A B2C incentive company that moves about 10 million Visa prepaid cards annually has developed a B2B procurement platform for such cards. Parago says Prop (Parago Reward Ordering Portal) enables large corporations to place orders, ship cards, manage budgets, and design employee and sales incentive programs involving Visa prepaid cards.
The platform “intends to make the prepaid incentive procurement process simple,” says Juli Spottiswood, Parago’s president and CEO. “We manage retailers’ B2C programs, and clients kept mentioning a need for it,” she says. The task of ordering ad-hoc cards “was a very manual and clunky process, with no audit trail and approval process for them.”
Prop allows users to load any number of Visa cards, bulk ship them directly to recipients, create card-program reports, audit programs, and establish program budgets. Moreover, they can choose from a range of stock card designs or create custom ones, customize messages, and load and reload custom denominations.
“[A program manager] can load a card for $23.99,” says Spottiswood. “We have a fulfillment partner that does all the embossing, encoding, and shipping,” she notes, adding, “The cards come with carriers and envelopes, and we have the ability to send cards in gift packaging. Users can upload an Excel file and have cards bulk shipped to themselves or directly to recipients.”
Spottiswood says Parago, based in Lewisville, TX, is marketing Prop not just to those retailers but also to any organization or corporation with a large employee base and sales channel. Administrative rights to the platform can be set up hierarchically, with different users having different capabilities and restrictions. But the portal is designed to be usable by all departments in an organization, including human resources, finance, and sales and marketing, thus serving as a central place to procure Visa cards.
“We developed this portal that when it’s set up with approval rights, anybody with rights to go in can order cards,” says Spottiswood. “We are targeting heads of finance, purchasing departments … there are different entry points at each company, but it will be across a company,” she notes of access to the platform.
Parago, which Spottiswood says entered the B2B channel two years ago, is timing Prop’s release now, as the 2011 holiday season is approaching, and businesses will be expected to purchase gifts for their employees and customers.
“Companies like to use prepaid cards,” Spottiswood notes, “because of the economy. It’s kind of a cash equivalent but not quite, and it feels like something special, when sent with messaging and card carriers.” She adds, “They can be spent everywhere, making them more appealing than closed-loop cards.”
But Spottiswood is not ruling them out, along with other types of incentive awards. She says Parago intends to expand Prop to be a platform for merchandise and gift cards, as well, within the next 12 months. “We want to make sure the platform will potentially be a merchandise and gift card platform,” she says. “We intend to pull in merchant gift cards.”