First Data debuts debit-disbursement tool for gig economy

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First Data Corp. is joining in the movement to provide speedy payments to participants in the gig economy of independent contractors by rolling out a debit-powered disbursement product.

Leveraging its acquisition last year of Acculynk’s PaySecure debit routing system, First Data’s Disburse-to-Debit solution delivers funds directly to a recipient’s debit card in real time, First Data said in a Thursday press release.

Unlike many corporate disbursement methods that rely on ACH, the new offering drives instant “push” payments across a broad range of debit networks through a single connection, and it also works with First Data’s Money Network-branded prepaid card, Atlanta-based First Data said in the release.

First Data’s new product also expands options and may reduce costs for companies looking for ways to support higher volumes of payments, such as ride-sharing companies.

Lyft, for example, pays its drivers with Express Pay, its own version of Visa Direct and Mastercard Moneysend, which delivers funds immediately versus ACH, which can take up to a few days to settle.

“The digitization of commerce has caused consumers, including tech-minded individuals working in the gig economy, to expect convenience in every interaction,” said Ashish Bahl, head of global debit solutions at First Data, in the release.

Bahl previously was CEO of Acculynk, which developed the PaySecure online PIN debit service, Payzur P-to-P payments and electronic payments for municipalities. Acculynk enabled users to accept Visa and Mastercard transactions and route them over the PIN debit rails, which typically are less costly. First Data boosted Acculynk’s reach with the ability to connect to foreign debit networks.

Analyst Jordan McKee at 451 Research said First Data's move could help the company reposition itself more of a developer and startup-friendly organization to get in on higher-growth and emerging marketplace businesses.

"The goal is to get in on the ground floor of emerging businesses and provide a set of payments building blocks that help (companies) scale into large, high-volume companies," McKee said.

“Whether it’s a driver for a ride-sharing company, or a small business owner needing disaster relief following a hurricane, our new technology allows businesses to make payments in real time (including internationally),” said Dan Charron, First Data’s executive vice president and head of global business solutions, in the release.

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