The Silicon Review
In 2009, eCommerce sales climbed up by 11 percent, and analysts during that time had forecasted that eCommerce sales would grow strongly for the next five years. What the web retailers did during the end of 2010 was they implemented programs that drove site traffic and improved customer’s shopping experience. Even the smallest retailer had become more sophisticated. During this time, the unbanked and underbanked customers from the alternative financial products industry, also known as the check-cashing industry, faced obstacles when partaking in online shopping because they were still dealing in cash.
Prepaid Ventures, LTD. (PPV) entered the financial market in the year 2007 with a key aim of providing customers of the alternative financial sector a financially inclusive product, making e-commerce and other electronic payments universally accessible. The company now offers a suite of electronic payment options across multiple payment products and distribution channels.
Andrew’s Pioneering Endeavors
Andrew Siden (Founder and CEO) has been a major driving force behind Prepaid Ventures’ success. He brings 30 years of financial services and electronic payment processing experience to the company. The veteran leader started his career at Smith Barney in 1991, where he worked as a Guided Portfolio Manager and ultimately became an Equity Trader with Knight Capital Group. Then, in 2003, he left Wall St. to pursue the rapidly evolving Alternative Financial Services (AFS) market, where he joined a leading New York-based check-cashing business. Once there, Andrew implemented new corporate strategies, leveraged technology, and improved compliance & operational procedures. All the while gaining a broad understanding of the AFS landscape and ultimately launching Prepaid Ventures and developing its initial product, the NexsCard Prepaid Visa Card.
Now, as the Founder and CEO, Andrew has set up new priorities for PPV, which includes the launch of new programs such as payroll card programs and companion card programs. Also, Prepaid Ventures will continue to build upon existing programs such as Avid Prepaid, NexsCard, NexsCard for Business, and a remote deposit capture feature-mobileteller.
The Evolution of NexsCard
In 2009, after two years of developing and fine-tuning his model, Andrew launched NexsCard, a prepaid debit card in the market. NexsCard allowed check cash customers to load cash onto a network-branded prepaid card at their local check cashier, or obtain direct deposits, and to use the card anywhere with Visa brands approved (Prepaid Ventures exclusively partners with Visa to provide its prepaid card solutions). In addition to the cardholder benefits, NexsCard agent check cashers were able to keep their check cashing revenue, retain the customers that they would otherwise have lost to direct deposit and grow their revenue streams by offering NexsCard. Throughout the establishment of this prepaid debit card, Andrew brought in resources such as Customer Support and Technology in-house to empower the Prepaid Ventures platform. When NexsCard achieved critical mass, Andrew started pursuing other payment space-related projects.
Digital Banking at its Best!
Over time, Prepaid Ventures began reinvesting the profits earned from NexsCard into its own processing platform, which included mobile applications, cardholder websites, and new programs. Andrew explains, “We really work hard to provide our customers with products and services that work for them. We even built an in-house call center to provide our customers with a more personal experience from our own employees who use the card every day.”
In 2016, new market trends appeared with a demand for acquiring financial products digitally. To meet this demand, Prepaid Ventures launched a new program called Avid Prepaid. Avid Prepaid follows a digital acquisition model and consumers can effortlessly open an account using the cardholder site or mobile app. Customers have all the support and tools necessary to manage their accounts without needing a retail environment.
Avid Prepaid includes many features including Early Access of direct deposits, card replacements, real time alerts and transaction history, enhanced security features including EMV chip technology, and mobile banking. Cardholders can easily add cash to their card at over ½ million Western Union, MoneyGram and Visa ReadyLink locations nationwide and shop anywhere Visa Debit is accepted. Perceptive of users’ needs and behaviors, Avid Prepaid offers a monthly plan or a pay as you go plan demonstrating a focus on customer experience.
The Avid Prepaid program is a current focus of PPV; creating value in the nascent field of digital banking and striving to deliver new features directly to cardholders with more agility and versatility than standard banks. With NexsCard filling a gap for unbanked and underbanked customers in a retail environment, Avid Prepaid closes that loop by serving those same needs digitally, propelling Prepaid Ventures into a new era.
Today, Prepaid Ventures is one of the leading providers of payment processing, system management, and prepaid debit card solutions, using its in-house technology to launch other products for itself and third parties. This includes payroll cards, corporate prepaid cards, general-purpose reloadable cards, and remote deposit capture of checks. Consumers have become more digitally oriented and increasingly involved in online check cashing. Mobileteller service system of Prepaid Ventures has been specifically developed to ensure the smooth virtual interaction between agents and their customers. The company empowers clients with its disbursement services and flexible payment management software with bank-level security, focused on replacing manual paper-based processes with electronic payments and documents.
Prepaid Ventures collaborates with several different supply chain providers, which results in a seamless, vertically integrated solution in a complex marketplace. It has also entered the merchant processing space to add to its full suite of processing, payments, and program management services. Because of this, the company uses a customer approach and customized consultative client, coupled with the agile methodology to develop new solutions.
Security at the Highest Caliber
In the card and payment industry, security is a concerning topic for consumers because they want protection from any unknown threats. Prepaid Ventures recognizes this demand, and therefore, it implements any regulatory changes swiftly, monitors its systems, and relies on stringent risk management approaches to ensure consumer protection. The company employs security tools on a product, program, and portfolio level. Moreover, it undergoes an annual PCI audit and has achieved Level 1 PCI, the industry’s highest standard.
Entrepreneurial Team Spirit, Crediting Board Members
The team is one of the core elements which define the success of any organization. Andrew feels fortunate to have trusted friends as the board members. The advice and guidance offered by them help him stay competitive. The board challenges Andrew and has advised him of the “entrepreneur’s curse” at the start of his endeavors. This has always motivated Andrew to become a better CEO and has held this philosophy very closely. Therefore, he credits his recognition and performance to his board’s encouragement and advice. As for team members, Andrew searches for certain characteristics inside his team that reflect the same entrepreneurial spirit that is instilled in him. Drive, willingness to learn and intellect are those characteristics that make a successful member of Prepaid Ventures. These are the fundamental skills required to succeed at PPV.