Founder Story of Tern – Brion Bonkowski

May 25th, 2022

In the beginning of every industry-changing company, there is a story. For Tern, that story starts with the founder Brion Bonkowski and co-founder Corey Glaze, and their combined vision to change the way people think about and use financial products. They have gathered a growing team of brilliant, mission-driven individuals to help bring this vision to life. Brion and Corey’s goal is to democratize fintech and empower every person in the world to take control of their own financial destiny. By educating people on how financial systems are monetized and offering easy to use tools to access on-demand services, Tern provides fintech (or financial technology) for everyone.

We start our story with Brion. He has been the founder of multiple companies focusing on enterprise software and payments. Brion dedicates time to nonprofit causes, most notably as the Chairman of the Kilimanjaro Initiative and a board member of NYPAY. Brion started Tern in 2015 and immediately acquired US Unlocked to help springboard his vision of enabling a global cross-border payment system. Brion was introduced to Corey in 2017 at the fintech conference Money 20/20, by their mutual friend (and vendor, Jerry Uffner). Brion and Corey immediately hit it off, geeked out about the future of fintech, and a year later, Corey decided to join Brion as his Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer. Corey is a thought leader in the payments space dating back to his 9-year tenure at InComm, where he was responsible for the first Visa gift card ever sold at retail (the Vanilla Visa card). Corey realized the potential of cryptocurrencies early on, so when InComm denied his proposal to incorporate crypto into their tech stack, he left to go work at BitPay, where he was personally responsible for launching the first US and global crypto-backed Visa card program. In 2021, Tern was fortunate to hire Brion and Corey’s mutual friend, Jerry Uffner, as President after he left FIS as the General Manager of its Prepaid division.

Since 2019, the team has grown tremendously. Tern has been recruiting passionate people that work together to find partners to launch programs that align with our goals. Through this process, Tern has helped launch some of the most successful global programs on the planet, many of which are in highly regulated industries. The Tern team is now taking what they have learned over the years and are building on their foundation of technology to bring Brion and Corey’s vision to light. 

Later this year, Tern is launching the first-of-its-kind, on-demand platform that will enable any company in the US to become a fintech company. To help demonstrate the utility of the platform, Tern is launching Tern Cards, a “swiss army knife” of a card program where any US business can self enroll and immediately gain access to virtual and physical cards as Tern Cards Users. Users can utilize cards to help control spend, provide budget tools, and empower employees to manage day-to-day operations more effectively. Because Tern makes money on interchange on card spend, Tern will give all Users 1% cash back on all purchases in real-time. 

Businesses that want to launch their own card program or incorporate other fintech components can enroll as a Tern Business account for a small monthly fee. Tern Business accounts gain access to Tern’s suite of deployment options from No Code, to Low Code, to direct API (U Code). Having been in the fintech trenches for decades, the Tern team knows how hard it is to get fintech products into market. By eliminating these barriers to entry while remaining transparent into costs and revenue drivers, Tern provides fintech to everyone.

Tern has a lofty goal of making every company a fintech company. Understanding that the financial services industry as a whole is being displaced by fintech, companies around the world  need easily deployable compliant services to embed. – Brion Bonkowski

Tern bases itself on a sense of pride, on giving purpose to our product and seeing our customers not as clients, but as partners. The way the morals and philosophies have been established was through experience and dedication, heart and mistakes, a recipe of success that has been perfected over many years and business ventures.

Tern fills a massive hole in the Banking as a Service (BaaS) market by allowing our customers to grow with our platform. – Brion Bonkowski

I have been active in creating products in the fintech industry for the last 25+ years. I have also been focused on product development in the bitcoin/blockchain space since 2014 and have created and deployed several first-of-their-kind products in both the traditional & alternative payments sectors globally. I am all about embedded finance & increasing the mass adoption of cryptocurrency. – Corey Glaze

The antiquated infrastructure of the traditional banking system has held far too much power in dictating what people can and can’t do with their own money. At Tern, we want to bridge that gap, and provide people and businesses with scalable solutions that are easy to use and access. Moving money to where people need it to go, faster and more cost effectively, is something businesses and consumers alike should be demanding to be the new status quo.

Tern is a company of integrity and professionalism, built on a foundation of personality and heart, which is shown in every aspect of the company, from the founders, to the employees, and to the work and products we produce. Only time will show what Tern is capable of, but with the team behind the name, the future is limitless.

Fintech for everyone