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Making Digital Payments Interactive and Carbon Neutral

In 2018, startup ImageNPay came to EPAM with a disruptive idea: digital payments that could connect consumers with brands they love and causes they care about in an entirely new way. 


Personalized payment images, open to branding opportunities and loyalty programs, could also introduce consumers to new artists or musicians. We pay for goods and services every day. Why not make it fun and collaborative?

Paying It Forward

Just as importantly, together we could save the cost of issuing and delivering cards and protect the environment by eliminating the need for plastic credit and debit cards, which include toxic materials that are difficult to recycle. Plastic is polluting not just our oceans, it’s polluting us. Via the water we drink and food we eat, experts estimate the average person consumes about 5 grams of plastic every week – equivalent to one credit card. 

To highlight this commitment, ImageNPay offered a video message and call to action within its app featuring David Attenborough, the iconic nature documentarian, on Global Recycling Day. The startup’s message is as simple as it is ambitious: “No Plastic, No Pollution is the Future Solution.”

EPAM is proud to partner with ImageNPay to develop a new and greener way to shop.

Making It Real

ImageNPay had a groundbreaking idea but needed support in creating the technology required to bring it to life. The vision called for a software system that allows holders of these virtual cards to change the artwork, including still and moving images, personalizing the payment experience. It had to work on any smart phone. And, of course, these bespoke digital payments would have to be user-friendly, secure and meet all regulatory requirements.

ImageNPay wanted users to be able to change their payment image with just one click, to suit their mood or need. In the morning, they might scan a picture of a panda on their smartphone to buy a coffee, because it helps support a conservation charity. Later they could pull up an image of a favorite celebrity, sports star or business to enable a discount, special content or other perks. ImageNPay also wanted to include sound and video to connect consumers to brands and causes alike, in a way that’s never been seen before.

Shaking Up the Status Quo

Apple Pay and Google Pay are digital wallet platforms that only allowed consumers to upload information from an existing physical card. But plastic was still required, and card themes didn’t transfer when the card went digital. So the sports team or charity pictured on a user’s plastic card didn’t transfer within existing platforms, breaking the customer journey and defeating the purpose of affinity and brand leverage.

Issuing physical cards is expensive for banks, with the cost of producing and delivering cards multiple times as they expire. And they’ve never had a way to get rid of old cards because the type of plastic commonly used is toxic, which means cards end up in landfills.  

ImageNPay changed all that.

Delivering a Greener
Way to Pay

Now available in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in the UK, the ImageNPay app allows users to download a prepaid Mastercard virtual payment “card.” No plastic required. All regulatory requirements have been completed and banking information is masked in the prepaid model. Art has been sourced and curated to promote charities such as Movember Foundation, Samaritans and World Wildlife Fund, and ImageNPay has developed iconography to support inclusion and diversity efforts, like #BlackLivesMatter.

EPAM has supported bringing ImageNPay to market with comprehensive consulting and engineering services including:

Design of the solution architecture
Development of iOS and Android versions of the app
Delivery of all back-end development and infrastructure setup including necessary processes (DevOps, technical support, testing, security)
Creation of a software development kit (SDK) to allow service providers to access functionality
Use of a business intelligence engine to identify consumer behaviors and profiling
Achievement of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) certification

EPAM is also responsible for managing the image catalog with a growing selection of still and animated pictures as well as video content.

Banking on Change

The original approach, executed by EPAM, was to develop an app that could link to banks to issue a virtual card allowing a choice of images. This was successfully achieved. Then plans evolved through multiple iterations of the concept, and, of course, the pandemic necessitated a number of pivots, which required an agile approach and the ability to quickly execute emerging ideas, sometimes within the space of a sprint.

EPAM was ready. Six years ago, in recognition of the rise of paytech we formed a specialized group within our financial services practice, allowing engineers, designers and consultants to collaborate on big ideas like ImageNPay. We’ve worked on innovative projects with top names in finance, as well as challenger banks looking to shake up business as usual.

Because of that foundation, we were able to adapt quickly when ImageNPay decided to focus on a prepaid platform to launch in the U.K. The standalone app was accomplished in less than a year despite the extra hurdles presented by the pandemic. 

Forecasting Innovation and Inclusion

The app will continue to launch in additional countries while both the functionality and digital art selection evolve.

ImageNPay recently added the ability to “top up” funds to a digital card using the latest open banking technology, which connects seamlessly to a user’s bank account. We helped develop, test and launch this faster, more secure capability.

In 2023, ImageNPay released a new collection of digital payment options in the UK with designs generated by AI, a first in financial technology. To bring additional focus to #PlasticFreeJuly, ImageNPay, with the help of EPAM, utilized DALL-E to create fun, eye-catching digital card designs that users can choose.

ImageNPay is also working with new artists and musicians to provide content that could boost their careers while connecting customers to more of what they love.

Another vital component going forward will be to extend the prepaid cards to younger users as a tool to help parents provide their children financial education opportunities. As a key part of its mission, vision and values, ImageNPay wants to ensure that the prepaid model creates a platform that is more inclusive than credit and enables functionality for an underserved marketplace.

EPAM is honored to partner with ImageNPay to build an exciting, innovative, greener and more inclusive way to manage payments.

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"Although there are efforts now to use recycled plastics in payment cards, it's not enough. Most plastic used is difficult to recycle, and materials that are more eco-friendly are prohibitively expensive. EPAM has helped us create a truly green and market-changing way to pay – pivoting with us several times and staying flexible and agile while bringing our ideas to life. I think what EPAM has been able to deliver with ImageNPay over the past three years—in the middle of a global pandemic and subsequent international crises—is truly spectacular."

Michael Donald
CEO, ImageNPay


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