Jeremy Kuiper has seen it all. He’s been in prepaid since 2004, when he became managing director for BankFirst’s prepaid business. Nine years later, Bancorp, which acquired BankFirst’s prepaid portfolio in 2007, is the largest U.S. issuer of prepaid cards, according to Nilson.
“The industry has changed immensely since 2004. Some of those early pioneers have built very professional organizations and are now titans of our industry,”
Kuiper says. “We’ve seen acquisitions, consolidation and IPOs. Legislation and regulation have increased, and the most successful organizations have accepted and adapted to those changes.” Despite this maturation, Kuiper says the industry has significant unrecognized opportunities in the consumer and B2B spaces.
Thinking outside the Box
Bancorp is seeing more companies looking to facilitate B2B payments. Two of Bancorp’s B2B partners, The Payments Company and KEEPS LLC, were recognized in the 2013 Paybefore Awards for their unique market approaches. The former provides virtual prepaid Visa payments for business accounts payable, while the latter offers settlement lawyers a disbursement mechanism for clients. These examples illustrate a broader trend at Bancorp—taking prepaid into new territory with considerable scale potential.
|“The experience in prepaid translates very well to some of the new payment innovators we’re seeing. The oversight and controls we bring to the table are appreciated. They recognize we’re an organization that understands there’s a right and a wrong way to bring some innovations to market.”|
Kuiper, who enjoys outdoor recreational activities, including boating, jet skiing, ATV riding and snowmobiling, brings an adventurous spirit to his work, too. The Bancorp always looks for partners who think outside the box. That’s one reason it sponsors Finovate, a showcase for financial services entrepreneurs.
“The experience in prepaid translates very well to some of the new payment innovators we’re seeing. The oversight and controls we bring to the table are appreciated,” he explains. “They recognize we’re an organization that understands there’s a right and a wrong way to bring some innovations to market.”
Bancorp’s prepaid business has grown exponentially. In 2011, it grew 100 percent, and Kuiper has been spending more time on strategy and expansion plans to keep the momentum going. “As our organization has grown, the strength of our team has allowed me to focus more on the strategic direction of our business unit, to work on broader industry issues and to engage with leaders from other organizations to look at new opportunities,” he says.
That meant finally getting a passport—something Bancorp President Frank Mastrangelo likes to tease him about. The overseas trips paid off. In 2012, Bancorp acquired the assets of Gibraltar-based e-money issuer Transact Network.
This year Kuiper has made three or four trips from his home base in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Europe. He anticipates at least three more.
“While there are a number of similarities in facilitating prepaid products in Europe, there are a greater number of differences,” he notes. “The applicability of certain products varies greatly by country.” His overall impression: There are significant growth opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.
As immediate past chairman of the Network Branded Prepaid Card Association, Kuiper gained a new perspective on the challenges for the industry in the U.S., in particular, the need for business leaders to continue education and outreach. “The fact is there’s still a lack of deep understanding of prepaid,” Kuiper explains.
“While there are pockets of regulators and lawmakers who get it, on a larger scale most people don’t really understand what prepaid is and what it isn’t. We have to continue to get our message out to explain the value and utility these products bring to businesses and consumers.”
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