A company that operates quietly in the background of popular financial apps and platforms is taking steps to become more visible.
While large consumer-facing fintech companies like Square, Klarna, Affirm and others tout speed and efficiency of their user experiences, card issuing and processing startup Marqeta‘s technology supports their payment capabilities, with its APIs allowing them to create customized card solutions for clients.
In a sphere where the enablers behind popular apps and platforms often keep a low profile, Oakland-based Marqeta appointed Vidya Peters as its first-ever chief marketing officer in September. It’s also quickly expanding its toolkit for client companies, including a partnership with Visa rolled out in October which allows customers fast-track certification across 10 Asia-Pacific markets, along with a reserve financing product aimed at e-commerce companies.
Peters told Bank Innovation that the timing is right for Marqeta to make its brand more prominent, owing to the critical stage it’s reached in its growth trajectory (it’s issued 113 million cards to date), its international expansion plans and the necessity to reinforce to would-be clients the value of its customized payments capabilities.
“This is an age-old space entrenched with legacy players, so you’ve had very fixed, inflexible payment products that companies have had to rely on,” said Peters. “Marketing plays a critical role in being that bridge between product management, product development and market [outreach] — [it’s] painting the art of the possible for what innovation you can drive on the platform.” To enhance its pitch to clients, Marqeta will be highlighting how customers’ use of the platform is driving innovation on the product side.
The target for Marqeta’s marketing efforts first and foremost will be startup companies looking to deploy innovative payment solutions, noted Peters. “The customers that Marqeta most resonates with are those that are trying to go to market in a very unique way,” she said. “It may be a company that’s trying to do just-in-time funding that can instantly issue a loan to a consumer.”
Marqeta’s pitch to customers is the simplicity and user-friendliness of its platform, allowing customers to quickly develop card solutions across a range of markets. Its recent partnership with Visa allows customers, typically brands that are creating digital wallets, to integrate with Marqeta once prior to gaining access to multiple markets, according to Omri Dahan, Marqeta’s chief revenue officer.
“We take the combination of our technology and our global platform and with fast track certification from Visa we basically say to all of these digital wallets, ‘Integrate with us once and now you’ve got the most advanced platform for issuing cards,’” said Dahan. “With fast track [Visa] certification, you’ve got an interoperable card product within the key Asian markets you care about, and if and when you want to come to U.S., you’re already integrated.”
Beyond startups, big tech companies are the next target for Marqeta’s outreach. Tools that it is using to enhance its visibility with this audience include digital marketing efforts, commentary from executives on industry issues and a billboard on Highway 101, a nod to the West Coast geography where many of its U.S. customers are based.
In card issuing space, however, Marqeta faces new competition. This week, payments company Adyen rolled out a card issuing offering, which will enable clients to offer virtual and physical cards to customers. Adyen is a back-end service provider for eBay’s managed payments program, and it counts many retailers as clients.
In promoting its brand presence through client stories, Peters acknowledged that some clients may be reluctant to talk openly about Marqeta as the “secret sauce” behind their success in the realm of payments. “It feels like a very intrinsic part of their competitive edge,” she said. “Even though you’ll see the logos on our site, it’s pretty unusual for you to hear these companies speak overtly about how they’ve been using Marqeta to upend old business models.”
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