Tern Launch
Posted on 24 November 2017 by Brion Bonkowski

Tern Officially Launches the SPAN Platform

Our team is incredibly excited to go to market with our new SPAN platform. Designed global prepaid and stored value platform, SPAN was developed to accommodate the next generation of payments and payment tech.

 

Background 

Let’s start with SPAN’s roots. SPAN was born in a garage in New Jersey with piles of boxes stacked all around. The first generation of SPAN was built to accommodate a rather specific use case, cross-border eCommerce. Tern Chief Operating Office, Linda Hemerik, launched US Unlocked in 2008 as the only virtual prepaid card for non-US citizens to purchase goods and services on US websites. Meanwhile, starting in 2010, I started working with a team of experts in prepaid, AML (Anti Money Laundering) policy, fraud mitigation, and global shipping to develop our own cross-border commerce solutions. In May of 2015, the Tern team was introduced to US Unlocked and soon realized our visions were aligned. In December of 2015, Tern acquired US Unlocked and set into motion a re-platforming project the likes of which this world has never seen. Ok, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but the overall sentiment is correct. We developed SPAN to be the world’s most flexible and scalable prepaid and stored value platform.

 

Building a Platform

While Tern maintains US Unlocked as a consumer-facing brand, our real focus for 2016 and 2017 has been in the design and development of the SPAN platform. Fortunately, the US Unlocked team had already logged seven years of development time into the platform for us to build from as a foundation. One of our investors and a life-long “platform guy,” Zachary Smith, was incredibly helpful in steering our development team toward an open, scalable architecture. Our scope was concise, we were going to take what US Unlocked had developed and make it multi-tenanted, API driven, and web service enabled. We intended to offer the US Unlocked service for global brands to launch their own cross-border prepaid solutions.

 

Vision

After countless whiteboard sessions and assessing what features to include in our initial release, we realized we were designing something that could fill a serious void in the market. Before acquiring US Unlocked, our team performed a thorough due diligence process on platforms that could assist in us launching our card program. We did find some payment processors who had pieces of what we needed, but nobody could offer a full suite of consumer-facing branded card/account management with the back office tools for us to build and service our customers. That, and as soon as we started asking questions about multi-currency and multi-language support, there was nothing available. It was with this mindset we set out to build the SPAN platform.

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