What is card program management?

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May 24, 2023
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What is card program management?

Card programs are typically offered by fintechs, insurers, retailers, or any organization that wants to give their customers a convenient and secure way to make payments, access their funds, or earn rewards. However, more and more non-fintech companies are now starting to explore card programs to boost customer loyalty and create new revenue streams.

Card program management is a great option for any organization that wants to launch a card program but lacks the time, resources, or experience to handle the entire process themselves. It is one of the key parts of the value chain alongside the issuing bank and the issuer processor. Having a card program manager leaves your company free to focus on creating a great product and bringing it to market.

However, not all card program management schemes operate in the same way, and you may still be expected to be responsible for important aspects of your program.

In this article, we’ll explore the role of card program management in detail, including how the process works, the main responsibilities of a manager, and how you can launch your own program with Checkout.com.

How does card program management work?

The running of these programs is time and resource intensive, and involves managing multiple third-party relationships. That’s where card program management comes in. The program manager takes care of much of the heavy lifting - including strategy, operations and compliance - while giving their clients the flexibility to deliver a tailored, scalable payment solution to their customers.

Here’s how card program management works:

  • Advise on the best setup - a key benefit of working with a program manager is that they can utilize a wealth of experience to help you implement the most suitable setup for you and your customers’ needs. You can customize almost any aspect of your program, including where cards can be used, spending limits, and security protocols
  • Maintain relationships with card manufacturers - one of the most important, and time-consuming, elements of card program management is managing relationships with third parties. Card manufacturers - who create and personalize the physical cards that you distribute to your customers - are one of the most important relationships to maintain. They help you setup and build but also are in touch with the card packing agencies, token providers or digital wallet providers. The program manager coordinates this production with the manufacturer and ensures any orders are fulfilled and shipped to customers
  • Maintain relationships with card schemes - with a managed card the Payment Service Provider (PSP) owns the relationships with the card schemes and will take actions to optimize critical aspects of these relationships, such as revenue interchange and acceptance rates.Without a card program manager you will be responsible for establishing your own direct relationship with the card schemes.
  • Manage and operate card programs - management encompasses a broad spectrum of responsibilities that ensure the day-to-day ongoing success of the program. These responsibilities include compliance reporting, authorizing and settling payments and managing fraud and disputes.

Main aspects of card program management

Here are main aspects of card program management:

  • Program design: designing your card program is the process of defining its structure, key features, customer benefits, who those customers are, and terms and conditions. It also involves the selection of a card network (e.g. Mastercard, Visa) and designing the actual branding of your physical or virtual cards
  • Issuance and account management: issuance is the creation and distribution of your tailor made card program to your customers, enabling them to pay for goods and services, or earn loyalty points. This includes BIN sponsorship, which enables organizations to process payments and offer cards without forming a direct relationship with a card network. The program manager is also responsible for managing your customers’ accounts, including storing their personal details securely, handling inquiries, and dealing with disputes or chargebacks
  • Risk management and fraud prevention: it’s vital that card program managers put in place a rigorous risk management and fraud prevention strategy to protect both you and your customers from the ever present threat of fraud, identity theft and data breaches. Any respectable strategy should include transaction monitoring systems, which use rules and machine learning to identify, flag, and potentially block suspicious activity. Security measures like 3D Secure can also help to prevent fraudulent activity by requiring customers to complete two-step authentication  
  • Compliance and regulation: as well as implementing the above measures, card programs must comply with important industry regulations, which help protect your cardholders and maintain the integrity of the entire payments network. The main regulations are the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), anti-money laundering (AML) requirements, and Know Your Customer (KYC) guidelines
  • Marketing and customer acquisition: the success of your card program depends on the acquisition of new customers. It should continuously equip you with the best cardholder, transaction and reconciliation data to help you segment your audience, understand their needs, etc.
  • Customer retention, loyalty and other added value services: once acquired, your customers still need to know they’re valued. In order to retain cardholders and ensure your program’s long-term profitability, your customers need to be incentivized with value-added services like rewards, cashback, insurance
  • Reporting and analytics: reporting and analytics empowers you to assess the performance of your card program and to make any necessary refinements or improvements. You should make sure to track transaction volumes, customer acquisition costs, and churn rates, and analyze your customer behavior and preferences

Checkout.com - Issuer, issuer processor and card program manager in one

If you want to start a card program, look no further than Checkout.com. Regardless of your time, resources or experience, we make it easy to design and launch your program by acting as your issuer, issuer processor and card program manager all in one.

We give you everything you need to issue and manage a virtual or physical card program, while giving you full control over everything from design and authorization to spend controls. Our one-stop issuing solution allows you to manage and scale your program while working with just one provider through a single API integration.

Tap into the embedded finance opportunity, unlock new revenue streams and optimize your cash flow with Checkout.com.

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