I met Ronald Mazursky at his NYPAY event, a New York City payments and mobile commerce group hosting events for innovators and leaders since 2006. He is a founder, officer, and board member of NYPAY. The events often revolve around conversations that involve issuers, merchants, networks, FinTech startups, regulators, and others. As a result, lively and expert discussions are facilitated around topics from specific legal cases, like the Paypal v. the CFPB lawsuit, to the intersections of new technologies such as, biometrics, artificial intelligence, and blockchain. And what are the impacts on the industry as a result? He also is Managing Director of PayGility Advisors with over 35-years of experience with banking products and services, including at MasterCard and Jack Henry & Associates. We are excited to have him join the RemTECH Awards judging panel. He answers some of my questions on where he sees payments innovation going, and how innovation is often incremental rather than radical. We see this in the RemTECH entries, as well.
Olivia Chow: You spearheaded a lot of the innovation at Jack Henry during your tenure there. What endeavors are you most proud of and why do you think they were successful?
Ronald Mazursky: The Group I led was originally viewed as a back-office research team, but not a team that you’d plan strategy with, look forward to our briefings and reports, and seek out our counsel on new initiatives. That all changed. During my tenure I sought out the general managers and key decision makers, met with them, explained why the group will be changing and what they could expect. Within months our team delivered on the promises, were invited to strategy meetings and client meetings, invited to speak at conferences, and new projects began to roll in. In addition, we took on a new role and that was evaluation of fintechs by determining which ones offered great partnership opportunities. We devised a rating and ranking system to evaluate these fintechs and used it to determine which ones senior management might want to look into further and why. With this tool I coached fintechs what they needed to change to be viewed more positively by their financial institution partners.
OC: How did you start NYPAY? And any advice do you have for those wanting to create a community?
RM: In 2006 I was working as a payments industry consultant and although I had a good network, I realized that there were literally thousands of people I didn’t know in the industry. I saw a model of a community that was working in San Francisco, but it catered to everyone. I saw an opportunity to narrow the field a bit by gathering senior executives and leaders in payments AND fintech and have a stronger, more senior level community. There was interest in this type of organization to meet personally several times per year and develop a way to reach each other easily and we started a group first on Yahoo, but then switched over to LinkedIn when it became apparent that networking was moving to LinkedIn. We now have several thousand members and a regular group of attendees at our physical meetups ….and now we’ve added online events in April 2020 due to Covid-19 allowing our community to continue to grow and get stronger.
OC: Any global trends in payments do you think needs to be talked about more?
RM: There are a few trends we have been tracking in payments in the global marketplace that will be impacting product design and delivery.
- Ease of Use in Design – Consumers are showing more receptivity to superior designed online and mobile products and services. By superior in design I refer to ease of use – building applications that are intuitive in design and require less “handholding” with the user to complete the transaction. The alternative is dropped “shopping carts.”
- Easy Integration – Applications need to be built with well-designed API’s that facilitate integration with other products and services in the market. This will speed development and lower the ultimate cost of integration.
- Personalization of Experience – We’ve been providing the same product the same way for years, but someone got the smart idea of personalizing that product delivery to the individual. It really boils down to identifying the important customer identification points and addressing the customer based on those needs or information. Once we can set-up the right data lake or repository, with the most important data elements, we can use them to speak to the consumer in a way they will best respond.
OC: What type of innovations do you think is most needed in the international payments industry?
RM: There are four trends in innovations that I have been tracking in payments in the global marketplace that we need to recognize and react to. They are:
- Open Banking – it is here and it is now. The customer is king. It is critical to be able to enable the products and services that a consumer wants access to. If their financial institution does not offer that service through an API offering, the consumer will obtain the product or service in another manner. You can’t ignore your customer. This is a trend in regulated situations such as the UK or in the US, where it is not regulated but financial institutions have recognized the need for Open Banking.
- Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning – we are in the early stages of adoption and we are seeing it in two ways: NLP – Natural Language Processing built into chatbot’s today and RPA – Robotic Process Automation, enabling manual processes to be automated, leading to greater efficiencies in operations. These do not translate into standalone products, but improvements in existing products and services.
- Digital Banking – the trend had started several years ago, but has gained incredible momentum as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consumers did not leave home in many markets around the world during March – June 2020. As a result, banking activities fell to online and mobile banking applications in most situations. Without state of the art mobile applications, consumers lost some of their freedom and flexibility in movement of funds. If consumers needed to move funds, they could no longer go to their banks or money transfer points and had to provide instructions via an online service (for banks that would be via P2P or wire transfers). Although most financial institutions in the US have at least rudimentary digital capability, they are not all at the same high levels of operation. For example, online and mobile account openings are just making headway at financial institutions – and online and mobile account openings are behind the curve for smaller and mid-size financial institutions.
- Data Lakes/Repositories – Most financial institutions have simple customer information files, but many have not compiled the monthly transactions or data points in a way they can be analyzed and used for better product or service delivery. This is becoming a necessity, especially with the trends identified above. Let me be clear. You really cannot apply AI/ML without a data repository. You can’t really provide the best digital banking service without a robust data repository. This is going to be one of the requisite precursors for future innovation.
OC: As a consultant at Paygility Advisors, what is something common that you find clients misunderstand about innovation?
RM: Most clients perceive innovation to be “radical” rather than “evolutionary” in nature. In other words, most clients see innovation as new product development versus noticeable changes in a product (but keeping the product design fundamentally intact). The concept of innovation needs to be viewed as improvement in product design and delivery and not “toss out the existing product to create a new one.”
So innovation doesn’t need to be a product re-write, but it could be something straightforward as a process improvement. Innovation doesn’t need to be changes to the core product features, but can be changes in product delivery or process. Perhaps the most important innovation is where the consumer is delighted by making the product usage easier (uberization) or something as simple as a reduction in keystrokes in a new account application.
Call for Entries
Enter in the RemTECH Awards by August 4th by visiting our Call for Entries page. We are looking for startups and incumbents around the world that are making a positive impact in the international money transfer community. Maybe we’ll feature you in a RemTECH Chat interview.