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January 12, 2022Executive Interview Series

Executive Interview Series: Head of Payments at CSG Forte, Jeff Kump

The Executive Interview Series provides readers with exclusive insights from movers and shakers in the payments industry. The Payments Industry is under continuous transformation. As such, this series offers diverse perspectives on everything from strategy to payments technology and the future of the industry.

In this interview, TSG’s Market Intelligence team-member Alex Ferguson sat down with Jeff Kump, Head of Payments at CSG Forte, to learn more about his journey through the payments industry and how CSG Forte is creating a merchant service offering for the future.

Background: Jeff Kump is Head of Payments at CSG, where he oversees go-to-market strategy and new opportunities in the global payments market. Kump previously served as Head of Payment Operations for CSG Forte, focusing on continuous business process improvement, risk and fraud management and providing an unparalleled customer experience.

Since 2006, Kump has been tasked with leading and growing CSG Forte’s operational and cross-functional teams. Additionally, he has proved instrumental in advancing CSG Forte’s corporate development and growth strategy, serving as Forte’s COO and CFO before the company’s acquisition by CSG in 2018. During his tenure at Forte, the company was recognized by the Inc. 5000 as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies for eight consecutive years.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
How did you get your start in the payments industry?

A: Jeff Kump
I found the payments industry almost by accident. I went to college to become an accountant and was working my way through school, working for a supply chain company. This job helped me as I pursued my degree, but I was not using my degree as I had intended. I was fascinated by the finance world and was looking for a place where I could put my accounting skills to good use. That is when I stumbled upon Authorize.net in American Fork, Utah. I was offered and accepted a role as a staff accountant. The rest is history.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
How did this experience at Authorize.net influence you and help prepare you for your future leadership roles at CSG Forte?

A: Jeff Kump
Authorize.net was a rapidly growing company, so I was able to experience the inner workings of both a company and industry that evolve every day. I saw the importance of being able to adapt to the demands of an ever-changing growth company. By being a part of Authorize.net and understanding both business and market dynamics, I was able to learn the quick inner workings of the payments space.

In addition to learning about the payment business, I also had great mentors and leaders who demonstrated strong leadership. They taught me to be flexible, humble, and to never accept the status quo.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
Looking back at your experiences, what do you feel is your biggest contribution to the payments industry thus far?

A: Jeff Kump
I bring elements of all my previous experiences to work every day, and the leadership skills my mentors have demonstrated over the years are instrumental in shaping how I challenge my teams today. With the help of our talented team at CSG Forte, we have been able to make great strides in the evolution of our payment platform – adapting to the unique needs of our customers beyond the technical aspect. With this focus, I am immensely proud of our ability as a company to continually deliver extraordinary experiences for our customers year in and year out. We deliver the operational and backend contractual components necessary to provide flexibility to our customers and to the platform as their needs evolve. This commitment to customer excellence, combined with technical excellence, is something that makes us stand out in the market, particularly for customers who need a robust payments platform. 

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
Tell me more about CSG Forte. What makes it different from other competing payment entities?

A: Jeff Kump
Our strategic approach to integrated payments is what sets us apart from our competitors. We provide a holistic cloud-based payments solution through a single integration, making it easy for merchants and partners to onboard, integrate, and take advantage of CSG Forte’s entire payments stack and customize it to their needs. One size does not fit all, and we offer customizable options for our customers to pick and choose the functionality for what they need to grow their business today while leaving room to expand features and functions as they scale.

We are committed to making it easy for customers to onboard, ensuring our integrated payments platforms can serve their customers quickly and seamlessly, resulting in faster time to revenue for all participants in the chain.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
CSG Forte has a strong focus on specific key industries such as Healthcare, Property Management, Insurance, Government, Utilities, and Teleco. What about CSG is so well suited to serve these verticals?

A: Jeff Kump
Our ability to provide merchants with more cost-effective ways to accept payments is one thing that separates CSG Forte from our competitors. As companies continue to learn about our offerings and solutions in ACH, their eyes are broadened on the different capabilities and value adds that we provide on top of core payment processing. Another way that we differentiate ourselves is the way we manage the exception management process in ACH and can match returned transactions back to the original payment. Those nuances that most people do not think about are how we are able to handle ACH in a more effective manner than anyone else in the market. 

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
CSG Forte is one of the more active payment entities in its focus on integrated payments and establishing ISV relationships with examples such as Accela, Buildium, and Priority Software. How do you see the U.S. integrated market growing in the coming years and CSG Forte’s role within it?

A: Jeff Kump
The remarkable thing about CSG Forte’s solution is that it can be adapted to nearly any industry. Our focus today is in five key verticals (Healthcare, Property Management, Insurance, Government, Utilities), but as we continue to saturate those verticals, we are looking across the spectrum to find others that have more reoccurring payments like professional services, field services, health, beauty, and childcare. We are also looking to expand our capabilities into eCommerce and develop our solution offerings to make ACH a better overall user experience that mimics the credit card experience and funding time frames for merchants. 

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
Overall, where do you see CSG Forte five years down the line? What is next on the strategic roadmap?

A: Jeff Kump
The digital transformation trends, including the push to modernize payment systems, are accelerating the move to digital payments at a rapid pace. With this as the backdrop, CSG Forte has a solid foundation with our platform allowing customers to expand their payment capabilities quickly and easily. As we expect these trends to continue, we are dedicated to delivering integrated and embedded software solutions that reduce time to market and increase revenue. Customer experience plays a crucial role in this. We are committed to supporting extraordinary customer experiences with a platform that is easy to use and solves business problems, whether its integrated software vendors and their customers, a merchant, or an enterprise.

Q: TSG’s Alex Ferguson:
How has CSG Forte dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you feel the impact has looked different than other payments entities based on the verticals you target?

A: Jeff Kump
In the payments world, the COVID-19 pandemic sent shockwaves throughout the industry, the impact of which we are continuing to see. The pandemic presented an opportunity to evaluate how business, and in our case, payments are done. We saw breakthroughs in digital payments, which many of our customers were able to leverage. Many of our customers are working with recurring payments, where these payments, particularly in the government sector, are taken in person. When the pandemic hit, taking an in-person payment was not an option and our customers needed to pivot quickly. With the CSG Forte platform, we were able to help our customers seamlessly transition to accept payments online or through IVR phone payments. The ability to accept digital payments was available through the same platform, with the same tools our customers use to reconcile and manage their payments at the point of sale. By helping them to implement quickly and efficiently without the need for additional certification or reintegration, our merchants were able to maintain business continuity and seamlessly support their customers through other digital channels.

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