When the Akimbo Card first launched, it began as a prepaid card solution for consumers to help budget, manage allowances and take advantage of the typical uses of such a payment product. The name Akimbo, a late Middle English term, means to have your hands on your hips and elbows turned out.
Houston Frost, SVP of corporate development at Payment Data Systems (which acquired Akimbo last year), says it’s a name signaling readiness and competence. But as Akimbo unleashes its next venture, the Akimbo Now platform, it’s clear the company isn’t standing still; instead, it’s heading toward the enterprise.
Akimbo Now allows corporations to disburse payments via virtual card and email, and according to Frost, that’s just the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of where Payment Data Systems and Akimbo want to go. PYMNTS spoke with Frost about the potential for prepaid and virtual cards to change the game for corporate payments and how he thinks Akimbo can tap into that potential.
Akimbo Now allows any company to disburse funds instantly to a recipient; they provide an email and a dollar amount, and a virtual card is generated that then lands in the recipient’s email inbox.
Yes, the solution can be useful to reward consumers and encourage loyalty, but Frost told PYMNTS that it’s a platform that could mean faster paycheck funds for employees, for example. Businesses, which also have the option of sending a paper check or ACH payment, can also have recipients sign up for an Akimbo Card account, meaning companies can top up those prepaid cards.
“You could do payroll through this and in a faster way, because it’s instant on our platform,” Frost said.
He added that this type of payroll method could see a new market in the on-demand segment.
“We’ve been very excited about how this could work in the sharing economy,” he said. “With companies like Uber, Lyft and TaskRabbit, those are contractor payments, where it would be great if, when an Uber driver dropped off their fare, they immediately had money in their pocket from that fare.”
The executive explained that the Akimbo Now platform, as compared to the Akimbo Card, is about creating an ecosystem of prepaid and virtual card users and solutions and about providing businesses with choice when it comes to how they want to disburse payments.
“What we’re really seeing is the need for the ability to disburse money instantly, more or less, in a much easier way than a lot of the alternatives out there,” Frost stated. He explained that the platform also supports payments via ACH and paper check should corporations wish to use these methods. “Those are the two more traditional ways of sending money,” he said. “The reason we added those in is so if a business needed to disburse money and they want options. For some people, they want to send an email; for others, maybe they have their bank account information.”
But Frost admitted that Akimbo and Payment Data Systems are truly most excited about the opportunities for the virtual card and prepaid card services. And while businesses can already use it as a payroll solution, Frost said that Akimbo has a lot more on its radar in terms of corporate payments.
[bctt tweet=””This is the very beginning of creating business solutions around the Akimbo platform.””]
“This is the very beginning of creating business solutions around the Akimbo platform,” he said. “We absolutely are working on corporate expense solutions. That may be virtual card solutions, but it’s also going to be related to actual employee expense cards.”
While Frost couldn’t divulge much, he did tell PYMNTS that existing debit card solutions for corporate users haven’t met his expectations and that some of its small business customers are already expressing demand for Akimbo-based offerings.
“We recognize that need,” he said. “In our virtual card platform, you can see a pretty strong set of business tools.” Akimbo, he added, will be adding on to those tools in the coming months and into 2016.
For Frost, this pivot toward business-focused services is part of Akimbo’s effort to transform from offering simply a consumer reloadable prepaid card (“We don’t want to be another RushCard,” Frost told PYMNTS) to introducing an ecosystem of business solutions around these payment technologies, “because all of these products can work well together,” he said.
[bctt tweet=””We’ve always been excited about these nontraditional use cases of prepaid.””]
“We’ve always been excited about these nontraditional use cases of prepaid,” Frost said. “It’s a budgeting tool, a tool for allowances, but using a debit or prepaid card for corporate expenses, that’s a new and upcoming use of a prepaid card. You’re seeing more activity around it, and we’re really excited about these up-and-coming uses of the prepaid platform.”