The Voices of Money20/20: Zeta’s Bhavin Turakhia Talks Next-Gen Credit Cards

By John San Filippo

Finopotamus was onsite at Money20/20 USA in Las Vegas Oct. 24-27. Co-founder John San Filippo interviewed more than two dozen technology experts on a wide range of topics. The results of these interviews are presented in this series called “The Voices of Money20/20.”

Zeta definitely made a splash at this year’s Money20/20. Its enormous booth was the first thing one encountered entering the exhibit hall. Then later in the conference, the company sponsored a live concert by classic rock band Journey. Finopotamus was lucky enough to be invited to the pre-concert VIP party, but even luckier to sit down for a conversation with Zeta CEO Bhavin Turakhia early afternoon on October 24 before the conference kicked into high gear.

Turakhia described Zeta as “a modern credit card processor that enables credit unions, banks and fintechs to launch next-gen credit cards.” But what exactly constitutes a “next-gen” credit card?

Next-Gen Cards Explained

Turakhia explained: “If you think about it, in the last decade or two, phones have been reinvented, cars have been reengineered, even rocket ships have been rebooted. But when was the last time somebody rewrote the entire credit card processing stack from scratch? Pretty much all the credit cards out there in the market run on legacy tech stacks that have been around for more than two decades. These were created before the cloud existed, before smartphones existed, they're monolithic.”

Bhavin Turakhia, CEO, Zeta

According to Turakhia, this reliance on legacy technology hampers innovation in the cards industry. A big part of the problem, he added, is that financial institutions must currently rely on as many as 10 vendors or more to manage the entire life cycle of a card. He claims that because of Zeta’s advanced architecture, an FI can reduce that number to one to three vendors.

“When you reduce the number of moving parts, you reduce the complexity,” he said. “That leads to better and faster innovation.”

Streamlined Technology = Greater Efficiency

Turakhia told Finopotamus that he still encounters financial institutions that use largely manual processes to set up new credit card programs, relying on spreadsheets and Word documents to collect and distribute necessary information. These manual processes can push a new program launch as far out as 12 months or more.

“We have what we call our control center, which is a fully online web-based interface and 100% API accessible. If you want to start a new card program, you can actually configure it all in the control center. Card programs are undeniably complex,” he continued. “You've got underwriting policies and rules. You've got collection policies and rules. You've got fraud policies and rules. You've got compliance configurations. You've got APR, etc. But all of this is configurable through control center.”

Turakhia said that because of this streamlined operation, a credit union can configure and launch a new credit card program in less than a week in many cases. However, he emphasized that improving the consumer’s experience is Zeta’s most important goal.

Focus on the Consumer

“The main area that I think we make a significant difference is the actual consumer experience,” said Turakhia. “We provide a white label mobile app that you can make basic customizations to. There are some really unique functionalities and capabilities that end up reducing fraud and increasing income for financial institutions. We even offer integrated buy now pay later (BNPL).” He added that all app features are API-accessible, meaning they can also be built into an FI’s existing mobile app.

Turakhia said that the Zeta platform also supports dynamic card verification value (CVV), which adds an important layer of security to card transactions.