Inside the U.S. launch of Visa’s fintech Fast Track program

  • Visa is opening its Fast Track program in the US today.
  • Fast Track brings together services and expertise to help fintech companies get up and running quickly.

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Inside the U.S. launch of Visa’s fintech Fast Track program

Visa is accelerating its work in the fintech community with the launch of its Fast Track program in the U.S. today. The program aims to speed up the process of integrating with the firm's global payment network, VisaNet.

Fast Track enables collaboration between fintech startups and leading companies that provide services across the payments ecosystem. Visa is launching Fast Track in the U.S. in collaboration with Alloy , BBVA Open Platform, Cross River Bank, Galileo, Green Dot, Marqeta, Netspend, Stripe, TabaPay, TSYS, Q2, and Very Good Security.

The US Fast Track program includes the participation of venture capital firms actively investing in fintech. Visa will work with launch partners like Andreesen Horowitz, Nyca Ventures, Ribbit Capital, and Trinity Ventures to automatically qualify their portfolio companies into the program.

Visa's svp and global head of fintech Terry Angelos joins us this episode to discuss Visa’s broader global strategy to champion the fintech community.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

The role of global head of fintech

I help structure our engagement with fintechs around the world. We have three pillars to that engagement: partnership, investment and programs.

My background is a little unorthodox. During the 15 years preceding joining Visa, I was an entrepreneur, mainly in ecommerce and payment startups. In 2006, I co-founded TrialPay and eventually took over as CEO. Visa acquired that business in 2015 and I have been running that business inside of Visa for the past 3 years or so.

At the beginning of 2019, I changed my focus to exclusively work with fintechs and engaging with that community around the world.

Understanding the entrepreneur

I think my experience lends a greater appreciation to three major things. The first is speed. If I think back to our days at TrialPay, with a couple of months of product planning, we could radically alter our product roadmap. So, if it takes three to six months to connect to a payment network, that's a significant iteration of a young company.

The second is that startups tend to be global from the start. Companies have consumers and businesses contacting them from multiple countries. We see with some of our fastest growing fintechs that they're tackling multiple markets at the same time.

The third is an appreciation for scale. Whether you're a 10 person startup in Palo Alto or you're Slack and have just gone public, early stage businesses are chasing scale. The tremendous thing about Visa is after 60 years, we've achieved scale. It's a lot of fun to help bring that to bear with some of our partners. We have a few companies today launching payment solutions in over a dozen countries at the same time. That's hard to do without a partner already up and running in those markets.

Fintechs, Visa and the payments industry

We've come a long way in our 60 year history. If you were pitching Visa today on Sand Hill Road, you'd probably pitch it as a 'SaaS platform for payments and commerce'.

There are still huge opportunities for us. There's about $17 trillion in cash and check spending by consumers and about $20 trillion by businesses. Converting some of that activity to digital is a very large opportunity. There are also about 1.7 billion people globally who lack access to formal financial services. Only 48 percent of global consumer spending is digital. The runway for Visa is significant.

Our excitement around fintechs is that they solve many parts of this last mile -- with digital solutions, access to credit, and effectively bringing people into the financial system. We're excited to partner with this community and help them grow.

Partnering and investing in fintech

There are about 2.3 billion people who plan to use digital wallets this year. In emerging markets, this means a consumer has likely connected her credentials to some sort of commerce app, like rideshare or online delivery. That wallet starts to become a full purpose payment vehicle.

So, we're partnering with a number of wallets so consumers can get access to Visa merchants everywhere they use their wallets. In Latin America, there's Rappi, one of the fastest growing on-demand delivery services. We partnered with them to have a Visa prepaid card linked to the RappiPay wallet. They plan to reach 100,000 merchants in their market.

Similarly, in Indonesia, Gojeck is one of the leading rideshare companies. In this case, we're both partnering and investing. We're working together to offer cashless solutions for their digital wallet.

If you look at Kenya and Nigeria, we're investors and partners in Branch, the most downloaded financial app in Africa. We're linking a Visa card to the app so that consumers can access credit on their Visa cards.

Digital banking is another area we're focused on. About 91 percent of mobile banking users prefer using their app to going into a branch. So, we're seeing a rise of neobanks and digital banks. In the US, we're partnering with Chime and N26. Across the world, we have various partnerships that are exciting for us and extend payment flows into new areas.

Another example we like as a trend is payroll. There's about $150 billion in earned wages every week that are stuck in transit because, while I work everyday, I only get paid every two weeks. One of the trends we're seeing is earned wage access. If I'm a barista at Starbucks and I've worked 20 hours, my expenses occur in real time. So, if I want to get paid, I can push a button to send my earned wages directly to my Visa debit card. We announced a partnership with PayActiv, one of the leading earned wage access providers.

Launching Fast Track in the US

We've had Fast Track programs launch in our major geographies around the world. We're excited to be launching this now in the US. These programs are centered around speed (how do we quickly bring fintechs into the payments ecosystem), services (where we make concierge services available for companies in our program), expertise (like office hours where we make available experts at Visa and at our partners) and helping our clients find the right partners to work with the ecosystem-enablers to get up and running.

Examples of companies that have gone through Fast Track

Razer is a leading lifestyle brand for gamers. They joined our Fast Track program in Asia Pacific and went through the program. Razer developed a Visa prepaid solution that they embed in their Razer e-wallet that gives them open-loop credentials for their 60 million users to use their wallet. Fast Track was instrumental for Razer to quickly develop that capability.

Europe was our original launch geography. We've had a number of companies go through the Fast Track program. PayCell is a leading mobile carrier in Turkey. We helped them get up and running quickly on Visa rails so that they could enable network credentials inside their various payment solutions.

Technology partners in the ecosystem

One of the things we focused on for our US launch was putting together best in class partners that can help fintechs get up and running quickly. These are issuer processors, program managers, bank sponsors, and partners that can help with PCI compliance and KYC/AML.

Our US launch partners are Marqeta and Taba Pay (which are both focused on issuer processing and push payments), Alloy (which is a partner for KYC/AML) and VGS (which is focused on PCI compliance). The great thing about the Fast Track program is that all these partners together enable a fintech to get up and running quickly so the company can focus on what it does best.

Bringing in the investment community

VCs are a really important part of the fintech ecosystem. Last year alone, there was something like $40 billion invested in fintech, which was up 100 percent from the previous year.

In the US, we're working with leading VCs to automatically qualify their portfolio companies into the Fast Track program. At launch, we have firms like NYCA Partners, Ribbit Capital, and Trinity Ventures.

Looking ahead

We're excited about the partners we've announced today, but we expect to bring in additional partners to the program with more capabilities to help fintechs get up and running. So, look for us to add more enablement and venture capital partners in the future.

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