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Insights from Iliad: how to build a modern payment card programme

Described by some as the ultimate intelligent payment product owing to their ability to provide unrivalled customer insights, modern API-powered card programmes can offer innovators a proven route to success.

Yet building out a winning proposition carries with it many considerations, ranging from the fundamental question of will the product actually work to which partners are the best fit for your specific roadmap.

In an attempt to shed some light on this topic, Iliad Solutions CEO Anthony Walton took part in a special panel discussion with Emma Kerr, SVP for Europe Strategic Partnerships at Visa, and TransactionLink’s CEO Mateusz Pniewski.

The session, titled Tech perspective: How to build a card programme, forms part of modern issuer processor Marqeta’s renowned API Chronicles series and was expertly chaired by Olivia Minnock, Senior Partnerships Manager with MMOB.

Olivia steered the conversation through the process of getting started with a card programme, how to navigate the ecosystem, ways to avoid common pitfalls and much more.

Starting out: innovation thoughts from Iliad

Thanks to 20-plus years’ experience in financial services product testing, Anthony made a series of key points that both novice and veteran innovators are likely to find useful.

These included:

  • When starting out it’s vital to bear in mind that there is no single solution for every type of card programme, with different tech partners bringing different benefits to the table, depending on whether you’re a B2B or B2C proposition.
  • Have an idea of how fast you would like to scale transaction volumes. It’s easy to build a card product in the sandbox but will the processor creak under pressure when lots of people start making payments?
  • Start with two plans – plan A and B. Plan A should be about ensuring the product works as intended. Plan B is about switching to scale-up mode when you’ve established that you have a viable payment card in play.

Balance rigour with agility to secure longevity

Rich in technical detail, Anthony also offered advice during the session on the importance of knowing what API message elements and fields include and their possible impact on the smooth operation of a card product.

“There’s an awful lot of API documentation out there but it can be hard to drill down to how you actually populate a field in a message and what impacts that has. It’s really important to understand what kind of checks you have to do to ensure that the message is approved when it goes into a scheme like Visa or Mastercard,” he said.

As a supplementary point, Anthony later stressed the need for innovators to understand that the various pieces of information requested from different parts of the ecosystem will almost always be important to someone somewhere.

He added that while there might be a temptation from a UX perspective to turn off various backend settings, there was a risk that this approach could lead to a “real disaster”. An example here could be a buy-now-pay-later provider which unwittingly deactivates its ability to gather credit history.

This point, Anthony says, reinforces the need to align with a payments partner that takes different pieces of information seriously, but without being too burdensome. Getting this balancing act right will be a deciding factor in ensuring a proposition can stand the test of time and be profitable.

The session also went on to discuss the emergence of killer apps, the growing need for accreditation of anti-money laundering tech and the possible knock-on effects of false API calls.

Learn more: how to watch the livestream in full

To view the Tech perspective: How to build a card programme livestream in full, click here. There is also a helpful blog on the session which can be accessed here.

If you have any questions about building and testing a scalable card programme, the Iliad Solutions team can be contacted on +44 (0)113 243 0004 or

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