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What is a Program Manager

The Big Foot of Card Issuing

Author: Kate Firuz, Director of Product

Who or What is a Program Manager and Why it’s Important 

If you’re involved in card issuing or a card program in any way, it’s very likely you’ve heard the term Program Management. But what does that actually mean? Who is a Program Manager? Is it a company or a person? The truth is that it’s not a normalized term! If you’ve tried to Google “Program Management”, you’ll find a plethora of results ranging from project management to portfolio management and perhaps some mention of the payments ecosystem.

In the card payment industry, any institution that issues credit, debit, or prepaid cards must follow a series of actions and operations to meet compliance guidelines set out by the banks and card networks. If your program doesn’t follow the rules, you could get fined or worse, shut down completely, leaving you open to liability and your cardholders out of luck.

From the time a Card Program is under review for approval until it’s live on the market, the BIN Sponsor or bank must ensure that a distinct set of processes are in place effectively. These processes involve areas such as –

  • Data Security and Integrity
  • Fraud Detection and Reporting
  • Data Reconciliation across various sources
  • Quarterly Reporting
  • Customer Service
  • Dispute Generation and Submission
  • Marketing
  • Suspicious Activity Reporting
  • Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer processes

To remember how it all comes together, this is a general split

Program = Card Brand + Card Type + Issuer + Marketing + Key Features + Issuing Processor

Management = Transaction Data Processing + Fraud + AML/KYC + Reporting + Reconciliation + Disputes

These processes, all together called Program Management, are complex and multifaceted. It’s very common for new Fintechs to bite off more than they can chew when deciding to become their own Program Manager. At the same time, most banks and credit unions who support their own Programs still struggle with inefficiencies and keeping up with the data handling. Despite all the innovation in payments, these back office operations are still often done manually with spreadsheets and text files, coming from several sources of data and coordinating with 2 or more platforms.

So let’s ask the question again, who is a Program Manager?

The answer is: a lot of people working together. The ensure proper Program Management of any Card Program, several departments must do various tasks on a daily basis. The responsibilities to run a compliant and successful card program runs from call centre agents to fraud analysts to CFOs to data analysts and compliance officers. The challenge comes in that each person in each department must communicate, coordinate, and align numbers/output at the end of every month.

The next natural question to ask is – where can a card program get a Program Manager if they don’t want to do the work themselves?

There are several options for outsourcing one or all of the tasks needed for a card program operation.

  1. Ask the sponsor bank or BIN Sponsor if they offer in-house services. Some will do this for a monthly fee.
  2. As if your Issuing Processor can offer the value add services, again, for an additional fee.
  3. Outsource to companies that specialize specifically in Program Management.
  4. Use a technology solution, like PayTic, to automate the processes into a single platform.

According to Imad Boumahdi, our Founder and CEO ‘‘It is crucial to normalize this term in order to better define the scope and framework of a Card Program. This then enables better visibility and handling of the processes, some of which can be automated to help organizations optimize their operations, reduce costs, and avoid noncompliance fees.”

If you would like to learn more about Program Management or about how PayTic can bring efficiency and accuracy into your existing processes, reach out to us and ask for a Demo here.