Wirecard prioritizes digital payments in new bank deals

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Wirecard is aggressively pursuing bank partnerships to diversify its offerings and address global trends in payroll and other transaction types.

In the past few days, Wirecard has launched separate collaborations with ReiseBank, a travel payments-focused German bank; and Allianz, another German bank that worked with Wirecard and Visa to develop a mobile app called Allianz Prime.

These partnerships add to an already busy pipeline for Wirecard. In the past two months, it has focused on gig economy payments as part of its U.S. expansion; embraced machine learning to improve consumer marketing; deployed in-store app checkout in collaboration with Alipay and WeChat; and collaborated with Fortress GB to tie marketing and loyalty programs to payments at European football stadiums.

In the case of ReiseBank, Wirecard is building on an existing collaboration that backs bankomo, ReiseBank's mobile banking app. The new version supports smartphone account top-ups to power mobile P-to-P payments, SEPA transfers and direct debits. The partnership gives users the ability to make payments or withdrawals by scanning a bar code in the bankomo app.

"The most important work we can do is digital onboarding, where you can access services without having to access a bank branch," said Julian Weste, vice president of fintech and financial institutions at the Munich-based Wirecard, which traditionally specializes in electronic payments and online financial services technology.

Since ReiseBank's primary footprint is in train stations and airports, where mobile technology is powering boarding and ticketing, having the ability embed mobile financial transactions had become necessary, according to Weste.

"A lot of people have passports and ID on their mobile devices and they are used to using it," Weste said. "It's clear that there needed to be an app that could download off of a smartphone to open an account."

The app's expansion is designed to make it easier to perform financial tasks remotely, such as paying rent, mortgage or insurance.

"As global travel increases for both work and tourism, we will see more of these applications that conveniently solve banking and transaction capabilities while away from home," said Sarah Grotta, director of the debit and alternative products advisory service at Mercator.

Wirecard also participated in this week's launch of the Allianz Prime mobile payment app. Consumers who download the app can link to a Visa card for contactless mobile payments at stores and e-commerce payments, along with other typical mobile wallet features such as marketing, spend analysis and rewards. The service will be tested in Italy, with more markets in Europe to follow.

"The product creates a separate funding account linked to consumers’ traditional card and bank accounts using a prepaid virtual solution, placing a degree of separation between the transaction and the consumers’ core accounts for added security," Grotta said, adding PayPal has offered a similar product that supports loading funds into a prepaid digital card from a bank account or credit card. "It may prove to be a good combination incorporating security, rewards and convenience."

Wirecard has also inked an acquiring collaboration with Credit Agricole and an issuing deal with Banca Afirme in the past few days. Each of these deals also power digital value added services, "which are constantly being expanding resulting in a more personal point of contact with consumers," said Sebastian Krahe, vice president of professional services at Wirecard in an email addressing the Allianz/Visa collaboration.

"It's interesting that while this looks to be a standard affiliation card, it looks to work on a mobile point of sale as well," said Gareth Lodge, a senior analyst at Celent. "This will help ensure that the card will remain top of wallet if it's available in several form factors and can be used in multiple ways."

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Mobile payments P-to-P payments Payment cards Wirecard Germany