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5% Cash-back on Prepaid Cards

Saving a revolutionary and potentially profitable project with a simple UX interface design and API update.

This will not be a case study where I will show fantastic earth-shattering UX. Or even a "see-what-I-can-do" UI design showcase. Rather, I am presenting it simply because I am proud of what was accomplished and that accomplishment speaks to my character. It shows my reslove and tenacity to solve a problem when everyone else had given up and genuine determination to help an orginization of which I am apart of succeed. It also speaks to the courage to be that single voice who stands up and says yes in a room of no's. Then successfully defended and pursaded others to join a cause that saved a project from being scuttled. One that I knew could be very profitable and in the end it proved to be just that.  


This was my first UX role as a designer and it was with American Express Incentive Services (AEIS) (Later AEIS became InteliSpend, LLC, then was acquired by the Blackhawk Network in 2013). AEIS through all it's in

carnations specialized in prepaid incentive, loyality and rewards programs.



Their market differentiator was DirectSpend™, a patented technology capable of isolating spend on prepaid networks to specific merchants. It was the engine behind the company's successful reward and incentive programs that powered employee recognition to customer loyalty. It was perfect for those programs because it limited the use of prepaid cards to select merchants making the experience of their use much more meaningful. Meaningful in that the chosen merchants were usually high-end or highly desired.


Example listing of merchants on a DirectSpendTM program. Only these brands allowed spend for the cardholder on this program.
Example listing of merchants on a DirectSpendTM program. Only these brands allowed spend for the cardholder on this program.

DirectSpend was also great for the Merchants because it drove securely funded, ready-to-buy traffic to their brand. As such, top-shelf merchants were always eager to participate in AEIS programs. 


Many of these establishments had a percent cashback program or had clientele that used similar programs via network credit cards. At that time, cashback was becoming so widespread that it sparked a thought experiement which lead to an idea. Could gift cards be configured to offer cash-back? Such an offering speculated that merchants would see increased consumer traffic and that giving back at least 5% of transactions to the cardholder it would be profitable for all involved. 


It was just a matter of figuring out how to make it work technically and logistically. For now, however, the 5% Back, or the "Open Commission project," as it was officially known, had begun. Engineering and I had to find the how.

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