Author: Drew Edwards

Navigating the Rise of Mini-Ecosystems

The Future of Money Mobility: Navigating the Rise of Mini-Ecosystems

January 31, 2024 By Drew Edwards

Traditional financial services landscapes have long been dominated by established players relying on external financial ecosystems and marketplaces. However, the tide is turning, and a new vision is unfolding. Picture a future where businesses can leverage incentives and cutting-edge technologies to create their own individualized financial ecosystems, interconnected across various use cases and verticals.  In light of this, businesses are beginning to ask themselves a crucial question: “How do we turn all these individual money flows into a business model for us?” And the answer seems to lie in this vision of self-contained “mini ecosystems”.   Defining Mini-Ecosystems:  A “mini-ecosystem” refers to a singular financial system established by an individual company, where they create internal, interconnected financial environments with specific boundaries to optimize money flows.   The creation of such ecosystems involves leveraging advanced technologies, including cloud infrastructure and faster payment rails, to generate “off-network opportunities” that retain money within these environments. The benefit? Attractive revenue opportunities and increased customer loyalty through cost savings and seamless financial interactions.   Many companies are already sitting on a ton of customers using their product and navigating their platform. Which means there’s already the beginnings of an ecosystem there that they can build on.   A First-hand Look into the Financial Future  Consider a real-life example on a college campus. The halls of higher education have become hubs of seamless money movement. At my daughter’s university, everything from book shopping to managing meal plans is seamlessly interconnected within a contained, university-led financial environment.   This mini-ecosystem approach keeps all the money we put into the system right where we left it and offers attractive revenue and brand loyalty opportunities for individual businesses. But it also represents a paradigm shift in how we perceive and engage with financial systems.  Of course, this doesn’t signal an outright displacement of payment giants like Visa and Mastercard. Instead, the birth of these mini-ecosystems complement and augment existing financial infrastructure. They are not about replacing the traditional rails but rather about enhancing and expanding the partnership possibilities for businesses to empower them to grow internally and passing tangible benefits onto the consumer.  Ingo Payments: A Mini-Ecosystem Facilitator  But how can a big business, at universities and beyond, seamlessly make mini-ecosystems a reality? More easily with technologies and expertise by third party digital disbursement facilitators such as Ingo Payments. Ingo Payments already serves clients with millions of consumers interacting within contained environments. And with new technological advancements, including the cloud, embedded banking, and faster payment rails, our abilities to streamline these ecosystems will only grow.   As this shift unfolds, Ingo Payments is experiencing increased opportunities with treasurers, payments leaders, and business executives exploring new ways to transform diverse money flows into bespoke business models.   As we move forward, the integration of third parties will become more and more instrumental in connecting these mini-ecosystems. The era of super apps and interconnected financial activities is here, and businesses need to bring in external expertise to keep customers engaged and enhance user experiences. There’s a strong desire among U.S. consumers for mobile apps that combine various activities, emphasizing the demand for integrated and seamless financial solutions.  The Bottom Line: The Instant Payments Revolution is Already Here   The advent of the FedNow® Service further highlights the increasing relevance of instant payments across diverse use cases. Gaming, trucking, and other verticals present immense potential for mini-ecosystems to revolutionize the way money moves, offering instant disbursement options that align with consumer preferences and often create new business models for these ecosystems. Joint research conducted by PYMNTS Intelligence and Ingo Payments, focusing on gaming, reveals that instant disbursement is a preferred choice for 79% of gamers when offered the option.   The long-term potential of these mini-ecosystems has me fully convinced. I’m a 100% believer in the power of these ecosystems and their ability to help the ongoing revolution in how money moves. And I’m looking forward to a future where seamless financial experiences are not just a possibility, but a reality we are actively shaping. 

Introducing Ingo Payments

January 12, 2024 By Drew Edwards

For over 22 years, Ingo Money Inc. has made money accessible, instant, digital, and secure for businesses and their customers.  We are proud of our long history and the experiences our teams have brought to the marketplace through true partnerships that have stood the test of time. There are new entrants to this space all the time, but it’s impossible to get 22 years of experience in a day less than 22 years. We have successfully served our clients through multiple economic cycles with a turnover rate of near zero.   As the concept of Money Mobility has evolved in the marketplace, our product lines have expanded, creating the need for the introduction of a new brand—one more targeted at banks and corporations seeking to capitalize on the tremendous opportunities brought about by modern digital money movement.  Today, I am delighted to introduce Ingo Payments. Our new brand builds upon the strong foundation of our Ingo Money brand and aims to better differentiate our offerings to businesses seeking diverse payment services.  Why Ingo Payments? We take immense pride in our rich history of providing check risk management, enterprise, and mobile check cashing services to our clients. Over the years, under the Ingo Money brand, we have successfully delivered these solutions to a wide range of banks and fintechs, solidifying our standing within the industry. This part of our business continues to enjoy double-digit growth rates as more consumers migrate their transactions to mobile first.  With the introduction of the new Ingo Payments brand, our goal is to further strengthen our ability to address the needs of a rapidly evolving digital market. Operating these two unique brands in harmony will enable us to communicate and distinguish our specialized services more effectively.   Two Brand Identities The Ingo Payments brand will house our embedded payment solutions—including digital disbursements, instant account funding, payment acceptance and upcoming banking-as-a-service offerings. You can explore these offerings here, on our new Ingo Payments website.  The Ingo Money brand will continue to reflect our check solutions, including our check risk management APIs, mobile check cashing SDK and the Ingo Money App.  Our Pledge to You  Whether you are a prospective or current partner or client of Ingo Money, Ingo Payments, or both, our team remains committed to providing you with the most innovative payment solutions coupled with our unparalleled service and support. Here’s to a future filled with new payments possibilities! 

Comparing RTP, FedNow and Push-to-Card

August 30, 2023 By Drew Edwards

Instant payments have become the de facto expectation for consumers and businesses alike. Brands that cannot deliver on the promise of real-time, safe-to-spend funds will quickly find themselves losing ground to the competition.  Companies in the United States seeking this new standard have a growing number of payment options to choose from, including Same-Day ACH, push-to-card, the RTP® Network, and – now – FedNow. It can be confusing to know which is best suited to your needs and what advantages one holds over the others.  At Ingo Payments, we believe in the power of instant payments and recipient choice. We support a wide array of options, many of which enable real-time delivery of funds to accounts or cards.  To help make sense of which real-time payment options might be best suited for your business, we’re breaking down the key differences between the RTP Network, FedNow and push-to-card.  The RTP Network Launched in 2017, the RTP Network is the latest payment network from The Clearing House (one of the key owners/operators of the ACH system). It delivers payments of up to $1,000,000 that settle in just seconds to bank accounts at participating institutions, 24x7x365. Consumers or businesses use the ABA/Routing number typically found at the bottom of a check or in their online banking experience as the alias for receiving money.   Most of the big banks and the larger regional banks participate in the RTP network, but it is not yet ubiquitous.  FedNow Launched in July 2023, FedNow is the Federal Reserve’s new instant payment service. Like with the RTP Network, it promises ‘always-on’ instant settlement and uses the same ABA/Routing number for an alias. Transaction amounts are capped at $500,000 per transaction but it still has limited reach with only 274 (mainly small) banks connected so far. It holds promise to extend instant payments to more financial institutions – including smaller, community banks – but a survey by Cornerstone Advisors found that less than half of banks and credit unions plan to offer real time payments by the end of this year.  Push-to-Card Push-to-card payments use the existing card networks’ payment rails, just in reverse. Funds can be sent directly to a bank account via an eligible cardholder’s debit card or prepaid card in near real-time. Push-to-card already has coverage for 98% or more of the accounts and cards in market today. Equally important, most consumers – especially younger ones – are comfortable using their card number as a payment alias. These are reliable payments that can reach any account on that card company’s network, making its reach to cardholders nearly universal. Like the RTP Network, the system is available 24x7x365, but with transaction amounts of up to $125,000.  Choosing an Instant Payment Option The Ingo platform enables seamless orchestration of payments across all relevant instant rails, including both the RTP Network and push-to-card, to provide our clients with flexibility when choosing payment options. Ingo also supports additional payment options such as PayPal, Venmo, ACH, and paper checks. In practice, much of this comes down to familiarity on behalf of the recipient. Consumers often don’t know the difference between the RTP Network, FedNow or push-to-card – they only know that they want their money in their account as fast as possible. Their preference is likely determined by whether it’s easier to enter a card number or a bank account number. For companies, that means it’s important to provide coverage across multiple options to ensure you’re meeting customer demand and expectations. In the case of Ingo Payments, we solicit destination account information from recipients then process the transaction using the fastest available rail, according to their preference. If that’s a bank account, then it depends whether the receiving bank is on an instant payment network. If it’s a debit card number, then it settles instantly. This is why neither the RTP Network nor FedNow serve as good standalone options for digital disbursements compared to push-to-card or traditional ACH today. Together, they only cover about 65% of available accounts, meaning that even combined they don’t provide the ubiquity needed for full adoption. They are better viewed as “plumbing” that can serve as accelerants to ACH because a payment can be diverted to an instant rail versus the ACH batch rail if it’s using the same alias. The Future of Instant Payment Rails Ultimately, we see both the RTP Network and FedNow as potential ACH killers because they can deliver instant funds without the recipient ever having to know about them or make an explicit choice of payment rail. There is also the potential for FedNow to complete the coverage begun by the RTP Network through its appeal and reach to smaller banks. If that happens, then all bank account transfers using the ABA/Routing number alias could convert to instant payments. Over time, the RTP Network and FedNow may also prove advantageous for business customers versus push-to-card. Oftentimes, large businesses do not have a debit card option and must rely on ABA/Routing number aliases. In that case, these two rails are an obvious preference over push-to-card. Further, any use case that requires invoice data or other information to travel with the payment is better suited to the RTP Network and FedNow because push-to-card does not have that capability. No matter your preference or which rail is best suited to your use case, the challenge is in integrating to them. There is no interoperability between the RTP Network and FedNow or between push-to-card and ABA/Routing number aliases. The burden is on the company to do multiple integrations and to build some form of routing and support capabilities. This is further complicated by the reality that the technology, risk management, regulations and support requirements are different for each payment rail. And on top of that, each involve coordination with card networks, wallets, international wallets and more. The task can be daunting. This is the heart of the Ingo Payments value proposition. We make the process seamless for clients by offering payment orchestration across all the relevant rails through a single API, to ultimately deliver on customers’ expectations for a modern payments experience. 

Ingo: Partners for the Long Game

May 10, 2023 By Drew Edwards

If last year was witness to a Crypto Winter, then it certainly seems as if the leaves are beginning to turn on the tech industry more broadly. Fast falling levels of funding and layoffs have become routine, with the fintech sector taking it on the chin. In the long view, this will likely be seen as a necessary winnowing that removed much of the froth and instability from the market with the stronger companies and teams left standing on firmer ground. But in the short term, the pain is acute and a number of companies are scrambling to secure runway and stave off winter for just a little longer. As a gray hair personally with over 40 years in the banking and fintech business, I’ve navigated more than a few of these cycles.   Ingo Money, operating now for 22 years, has also thrived through several down cycles as well.  We are fortunate this time around in that we are no longer in need of outside funding, we have a diversified client base including large Fortune 500 clients and rapidly scaling FinTech’s, and we have historically experienced near zero client churn. But that enviable perch was attained through some hard-won lessons that those who outlast this downturn will also learn. Performance Over Growth Popular mantras in tech are “move fast and break things” and “growth at any cost”. While those sound sexy and can seem like enviable philosophies, the truth is that they can be unsustainable without fundamentals. They work well when capital is cheap and readily available but fall apart as funding slows. We are already seeing this emphasis shift with proclamations like “The Year of Efficiency” at Meta. While there will always be exceptions to the rule and outliers, most businesses that survive beyond five or ten years do so by exhibiting fiscal discipline and responsible spending. Companies that are built to last emphasize client performance and financial discipline to earn financial independence. Customer Diversification Over the last two decades, Ingo Money has prioritized expansion into a wide range of industries across many different types of companies. Today, we are trusted by a range of clients from FinTech’s to Fortune 500 to large banks and virtually all payment networks. That client mix affords stability. While big enterprises can seem slow and frustrating during periods of growth, they are not as subject to market turbulence. Like investors that flock to safety during market downturns, so too should savvy Chief Revenue Officers at tech companies begin charting a path to customer diversification right now. Extreme Customer Service Happy customers are loyal ones. In the tech industry, it’s easy to prioritize pricing strategies and APIs to earn new business. But the hard work of keeping those customers is what prevents churn and locks in lifetime value. We’ve learned that deep partnerships with customers, 24/7 availability and a willingness to go the extra mile can help separate you from the crowd. For Ingo, it’s a big part of our secret sauce and a proven way to both win and keep clients over the long term. Invest in the Downturn Ingo is hiring and we generally pick up some of our best talent either through acquisitions or during these economic downturns when great talent is displaced and available.  Now is the time to continue or increase investments in product and talent.  We are also doubling down on our client relationships and proving ourselves as a “partner” when times are tough helping with creative strategies to cut costs and increase productivity for our clients.   At the end of the day, we’re entrepreneurs at heart and hold compassion for our fellow entrepreneurs and innovators. We sincerely hope that everyone finds a way to innovate and succeed in pursuit of their visions for a brighter tomorrow. Ingo Money is here to help for the long game.

A Partner in Payments That Companies Love

February 14, 2023 By Drew Edwards

In a recent media interview, an executive at Caesar’s Sportsbook said they selected Ingo Money because they needed an expert provider who would partner with them and get into the trenches. Here at Ingo, we take being called a trusted partner willing to do the hard work of payments the highest of compliments. It started me thinking about Ingo Money’s place in the growing payments ecosystem and where we’re headed this year.  With payments – instant payments in particular – having become a business requirement for nearly every company, the market has exploded and the supporting landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years.  For companies with disbursement or payment functions already, that means a rush to digitize and turn on money mobility features like instant money-in and money-out with recipient choice. For non-financial companies, it means embedding instant payments into their existing offerings.  Here at Ingo, we’ve been building towards this moment. We’ve been called the OG of payouts because we’ve been here since the beginning and there’s nothing that we haven’t seen. When you cut your teeth on remote check deposit (the Wild West of financial fraud), pioneered digital push payments with Visa and defined money mobility, then you’ve earned your stripes.  It’s one of the reasons why we’ve built such a blue-chip client roster, stuffed with the market leaders in insurance, banking, lending, earned wage access, business operating systems and now gaming. Ingo possesses a powerful combination of an industry leading disbursements gateway, innovative recipient engagement technology, risk and fraud-fighting tools and an unrivaled partner support team.  We take even greater pride in how many of our clients stay with us over the years. Clients repeatedly tell us how much they love the experience of working with Ingo. They appreciate that our references are unanimous in confirming that Ingo is there through thick and thin as a front-line partner, and then how much expertise we bring to the table when we engage – something that’s truly unique in this business. Because of this deep commitment and ongoing support, they stay with us for years…a rarity in this business.  It is this white glove experience that truly sets us apart. And it doesn’t end once the solution is up and running though. Payment problems are a fact of life for every company. From incorrect customer information to network downtime to issuer fraud filters, there will always be instances when a transaction fails. What your payment vendor does at that moment is what defines the quality of their support and partnership.  Here at Ingo Money, we already have the industry’s highest payout success rates among the major networks. Our proprietary routing logic – built through a decade of operational excellence – led one network partner to observe how transactions appear scrubbed when they come through Ingo.But in the rare event that it still doesn’t process, clients can contact us 24/7 via phone, text, email or Slack to problem-solve their issue. We never force a client to a chat bot. While this may seem obvious, it’s anything but common in this space.  Most of our competitors are either treasury banks that aren’t tech forward, or tech providers that are all about the API.  Their mantra is often “API it and forget it”.  At Ingo we believe our APIs are exceptional but it’s our delivery and support that sets us apart.  That value is only magnified by partnerships like ours with KeyBank, which combines the power of Ingo with one of the country’s leading treasury banks to provide enterprise clients with the best of both worlds. It’s just one more reason why our clients stick around for years and years. We make it easy for them to find peace of mind. And when you’re responsible for your customers’ money, I’m not sure there’s any higher compliment you can be paid.  Looking ahead, we are focused on continuing to build out our Money Mobility platform with non-financial companies in mind. They are often market leaders in areas like gaming, gig work, insurance and business management software, and are increasingly in need of an embedded instant payments solution – and a partner they can trust. They need a proven solution that just works and a support team that allows them to remain focused on their core areas of operation.  In just a few weeks we will also be expanding our money mobility offering to include traditional payment acceptance—inbound card and digital wallet payments acquiring, bank account transfers and check lockbox services—for use cases such as insurance premium payments, loan payments, funding a sports betting account or wallet, and more. As a full-service registered payment service provider (PayFac), Ingo combines flexible technology, expert risk management solutions, best-in-class reach and performance, and competitive pricing, backed by the service and support market leaders and innovators need to scale and win. And of course, we’ll continue adding new features to our platform, expanding our network of endpoints and most importantly – we will grow our customer success and operational support teams to continue delivering the white glove experience our clients deserve. If you are looking to add payments functionality or are operating at scale and need to digitize your payments operations, then reach out. Learn why Ingo Money is the safe bet. 

Ingo Money Tops $1B a Month in Disbursements Volume

June 23, 2022 By Drew Edwards

We are incredibly excited to share the news of this milestone. Reaching one billion dollars in monthly corporate disbursements volume on the Ingo Money platform is a tremendous validation of our team’s hard work and expertise as well as the technology underpinning our solution. A sincere thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey. Hitting this incredible milestone also led me to reflect on how much we’ve evolved as a company and industry over the years. In the same year that Ingo launched more than two decades ago, the iPod and Xbox gaming console were also just being introduced to the world and a company named Confinity was officially changing its name to PayPal. A lot has changed in both technology and payments since then. When we launched our push payments platform, we often had to educate potential customers on what a push payment even was. At that time, few companies were using existing payment rails in reverse for real-time, ready to spend disbursements. Ingo was the first U.S. Fintech to enable instant debit card funding with Visa even before they branded it Visa Direct. Our vision to transform traditional corporate disbursements as digital push payments was powerful, and it was early. Flash forward to 2022. Perhaps even more remarkable than reaching one billion dollars per month in corporate disbursements is the nature of these dollars. Early on, the lion’s share of card network “push to card” volume was coming from P2P and early wage access use cases such as Square, PayPal, Uber, and Lyft. These involved fully digital relationships, making new payment flows easy to integrate and often generating revenue for the payor. But now, Ingo has cracked the code on the more difficult, traditional corporate disbursement use cases that have been dominated by checks and cash for hundreds of years: insurance, lending, tipping, wagering, and more. Many of these required significant process change and new technology to shift from “the check’s in the mail!” to “how do you want your money?” with instant digital options enabled. Ingo was the first to figure this out and it’s now paying off and even accelerating. We are fortunate to have as part of our client roster premier brands and household names in banking, consumer and small business lending, insurance, challenger banks, digital wallet and super app providers, payroll and tipping providers, digital sportsbook/gaming apps and more. We’ve evolved from leading edge, small dollar digital payments to the meaty end of the stick – true corporate disbursements at scale. But I’m even more excited about what’s next. We stand on the precipice of an enormous explosion in payments innovation and demand with the dawn of money mobility. Driven by consumer expectations for instant everything in other aspects of their lives and accelerated by the pandemic and the rise of new card and account issuers, the demand for money mobility has taken hold. This is the ability for consumers and businesses to move money instantly and safely, without friction, into and out of literally any account they own. Multiple studies have documented the importance of this capability and its importance to a brand. Consumers have been up-front in saying they will vote with their wallet and switch providers if their desire for money mobility features are not met. As money mobility becomes table stakes, the demand for Ingo Money’s unique payments platform will grow exponentially. Every company issuing an account or offering a digital wallet needs to provide seamless, instant, and secure money-in and money-out capabilities. And with connections to more than four and a half billion consumer accounts and over twenty years of risk management experience across our network, Ingo Money is attracting a rapidly growing pipeline of major players in the new economy. So, congratulations and thank you to our team, partners, and customers. But buckle in because this is just the beginning. Here’s to a billion dollars a day!