“Change is inevitable. Will you drive that change or be driven by it?” — Josh Linkner
For those of you who have been around for a while you may find it different that we started this update with a quote. Well, it is meaningful to this update and I want to take a few minutes to explain why.
We started laying the ground work for Connect Financial in late 2019, which still seems not that long ago honestly. But now here we are closing out 2022 and our landscape continues to shift around us. In some areas we are given clarity through regulations on what we can offer our users, and how we have to handle that business. In other areas, the path forward has become ever so uncertain by recent events.
But one thing remains a constant truth for Connect Financial — We are not deterred by these changes, they are inevitable. We are dedicated to delivering our roadmap and making the necessary adjustments to our products. These changes are more than inevitable though, they are expected and planned for. As we grow and expand our product base to provide Banking as a Service to the Crypto community at large across multiple jurisdictions we are going to face new challenges daily.
We’ve already displayed our capacity to make adjustments to our products based on market sentiment or policy changes which have been reflected in our community updates.
Where we started
When I started Connect Financial I spent a lot of time creating a proof of concept for what I wanted to build
- A Crypto centric Neobank
- Banking Products that are built for the Crypto Community
- A Crypto Powered Credit Card
- Carefully curated Benefits for our members that provide lifestyle and unique experiences
- Rewards that give you freedom to choose how you receive them
- A platform where customer service is viewed as an extension of our marketing. There is no better testament or attractor to new users than the praise of our existing members.
With that in hand I started with the fundamental question, What do I need to be able to provide all of this?
The majority of that question was answered with the introduction of our Chief Compliance Officer. Ryan’s background and expertise in the global markets was a perfect match for us. Together we have been able to navigate through the ebb and flow of many jurisdictions, creating policies and procedures that will keep us ahead of government changes.
Then with the addition of Christo we solved the question of: How do we deliver this? His go to market planning and capacity to see a full product vision and detail it into words and charts is a true miracle.
The last major questions were How does this look and how do we get the message out? To which Chantel has answered that with an absolute crystal clear view of our brand and has delivered a UI that rivals any traditional bank or crypto platform.
Now not everything has been perfect in our journey. We have had to make some very difficult decisions over time. Some of these decisions have had no upside to them but have had to be made.
One decision we made in 2022 though, that was extremely difficult and took a very long time to come to, sits at the core of and is the actual basis of this update. But this decision has yielded the largest benefit to Connect Financial to date.
Just remember in 2020 the landscape for a product like ours was much different. The card networks hadn’t quite started their adoption phase yet.
Our Credit Card flagship product has had many questions by many users over the years since we announced it. And we always felt unable to fully provide adequate information, not because we didn’t want to, but just that we were not provided it by our our vendor or were restricted by our contract on what we could provide.
Initially we sat basically in the third position on the product, we answered to a program manager, who in turn answered to a issuing bank and processor. We were given very little in the way of access to the bank and processor as we had to adhere to the contracts and partnerships that were in place above us and our dealings were solely with the program manager.
Over time they proved inadequate to deliver on the items they had promised and numerous times the relationship was challenged by this. Recently I’ve made the analogy that dealing with this vendor was like playing futbol (soccer..) with a bowling ball. Yes, eventually we would have made it to the goal, but every kick was extremely painful and only moved us a few inches.
There are several other factors that came to light that weren’t initially disclosed to us. The biggest was that the card program was actually a corporate program, which did allow us to issue worldwide as promised. But our concern with this is that these programs are not meant for consumer use, and that if upon any audit of our program by the network was done we would lose our card program without recourse.
The constant promise of factory run dates for card production, even after the invoices were paid, never stopped. We were given constant pushback and excuses.
The vendor also displayed very lax policies on compliance and accounting items that we could not and would never align with corporately.
To which this all ultimately led us to sever our relationship and contracts with this vendor (side note that yes we were able to recall all funds paid out on invoices not earned).
I never wanted us to be without capacity to deliver on our promise no matter how long it took to deliver. So several months before severing our relationship I embarked on a very exhaustive search to find a new solution. I had no less than 25 meetings with various companies across the globe before we had the answer.
Now I share this insight into items that are usually kept out of sight from users because I had to set the backdrop properly. We have been on a journey together and this much I felt was owed.
So we move onto the next chapter together
Card Partner Announcement
We are absolutely delighted to announce that Connect Financial has partnered with MasterCard as our network partner for our credit card program.
Under a direct agreement with MasterCard we are able to serve as the Program Manager for the Connect Financial Credit Card programs. This grants us unparalleled control and decision making over EVERY aspect of our programs. From the card design and manufacturer, delivery to program benefits every single detail is now under our control.
But speaking of benefits! As we’ve covered many times in the past, one of the cornerstones of the Connect Financial program is our dedication to providing one of the most exclusive membership benefits programs available today.
We believe that Mastercard is the perfect partner to help deliver on this vision. The MasterCard World and World Elite VIP programs offer some of the most exclusive travel, entertainment, shopping and sports benefits available today.
Connect Financial Black cards will launch as a World Elite Mastercard, and the Platinum cards will be released as World Mastercards. All Other cards will also launch as Enhanced Value Mastercards!
Another huge benefit of this partnership is that we have been able to DRASTICALLY reduce our expenses on card usage and increase our revenue potential which will allow us to provide more and more perks to our members and support our amazing rewards program.
We are also able to provide co-branded cards and supply card programs to other entities as a direct program manager, opening up opportunities for Connect Financial that weren’t previously available.
As part of our relationship with Mastercard, we are required to make changes to our Credit Card roll out plan. Under this product we have to have a BIN Sponsor in each jurisdiction, or acquire our own appropriate Financial License.
To this end, we will be issuing cards initially in the US as we have secured our BIN Sponsorship there. Our rollout plan has us releasing to the rest of North America shortly thereafter, then moving through to the UK and EU, LATAM and APAC regions. Our target is to have all jurisdictions issued by end of 2023.
We are currently under way with acquiring our own Financial License in the EU and a couple other areas.
This staged roll out only impacts the Card product. The platform launch is not impacted and all users (except where restricted) will be able to user our other services freely while they wait.
We have also partnered with I2C ( I2C Press Release ) as our global processing partner. They bring over two decades of card processing experience and technology under our fingertips also. Their capacity and technology is leagues beyond what we were offered previously and we have been hard at work taking advantage of this fact creating new opportunities and expanding the platform to accommodate.
As a part of the new partnership, we have also redesigned all of the cards with an emphasis on showcasing the benefit programs and the core logos.
We will be initially launching the Card program with virtual cards physical card options.
With this partnership we also gain total control over our choice of card manufacturer and have established a relationship with an outstanding factory partner. They have been extremely helpful in providing guidance and have an incredibly diverse selection of materials and finishes (24k gold card with diamonds anyone?) that has elevated our physical card product beyond our expectations. All of the card samples that we’ve seen, along with the delivery packaging that is entering production soon is absolutely top shelf.
As we draw closer to our initial MVP launch, it is officially time to formally register to be one of the very first people to be able to sign up for a Connect Financial credit card.
As of this post going live we will be releasing revamped website and a dedicated sign-up page for you to join the waitlist and share with your friends.
So head over to https://connect.financial and check out the updates, register for the card and share it around on all your social media!
Our referral and influencer package is still live also, all new users will receive their referral code and link that they can share with their friends and on social media. If you are an influencer please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if you qualify for the influencer program.
— — Note to prior members —
If you signed up previously through the limited portal released before you are still on the list. If you attempt to sign up today or tomorrow you won’t receive a message that you’re email is already signed up, this was done so if you wanted to see the new process, emails etc you could have the chance. Email checking for existing members will be instated on Friday. Any information you provide, or any referrals you gain from the new referral code will be merged with your existing user record.
We are so incredibly proud of the program that we are building, and grateful for this incredible community.
As we are coming towards the end of the year, this will be the last community update for 2022. Have a safe and happy holiday season and we will see you right after the New Year with our first Update of 2023!!!