Monday, August 24, 2009

Same window pane, different view

Viewing the world through the same window pane doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see the same things. Gray clouds could mean cool, relaxing weather to one person and to another, the end of the world. I’ve recently been involved in long discussions about what ‘Card Management’ is and what a Prepaid Card Management System (‘CMS’) is supposed to do. After a series of intense discussions with my colleagues (I could very well be the only one that saw the discussions as ‘intense’) I realized at many different levels, we were not only saying the same things, we were framing ideas based on our experiences in different verticals of the prepaid issuing space including issuing bank, acquirer and the prepaid third party processor.

This post will cover what I believe to be essential, high-level attributes of a solid Card Management System for prepaid issuance.

What is Card Management? The phrase ‘Card Management’ is actually an inaccurate use of words for someone that comes from the area of the prepaid space that requires the CMS to not only manage the life cycle of cards, but programs, products and business entities such as program managers and other sales channels associated with issued cards. I guess a more accurate phrase could be “Everything you need to run a prepaid business as a service provider or third party processor system.” That would make the acronym – EYNTRAPBAASPOTPPS. Thank goodness CMS is in play here!

Robust APIs CMS needs to interact with the authorization host to retrieve transaction data for business use. CMS will also need to communicate with external systems for supporting services such as ID verification, OFAC, card fulfillment, IVR and others. (may vary depending on program type i.e. payroll, gift, general purpose)

Hierarchy Management Being able to create an account, mail a card out, authorize a transaction and settle is as important as oxygen but is not all there is to the business of prepaid. Associating business entities at different levels enables business owners to analyze, measure and report on important portfolio data.

Program & Product Management Assigning hierarchy levels and product attributes from a single UI is important in my opinion. Think about how the business comes together starting at member sponsorship on through card issuance. Program and product configuration within CMS should be representative of this process.

Card Life Cycle Management Card issuance, account creation, account activation, self-service cardholder support, CSR support and alike. Everything that happens after all the business relationships and entities are in place.

Reporting and Billing In most cases this will happen in separate system but should be configured and delivered either through CMS or in partnership with CMS. Establishing fees, reporting revenue based on business entities is what brings it all together. Keep in mind that the reports I'm referring to are outside of what the authorization host typically delivers to the issuing bank as part of the third party processor's responsibility.

So there you have it. The world through my CMS window pane. What's your view?

Randy San Nicolas is the author of Prepaid Enterprise Blog.

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