Under the Hood: Q&A with CheckAlt’s Chief Product & Innovation Officer Bobby Rahmanian
Written by Tiffany Rider
CheckAlt is the engine that powers payment processing for thousands of financial institutions and businesses across the United States. As such, you may be curious to know what’s actually running "Under the Hood." In this new series, we detail CheckAlt's products and services that are accelerating digital transformation for our clients today, as well as the payments solution innovation our Product Team is building in the race toward a faster-payments future.
On the starting line, we have a Q&A session with our Chief Product and Innovation Officer who shares details about CheckAlt's product transformation, furthering our market leadership through innovation, and how client-informed enhancements are benefiting both major and community-based financial institutions and merchants that power our economy.
Without further ado, here is our interview with the man in the driver’s seat, Bobby Rahmanian.
Question: Can you briefly share how your career led you to the Chief Product & Innovation role here at CheckAlt?
Rahmanian: There are four key elements in my past that have given me the necessary experience for this role: engineering, product management, working in banking and payments, and overseeing P&L.
My engineering background is certainly a huge advantage that helps me understand the details behind the scenes. We do not want to over engineer everything, but rather provide value to the end user—in our case, our clients and their customers or members—with what we build.
My product management experience enables me to understand how to simplify the complexities behind the scenes to deliver a valuable product to our end users. Being able to translate technology to value is an important skill, especially when processing payments.
My many years in payments and banking, including with Green Dot and Kinecta, has enabled me to develop a deep respect for the world of money movement. In such a critical business to our entire economy, we must understand the key elements, the key players, the needs, the pain points, and the compliance complexities that inform how we solve with our products and services.
The last key element, which is equally as important as the others, is owning the business P&L. There are multifarious elements that contribute to a financial institution or merchant’s P&L, including vendor relationships. This understanding gives me the visibility to not only create products that help our end users but also simplify that value proposition for our clients.
Question: You are coming up on two years at CheckAlt in July. What are the biggest transformations you feel you and your team have brought in the first two years, and what are the biggest transformations you hope to bring in the next two years?
Rahmanian: At the high level, we have been focused on building and implementing a strong product management team and culture, which includes instituting processes across the organization for product development and strategy that keeps our end users in mind. Enabling our talent to work efficiently and effectively is not only for CheckAlt’s benefit—all of this enables our clients, who are at the center of everything we do.
This has been the biggest change in the past two years, and on top of that we have been building teams that are dedicated to specific products who understand the needs of our clients and develop product improvements informed by those needs. It has been a big undertaking across the board, and it’s paying off.
In the next two years, we will continue to better our products across the organization with a focus on unifying them to make the collective usability as simple as possible for those merchants and financial institutions that want to use multiple CheckAlt products—as part of a paper processing and conversion to electronic strategy, for example. This can include utilizing our front-end products, which we continually enhance, or plugging our payment processing APIs into an existing front-end website to power payment processing behind the scenes. Regardless of the path, transactions processed by CheckAlt are recorded in our web-based platform for simplified transaction management and reporting.
This unification effort can have significant impacts on our clients’ P&L, including creating operational efficiencies by automating back-office staff tasks and streamlining vendor management by using CheckAlt as a single source for all deposit imaging and receivables processing and reporting. Additionally, this effort from our product team can help our clients improve the end user journey and customer experience. Bringing these products together is our main focus, as well as of course continuing to enhance our individual products and making sure those are best of breed in the marketplace.
Question: In what areas are the innovations you and your team are focused on going to further CheckAlt's market leadership and value?
Rahmanian: One of the biggest advantages that we at CheckAlt have is that we work with clients directly as well as through what we call our channel partners, which include banks that private label our products for their customers. Not only do we provide solutions for some of the biggest financial institutions in the U.S., but we also provide community banks and credit unions with those same products and services.
Some financial institutions and merchants may not necessarily have the resources or capacity to take on the enormous task of bringing to market certain feature functionalities consumers demand—a task that is much easier for mega merchants and billion-dollar banks to do when the return on investment makes sense. For CheckAlt to take on those tasks and do the heavy lifting for our clients, making sure those functionalities are part of their product offerings to begin with, brings the ability to meet consumer demand to those smaller banks and businesses.
What we’re doing is leveling the playing field. As an example, meeting compliance requirements in financial services can be daunting. The new Nacha rule on ACH transactions effective in March 2021 doesn’t have to be, thanks to our product team building those new requirements into KliknPay. Our clients using KliknPay—regardless of size—don’t have to lift a finger. We are also looking to implement new technologies, such as real-time payments, that are getting a lot of momentum and would add value for our clients.
Question: You and your team have interfaced with many of CheckAlt's clients to solicit feedback. How valuable has that been not only for CheckAlt's product strategy but to deepening our client relationships?
Rahmanian: It’s huge. It’s really the center of everything that we do. We don’t just create products for the sake of creating products. Everything we embark on is based on varying degrees of feedback that we receive or solicit from our clients. As a matter of fact, many times the great ideas informing our product enhancements and innovations come from our clients because they are on the front lines experiencing challenges and interacting with end users every day.
Our job at CheckAlt is to create an environment for our clients to freely and easily provide feedback to us. From there begins the vetting process internally, then opening that discussion up with the rest of our clients to inform prioritization and to ultimately engage in the actual strategy and development for those products. We have numerous product features resulting from this experience, from our direct-core connection through our partner NXTsoft to our APIs for Catch! and lockbox, to voice-activated payment technology.