Back to case studies

Top research university distributes millions to 30K+ recipients in 40+ countries

"With Tremendous, we've streamlined our business."

Top research university distributes millions to 30K+ recipients in 40+ countries

The pandemic forced a top-20 research university to seek a digital alternative to physical prepaid and gift cards, but they ended up finding a solution to many more challenges. With Tremendous, the university modernized its research incentive and employee recognition payouts.

Since Sept. 2021, the university has distributed $1 million to more than 31,000 people in 43 countries via the Tremendous platform.

“With Tremendous, we've streamlined our business processes,” said the university's head of payment solutions and compliance. “We're trying to leverage Tremendous to its full capacity and capability because it really is the best solution for us.”


The university’s finance team manages payments for the university, its medical school and all accompanying research. For this top-20 research institution with enrollment of more than 40,000 students, issuing payouts created a lot of work.

“We have a lot of studies going on, and the nature of them varies quite a bit from study to study. Studies have different needs in terms of payout options,” said the school’s payment solutions and compliance supervisor. “Some researchers want rewards sent directly to the participant, others want to manage that process themselves. Some of these studies are international, which adds even more complexity.”

Prior to partnering with Tremendous, the team:

  • bought physical gift cards directly from vendors;

  • distributed them to the research heads (called “principal investigators”) to mail to participants, or;

  • mailed them directly to participants themselves; and

  • attempted to track and audit payment distributions.

The process was manual and consumed hours of valuable time each week. When the pandemic started, the team seized the opportunity to adopt a better system.

“Everybody was searching for more virtual cards and the ability to send e-codes and things of that nature,” the supervisor said.


After taking input from stakeholders involved in clinical research and employee rewards, the team put out a request for proposals (RFP) and considered six applicants.

The ideal solution would include the ability to service the wide-ranging needs of such a large institution. They wanted the ability to:

  • place orders for rewards in different quantities and in different denominations;

  • send rewards directly to participants or through a principal investigator;

  • offer prepaid and gift cards both physically (in person or through the mail) and digitally (via email or by link); and

  • offer a variety of domestic and international reward options.

The financial services team had a couple requests of their own, too. Instead of keeping a balance in an account—which would require them to go through a lengthy accounts payable process—they wanted to buy rewards as needed using a corporate credit card.

“We're government funded, so we don’t really have the ability to manage a pre-funded account and just have money sitting on the books for when we get requests to send rewards,” said the head of payment solutions and compliance. “We wanted it to be streamlined, so we could order rewards as we needed them.”

They also wanted a system that was easy to access and use across multiple departments and kept private information of their employees and participants safe.

After considering six vendors, the team says Tremendous stood out as the one that met all of their needs.

“It was clear that Tremendous was the best solution for us,” the solutions and compliance head said.


Bespoke solutions enabling the university to send $1 million

Tremendous listened to the university’s needs and built bespoke solutions to enable the university to send payouts on their terms. We provided a clear roadmap and began executing on changes:

  • Higher limits, allowing orders of up to $50,000 by credit card.

  • Custom order receipt process to better integrate with the university’s existing financial workflow requirements.

  • Easier distribution of direct links to payouts to help researchers distribute rewards faster and with fewer hiccups.

“It’s been a breath of fresh air working with the Tremendous team,” said the school’s manager for student accounts. “Tremendous really listens and works to facilitate the whole process for us, which enables us to do more.”

Huge catalog of international and domestic rewards

With Tremendous, the university can now offer the widest variety of both U.S. and international payout options. Tremendous automatically tailors the available payout options to recipients based on their location.

“Tremendous really expanded what we could provide our research participants,” said the school’s payment solutions and compliance supervisor. “We really appreciate the breadth of the catalog of options that we have and how easy it is for us to manage sending them.”

Hours of work saved per week

The financial services team says they’re spending far less time managing rewards. They’re also providing a much better experience for principal investigators they serve as well as the study participants and employees who receive rewards.

  • The team can now place orders in any quantity and denomination.

  • Researchers have the flexibility to send physical cards or digital payouts directly to participants or through the financial services team.

  • Different teams at the university can easily buy, distribute, and track rewards with a few clicks and from a centralized account.

“Researchers can now set up the rewards program that works best for them, and we're able to easily track who we’re sending each order through the order history log,” said the head of payment solutions and compliance.

The team now easily manages thousands of payouts on a weekly basis. Reconciling accounts—a task that used to consume the team’s time—is now a snap, they say, because they can easily track payments on Tremendous and purchase rewards on an as-needed basis. Tremendous also met the university’s strict requirements on security and accessibility. (And discretion, which is why we can’t name the customer.)

"We're trying to leverage Tremendous to its full capacity and capability because it really is the best solution for us.”

Head of payment solutions and compliance,

Industry Icon

University research

Company Size Icon
Company Size

40,000 employees

Payouts sent to Icon
Payouts sent to

43 countries

Average payout value Icon
Average payout value


Products used Icon
Products used

Virtual Visa, Virtual Master Card, Gift Cards

Bespoke solutions enabling the university to send $1 million to 43 countries

Huge catalog of international and domestic rewards

Hours of work saved per week

Ready to get started?
Contact sales

Ready to get started?

Click "Sign up" at top right. Or request a demo below and our sales team will be happy to walk you through the platform.