If you’re thinking about starting a program, you’re probably thinking about how to decide which fintech platform can provide you with the technology needed to get up and running. But while deciding on a technology partner is important, what’s just as important is deciding whether you are going to manage the program yourself or rely on a platform that provides program management.
Lots of embedded finance platforms offer issuing and processing technology, but not all offer program management, and even when they do, it’s important to understand what’s covered and how they approach it.
Overseeing your own card program demands more time and internal resources, but it can present more opportunities for control and could lead to improved economics.
On the other hand, working with a program manager can help streamline operations, require fewer overall resources and reduce the need for extensive interactions with bank partners, networks, and third-party vendors.
The decision between these two paths hinges on multiple factors including what is and isn’t included in the program management, your internal staffing, available resources, transaction volume, the developmental stage of your card program, and the level of responsibility you are prepared to assume.
In this explainer, we’ll explore what is covered by Program Management as offered via Bond’s platform which should help you in determining the most suitable route for your business.
- With Bond as your program manager, we handle important aspects of your card program such as KYC, setting up your BIN, issuing cards and coordinating with the issuing bank and card networks.
- With Program Management, many responsibilities are owned by Bond while some are shared such as onboarding and AML. In those cases, we provide step-by-step guidelines and playbooks to help you set up your program for success.
- Some brands choose to take the responsibility of program management themselves because it allows for more control and lets you keep more interchange revenue. This however, comes with more costs, responsibilities, and resources - technical and human.
- A managed program is typically a more logical choice if you are in the initial stages of your card program, trialing cards as a novel product offering, or you lack the staff and expertise to oversee your program in-house.
How Does Program Management Work
With Program Management, the platform provider will assume a substantial portion of responsibilities and relationships within the program, undertaking the majority of crucial steps essential for launching your program.
This approach expedites the card's time to market, given the provider’s pre-existing direct relationships, contracts, and technical integrations with banks, networks, card manufacturers, and compliance vendors. Such arrangements facilitate:
- Procurement of a bank identification number (BIN) range.
- Collaboration with the card network, issuing bank, and third-party vendors.
- Obtaining necessary reviews and approvals from partners, particularly Sponsor Banks.
This level of support represents significant value, especially to startups and enterprises new to card programs, enabling them to allocate their resources to product development and launch strategies.
But not all program management works the same. Not all program managers take ownership of all the necessary tasks. There are some tasks that you will be expected to manage and take responsibility for on your own.
Bond’s approach to program management attempts to deliver 360 coverage. While there are certain areas where you may have sole legal responsibility, Bond’s approach is to provide guidance and advice in ALL areas of your program.
What’s Included in Program Management
This is a key area of any successful card program and Bond provides detailed guidelines that allow you to register and verify potential customers for your program. Functional areas include:
Bond assists with developing credit policies that will meet the requirements of the sponsor bank along with taking care of technical tasks such as BIN creation, card issuing and processing and settlement. Functional areas include:
- Card Enablement
- Card production
- BIN management
- Post transaction settlement
Risk & Fraud Monitoring
Bond provides ongoing oversight, tracking and monitoring of program risks. Read more on Risk & Fraud monitoring here. Functional areas include:
- Transaction monitoring
- Risk scoring
- Exceptions management
Compliance & Marketing Agreements
This covers the creation and management of all required customer facing disclosures, agreements and communications. Functional areas include:
- Card holder agreements
- Marketing materials standards and guidelines
- General customer communications
- Regulation E disclosures ( disclosures that let consumers know their rights and responsibilities around electronic transactions they have made or have agreed to make.)
This entails guidance and assistance in covering client issues and disputes. In addition to guidelines and templates, Bond provides a web portal that furnishes easy access to a range of data and insights necessary to deliver a high quality of customer support.
Functional areas include:
- Dispute resolution
- Transaction Details
- Customer Support
Here Bond initiates and manages the relationship between you and network partners such as Mastercard and Visa. The main task here is maintaining compliance with network partners rules, regulations and obligations.
While marketing is done by the brand, it ultimately needs to be approved by the sponsor bank. As such, Bond provides guidelines on acceptable marketing materials, including required disclosures. Likewise, while brands will design their own user experience, Bond will provide best-in-class examples along with guidelines on UX requirements.
Areas covered include:
- Marketing guidance
- User experience design
Having a program manager that has the necessary experience and knowledge is invaluable to the success of your program. As a brand considering starting your own branded card program, you have the option of going with a processor-only relationship where you manage the other aspects of the program yourself or going with a program manager. If you do go with a program manager, it is important that you understand the full scope of what is covered and supported by the program manager. If you want to learn more about Bond’s 360 approach to program management please reach out here.