eWise Looks to Develop Secure Vault Payments Network

eWise, the exclusive provider for NACHA’s Secure Vault Payments (SVP) Network, completed a $12.1 million funding round earlier this year to support the full commercialization of SVP.

Dean Seifert, eWise’s new Senior Vice President of Sales, has been given the task of driving the growth of SVP, including its deployment among financial institutions and merchants. Seifert, whose resume includes positions at First Data, Western Union and TSYS, acknowledges that launching a new payment scheme is notoriously difficult. He discusses why he thinks SVP can buck the trend, as well as the dramatic differences between U.S. and international payments markets, in this exclusive NEXTcast interview.

PYMNTS: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, how you got into payments, and what it means to be Senior Vice President, Sales at eWise?

Seifert: I started my payments career with American Express/First Data in the early 90s. At that time, First Data was going through explosive growth after its spin-off from American Express. My first exposure to payments was with the Integrated Payment Systems division that supported official checks, money orders and, eventually, person-to-person remittances with the launch of MoneyGram. I was with First Data in various roles from product development, business development, application development and operations through the acquisition and subsequent spin-off of Western Union in 2006. 

I opted to go with Western Union after the spin-off, eventually taking over Global Product Development responsibilities for Western Union both for the domestic and international businesses. It was during this time that I came to appreciate the dramatic differences between the U.S. payments market and international payment capabilities. We launched product development centers on every continent to partner with our worldwide agent partners, launching several “new to the world” programs in the space of micro-lending, mobile P2P, prepaid cards and on-line transfers with westernunion.com.

In 2007, I joined a payment technology firm in Santa Clara, Calif, called Infonox, which was later acquired by TSYS Acquiring Solutions in late 2008. I joined TSYS Acquiring senior management team in January 2009, leading their sales, marketing and client relations team through March 2010.

My role at eWise as Senior VP/Sales is very focused and committed to one goal: building participation in the Secure Vault Payments network with financial institutions, merchants and payment gateways. We have had several successes in the past few months and have been able to build strong momentum and interest across the spectrum of players in the payment chain. I’m responsible to ensure that we’re creating awareness and enabling participation from the FI community — both with banks and credit unions of all sizes, as well as educating and making merchants aware of the value of this payment option to themselves and their consumers.

PYMNTS: What was most attractive about eWise, and what was the driving factor to join the team?

Seifert: After being involved in other failed payment schemes, such as MoneyZap, BidPay and CashCard, I knew all too well the challenges in launching a new payment brand. When I first heard about Secure Vault Payments, I recognized the risks for any new payment capability to break through the barriers of consumer adoption as well as the proverbial chicken/egg struggle in gaining critical mass of both FI’s and merchants. After spending a few minutes with the executive team at eWise and understanding the consumer experience, I realized that this IS the way people should pay online — it’s safe, convenient and fast for the consumer AND reduces the risk to the merchant and costs less than other payment options. And, it is “FI Inclusive” — meaning that it has the banks at the heart of the payment process — enabling FI’s to retain their relationship with their customer WHILE creating a new revenue stream. It’s one of those rare and unique opportunities to work on a new product that actually benefits everyone in the payment stream from the customer on down. Simply put, I couldn’t find a flaw in the payment scheme.

PYMNTS: PYMNTS.com is all about “what’s next” in payments. How will you, in your role, help eWise define “what’s next?”

Seifert: Anyone in this industry knows that it’s a fast-paced, highly dynamic and innovative environment. At eWise, our mission is to find ways to leverage the tried and true authentication methods employed by banks today for their online banking and leverage low-cost funds movement networks around the world to deliver safe, secure and real-time payments between customers and merchants. If credit cards were Web Payments 1.0 and PayPal is Web Payments 2.0, we believe that Secure Vault Payments and networks like it around the world are Web Payments 3.0. 

We’re actively moving to enable cross-border payment capabilities, starting with payments from Canadian consumers using Interac Online (the Canadian version of Secure Vault Payments) and U.S. merchants. This will allow more than 11 million Canadian account holders the convenience and safety of paying from their bank account to U.S. merchants, while U.S. merchants receive guaranteed funding in 2-3 days in U.S. dollars. We’ll be expanding this capability with other partners, such as iDeal in the Netherlands and giroPay in Germany. We’re about to launch our PayO network in the UK in collaboration with Vocalink, expanding bank authenticated payments to UK merchants. From there, we’ll continue to introduce OBeP (Online Banking Electronic Payments) to other countries throughout Europe, Asia and Latin America.

We’ve also begun design on a transformation of our Web payment capabilities to a mobile channel, enabling mobile payments that leverage online bank authentication and ACH funding. This design will enable us to support retail POS payments utilizing a mobile phone. Expect to hear more about this as we enter the first quarter of 2011.

PYMNTS: Who or what has been the biggest influence in your professional career?

Seifert: During my tenure with Western Union, I had the opportunity to reside as an ex-pat in Ireland, working globally with employees of Western Union, international agent partners and payments companies from around the world. 

Professionally, this experience provided some of the best education as to just how different payment and money movement systems evolve from one country to another. And, how each region struggles with its own realities that can impede or foster innovation. I had the chance to see first-hand several major influences and factors on payments and funds movement worldwide, from mobile payments in Asia, to SEPA in Europe and the impact of the Patriot Act on worldwide remittances. 

Personally, the move to Ireland with my family was a growing experience for all of us. I believe our time in Europe was one of the most formative events in the lives of my children thus far.

Executive Bio: Dean Seifert is the Senior Vice President of Sales at eWise.  Prior to joining eWise, Dean served as the Group Executive for Sales, Client Relations and Marketing at Total Systems Services, Inc. (TSYS).  He was also previously with Western Union Financial Services as the General Manager and Vice President of Western Union Global Business Payments.  He also has experience in shaping the payments industry as the Vice President for Product Development at First Data Corporation. 

During Mr. Seifert’s nearly 20 years of payments industry experience, he has led numerous new product launches in the payments and consumer financial services space as well as new product expansion worldwide.  His experience ranges from merchant acquiring and alternative payment systems, to global consumer remittance, commercial and prepaid payments.

Mr. Seifert draws on his background in product development, mergers and acquisitions, client relations and sales and marketing to financial institutions, merchants, gateways, processors and consumers to provide a unique perspective on the payments’ industry landscape.   He is an active inventor with more than 45 issued and applied patents ranging from payment systems, hardware design and engineering, biometrics and authentication systems.


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