When Steven Foster co-founded Axiom Prepaid Holdings, the company’s aim was to “create solutions that would better the financial spectrum and help cardholders gain economic freedoms”. Foster and his partner Steven P. Urry have, in many ways, achieved those goals. The duo has worked exhaustively to make Axiom Prepaid Holdings the go-to company for prepaid cards and prepaid white label services.
Axiom strives to make banking simple and easy, cutting out the unnecessary issues that so many people feel when working with a bank today. The company’s innovative co-founders use advanced digital tools to provide customers with the latest and greatest solutions in the Fintech world. These make the customer experience even better. Axiom Prepaid Holdings is set for a big 2020 with new products being rolled out to customers around the globe.
Foster’s foresight has helped lead Axiom Prepaid Holdings to the top of the prepaid/financial solutions world but there is still room to grow further.
Steven, you co-founded Axiom Prepaid Holdings along with Steven P. Urry and bring together over 55 years of banking experience. What led to the formation of Axiom?
We’d been first hand witnesses from inside the banking industry to the significant shift in the availability of financial products. But it was notable to Steve and me that it was not carrying over to the prepaid space. No matter what country we visited, there was a gap in access to products engineered for the unbanked and global traveler. We decided to go all-in on launching a business that would turn the prepaid model upside down and give consumers and enterprises easy-to-use, digitally driven products and services. And Axiom was born.
What was the catalyst to jump into the world of being an entrepreneur rather than just an employee in the banking industry?
I approach everything in my life with a “what if” attitude. I’ve amassed 20 years of broad expertise in the card issuing and payments arena and recognized many areas that needed to be overhauled and innovated. It was this mentality, and the experience of my business partner, Steve Urry, who has been an entrepreneur for 40 years that drove us to decide to start Axiom and provide products that are for everyone.
Can you tell us about Axiom Prepaid Holdings and how it makes life easier for companies and individuals?
Quite simply, when it comes to corporate clients, we have the banking and technology expertise to draw from that most Fintech firms lack. We know how to simplify the customer experience when it comes to the complex prepaid card-issuing niche.
Our core Visa® and Mastercard® solutions in the Americas, Europe, and AsiaPacific were built with a focus on ease-of-use. And with the introduction of our White Label Program we upped the ante. It provides Fintech firms with a 100% turnkey solution to allow them to focus on their core business. We kept in mind the varying needs of clients by creating both a direct API connection model for those with White Label experience and a full White Label for desktop and mobile for clients that have not run a program before and want a full-service, zero-touch option.
For individual consumers, we give them visually captivating and intuitive mobile and desktop platforms packed with the features that banks and neo-banks offer. They get free virtual cards, along with rewards, and peer-to-peer transfers. They can also get physical cards if they prefer.
Our free virtual cards for all clients helps them make secure single- or multiple-use purchases online. Our Ghost/Virtual cards ensure that our cardholders never have to worry about fraud and theft.
Axiom is gearing up for a huge 2020. The company will roll out new products that will change the way prepaid cards are used around Europe and the AsiaPacific region. It is an exciting time for Axiom and its founders as the momentum of this year will carry over into next.
Steven, can you tell us about the possible expansion of Axiom and just what it will lead to in the future?
2019 has been a year of big growth, and we’re excited to take things to the next level in 2020. We’re opening up two new large-scale programs in new regions and releasing our first multi-currency product. FinFX launches in January with nine currencies, and 22 more will be added throughout next year. That is a huge step forward as it gives all Europeans access to a global travel card that provides ready access to their own money wherever they go without all of the complications of many cards.
We opened offices in Romania last month that house operations and customer services teams focused solely on the FixFX product and supporting its users.
Our most ambitious program to date though, is our expansion to the Asia-Pacific region, where we are offering a new core card solution in addition to program management services for other corporations. Over the past year, we’ve really done our homework, established relationships with strategic partners, and built a market-centric program that will bring Axiom’s products into this critical new market.
Germany, France, Portugal, and Greece are four countries that Axiom expanded into last summer. How important was it to get a foothold in these European nations? Why target those four countries specifically?
As I mentioned, we set out to break the mold in the prepaid card arena and with White label programs. To us, that meant globally. And we have always planned for strategic, well-timed, meaningful growth into each area.
We began doing business in Italy and Spain last year after first getting to know these markets and where the voids were, so we could introduce the right products. The need proved to be even more substantial than we realized, so our entrance to Europe was a great success.
We also knew through our research and planning that there was a similar lack of prepaid access in Germany, France, Portugal, and Greece. We talked to the locals in each area, and our eyes were really opened to the glaring gap in services for the unbanked and millennials. Yet, even worse, many of these consumers were being taken advantage of. That led to the introduction of our EuroPYm solution in these regions. Our pre-registration numbers were beyond all expectations and projections, further confirming that people in these countries needed a custom-tailored card solution.
Axiom’s White Label Programs are doing big things for companies and branding. These prepaid cards could be major factors in building brand awareness and loyalty in the future.
Axiom’s WL Programs are powered by the company’s advanced API. These give clients a branding edge. What are the WL Programs and how can a company benefit?
Axiom’s new White Label Prepaid Card Programs allow clients to create their own branded prepaid card programs to pay commissions, reward loyalty, and distribute compensation to their individual customers, agents, and affiliates. The programs also offer a cost-effective alternative to traditional corporate payroll programs and investment advisory services. Equally important, though, the applications build invaluable brand awareness, loyalty, and engagement with customers and employees.
Our operations team handles administration and provides a secure infrastructure for processing, reporting tools, and integration of cardholder services to businesses’ existing applications and websites. Standard features of the programs include card-to-card payments, ATM access, direct deposit load, generated statements, 24/7 help, fraud protection, virtual card access, and SMS/email alerts.
Millenials and Gen Z are two generational groups that get a lot of press with companies aiming to sell products to them. However, a lot of the information about the two groups is contradictory from one industry to the next. That is why Axiom has worked hard to study the two generations and to deliver a prepaid card that suits them.
The company recently launched a new trendsetting prepaid card, EuroPYM, for Millennials and Gen Z individuals. Why target these markets and how does the EuroPYM prepaid card work?
We wanted to give the Millennials and Gen Z populations something they would not only love to use but would provide them the features they craved and, most importantly, the customer service to make them feel like they weren’t just a number. There is a massive void between companies that claim they are customer-centric and the ones where you’re only a number for the latest investment partner report.
We set out to create a solution that provides top-level service and a fully versatile financial option. EuroPYM is crazy easy to sign up for either through the app or desktop as we use proprietary facial recognition software for KYC, that approves accounts in seconds. Once a new cardholder has passed KYC, they gain immediate access to their virtual card while they wait for their physical card. Cardholders can load money from any other debit card, credit card, bank, and even get an IBAN and BIC for their virtual and physical cards. We wanted to be sure these audiences could use their virtual card for a single transaction or multiple transactions – so they can reissue directly inside the EuroPYM app.
Steven, we hear a lot about Millennials and Gen Z doing things differently than previous generations. Why are these generations looking for new financial ways to do things?
Millenials and Gen Z grew up in a world where if you dream it, you can do it. It’s that mentality that is driving change in the banking and financial world, and it’s time for the industry to listen up. Brick and mortar banks are disappearing, and Millennials and Gen Z crave solutions that are fun, uncomplicated, and make their lives easier. We are in lockstep with that thinking.
How is Axiom focusing on digital technology? How will this new technology change the way clients complete financial transactions?
At Axiom, we are a bunch of nerds who like building cool and useful things for the financial world. This drives us to continuously look for more ways to create and enhance our product lines. Our products can only be limited by our imaginations and time. Our team makes sure we push past those boundaries.
And though we have not formally announced it yet, we are significantly enhancing our technologies in 2020. Our customers are at the heart of every step we take. We continually gather feedback from our cardholders, and we listen to what they want. As a result, we are adding microloans in tandem with credit reporting to our core solutions in the first part of 2020. We are also releasing new apps and websites for all of our core products: Ripae Visa Prepaid, EuroPYM Mastercard Prepaid, FinFX Mastercard Global Prepaid.
When you co-launched Axiom, what was your aim and how close are you to reaching it today?
Our number one goal was to create solutions that would better the financial spectrum and help cardholders gain economic freedoms. Steve and I do not believe in limits and we will continue to expand as long as there is a need with innovation as our guide.
Steven, what is a day in your life like?
Last year, I flew 725K miles for business. You can’t be an effective company leader if you aren’t in touch with your customers and the employee team. So, I meet them where they are to be sure I can understand how their geography and culture may affect banking needs in each market.
A typical workday for me starts at about 4 a.m. and ends at 11 p.m. I work across a number of time zones, so need to plan accordingly for daily conference calls or onsite meetings with our individual teams in AsiaPac, Europe and the U.S. Every day also includes time with current and prospective clients and time for general business administration.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
I think some may be surprised to know that I was an extremely introverted child and had a lot of insecurities and anxieties. I was sort of a dreamer and thought I was an outsider because I often questioned the status quo and was fascinated with finance. I didn’t realize until I was in my 20s that those natural traits and interests were assets and would help set me on my entrepreneurial journey.
What makes you smile?
That’s an easy one! When I walk in the front door of my home after being on the road and see my wife and son curled up on the couch waiting for me. There’s nothing on the planet like this feeling. On the job, I most enjoy talking to cardholders and merchants and hearing personal stories of how Axiom has helped them.
And honestly, these special moments in time more than make me smile, they warm my heart.
What scares you?
I guess the same thing that scares me, drives me to succeed. And that’s failure. I try to give 150% every day, so I can go to sleep soundly knowing I did everything I promised and more for Axiom’s clients, my business partners and employees. I spend a lot of time away from my family, so I want to always be certain that the time I spend on-the-job truly counts.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a voracious reader, averaging about 10 books a month. My family and I never get tired of exploring all the outdoor utopia of Utah.
Which historical figure do you most admire?
I admire Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy for his literary genius. War and Peace is indescribable. If you haven’t read it, it is well worth your time! He set the precedent for many movements and philosophies of the 21st century. He was a social and moral reformist who planted many seeds that drive me.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” ― Maya Angelou
“He that can have patience can have what he will.” ― Benjamin Franklin
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world what would it be?
Wherever I go in the world, one thing I find to be constant: the majority of people are good and want to co-exist and be happy. The perfect world for me would be one where we can all get along and exchange ideas, commerce, love and friendship. That’s the kind of world I want my son to grow up in.
Axiom Prepaid Holdings has discovered what customers and clients want and delivered a dynamic product that provides ease and simplicity. The company’s expanded offering is only going to grow larger in 2020 when Axiom introduced new products to the world.
The products offered by Axiom make customers the real winners as new ways to pay for items and give them greater financial power. With offices based around the globe, Axiom is gearing up for further growth and it shows that there are no limits to Foster nor his company’s plans in the Fintech sector.
For more information on Steven Foster and Axiom Prepaid Holdings visit www.axiomprepaidholdings.com
Images credit: Deborah DeKoff