Patrick Seguev is the CEO of Intercash, a leading provider of prepaid card and online payment solutions. With the power of innovative technology, Intercash’s top-of-the-line services facilitate global cash management for companies throughout the world.
Jeff: Today we’re going to talk to Patrick Seguev of the Intercash card. Patrick, could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and about your company? Patrick: Pleasure meeting you and talking to you today. I’m very happy to be part of this initiative of CAP. We’ve been working in the affiliate space for a long time. This is a great opportunity for us to discuss things with you today. Intercash has been around for 10 years about. I’m one of the co-founders. The other one is my brother, Dan. We started that as a very small family-type of operation specializing in the online payment industry.
Through the last years, we grew to be specializing in a segment of pre-paid cards, a segment that was not very developed in the last ten years but grew. I think we contributed a lot to the growth of that industry. We were the pioneers in Canada bringing pre-paid cards to Canada. Through that, we realized that a lot of technology was actually missing in that space. We put ourselves to work and worked for the last few years, developed a very elaborate and fantastic platform, which we call the pre-paid gate which puts together all the elements from the technology perspective to allow banks and operators like ourselves and processors and end users, like affiliates, to enjoy that tremendous product and the power behind pre-paid cards. So that’s where we are today.
In the last five years, we gave a big push into the international markets. We found that there was not enough information, and there was a greater opportunity on the international market than just in domestic programs for the Canadian space. Naturally, we were tied up to the online gaming industry from day one when we started Intercash. It was the natural market for us to grow into and develop our software and programs with MasterCard and our banking to really cater as much as we can to the needs of online gaming and through there to many other verticals in the online industries. Jeff: That’s great. Can I interrupt? Patrick: Sure. Jeff: You’ve inspired a lot of questions here. Before we get too far into talking about the card and what the card does, I’d really like to know a little bit about you and your brother and where you got the idea to start Intercash. Where did you see that opening in the marketplace and get that original idea, and if you could talk a little bit about how you took it from being an idea to fruition. Patrick: The idea started, as I said, ten years ago. We started the little operation in the payment industry. What I didn’t say was that the startup was actually based on check processing and providing services to companies that want to issue checks to their members, etc. We have built a little platform that caters to those companies and facilitates for them to give us an Excel sheet with a list of beneficiaries. We would spread it around, and we tied up relationships with banks around the world and started with that. Making relationships through this type of product, which we still have today and is very strong and very powerful, we realized that there was a need for a much more elaborate and sophisticated, more high technology more adapted to the markets and the human needs today. Pre-paid card was really a natural product to grow into corporate payments. That’s really our specialty, corporate payments through pre-paid card, versus other people that went toward consumer-direct product and retail product like Green Dot, etc.
That’s where the idea was really starting to grow. I thought we need to have that product and need to offer it to our clients and corporates that can use this type of product as the mechanics to pay their members around the world since it could be an international type of product. That’s when we realized that there was nothing really in the payment industry or in the financial world ready to cater to this type of corporate need. That’s where we set to the table and hired a great team of developers and started working on the software that is needed in order to achieve that type of product and be able to be where we are today where corporations can come to us and open accounts and start issuing cards and pay their members with no efforts basically. Jeff: What do those corporations look like? What kind of industries are you in? What do the people receiving payments look like? Is this just the affiliate business? Is it just iGaming? Are there other industries you’re working with? Patrick: Well, we realized when we started in that field that we need to specialize in something. The natural specialization came from our relationships in the gaming industry. We went to MasterCard and Partners banks and broke a head of how to come with a product that caters first to the gaming industry. Then as the years grew, we actually grew into different types of verticals that were similar and are mostly online communities that can use that type of product.
Our strongest product that we have developed and we’re very unique with is we were able to get a special permission from MasterCard to issue a players payment card. As we speak today, in the next few weeks, the Intercash player winning card is going to be spread through all the softwares that are offering gaming sites, pokers sites, etc. and in the cashier page, a player will be able to ask for an Intercash pre-paid card and request his winnings and payments in real time to cash out from the sites and move it to the card.
We’re also able to mimic a similar scenario as a wallet, even though it’s not a wallet. The card is a real-time tool to move money in and out for players from sites. They can basically go to any site that works with Intercash and cash out with that same card. They don’t have to have multiple cards, exactly like a wallet account would work. The only difference is that this is real plastic, real card with a chip and PIN and an ATM capability and POS capabilities. So this is really our great market, the players and then obviously the natural ties to the affiliates in the iGaming. From there, we grew to mainstream. Just to name a few, we’re working with Digital River Group, with DirectTrack for all the mainstream type of payments through their networks and other verticals. Jeff: As an affiliate, how does the card work for me? How would I receive payments on it? How would the whole process be managed? Patrick: We try to make it, again, through the learning process as simple as possible. What we’ve done is we understood that technology first is an obstacle. We integrated our technology to most of the platform and tracking software that is being offered in all the online industries and in the gaming industry. To name a few, we are integrated to Netrefer, Income Access, EGASS, and Euro Partners, etc. By being integrated to those platforms, an affiliate that is working to a merchant that is working on one of those platforms will have immediate access to select the Intercash card as a preferred payment. Providing that merchant or that affiliate has an open account with Intercash, it can get paid to the Intercash card immediately with no hassle.
The KYC process, which usually concerns a lot of affiliates, is very mild and very comprehensive. Because these programs were put together with MasterCard and the bank specifically for this type of usage, it’s all adapted in the best possible way considering all the financial world’s requirements today, but still in the most comprehensive way possible. So for an affiliate, you just need to get a card number, either through CAP or through different channels that we distribute the cards. Go to the preferred network or merchant that he is working with and request a payment to that card. Jeff: I guess your primary competitor is probably PayPal here. Patrick: PayPal you said? Sorry. Jeff: Is PayPal your primary competitor? How does Intercash compare with PayPal? Patrick: We changed the concept. PayPal or other wallet like Neteller or Moneybookers that are traditionally used in this space are very different than Intercash, because you are dealing with a middleman type of entity where you’re asking payments to be transferred to a middleman company like PayPal and they are controlling your money right now and you have to request and move money from their entity to either your card, your bank account, or whatever. It creates a two layer type of issue. A) From the merchant perspective, they have to transfer their funds, their information, and their relationship to a third party, which is a wallet in the middle. Then the individual cardholder depends on that third party to receive his services.
What we’ve done is we just cut out the middleman. We were able to create, and that’s part of our technology, a platform that allows merchants to open a direct account with our bank partner, not even with Intercash. Intercash is the technology that facilitates that for them. The merchant will get a direct bank account with our partner bank, which is a top-tier bank in Europe. They open a bank account. They fund that bank account, and they can now issue cards or issue payments to cards directly from that bank account. The individual affiliate doesn’t have to worry about transferring funds from a wallet or PayPal or any other wallet to another means of really cashing out his money. That’s more or less the main difference between a PayPal wallet type of formula and an Intercash card direct relationship with a merchant. Jeff: That’s interesting. As an affiliate, how secure is my money in the system if I’m waiting for a payment from a merchant or an operator? How does that work? What’s in place to secure that? Patrick: Right. Looking at my previous answer, you understand that the funds are really secured from beginning to end. A merchant has his security by the funds that he has allocated to the payment that are sitting in his own bank account and not in an e-wallet type of bank account. It’s his own bank account that he controls the funds as a merchant. Those funds have nobody else controlling them but the merchant through the technology and the issuing European bank that facilitates that. Once a merchant pushes funds from his account to the card account of the affiliate, which is done in real time through our platform, the funds are now guaranteed to the affiliate by MasterCard. No one can touch those funds but the cardholder, no matter if that merchant exists or doesn’t exist. If Intercash doesn’t exist, God forbid, in any case, nobody is really in control or can affect those funds. Once they’re on the card, they’re totally in control of MasterCard and the cardholder. Jeff: That’s great. That has to provide your customers with a good level of comfort and security. Patrick: That was one of the main issues that we learned through the years of experience of how to fine tune the platform to bring it beyond all the technology and also the security of funds and to bring it to a convenient form of payment for everybody. Jeff: I know your card can have multiple currencies applied to it. How does that work on the end for the affiliate who’s receiving payments through it? Patrick: Since we are partnered with a European bank, that gives us the capacity of having what we call a BIN, a bank identification number, which is the actual card number that allows us to issue cards in few currencies. Right now, we can issue in five currencies. The three main ones being the U.S. dollars, the British pounds, and the Euros. We also offer the Swedish kronas and Swiss francs for specific markets. We’ve done that basically to prevent charges to the affiliate. If you have an affiliate that is working in the Euro zone and lives in the Euro zone, there’s no need to give him a card in U.S. dollars. It affects the transaction every time he pulls money from that card. To convenience the market as much as we can, we created those three main currencies that try to accommodate as much as we can. Currencies will grow with our platform. We’re working on adding up currencies every day. It’s not an easy task from a banking perspective. Right now, we offer those three currencies in the system. Jeff: Again, as an affiliate, what are the banking fees that are typically associated with Intercash? How does that compare to checks and wire payments which we all know are out of control at times? Patrick: Are you looking from an affiliate perspective or from a merchant perspective? Jeff: From the affiliate perspective. Patrick: From the affiliate perspective, usually the affiliate is concerned with two types of fees. One is receiving the money from the site. The other one is getting the actual cash to his hand. On the side of receiving payments to the card, it’s really through the discretion of the merchant and the affiliate. We have a relationship with the merchant. We don’t charge the cardholder to his card directly any fee to receive money from any of our merchants. If there is a fee that is established between that affiliate and the merchant, that will be totally a personal relationship between them. To resume that, there’s no fee of Intercash to the card in order to receive a payment.
The other set of fees is obviously the usage fees on the card. That’s where the cardholder is being affected. If he goes to an ATM, there’s an ATM transaction fee, if he purchases online or any type of transaction. The Intercash card is considered one of the most reasonable. I would say reasonable because I hate to say the lowest, because there is always somebody who could come up and say, “We’re a little bit lower on this side here. I’m a little bit lower on this side.” All in all, as a package, our fees are all flat. We don’t have any percentage costs to an affiliate like we can see in some card programs. An ATM transaction fee is a flat fee, and varied between 2 and 4 depending on the currencies and depending on the area of the world that we are operating. If it’s a British pound card, it will be a 2 pound flat fee for an ATM transaction fee.
On the purchase transaction, we do have a very small fee which covers our basic cost. It varies between 30 cents and 50 cents depending again on the currency. That’s what Intercash charges the cardholder in order to facilitate for a purchase transaction. Purchase being online transaction, offline transaction, going to a store or restaurants, or purchasing goods online. This is it.
I should mention there’s also a maintenance cost to the card, a monthly maintenance cost. People are sensitive to that cost as well traditionally in that space. It is as low as possible. It’s around $2 or 2 euros or 2 pounds. That comes to about $20 to $25 or euros a year, which traditionally competes and is reasonable with most of the card programs in the world whether they’re credit or pre-paid. We’re very low, on the lowest side possible. I wouldn’t make a statement that we’re the lowest, but we are very reasonable with our prices. Jeff: Great. Patrick: Sorry, I’ll just add one more feature. Jeff: Sure. Please. Patrick: That’s a feature that a lot of cardholders like to use. That’s our card-to-card transfer. We do allow cardholders to move funds between themselves and also to send cards by e-mail to an account, from account to account. That’s a feature also with very low fees considering what’s out there in the market for money transfer segment if you want to compare that to that type of feature. Again, it’s on a flat fee and a very low fee transactional for a card-to-card transfer. Jeff: Just to clarify, a question that came up over the last answer. If I’m working with two different merchants who provide payments through Intercash, can I receive all of that on one Intercash card, or will I have to have two separate cards for each merchant? Patrick: That’s the beauty of our platform. It’s one of the features we call that pays more ways. The pays more ways allows affiliates to use their card in any affiliate network that they work with as long as it’s in the same currency. Our cards are currency dependent of course. If they have a euro account with a few merchants, they can aggregate their payments to that one card. They don’t have to have a separate card with each merchant.
By the way, I just want to use that opportunity to explain that there are two separate programs between the players card and our affiliate cards. Yes, an affiliate can receive payments from any affiliate network participating in the Intercash program. However, it’s not compatible with the separate program that we have for the players. On the other hand, players could do the same thing in the gaming environment. They can go and cash out from any gaming site with that one Intercash card that participates in our Intercash program. Jeff: Excellent. That’s great to hear. Patrick: Sorry. That’s sort of the bridge that I mentioned before. Sorry I’m cutting you off. Jeff: That’s okay. No, that’s okay. I could tell you wanted to continue. Patrick: You told me to be as comfortable as I can with you. Jeff: That’s good. Keep going. Patrick: That’s sort of the bridge that I was talking about before between taking the good of a new wallet, the PayPal or Neteller, the good side of that product where the users can use that number of account in multiple merchant sites, etc. Our card behaves the same. That card number could be used and receive funds from multiple merchants. However, there’s no middle money sitting somewhere. It’s straight on the card, and it’s accessible immediately and instantly to the cardholder. Jeff: I want to back up to one of the questions earlier on the list. You’ve mentioned some markets. Can you specifically go through the markets that you’re serving right now and targeting? Obviously, as an affiliate, if I take my card anywhere in the world with a MasterCard logo, I can use it, correct? Patrick: From a user’s perspective, we obviously can’t control the spending of a cardholder. Obviously, it’s a full-fledged MasterCard with a chip and PIN. A user can use it wherever he is pleased to. The fact that we are the issuer of that card gives an additional margin of flexibility, because the issuer knows that it’s a pre-paid card and there’s no credit attached to the card. We’re offering more flexibility to the card where maybe some issuers of a credit card would restrict the usage in some locations because whatever restriction they have. Our card is a little bit more flexible from that perspective, but we don’t control the usage.
To answer the other part of the question that you had, an affiliate can receive payments in the affiliate world. The markets that we are after are mostly in, I would say 99%, the online communities. Any webmaster, affiliate payments, commissioned payments, marketing type of usage, we have a lot of commissioned payments in a type of multilevel marketing environment. We are integrated, like I said, to mainstream software providers like DirectTrack and Digital River. We are integrated to companies like Invoice System, which provide payments to many areas, if it’s airlines or a different type of application. I don’t have access to all the information right now for you, but any type of payment and mostly for online usage. Jeff: What’s in the future for the Intercash card? Where do you see things going in the next few months or years? Patrick: We like to keep it very narrow. We like to keep our specializing in one area. We don’t look into growing into different crazy type of environments. My vision and my wish is to improve the Intercash card system and the Intercash platform to offer more and more advantages to the end user and the cardholder. We’re looking into tapping different loyalty programs for the cardholder to enjoy, different benefits. We’re looking to improve the usage and improving reach in different areas of the world. There are a lot of new demographics adding up to the online communities today which are challenging payments. We’re looking to specialize and give as much help as we can in those growing areas. In essence, it’s really just working hard on our platform and our product and our offering today and just making it as best as possible. Jeff: Excellent. Part of the reason that you’re here is that you came to us. You wanted to provide a promotion for CAP affiliates. Could you talk a little bit about the promotion and how the promotion and offer are going to work? Patrick: As I said before, it’s very simple. We’re very excited about this because it took us a long time to establish this relationship with CAP. It’s many, many years of being friends first with the decision makers at CAP and growing the relationship professionally to arrive to this level of trust. We do have the trust today. Based on that, we’re able to come up with a very aggressive and tempting offer to all the members of CAP. We’re offering a big cash prize of 750 euro through the link that is going to be offered on the different channels of CAP. An affiliate just needs to come in there, enter his data into the registration form, which is a very secure form on our secure site. Nothing to fear from that perspective. We are a financial product, and we think of security before everything. Entering his name and address on that form, he’s entering automatically for a chance to win the 750 euros prize and also automatically receiving an Intercash card. That’s all in one small transaction of filling out a short registration form. We hope that’s going to be a good offer for the members. We hope that it’s a good enhancement to the membership of CAP. We’re hoping for any other further promotion from here on out. Jeff: Excellent. All of that information will be on the CAP website. I’m sure people will go to it right after seeing this interview. Patrick, thank you for your time today. I wanted to ask you if you had anything else to add. Patrick: Let’s just do it, like Nike says. I hope they don’t sue me for it. Jeff: Great. Patrick: Let’s do it. I really hope that this promotion is successful because the two teams at CAP and Intercash worked very hard to make it the best possible offer to the members, thinking of all the aspects of it. The Intercash card is a fantastic product. We worked very hard to put it together for this industry. Let’s make sure that it works. Jeff: Great. Thanks. Getting payments is a continual challenge for affiliates. Again, we appreciate your time today.