Interview with Dave Matter, Head of Product at Marqeta

Q.1) It is being said that the payments and fintech industry has received more attention in the last two years than in the previous ten years. What are your thoughts on that?

Dave: Innovation in payments technology is moving at warp speed. Across security, infrastructure, and mobile we see considerable disruption in the way consumers shop and buy. The potential to influence those newly secure, online, and on-the-go transactions is attracting major players like Google, Apple and PayPal. The interesting thing to note is that vast majority of the innovation in payments is happening with acquirers. As an issuer processor, Marqeta is leading innovation in this group. Marqeta has been able to innovate under the radar until now. Luckily, the extra attention is revealing new use cases for Marqeta technology and is fueling further innovation every day.

Q.2) Over the past years, which was the biggest game-changing event for you? For example, there have been certain major events in the payments sector like Apple Pay, advancements in mobile, the cloud advancements, APIs or something data or analytics related. So what, according to you, has the most impact and has been the major game-changing event in the recent past?

Dave: We at Marqeta made a bold move recently as the first issuer processor to open access and fully document our APIs for developers through, or DMC for short. Developers can now access the full functionality of the Marqeta payments platform complete with interactive documentation. It’s quick and easy to set up new cards, configure multiple funding types and define how and where cards can be used -- all in real time.

At DMC, in addition to the open API, developers can use the site as a resource for understanding terminology and features used on the issuer processor side of the ecosystem, view transaction flows that show a high level view of how a transaction touches the customer, Marqeta, and the partner and also walk through use cases that illustrate potential applications and platform configurations.

Marqeta is putting experimentation, A/B testing, and rapid cycling of product development in the control of the developer. We expect the API to rapidly evolve as new features are introduced and feedback is received from partners. We are the first issuer processor to open and fully document their APIs and we can’t wait to see what products will be launched on Marqeta’s payment platform.

Q.3) What was the need in the market, identified by Marqeta, to develop a payments API? So basically, why a payments API from Marqeta?

Dave: With a rebounding economy, enterprises and retailers are investing in new programs to regain consumers and momentum lost during the downturn. As companies look for novel and nimble solutions, Marqeta has emerged as a visionary with all-in-one payment-card/mobile-based solutions built from the ground up using modern programming languages and database technologies. Because our technology requires zero POS integration we are able to cross hurdles many of our clients have faced in the past. We’ve launched products for new and established companies in nascent verticals like teen spend, on demand delivery and more.

Q.4) Do you believe that there are other similar solutions in this industry?

Dave: The majority of issuer processors have built APIs on top of legacy platforms. Marqeta’s platform is built entirely from the ground up, with no legacy infrastructure to tie it down.

Q.5) How can Marqeta help fintech or payment startups with their solutions?

Dave: Marqeta enables enterprises of all sizes to control payment programs and their customer experiences. We not only manage the scalable loading of cards but also the experience when you transact using the card. Everything on the Marqeta platform happens in real-time. We have a robust Event Notifications system. We internally consume and provide real-time data to our partners for modules like fraud protection, analytics modeling, transaction notifications and internal reporting tools. For example, Facebook was able to get real-time spending activity on transactions occurring on the Facebook card. Other platforms have dashboards that generate reports. Customers experience the power of real-time data via transaction notifications with rich data about their transaction as it happens. We enable companies to not only watch and control payments experiences but help them gain insights in real-time as well.

Q.6) Since you mentioned companies like Facebook, eBay Now who have approached you for your particular solutions, are there any other companies using your payments APIs right now?

Dave: Numerous companies across industries are leveraging our platform or in the process of integrating it. We can’t disclose their names publicly at this time, but look for interesting case studies and announcements coming soon.

Q.7) So how much time and effort can be saved using your open APIs? Can you provide some examples of applications developed in less time using your APIs?

Dave: There are inherent technical complexities in integrating with non-RESTful API products and can take 6 months or longer. The nature of how we’ve built our APIs can decrease integration time to as short as 7 days. For example, we currently work with several companies in the on-demand delivery space, like eBay Now, from a technical integration standpoint our partners are able to get up and running quickly.

Q.8) From a commercial aspect and in terms of revenue generation, how do you plan to provide your APIs? Being a startup, do you plan to provide it as a free API or charge against it?

Dave: We want it to be seamless to integrate our platform with clients’ products. We make it as easy as possible to migrate from legacy payment platforms for the added functionality we provide. Marqeta partners with large and small companies who are investing in building their products. We support them in launching products using our APIs as they are and by minimizing upfront investment. Marqeta’s succeeds when its clients succeed.

Q.9) So there is no specific guideline on whether it has to be a paid API or non-paid API; does it depend on the kind of service that your customer is asking for?

Dave: In the future roadmap of DMC, we project putting partners in the driver’s seat to integrate and enter production. We intend to incorporate transparent costs within the interface itself.

Q.10) So as this payment API integrates lots of merchants, enables them to be available on one particular card, how do you plan to provide the fraud protection in this platform?

Dave: Fraud is a broader concept. One way we mitigate fraud is by bringing closed loop functionality on open loop networks by having merchant specific accounts all within a single physical or virtual card. By restricting where a card can be spent, at specific merchants, there is reduction in fraud. Our API’s provide the ability to set granular usage restrictions against a given users account. Our platform also supports the ability to generate a one-time use virtual card valid for only a single transaction. We also take a proactive approach to fraud on a per transaction basis using our proprietary fraud modules. We not only run it in the background, but also during runtime when transactions are occurring. We decline fraudulent transactions and notify cardholders and partners in real time.

Q.11) Apart from the payment API, what are other innovative products coming up at Marqeta? Are there any specialty programs that the company is prioritizing, keeping in mind the current trends and environments?

Dave: All of our unique functionality is available through our APIs. Marqeta’s Payments API enables an unlimited number of merchant specific accounts on a single card. It also powers selective authorization, which controls the transactions that are allowed for merchant specific accounts. The use cases available at DMC show several additional examples of the innovative functionality we offer. In 2015, there will be additional products that will be made available which will not only optimize distribution of the Marqeta platform but even further enable partners to rapidly launch new and migrate existing payment related programs.

Q.12) Can you give us an idea on how Marqeta has been performing since its inception? How do you manage the growth at Marqeta in the near future?

Dave: We have invested a significant amount of time and effort in building our platform, its features and optimizing it for scale, performance and mass distribution. We are now at a juncture where our platform is battle tested at scale and powers numerous innovative card programs. Clients are seeking us out and every day we’re finding new solutions to their challenges. We have clients reaching out to us with their entire product mapped to our API’s due to DMC. The future for Marqeta is bright and we are focused on maintaining an innovative and healthy culture as we grow further.

Q.12) Anything else that you would like to mention to give our readers a better understanding of Marqeta, its products, its strategy, its growth?

Dave: We have an incredible team here at Marqeta in all areas of the organization. The Marqeta team wakes up thinking about how to innovate payment programs, is energized by solving our clients’ challenges, and dreams of tomorrow’s new technology. At Marqeta, we partner with some of the largest e-commerce, social media, financial services and traditional retail brands in the world to deliver rich customer experiences, monetize customer touchpoints, provide seamless cardmember experiences, and establish new streams of revenue. At Marqeta we are proud to be payments geeks.