The innovation edge
“To be recognised as a leader in prepaid cards among the top payment companies and banks globally is something we are very proud of,” says Philip Froom, co-founder and CEO of DrawCard. “The commitment of our staff has allowed us to prioritise innovation backed by execution.”
Spotting a gap
In 2004, prepaid cards did not exist in South Africa. Despite our sophisticated banking and retail infrastructure, stores were still issuing paper vouchers which were only available in certain denominations and were often a hassle to buy.
That was the gap that chartered accountant Froom spotted after seeing the rise of gift cards and Visa prepaid cards in the US. At 28, he left the corporate world and co-founded DrawCard, a start-up that was financed by ATM Solutions. Six months later, in December that year, DrawCard launched its first gift card with a national chain of retail stores and made R40 that day.
Partnering with a giant
Froom rapidly expanded the prepaid card offering and DrawCard became a Visa-certified card processor, launching South Africa’s first Visa gift card, Visa payroll card, and Visa incentive card. The company also launched Africa’s first association branded insurance claims card linked to an innovative cash back rewards programme.
Seeking new opportunities
Looking ahead, the most recent product innovation to come from DrawCard is its new Visa prepaid card, which enables unbanked and under-banked consumers to access the payments and banking system, via a card and their mobile phone, simply, securely, and cost-effectively, so that they are financially empowered.
“Our challenge is to maintain the entrepreneurial edge of the business, even though we now have formal processes and structures in place, because that is what has allowed us to constantly innovate and introduce meaningful products that facilitate financial inclusion,” says Froom.
Expanding the offering
“Today we operate hundreds of prepaid card programmes and we have some of South Africa’s biggest retailers, shopping centres and corporates as clients,” says Froom. DrawCard has won several global awards and is a Visa certified card processor for four local banks, an achievement unprecedented in the prepaid card industry.