CEO Series

The Lasting Power Of Incremental Innovation

Meet Guy Duncan, Chief Technology Officer at PayU. A tech-centric “Renaissance Man” (who also operates his own publishing house), Duncan’s day-to-day life centers on product development, strategy, operations and customer service. As part of’s Commanders In Chief Series, Duncan shared his personal point of view in his daily role as a CTO, and the importance of building out innovation over the long term.


PYMNTS:  What does a day in a life of a Chief Technology Officer look like?

GD:  As the Chief Technology Officer of a global company with presence in 16 diverse countries across the globe, each day is different and new challenges and opportunities are presented. Every day is fast-paced with diverse problems, and I spend much of my time working with my colleagues and team looking for the most innovative and flexible solutions that can meet the growing demands of PayU as well as our more than 160,000 clients around the world. In PayU, most of the employees are located within our local country and regional offices and, therefore, I frequently find myself on calls with the India team in the morning and the Latin America team in the afternoon. To achieve the goals of the company, face-to-face meetings are key, so you can often find me on flights to work with our local development teams in Africa, Europe, India and Latin America. Really, each day presents opportunities for PayU and I do my best to support our efforts across the globe and am constantly looking for cutting-edge technology to meet our needs.


PYMNTS:  What is the most difficult part of your job and why?

GD:  PayU is unique in the fact that we are heavily integrated locally with a focus on providing unique capabilities for each locale. This structure requires flexibility with technology and capabilities that are in country and work with the local financial structures. We support more than 160,000 merchants and over 250 payment methods, and by being local, it allows us greater reach and depth of knowledge in each market, however, it makes demands on our technology stacks to ensure that we can enable our technology and product capabilities to meet our customers’ needs. This creates a highly complex challenge, but is also what provides value to our merchants.


PYMNTS:  What do you wish you had more time to do?

GD:  I love being hands on with the technology and building new capabilities in new markets. I would jump at the chance to build and deliver for the business. Apart from this, I would also like to spend more time visiting our merchants and consumers to understand, from their point of view, what gaps there are in the market. Luckily, I feel confident that my local teams spend a lot of their time doing exactly this, and we are able to more quickly capitalize on these business opportunities.


PYMNTS:  What does innovation mean to you?

GD:  Innovation is crucial and is the fuel that powers the future. It is about continuing to create and build in a sustainable and realistic pace and doing everything possible to combine timing, talent and technology to unlock the capabilities of the company. Innovation can often be confused as a big bang — as an Agilest I am a fervent believer in delivering innovation in incremental and experimental steps. Transformation does not come quickly, but through iterative and experimental steps that are based upon empirical insights, blended with core product knowhow on what the market needs, not today, but 12 to 24 months from today.


PYMNTS:  Speaking specifically of the payments and commerce space, what in your opinion is the most impactful innovation in that realm in the last five years?

GD:  Looking back on the last five years, there have been so many innovations, especially when it comes to many of the markets where PayU operates. However, I would say that seamless payments that are easy and smartphone-centric have started to evolve and these innovations are ongoing. We have seen great advances in the user experience of payments, and I only expect that to continue.

Consolidation of back-end payment platforms into the cloud is definite innovation that is happening now; I would expect most services to move to the cloud over the next five years.

I believe that in the next five years we will have full mobile consumer wallets that can serve multiple use cases around payments that will be meaningful and you will not have to use a physical card. The key is the use cases that we will solve for, more meaningful use cases around consumer lending and narrow banking.

Blockchain is a very disruptive and innovative technology that we will enable new methods of payments that will rely on distributed trust. I believe that blockchain will be one of fundamental building blocks of the next generation payment platforms and technology.

Whether it’s wallets, payment gateways or new methods of automation for very difficult use cases (such as mortgages) that today are very manual and not automated, complex financial transactions are ripe for the taking using blockchain.

So we will see services running in the cloud with increased security, mobile-centric services, and mobile access to complex financial payments and financial services as the next great innovative advances in the industry.


PYMNTS:  Any recent success stories you would like to share with us?

GD:  The fact is that we are pushing new innovations and new products every day, and we are moving to the use of new technologies and functional programming languages like Scala. Our ability to roll new payment methods and new bank integrations is impressive and a must to be successful in the markets where we operate. We continue to develop technological solutions to make advances in the commerce and payments markets in the emerging markets where we operate. For example, building out fully fledged cloud services for consumer wallets is an area of recent success that is a rapid adoption.


Guy Duncan, Chief Technology Officer at PayU

After gaining a BA in Philosophy, Analytical & Mathematics at the University of Nebraska, Duncan started out as Chief Technical Officer and soon after Chief Information Officer at Accutech. There he constructed one of the world’s first platforms for Internet based voting. Duncan remained in the software development and online world, leading the tech development at Valtech, a pioneering company in the technology and digital space, to help clients deliver intuitive customer experiences. He was Product and Technology Officer at – an online gambling company. Besides his tech-oriented career, Duncan recently established his own publishing house Gibraltar Editions where hand-made books are designed and distributed.


To get a glimpse into the minds of other C-suite players and get a sense of their roles, click here.




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