Have you wished you could manage credit card activities in real-time? For Vaduvur Bharghavan, chief executive officer of Ondot Systems Inc., this desire led him to create a consumer phone app for cardholders to control everything from getting a card, to using the card and accessing all the associated data insights.
Bharghavan was working in the wireless industry in 2007 when he fell victim to credit card fraud while traveling overseas. He had trouble turning his card off online. "I couldn't figure out a convenient way to do it," he said.
In 2010, fate struck again when Bharghavan's debit card was targeted. "It totaled $8,000, and it took a long time to get it back, and I still didn't get it all," Bharghavan said. "I wanted to outcast the fraudsters, and as a consumer, be in control and manage when, where and how my cards were used."
Bharghavan decided to build a phone app, link it into the payment authorization stream and use predictive mobile technology – such as location tracking – to ensure he and other consumers could "make the purchase where I am, and not the fraudster, who is where I am not," he recalled.
Bharghavan based Ondot in Silicon Valley, partnered with people in the payments industry and went to work to create an app the company brought to market in 2011. The Ondot team directed their focus first on the U.S. market, targeting the financial institutions, card networks and processors.
"Fast forward eight or nine years, and the good news is we have 90 percent of the processing market," Bharghavan said. "We are integrated into the real-time rails of all these processors."
Today, Ondot has operations in eight locations across the globe, 350 employees, and the app is distributed through a growing network of integrated financial partners already 4,500 members strong.
"We reflected on where we are in the market and the ecosystem, and we really wanted to create a holistic card solution that does for cards what mobile banking does for accounts," Bharghavan said. "During the lifetime of Ondot, we've seen a very pronounced shift toward consumers using their mobile devices as the primary point of engagement for all day-to-day activities."
Bharghavan further noted Ondot learned there is a strong connection between a person's credit card experiences and "the power of now." He indicated these experiences typically involve a heightened degree of immediacy, such as moments of tension (a lost card, for example), convenience (travel needs) or delight (appealing offers). Bharghavan wanted to make the Ondot application available on consumers' mobile device to give them, as cardholders, more immediate control when these instances occur.
According to Bharghavan, the app functions like a digital persona of the card, and the user has the ability to set preferences on when, where and how that card can be used. He likened it to a "personal companion."
Explaining the underlying scope of the product, Bharghavan said it responds to a defined set of consumer pain points, such as, "getting a card, using the card, understanding transactions, managing card activity and engaging with the issuer."
The Ondot user interface has also been intuitively designed with settings for adding and activating controls and alerts for security, spend limits, merchant types and more. Additionally, it lists pertinent transaction details in real time, has settings to manage recurring payment and card-on-file relationships, offers interactive feedback and credit score monitoring, and prompts users based on location and purchase data.
"Because we have the user location and profile, we are able to make sure offers can be available in a contextual manner," Bharghavan said. And context continues to inform the company's direction. Bharghavan said Ondot is "driven by consumer needs and working on those technologies we feel will truly help ourselves as consumers."
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