Executive Profile Series with Ben Kaplan from CashStar

by Ben Kaplan 0

How did you get into the payments industry?

After many years in the ecommerce and CRM industries, I got into payments when I joined Cartera Commerce, a leading provider of card-linked marketing solutions for merchants, banks and loyalty programs, as Chief Operating Officer. Cartera worked with some of the largest credit and debit card issuers on innovative targeted marketing programs.

I then had the opportunity to become CEO of CashStar, a fast growing company providing prepaid commerce solutions enabling retailers and restaurants to grow and innovate. It’s an exciting time for the company, especially since we are well positioned to take advantage of the rapid shift to mobile and the convergence of gifting, offers, loyalty programs and payments.

Over the years how as CashStar evolved to keep up with consumer and client demands?

CashStar was founded with the vision of eradicating the incredible inefficiencies and costs in the plastic gift card supply chain. Creating the digital gifting category in 2008, we automated and streamlined gift cards into a digital form factor, and have continued to drive and dominate the market ever since. Needless to say, CashStar’s success is based not only on a ‘mobile first’ but a ‘mobile always’ strategy.

CashStar originally introduced a cloud-based platform to power the merchant-to-consumer experience. We’ve continued to enhance the consumer solution in areas such as mobile, personalization and reload, while expanding the platform to include a business-to-business distribution solution. Our business application enables merchants to manage all of their B2B transactions, while accessing our ecosystem of leading loyalty and incentive partners. Additionally, we’ve incorporated capabilities for merchants to leverage digital gift cards as a form of branded currency to drive marketing promotions leading to incremental revenue, which has been hugely successful for our retailers.

What is the most interesting change you have seen in the payments industry over the past 5 years?

Over the past five years, the most interesting change in the payments industry from CashStar’s perspective has been the expansion and evolution of mobile prepaid commerce and branded currency applications. A prime example of this has been Starbucks’ use of prepaid, which has gone from plastic reloadable gift cards to an integrated loyalty application powering one of the world’s largest mobile payment systems – and they’re just one of many companies combining mobile and prepaid technologies in innovative and relevant ways.

What is one area in the prepaid industry where you believe there is a need for improvement?

In our space, we’re closely observing the mainstream adoption of mobile payments, and how new products and innovations will help accelerate this shift. A key area in need of continued focus is the development of a mobile payment system that is frictionless, secure, and widely utilized by both retailers and consumers. So, while it’s an exciting time to be in the mobile payments space, there’s still work to be done.

In one of CashStar’s recent blogs it was pointed out the importance of “customer-centricity.” For those of us who do not know what that means can you please elaborate?

Customer centricity is all about retailers prioritizing the customer experience, and digital-enabled experiences are leading the way. As the popularity of mobile devices has soared, consumers are demanding a seamless prepaid commerce experience across devices and channels – and retailers realized this convergence meant they had to bring digital into the stores and bridge the gap between online and offline worlds. In today’s omni-channel retail world, merchants need to drive consistency across any consumer touchpoint —mobile, Web, in store, social—to ensure that consumers can engage in their preferred methods.

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