Payments

She Works Hard for the Money

Here at Finix, we're fintech fanatics year-round. But this month for Women's History month, we're shining a spotlight on a few of the growing number of women in payments that make our industry more diverse, innovative, and the best place to be. It's no secret that financial services has a reputation for being a male-dominated industry. Luckily, with the contributions of thousands of forward-thinking women across the industry, that's changing. The four women we profile this month are leading that charge bringing their unique expertise, unconventional thinking, and can/will-do attitude to the exciting world of payments. Learn more about them below!

Meet Marie Mui, Senior Vice President of Merchant Sales Management at Wells Fargo

 

Finix: How did you get into payments/finance/FinTech? 

 

Marie: In 1999, I began working for an early-stage payment gateway company as one of the few women in the organization, and in an industry that was predominantly male at the time. The internet was still young, payments and e-commerce were in its infancy, and the next thing you know…I caught the “payments bug.” During this time, I became immersed in and passionate about the rapid growth of e-commerce and fraud prevention. I’d always had a keen interest in this space, having watched my parents, who owned gas stations while I was growing up, operate businesses in one of the first industries to adopt electronic authorizations, and also one of the first to deal with instances of skimming-related credit card fraud. After several years, including another stint at another early-stage e-commerce company, I had the opportunity to come back to Wells Fargo for an exciting role in its newly formed Online Merchant Services business. Having initially started my career at Wells Fargo as a bank teller, I was thrilled to bring my professional experiences back “home,” and today, I am proud to be a member of the Wells Fargo Merchant Services family for almost 20 years.

 

Finix: Where do you think the largest industry opportunities are for the next decade? 

 

Marie: As the payments space continues to evolve, we are seeing a lot of consolidation, especially with large, established companies acquiring smaller and more nimble organizations. I believe this consolidation will make way for exciting new opportunities spanning several areas, including Big Data and AI, continued globalization and the expansion of the omnichannel environment, and B2B and micro-merchants, among others.

 

Finix: What advice, if any, do you have for women who would like to get into payments? 

 

Marie: One of the best things you can do when trying to break into the payments (or any) industry is network – both inside your company and out. A great place to start is with local payments chapters and organizations, such as WNet, Women in Payments, and other regional organizations like BayPay. These organizations provide many opportunities to get involved and meet other folks with shared interests. Payments is a diverse universe that encompasses a variety of disciplines: Sales, Operations, Credit, Compliance, Technology, Marketing, and more. There’s a place for everyone and room to grow as you learn the business and industry. For example, I began my career as a bank teller, and I earned my degree in Broadcasting. Yet, in my current role, I have the unique opportunity to collaborate with businesses of all sizes, from two-person startups to Fortune 100’s. Don’t wait for permission to start, and don’t let anyone tell you that you aren’t qualified.  

 

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Finix: Share one career highlight you’re most proud of. 

 

Marie: Rather than share one career highlight, I’d like to focus on a career theme that I am most proud of, and that is to remove obstacles so that others can succeed. It sounds simple, and it is. Whether you’re working with customers, collaborating with co-workers and business partners, or supporting family, I’ve found that when you adopt the needs of others a priority, you can shed biases and preconceived notions to understand their problems with objectivity and empathy. This approach results in a genuine desire to help and support the collective “we.” It helps builds trust, and trust is the foundation of every great organization. 

 

Finix: Anything else you’d like to add?

 

Marie: As women, we share an important responsibility and obligation to support one another. When we come together to lift each other up, there’s no telling what can be accomplished in business, within the community, and among friends. 

Thanks Marie!

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Meet Kimling Lam, SVP Product Marketing at FIS.

Finix: How did you get into payments/finance/fintech?

Kimling: My career has traversed a wide range of industries, from broadcast journalism to software sales - in fact, I only got started in payments in 2014, almost a decade after I started my career. My foray into the payments world began by chance but is rooted in the relationships I’ve built with great people along the way. In 2008, I had the opportunity to hire a talented, high-potential young man named Jareau Wade (now Head of Growth at Finix), to teach at a non-profit tech incubator based in Ghana. Seven years later, in 2014, he hired me in return— to lead marketing at a payments startup that he co-founded. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Finix: Where do you think the largest industry opportunities are for the next decade?

Kimling: I think the biggest commerce opportunities are with us all day, everyday. Smartphones and embedded payment capabilities are here and will be more deeply embedded in the future. Payments will be seamlessly integrated into the software, applications, and brands that we use and interact with, every minute of each day. 

Finix: What advice, if any, do you have for women who would like to get into payments?

Kimling: Be authentic and be fearless; while fintech is known for being a male-dominated industry, it is embracing change. A great example of this change is at my current company. We have more women in leadership positions than any other place I have worked. Our COO, CMO, and several other key senior leaders across the business are women. Feel empowered to get into the payments industry. 

There is extensive data that diverse experiences, points of view, and skill sets enhance every team from marketing to operations, business development to engineering. Most importantly, never be intimidated by a role or industry that you haven’t work in before - your skills and experience, even if not directly in payments, will be valuable. If you’re looking to expand your network in the payments industry, get involved in meetup groups. I started International Women in Payments and the Denver Fintech Meetup, and both enjoy strong female representation. Commerce and the ways that people pay are continually evolving, and I encourage anyone with genuine curiosity and a desire to make an impact to go for it — the industry needs your conviction, creativity, and integrity.   

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Finix: Share one career highlight you’re most proud of. 

Kimling: In 2016, as a marketing leader for one of the fastest-growing fintech startups, I developed a new retail campaign that included billboards, panels, and wallscapes all over Manhattan. Seeing my creative work come to life in the physical world was truly an exciting thing, and was a definite career highlight. 

While not specifically a highlight, my biggest point of pride is in the teams I’ve built and the careers I have helped launch. I believe that creating cultures of empowerment and building teams dedicated to creative disruption all create a forum for team members to do their best work. My teams learn to iterate quickly and deliver measurable results. I am so proud of seeing people blossom and evolve as amazing marketers and professionals.

Thanks Kimling!

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Meet Kathleen Fiorello, Head of US Third Party Acquiring for American Express Global Merchant & Network Services.

Finix: How did you get into payments/finance/fintech?

Kathleen: I have had a 25 year (and counting) career at American Express, with the majority of that time spent on the merchant services side of the business. With the continuous evolution of merchant acceptance, understanding payment flows, commerce, and new models almost became a standard part of the job. The further I engaged with my partners and merchants in this area, the more interested and excited I became about how things work and what it means for a cardmember and a merchant when the experiences evolve.

Finix: Where do you think the largest industry opportunities are for the next decade?

Kathleen: I believe that connected/contextual commerce and the ability to purchase anything at any time and anywhere will be game-changing. It will redefine how consumers interact with technology and shape new expectations of the purchase path. And it will force companies to rethink how they deliver frictionless and seamless payments experiences globally.

Finix: What advice, if any, do you have for women who would like to get into payments?

Kathleen: Be courageous, be curious, be ambitious, and be bold to ensure that you always have a voice and a seat at the table. Women often doubt themselves or don’t have the confidence and conviction of their own value, and we often have more far greater value than we give ourselves credit for. Recently American Express launched an initiative for all American Express women called the Ambition Project aimed at helping drive women’s collective success and address the unique challenges women face in the workplace. It couldn’t come at a better time and is truly an amazing initiative to help make “ambition” part of the DNA for all people regardless of gender, class, or level you hold in the organization. 

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Finix: Share a career highlight you're most proud of!

More than seven years ago, I was given an opportunity to relocate to Stockholm, Sweden, to run the merchant service business for the Nordics with American Express. I left everyone and everything I knew and stepped out of my comfort zone and ran that business for almost three years. It taught me so much about myself personally and professionally. It truly helped grow my confidence in my abilities to handle new experiences across a myriad of business and personal challenges and opportunities. It also expanded my view and gave me a much greater appreciation of what global really means and cultural nuances and differences that matter when doing business in other regions of the world. That role led me to a global payments consulting role for several years, where I lead teams across the world, which enabled payment products and technologies and eventually to the role I’m in today.

Thanks Kathleen!

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Meet Suneera Madhani, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Fattmerchant.

Finix: How did you get into payments/finance/fintech?

Suneera: I first became involved in fintech, working for one of the top acquiring banks in the nation. While I was there, I was selling merchant services, but quickly recognized there was a huge lack of transparency for small businesses. Merchants faced unnecessary fees, and as the market was going cashless, it was becoming more expensive for them to accept credit cards. Big banks and giant payment companies would hike up rates every quarter without providing much insight to their customers for why. It was all about the transactions and never about the customer experience. There was no added value or benefit to the customer. I knew there was an opportunity to deliver a great payment processing experience for merchants with the transparency they needed and technology to help their business grow.

Finix: Where do you think the largest industry opportunities are for the next decade?

Suneera: The world is continuing to move towards a seamless, customer experience-driven ecosystem. With digital, customers are smarter and wiser about how they make their payments, and the environments and moments in which they pay - whether it's through a smartphone, through the use of a variety of mobile and wearable devices, in-person or online. That is creating a greater opportunity for payment providers to move beyond the transaction and leverage new technologies to deliver something that is both value-driven and consumer-focused.

Payment platforms need to consolidate all the key functions merchants need today into a single, easy to access account while also providing all the data they need to build the best customer payment experience. It's something we already do within our integrated Omni Platform. We provide merchants a unified payment experience and give them real-time analytics that help them drive better business decisions.

Finix: What advice, if any, do you have for women who would like to get into payments?

Suneera: Welcome! There is a huge need for more women to join the payments and fintech ecosystem. The industry is ripe for disruption, and through our innovative, meticulous, customer-first lens, we can transform the way future generations will interact with the payment ecosystem for the better.

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Finix: Share a career highlight you're most proud of!

Suneera: I am most proud of Fattmerchant recently being named #1 processor by U.S. News and World Report. Not only did we achieve the highest rating out of any processor alongside Square, but we also beat out companies like Paypal and Stripe! It has been such an incredible accomplishment, and never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined being the #1 credit card processor in America. And to have it happen right after we were named to Forbes prestigious 2020 Fintech 50 alongside Finix has been amazing.

Other achievements I'm proud of: OBJ Best Places to Work, Forbes Fintech 50, U.S. News #1, and "Best for Higher-Volume Businesses," $5 Billion in payments, etc.

One final note from Suneera:

Work/life balance is a myth when it comes to being a hard-hitting mom boss in the tech field. You will face rejection, and there are moments of failure, but the hard work pays off. It's a continuous journey, with one milestone leading to the next. So just keep going and don't stray from what put you on the path in the first place.

Thanks Suneera!