Looking for a cards and payment services provider? Consider these 8 must-have features

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When a business goes looking for a cards and payment services provider, there is plenty to consider. New payment technologies are transforming customer expectations, start-ups and fintechs are changing the competitive landscape, regional markets are adjusting, and regulations continue to shift. So, what are the key points you should consider when deciding who will deliver and manage your cards and payments?

At a bare minimum, you should look for a partner with an end-to-end solution that’s built on an open architecture. An open architecture provides greater scalability, agility and flexibility compared with traditional infrastructure with bespoke interfaces. Open architectures will meet industry standards and ease integration with other platforms and help you avoid proprietary development.

But you’ll want to look for more features and functionality. To help, here’s our list of the top eight things you should seek when choosing a cards & payments service provider:

Client-centric approach.  No two operations are alike. That’s why the cards and payment services you choose should be designed from the get-go with your operations and specific needs in mind. Look for a partner who designs your solution with you. One way to ensure a design is focused first and foremost on your needs is by seeing if the provider offers client-centric design workshops that pair the provider’s solution architects with the right stakeholders in your organization. This guarantees satisfaction and a great customer experience.

A digital core.  A digital core processing engine with a web service architecture should be the foundation for your cards and payment solutions, and for any traditional card-based and any new payment instruments, such as mobile, wearables and biometrics, you use. Having a digital core allows you to link any type of payment instrument securely to a transactional account and provides omni-channel serving to your customers through any means. Digital processing reduces operational costs.

When selecting a service partner, it’s not only the digital core that needs to be considered. Integrated applications that provide additional, must-have functionality and servicing capability are required to deliver an end-to-end solution. Risk, fraud management and front- and back-office components drive the Digital Operating Model in how card and payments services are delivered (see diagram below).

Digital Operating Model in card and payments services diagram

Integrated applications.  Having a suite of value added applications provide additional functionality with pre-proven integration in place. This removes any new build costs and integration testing, provides an innovation roadmap and should deliver economies of scales.

Global to local.  Ideally, the service provider you work with has services that can support the compliance and customization requirements of global, regional and local operations. The cards and payments industry is full of local service providers who are capable of delivering services to meet local geographies. But all too often they struggle to scale, can’t access new markets, and don’t have operating models or price points amenable to global operations.

Old World to New World.  This point is subtle but important. Can the service provider work with what you have today and help you progress towards a modern, more secure digital platform? In other words, can the provider manage any legacy cards and payment operations while guiding the transformation to a digital operating model? And can they do so at the pace and with the risk profile that’s right for your business?

Change freedom.  If you are like most organizations, bringing in a service provider doesn’t mean you want to relinquish control. Gone are the days when a platform provider forces your business to make a change, often at the worst possible time. Ask potential providers how they handle change requests and upgrades, and see if their solution suits your operation. Best case scenario: The majority of changes should be able to be implemented via parameterisation, removing the need for IT code development.

The right staff.  Look for a provider who specializes in technology and operations within cards and payments. That means technology + people + process + governance across the value chain. And remember, good people = good service. What kind of training do the provider’s employees receive? What level of experience is on their team?

Intelligence. Automation. Robots.  In 2018, cards and payment providers need to be offering the latest technologies designed to deliver services that continuously improve, reduce costs and create new opportunities. That means they need to incorporate intelligent automation, analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to examine data from both inside out (IT/business) and outside in (customer viewpoint). They also should include robotics process automation (RPA) services.

The pace of change in the cards and payments industry has never been more challenging. The eight benefits I have outlined should give you a good start on selecting cards and payment services that will help you rise above those challenges.


Paul Sweetingham headshotPaul Sweetingham is a DXC Global Solutioning Leader specializing in the financial services industry. He has more than twenty years’ experience in financial services across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, Japan and the Americas and has extensive knowledge of complex operating and commercial models covering card issuing, merchant acquiring, end-to-end transaction processing, digital commerce, banking and operational BPS solutions.

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