Falls Fintech. The fintech accelerator welcomed its first cohort of companies this spring, albeit slightly differently than planned (see sidebar).
On-Demand Financial Services
Young companies aren’t the only ones attracted to Central Payments’ collaborative approach and entrepreneurial spirit. Ceridian, a global human capital management software company and long-time payroll card provider, partnered with Central Payments to rollout their on-demand pay solution in May.
The Dayforce Wallet app enables employees to request a payout of their earnings whenever they need it at no direct cost to them or their employers. Central Payments issues the companion prepaid Mastercard and helped Ceridian launch the program via the OpenCP platform.
Companies have to look for new ways to help their financial services customers, Trent adds. Not everyone can follow Ceridian’s on-demand pay approach, which leverages the company’s vast network of employer relationships and decades of payroll experience. However, to usher in the next generation of CX, you have to be able to give customers what they need before they ask for it. “A simple SMS balance alert, that’s a given,” Trent explains. “You should be able to say to your customer, ‘We know you’re expecting a direct deposit on Friday, do you want to use it to pay this bill that’s coming due?
“Use your AI, self-service and predictive tools not really to focus on cost mitigation so much as to minimize the burden for your customer,” he continues. “Don’t make them hunt for answers. Make sure answers are readily available.”
That can be even more challenging in the midst of unprecedented disruption brought on by a global pandemic. But it’s one that fintech, which is adaptive by nature, is poised to deliver on, Trent suggests.
“We’re clearly seeing companies thinking about the financial experience beyond the transaction, beyond saving. Thinking about investments and insurance—putting them all together. When you can do that in a way that helps improve the customer’s financial well-being, that’s what gets us really excited.”