The Top 5 Pieces Of Advice From Payments Execs

Executive Payments Advice

It was undoubtedly a big year for payments, and before we jump into 2017, it’s time to take a look back at some of the biggest things 2016 taught us. To do that, we’ve gathered the best advice from leaders across the payments space in our 2016 Commanders-In-Chief Roundup. From what keeps them up at night to the changing face of innovation, these commanders-in-chief share their thoughts on all things payments.

The Commanders-In-Chief series gives executives across the payments space an opportunity to not only share their insights but also pass along advice based on their experiences and what they are seeing in the industry. Over the years, we’ve heard from many payments stakeholders, and as 2017 approaches, we’ve gathered some of the advice we think everyone should keep top of mind.


Look For Innovation In Unlikely Places

David Weiss, president of YapStone

The payments space is rapidly expanding, and as new entrants continue join the fold, Weiss noted that there’s plenty of opportunity to discover innovation in unlikely places. He told PYMNTS that it’s necessary to search both internally and externally, across a growing pool of partners and constituencies, when carving out the path to innovation.

“It’s extraordinarily difficult to build a payments company in this market environment … I would advise seeking meaningful partnerships that accelerate and de-risk the business plan. We look at Money20/20 and imagine how many of those companies will have thriving businesses three to five years from now. We often refer to the great line from the movie ‘Jaws’ in regards to most of those companies: ‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat,’” Weiss said.


Fight Crime With Digital Identities

Garrett Gafke, global president and CEO of IdentityMind

Digital identities are one of the most powerful but underutilized tools in combating fraud and financial crime in real time, Gafke told PYMNTS. They are rich veins of information whose eDNA (electronic DNA) can restore integrity to the financial system by utilizing predictive actions to prevent abuse.

“EDNA allows banks, payment service providers, merchants and the overall FinTech ecosystem to benefit from sharing risk information, while maintaining users’ information privacy. This is a fundamental change to the way institutions have historically managed risk,” he explained. “Instead of a static definition of an identity, our technology builds dynamic identities at the speed of digital commerce, with information contributed and constantly updated with each transaction that enters the system. This makes it easy to recognize stolen identities, [stolen] cards and repeated bad actors but also — and perhaps more importantly — to recognize trusted customers and correct information.”


Expand The Experience

Glen Fossella, executive vice president of enterprise growth at Urban FT

Consumers have come to expect the ability to bank digitally, and Fossella said that spurring growth in the space starts with transforming digital banking into a valuable service that customers can’t live without.

“In our view, the next generation of digital banking and payments needs to be experiential. This is when you can engage in an ongoing conversation with customers, get to know them and really respond to their needs. This way, you become ingrained within consumers’ lifestyles, integrating their social lives with the financial lives,” he explained.


Look Outside The Payments Box

Rudolf Booker, CEO and founder of Payvision

Sometimes, the pressure to come up with the “next best idea” can overshadow the opportunity to deliver the best answer to the problem, but Booker said inspiration for innovation can really come from anywhere.

“I think innovative ideas can ignite from inside the payments industry but outside it as well. The FinTech sector is merging, and innovative uses of the existing tools or mechanisms offer new perspectives. Nowadays, one can spot ideas that are not used in the payments business yet but have great potential,” Booker noted.


Don’t Forget About Customer Intimacy

Bill Clerico, CEO of WePay

Companies like Starbucks and Airbnb stand out and continue to dominate, not just because of the products and services they provide but because they have excelled at fostering customer intimacy, Clerico noted. Unfortunately, this is still something many payments companies tend to underestimate the importance of.

“There is a famous business artifact — a triangle — that differentiates companies in three ways: product innovators that ship the latest thing, operational and efficiency companies who compete on price and a third category of companies that are customer-intimate, who really understand the customer,” he continued.

“We fall into the third bucket, customer intimacy specialists, which is highly differentiated in the payment space. A year ago, bitcoin was hot, and companies rushed to add bitcoin to their checkout form. We asked our customers whether they wanted us to do that, too. They were much more interested in a mobile point-of-sale unit they could brand and we would white-label. So, that’s what we did. Doing things like that deepens our relationship with our customers, the value that we add, and ultimately fuels our customers’ businesses.”