Posted on 25 December 2017 by Brion Bonkowski

Secure, Brandable, Global Prepaid Platform

The Green Sheet

New York-based Tern Commerce launched SPAN, a global remittance platform designed for secure, prepaid and stored-value deployments across multiple regions, languages and currencies. The solution was developed with US Unlocked, a company Tern acquired in 2015. Its application programming interface (API) libraries, web services and technology stack are simple to configure, integrate and customize, company representatives stated. “US Unlocked had been providing U.S.-issued prepaid cards for cross-border shoppers since 2008,” said Brion Bonkowski, Chief Executive Officer at Tern. “In 2015, we began re-platforming their IP into a modern framework with multitenant capabilities to accommodate a variety of programs. Tern built out and productized the underpinning technology to create a new commercial platform called SPAN.”

Addressing cross-border requirements

The company stated that its innovative tools and feature sets are designed to address numerous cross-border remittance requirements, including the following:

  • Compliance: SPAN’s network is continuously updated to meet legal and regulatory requirements worldwide, including anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines across multiple countries, territories and regions.
  • Risk management: Built-in risk management with advanced tools to monitor and detect fraud in real time at the cardholder and merchant level enables companies to mitigate risk throughout the SPAN network.
  • Infrastructure: Companies can leverage SPAN’s ready-to-deploy, inclusive platform to launch products and card management systems, reducing time to market. Card issuance and distribution: SPAN partners can leverage the technology platform to issue and distribute cards, manage affiliates and sales agents, and utilize advanced couponing options.
  • Support services: SPAN provides multilingual, multicurrency support for card-to-card transfers and global remittances. These services are available in online chat, phone and social media. Companies and their customers can track requests throughout an incident/response lifecycle, from initial ticket openings to completed actions.

Core platform features

Tern noted that its tools and resources for domestic and international programs include the following:

  • Automated user screening: Know your customer (KYC) and customer identification program (CIP) requirements vary across regions. SPAN provides all the tools to manage these identity requirements, including comprehensive reporting and screening against all necessary Office of Foreign Assets Control, Specially Designated Nationals and sanctioned screening requirements.
  • Program dashboards: SPAN’s expanded library of real-time reports and dashboards facilitate seamless program management.
  • Program accounting, billing, payouts: Cost accounting and affiliate management are frequently overlooked elements of a stored-value program. SPAN provides multitiered agent and affiliate support, with advanced analytics to track profitability and performance.
  • Online portals: Secure, in-app and online on-boarding and service portals provide a single-access view across an enterprise, backed by 24/7 support. Brandable, consumer-facing portals enable customers to use mobile apps or APIs to look up transactions and view account statements.
  • Web-enabled services: Tern engineers developed the API-driven SPAN platform to simplify integration and customization. Developers can access the REST API through a web portal or mobile app.

Global commerce solved

Bonkowski stated that despite growing adoption of prepaid and stored-value products and services, companies around the world lack the infrastructure and technology to launch and sustain these programs. He and his partners saw a need for market-ready solutions to support a range of program management needs. They created SPAN to help program managers reduce time to market and help companies design, launch and scale card management programs. “In 2010, Tern founders saw a need for a modern prepaid platform with cross-border capabilities,” Bonkowski said. “We met with regulators, legal analysts, and potential partners to explore the market and acquired US Unlocked in 2015 to help jumpstart our vision.” The company is named after the Arctic tern, and the SPAN platform is named for the bird’s impressive wingspan, Bonkowski noted. “Terns can travel for up to three years without nesting, and they have the longest migration cycle on the planet,” he said. “The tern can also serve as an icon for the evolving payments industry as we migrate from wired to mobile technologies and from local to global marketplaces.”

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