Barbershops might not seem to offer a huge market but the country has about 130,000 of them and 20,000 are using a barbershop management system called Squire. It handles online bookings, sends customers reminders when it is time to book an appointment, and pays barbers, even if they don’t have bank accounts, and also provides an easy way for them to use debit payments to pay rent on their chair.
Many barbers lack bank accounts and convenient access to basic financial services. As a result, they often have mismatched cash flows and lumpy earnings which can lead to financial challenges, says a case study by Bond, the banking as a service (BaaS) company that provides the financial technology behind Squire.
“We partner with them to offer a Squire card which enables the barbers to get paid in real-time, their pay and tip goes directly to the barber card,” said Roy Ng, CEO of Bond. In the past, many barbers had to take payday loans to tide them over between paychecks. During the pandemic many customers were paying for their haircuts with touch-less cards or phones and tips often went to the barbershop rather than to the barber.
“For barbershops this capability gives them a competitive advantage to hire more barbers, said Ng, “and Squire gets to make some interchange fee for the shop owner.”
Squire’s co-founders, Songe LaRon and Dave Salvant who owned a barbershop, chose Bond to provide the financial operations, rather than take 18 to 24 months to build their own. Bond delivered a fully compliant payment module integrated with the shop management software in a few months.
“We chose Bond as our partner because we had confidence they could launch the Squire Card quickly and successfully,” said Salvant. Squire is considering a credit card next and will turn to Bond for that as well. Bond is a BaaS platform which enables organizations to embed next-generation financial products into their existing customer experiences using i2c.
“We are an agnostic embedded finance platform,” said Roy Ng. “We partner with different tech providers, several different banks, and we work with a variety of KYC vendors.”
But the only payments processor they use is i2c which provides both credit and debit payments.
“We are the only mainstream BaaS that has customers live on both credit and debit,” Ng said. “Debit is very important, really foundational. And on the credit side we are excited to have commercial credit customers. And we provide a credit builder card for a fintech that has over 600,000 customers.
“We currently work only with i2c. We wanted to partner with someone who can move quickly and has a strong tech stack. we selected them several years ago and are happy so far.”
The major banking platforms offer payments, but many of them have different technology for separate products they have developed over the years, while i2c has a single technology stack, explained Jim McCarthy, president of i2c Inc.
“We aren’t replacing customer system we work with software companies, the software company could be a neo bank that wants to address a certain segment, like the creative economy, for example, where their customers are making income from YouTube or Instagram,” said McCarthy. “And if that software company wants to build a digital bank to service that segment, we provide a platform. We are not replacing legacy, but providing infrastructure that didn’t exist. We provide an abstraction layer that makes it easier to launch the product and then we work with a number of banks to provide the actual regulated banking services.”
The company is global, he added, with operations in Japan, Australia, the UAE, the UK, Turkey, Mexico, Latin America and the Caribbean.
“We can support, debit, prepaid as well as consumer credit, commercial credit, installment and charge capabilities,” he said. “The big two have too many platforms that are not connected and are Cobol-based. If you can’t adapt quickly to changing market conditions, you are in trouble. You need a modern cloud-based infrastructures that is simple. We have one platform and one code base for all the capabilities I described.”