As The Fintech Times in October focuses on partnerships, we speak to industry leaders from Railsbank, a banking-as-a-service platform, and Visa, a financial services company, about their recent partnership and how collaboration is integral to the evolution of the fintech industry.
Railsbank and Visa have been partnering in the Europe and Asia Pacific regions since 2019, working closely to empower start-ups and support Visa’s plans to launch new card-issuing programmes. Railsbank’s speed and flexibility combined with Visa’s scale and expertise has set the baseline for a strong partnership aiming to support fintechs from their initial go-to-market plans through to their global growth aspirations.
“Railsbank have been a fantastic partner,” said Claudia D’Avino, Senior Account Manager and part of the Visa UK Business Development team. “They champion our goal to deliver the next generation of payments solutions with their inclusive and flexible approach. The issuing programmes we have launched together over the last year span a variety of industries and use cases; from insurance and digital currencies to aiding disbursements for vulnerable individuals. Railsbank’s commitment to work with such a diverse group of start-ups and integrate payments in their existing business models is an essential driver for the development of new payment flows. This aligns with Visa’s aim to advance digitalisation and ultimately make life better for consumers, businesses and communities.”
Partnerships like this are a regular occurrence in the fintech industry and are often crucial to help companies offer better, more developed solutions for their customers as well as support growth in the industry. Heather Ribbans, who is the Head of Partnership Channel Sales – Customer & Supplier Success at Railsbank, said that cultivating partnerships within the industry is important as they can facilitate the sharing of knowledge and learning. “Understanding trends within the market and learning how you can work together to excel both brands and products to make something unique is essential.”
Debbie Wong, Head of Sales for SEA at Railsbank, confirms this, advising that Railsbank are keen to aid in the sharing of knowledge, as well as sharing her own. “We are an active member of the Singapore Fintech Association (SFA) and will be speaking at the Singapore Fintech Festival (SFF) as well as attending lots of events across the industry. I enjoy networking and mentoring others; while I learn innovative or disruptive business ideas/models from fintechs I share my knowledge gained from my over 16-year experience in payments.” Railsbank also powers Nextmoney, a leading fintech network and community in the Asia Pacific region reinventing finance through design, innovation & entrepreneurship.
Partnerships in Payments
The fintech industry and its many facets, in this case paytech, often move at an extremely fast pace, and another key benefit of partnerships is the encouragement of innovation as the industry. D’Avino said, “in my view partnerships with enablers like Railsbank are integral to encouraging innovation in the sector. For example, through the Visa Fast-Track programme, we collaborate with a variety of partners, from Issuers to Processors. Our aim is to support nimble fintechs entering the payments space and provide them with access to VisaNet so they can leverage the capabilities, reach and security of our network at speed.”
Stressing Visa’s commitment to fostering innovation through partnerships, she added: “We are already experiencing how payments are becoming ever more integrated into consumers’ everyday life. Maintaining an open network between partners, clients, and fintechs is essential to ensure innovation can thrive within the ecosystem. I’m really excited about the role fintechs continue to have in enhancing the banking experience for consumers, merchants and communities alike, as well as how we can support them as they scale their solutions.”
Partnerships have always been fairly integral to Railsbank, and they always strive for win/win relationships with all their customers, regardless of their size. Wong said “We help smaller start-ups learn and quickly get to POC (proof of concept). Others are established companies that we have offered consultations to and help them to navigate options. We deal with both as small start-ups can become big companies (and customers), all want to grow across countries and our product helps them do this.”
Railsbank is not just limited to Visa and have had many fruitful partnerships with a variety of companies. “One of our most successful partnerships is Singlife, where they were so impressed with our capabilities that they invested in us,” said Wong. Railsbank also have had good partnerships with Crypto.com and Wirex who needed to migrate their card programmes to Railsbank, which was completed in record time avoiding damage to the businesses and having no impact on end customers and cardholders.
It’s a similar story with Visa, who have had numerous partnerships alongside the boom of the digital payments sector, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic shifting consumer habits online. “Through our partnership with ShopAppy.com we’re helping to enable people to shop from local merchants without leaving their home,” said D’Avino. “These are the types of partnerships that I see the most value in, as they focus on supporting those who have been hardest hit by the pandemic as well as deliver positive results for the whole ecosystem.”
The Recipe for Greatness
For Ribbans, a great partnership is one where both parties can work together to generate more leads and have an understanding of each other’s products and services, with her advice on how to create a successful partnership is to really understand your partner. “I embedded myself in Visa to the point where it was like I worked there. You promote them, they promote you. It’s important to feel like you’re part of the organisation, if you don’t it can be challenging when you need to get things done. You need to understand their product and understand every element of the team to be able to plug the customer into the relevant part of the organisation.
“A bad partnership is one that has no benefits, or when a company just wants to sell you their service. There’s no benefit to me or them in that. A relationship is different to a partnership, but a partnership should be structured so that everyone is winning. A great partnership is one that can provide something unique for the customer. Even if it isn’t a revenue driver for us it can create something positive for both parties.”