July 15, 2020TSG Press

Executive Interview Series: WePay (a Chase company) Chief Revenue Officer, Jennifer Parker

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 provides diverse perspectives on everything from strategy to payments technology and to the future of the industry.

In this interview, TSG’s Market Intelligence team-member Alex Ferguson spoke with WePay Chief Revenue Officer Jennifer Parker to learn more about her thoughts around the growth and spread of integrated payments and WePay’s role in the future of this rapidly growing subset of the payment industry.     

Background: Jennifer oversees WePay’s sales, marketing, implementation, and customer success activities. She joined WePay in 2018 after eight years managing JPMorgan Chase sales teams, and earlier worked at Pfizer and Accenture. She has an ability to memorize long strings of numbers – and is searching for a better use for this skill than making it easier to spend money on shopping and travel.

Q: Alex Ferguson
How did you get into payments?

A: Jennifer Parker
Honestly, I fell into payments because I was interested in a new challenge. Five to six years ago, when I was in the JPMorgan Chase Commercial Banking, we saw significant growth in the payments business – it was a primary driver to bringing significant meaningful incremental revenue to the companies we served. I noticed that payments were the connective tissue. No matter what industry or business type, businesses have to be able to successfully accept payments.

I moved from Commercial Banking to Merchant Services where I gained my first real experience in payments before joining the WePay team. I have always been interested in the innovative and fast-growing startup-like side of businesses. Since joining WePay, I’m fully able to be at the forefront of innovation. The fast-paced environment of payments aligns with my need to move quickly and it feeds my natural, competitive drive.

I was a collegiate athlete and as I move further and further away from my college days, it is important for me to find other healthy ways to compete without driving my family crazy.

Q: Alex Ferguson
Describe your biggest contribution to the payments industry.

A: Jennifer Parker
As much as I love payments, I feel my biggest contributions have actually been around the softer side of the payments space. As a Black woman in a leadership role, I recognize I have an opportunity to bring my diverse perspective and make a different kind of contribution, both inside and outside the walls of WePay. There are a limited number of women and people of color in C-suite roles in the fintech / payments industry, so I actively leverage my network and seek out minority CEOs to engage in strategic conversations. I also invite them into WePay and the broader firm for roundtables and events to promote a more diverse conversation. Inside the walls of WePay, I’ve been working closely with WePay’s Chief People Officer, Tina Hsiao, to continue breaking barriers and make diversity and inclusion a priority at our company. This includes looking for new ways to attract and retain underrepresented talent from other channels not targeted in the past like HBCUs.

Q: Alex Ferguson
WePay was one of the first companies to offer integrated payments and work with website builders to unify the setup process of building a website and setting up payment acceptance. How much do you think this competitive advantage contributed to the company’s success?

A: Jennifer Parker
Absolutely, the way co-founders Bill Clerico and Rich Aberman, co-founders of WePay, lead WePay’s business – from the culture to the products – is why the company has been successful. WePay was one of the first fintech companies that offered integrated payments to software companies and ultimately one of the reasons why Chase acquired us. WePay was Chase’s first big fintech acquisition in over a decade and part of the reason was that our technology and innovation fit really well as part of Chase Merchant Services’ product set. We excel at serving our ability to serve software companies that serve small businesses. With the additional backing of Chase, WePay’s technology is integrated with a much bigger stack of banking product offerings. An example of that is when WePay announced our Same-Day Deposits feature last September. Since WePay is backed by the powerhouse of Chase, we are not only the payments processor but we’re also part of the bank, and we can deposit their credit and debit card proceeds the same day, including weekends, at no additional cost.

As the daughter of a business owner, I clearly recall the importance of having quick access to cash and capital. Cash flow is one of the major challenges small businesses face and when they are looking to get paid, it can take 24, 48, sometimes 72 hours over the weekend for that payment to hit. The success of your business is on the line when you’re waiting on a payment.

Q: Alex Ferguson
What do you think the integrated payments landscape will look like 5 years from now?

A: Jennifer Parker
Interestingly enough, I believe the change we would have normally seen happen in payments over the next three to five years has been condensed to just a few months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is an even greater need in the point-of-sale space to have contactless payment options and digital wallets. Restaurants and retailers had to quickly scramble to move the offline portion of their businesses online. In the events space, we’ve seen companies that traditionally support in-person events pivot and leverage technology to support virtual events. I believe that many of these new behaviors and the new adoption of software will continue even after the world returns to some sort of “new” normal.

We believe that payments and banking services should be seamlessly built into the software that businesses use every day. Recently, we have seen trends from companies such as Square, Uber, Shopify and others start to offer financial services that are similar to those from a bank. The trend of integrated banking has seeped down to even the most niche software platforms, as the benefits are universal for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies.

SaaS platforms are uniquely positioned to deliver these banking products compared to traditional brick-and-mortar retail banks. Distinct advantages closely align with SaaS platforms’ goals, which include monetizing transactions, providing a seamless user experience, and enhancing platform stickiness by deepening their relationship with merchants. Our payments expertise and the distribution of JPMorgan Chase give us the unfair advantage to help SaaS platforms achieve their revenue goals, enhance the SMB experience, and focus on advancing their software’s core functionality.

Q: Alex Ferguson
What do you think is the most commonly misunderstood aspect of integrated payments? Its most overlooked benefit?

A: Jennifer Parker
The way payments are used has dramatically changed in the last 10 years for small businesses. 10 years ago, most small businesses had to walk into their bank’s branch. The same could be said for consumer spending and buying behaviors because millennials are in their prime spending years and are the majority of today’s consumers. Millennials, the first digital generation, are looking for a more curated, customized experience.

Knowing this, small businesses have had to shift the way they run their business to capture the attention of this audience and they see software helping solve this challenge. By using software to run their business with payments built-in, this single system provides better data for the business owner while running every aspect of their business.

One overlooked benefit to integrated payments is just that — having a single system that provides a view into your entire business so as the business owner you see your inventory, sales, business transactions, pay bills, pay employees, etc.

Ultimately, platforms are able to increase their revenue and meet their bottom line through integrated payments. Platforms can monetize their transactions and increase stickiness with an additional value-add feature.

Q: Alex Ferguson
How is WePay approaching the fraud and risk environment differently? How is it different from competitors?

A: Jennifer Parker
One of our key offerings in WePay’s suite of integrated payments solutions for platforms is our comprehensive security and robust fraud protection. Making up this offering are our Link, Clear, and Core products. Our sophisticated risk engine is designed to sift through hundreds of pieces of data in our repository for underwriting, monitoring, mitigation, and decisioning.

Our risk engine assesses and reassesses risk on every payment and settlement as more data becomes available to continuously learn about the business. Tailored fraud detection automatically recognizes any unusual business activity while flagging any suspicious transactions.

We look at hundreds of data signals and filter through transaction data that comes through to shrink risk liability without sacrificing the business growth. We also have a built-in dispute resolution management system where we manage chargebacks and refunds directly within our Merchant Center.

Q: Alex Ferguson
How has COVID-19 impacted WePay?

A: Jennifer Parker
COVID-19 has impacted everyone from our colleagues, families, and communities to our clients and partners. For many, we are adjusting to homeschooling and all working within a few feet from our entire family. For others, they are feeling isolated and miss their friends and family.

This pandemic was not something anyone or any business was truly prepared for but we are embracing this change. For our clients, we were immediately in touch to provide support, information and resources to help them navigate this difficult time. For our employees, we supported their individual needs. We successfully transitioned everyone to work 100% remotely in one day, and have hosted a number of virtual team building and bonding activities in order to preserve our strong people culture. Many of our employees have expressed how they’ve been able to get to know their teams better in a more personal way. COVID-19 has also forced us to be creative in the way we think about onboarding and engaging with our employees.

We have been able to assure our clients that we are here for them for their payments needs through any cycle and will continue to be a place of consistency and reliability as we navigate our path forward.

Q: Alex Ferguson
What is WePay doing today to assist merchants impacted by the pandemic?

A: Jennifer Parker
We are committed to helping our platform partners as well as their merchants and continue to proactively check-in to see how we can help. We are consulting with them and, for our partners who also bank with Chase, we assisted them by connecting them with their bankers to help with the SBA loan.

JPMorgan Chase has committed $50 million to address immediate public health and long-term economic challenges from the COVID-19 global pandemic. Additionally, Chase and WePay have been developing a number of charitable and incentive programs as well as other educational resources to assist merchants and small businesses vulnerable to significant economic hardships.

Our Partner Resource Center contains a lot of COVID-related resources that allow our partners to help educate themselves, such as previous webinars focused on how to access capital management, advice for our black small business owners hosted by Daymond John, and other similar helpful topics.

Q: Alex Ferguson
Have you seen any changes or trends in fraud and risk since the COVID-19 pandemic began?

A: Jennifer Parker
Fraud is definitely surging as we see eCommerce, online payments, and transaction volume booming. Merchants are dealing with an influx of canceled transactions and chargebacks in areas where there is future delivery such as the events space as consumers continue to be concerned about canceled or delayed events.

Other industries like online wellness or online education are dealing with a large spike of new clients. With this increase in new business, there also comes a new wave of fraudsters hiding within the new volume. The biggest risk is to the businesses that are reliant on older systems and not well protected. In addition to chargeback concerns, they need to have appropriate controls in place to recognize fraud tactics like Account Takeover (ATO).

Fraudsters know certain industries are seeing a significant amount of new business and are hoping to fly under the radar with the incremental activity. It is essential now more than ever that companies are protecting themselves with the right tools in-house or look to their payment processor like WePay to help protect them. As the uncertainty of future shutdowns looms – shelter in place still remaining in many states – and increased online transactions, this problem could last for many months to come.

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