March 25, 2022
As a banking-as-a-service provider, Central Payments reimagined a world in which it could stop saying ‘no’ to early stage fintech companies and served them instead. An early supporter of Falls Fintech, Galileo shares Central Payments’ commitment to helping educate and connect the next generation of innovators to the financial services ecosystem and bring their ideas to life.
Galileo sat down with Central Payments Executive Vice President of Strategy Nikkee Rhody, who also serves as managing director of Falls Fintech, to discuss the vision behind Falls Fintech, what early stage fintechs need, and how Central Payments and Galileo are solving their pain points. Mission: Central Payments’ purpose is making financial experiences better. That goal is realized through three key pillars: technology, charter and choice. The company describes itself as offering “banking-as-a-service with a real bank.”
Founder: Trent Sorbe
Central Bank of Kansas City—an experienced prepaid card provider since the early 2000s—in 2014 decided to take the next step in building its payments and digital financial services operations, forming Central Payments as a subsidiary tasked with leading the bank’s growth in those areas. To build and lead the unit, CBKC tapped Sorbe, a payments veteran with more than two decades of experience developing prepaid, debit and credit products. In 2019, Central Payments launched Falls Fintech to foster the growth of early stage fintech companies.
Location: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
What They Do: “We serve early stage fintech companies looking to disrupt the market with either some set of technology or a unique product set,” notes Rhody. “Furthermore, we also have well-established companies that have crazy distribution and are now looking to make a move into payments by embedding some type of finance component, either to park money or to move money through that level of distribution that they already have.”
What Galileo Does for Them: Platform partnership supporting Central Payments’ clients across a variety of programs including consumer and commercial prepaid, debit and savings accounts, featuring wearable, mobile wallet and remittance functionality.
“Galileo helps us by being a really sound partner,” says Rhody. “At any given time, there’s a level of collaboration and support for who we are, the mission we’re trying to accomplish and who we’re serving … that’s critical for our success. As much as Galileo is a pioneer in the fintech space, their ability to be nimble and flexible is really powerful.”
Impact: Startups joining Falls Fintech gain valuable insights and support from a pool of more than 120 mentors, along with access to a venture capital network of 75 firms. Of the 20 startups that have enrolled in Falls Fintech since its inception, 85 percent are still operational, with more than half led by founders from underrepresented demographic groups.
“I love being able to help these early stage companies, frankly, make their dreams come true and accomplish what they give their life to. We get to be a small part in making that come to life,” Rhody adds. “We look for teams that are humble, hustle and are hungry to change the world.”