The Top 10 People Revolutionizing Payments
Posted on Jul 9, 2015
Mobile payments and money transfer, both internationally and domestically, are a huge business, and there are a lot of money in the market – the global remittance market is estimated to reach $636 billion in 2017, according to the World Bank. Between incumbents like Western Union and newer companies like PayPal, there are a lot of players and members involved in the market.
We’ve identified 10 people who are shaping the way we send money. Whether they’re used to being in the public eye, or remain anonymous, we dug up some info on these impressive leaders in order to pay tribute to their hard work.
1. Jennifer Bailey, Head of Apple Pay
Jennifer Bailey, the head of Apple Pay, is one of the most important people in payments today. Apple has jumpstarted the mobile payments industry in the US, getting Americans more interested in paying with their smartphones. Apple Pay was announced alongside the iPhone 6/6+ in September 2014 and launched the next month to great fanfare. Bailey has been integral in the development of Apple Pay, leading the initiative since it started.
With Apple Pay adding big merchants like Best Buy and Kohl’s, and adding new capabilities like supporting loyalty and private-label cards, the future looks optimistic for Apple Pay. One of the biggest difficulties for mobile wallets in the US getting customers aware of it – with Apple’s expertise in marketing and the elegant user experience of Apple Pay, it’s only a matter of time until Apple Pay takes off in the US.
2. Hikmet Ersek, CEO of Western-Union
As the President and CEO of Western Union since 2010, Hikmet Ersek is one of the most powerful people in remittances. He’s a Fortune 500-ranked global leader, which means his decisions have a big influence on cross-border money transfer services. That’s why he’s frequently featured in the media speaking on economic and social topics like globalization, migration, transformation and digital payments, and why he’s a recurring speaker at the World Economic Forum and the Clinton Global Initiative. At Davos this year, he identified mobility, growth, opportunity, and education as the key themes the industry needs to address this year.
Ersek has both grown and diversified WU, adding more than 500,000 agent locations, expanding into electronic and mobile channels, adding business payments, and broadening financial services. He joined WU in 1999, worked several international roles, then became COO before CEO. Before that, he worked for Europay/Mastercard and GE. We think he’s great because he’s identified “multicultural competency” as the most important asset of a potential employee. And according to a profile on The Huffington Post, Ersek cares about his employees’ happiness; he’s a big believer in the “work hard, play hard” mentality.
Ersek has received several awards, such as The Opening Minds Corporate Leadership Award from the Institute of International Education and the 2012 Responsible CEO of the Year Award from Corporate Responsibility magazine. He also gives back by serving on the Board of Directors for Teach for All.
3. Edrizio De La Cruz, Regalii
One of the earliest startups to focus on international remittance, Regalii, a YCombinator backed company founded in 2012, is a battle-tested leader in the remittance market. Knowing firsthand how difficult and tedious it was to send money across international borders, De La Cruz, an ex-investment banker and Wharton MBA, focused on how to make the process simpler and faster for both immigrants and their families back home.
Over time, the company’s focus shifted to international bill pay, helping immigrants in the US pay their family’s bills back home. Not only did Regalii’s early data show that many immigrants used remittance solely to pay bills, but the international bill pay industry is an untapped billion dollar market with little competition. An early beta product launched in 2014 saw user growth double month-to-month, and Regalii has now turned its bill payment product into a worldwide platform, which large money transfer companies are using every day to pay thousands of international bills from the US.
4. Bill Ready, Braintree CEO & PayPal SVP
Bill Ready is already one of the most recognizable faces in the payments industry, guiding Braintree to an $800 million acquisition by PayPal in 2014. Braintree also owns Venmo, one of the hottest P2P payment apps available (especially with millennials). Most recently, Ready was promoted to SVP of Merchant and NextGen Commerce, where he’ll be working with recent PayPal acquisition Paydiant to develop commerce tools for merchants.
Under Ready, Braintree has seen tremendous growth and the V.Zero platform has received much acclaim. V.Zero is a payment API that helps developers easily and quickly add payment capabilities, which is integral for startups who are looking to monetize their mobile apps quickly and efficiently. V.Zero supports a number of different payment methods, like Bitcoin, Apple Pay, and Android Pay, which makes it even more appealling for companies. With PayPal spinning off from parent company eBay next month, Braintree will be an integral part of PayPal’s success as an independent company.
5. Patrick Collison, Stripe CEO
Stripe, another YC alum, is one of the hottest payments startups in the industry today. With a rumored valuation of $5 billion, Stripe acts as a payment processing platform, helping startups and large merchants easily enable payments in apps and on the web.
Collison, and his brother John, founded the company in 2011, and has merchants like Postmates, Lyft, and Shopify as clients and also power Facebook’s and Twitter’s Buy buttons. Stripe is renowned for its focus on simplicity and making sure developers have everything they need to enable e-commerce and m-commerce transactions. Stripe also has a plethora of payment options, from Apple Pay to bitcoin to regular credit and debit card, making it an appealing platform for merchants in the US and abroad.
Stripe also invested in Stellar, a non-profit started by Ripple Labs co-founder Jed McCaleb. Stellar focuses on using bitcoin’s distributed ledger technology to make financial services easier and more efficient.
6. Dan Schulman, Paypal CEO
Dan Schulman joined PayPal in 2014 as President and CEO to lead the company as it separated from eBay. Which is to say he’s the head of one of the largest online payment companies. In 2013, Paypal moved $180 billion in 26 currencies across 193 countries.
Schulman has a successful track record in taking over newly-acquired companies and growing fledgling companies until they are acquired. At the start of his career, he was President and CEO of Priceline Group, Inc. He also spent 18 years at AT&T. Schulman grew Virgin Mobile USA as its founding CEO from one of the first U.S. prepaid cell providers into a huge public company that was acquired by Sprint Nextel for $688 million. After that, Schulman led global strategy and expanded payment services as vice president of American Express.
Schulman is reportedly most proud of his achievements in helping underserved populations. Under him, Virgin Mobile won the private sector award for bringing focus to the plight of homeless youth, and, at American Express, he worked to bring attention and introduce new products to 70 million U.S. adults underserved by traditional consumer financial institutions. He is also a board member of Autism Speaks.
7. Brian Armstrong, CEO and co-founder of Coinbase
Coinbase is an international digital wallet that lets you securely buy, use, and accept bitcoin currency. By founding Coinbase, Armstrong provided a much easier and safer way to exchange bitcoins.
Armstrong has prior experience as a software engineer for Airbnb and previously founded Universitytutor.com, but it’s clear he’s hit his stride with Bitcoin. As CEO of Coinbase and Bitcoin expert, he has a lot of power to decide how the most widely used alternative currency will be brought further into the mainstream.
Since inception, Coinbase has raised over $100 from investors and expanded to 24 countries. Armostrong is one of the major leaders who will have a say in how Bitcoin evolves and grows.
8. Satoshi Nakamoto, Creator of Bitcoin
We don’t know if Satoshi Nakamoto is a person or a group of people, but we do know Satoshi Nakamoto is super important. There’s speculation about almost every aspect of Bitcoin, but there’s no denying its potential. Nakamoto created the Bitcoin protocol and reference software, Bitcoin Core, and in 2008 published a paper on the Cryptogtraphy Mailing list at metzdowd.com describing the digital currency. In 2009, Nakamoto released the first Bitcoin software that launched the network and the first bitcoins.
Nakamato’s contact with the community began to fade around 2010. He/she/they eventually handed over control of the source code repository and alert key functions of the software to Gavin Andresen, as well as control of the Bitcoin.org domain and several other domains to various prominent members of the Bitcoin community. Nakamoto is said to be in possession of roughly one million bitcoins, the largest amount owned by any single address.
Bitcoin may have a long way to go before it revolutionizes remittances, but the impact of Nakamoto’s creation is already being felt.
9. Will Graylin, Head of Samsung Pay
Samsung Pay, Samsung’s upcoming mobile wallet, is a source of much debate in the payments industry. Many experts think it has a long way to go to be as efficient as Apple Pay, but Samsung’s multimillion dollar acquisition of LoopPay may help Samsung Pay be accepted by more merchants on Day 1 than Apple Pay was. Graylin was the head of LoopPay and became the head of Samsung Pay after the acquisition earlier this year. Graylin is a serial entrepreneur, having founded 5 tech startups, including LoopPay, and developed LoopPay’s innovative technology to help the company become one of the biggest players in mobile payments before its acquisition.
Samsung Pay will not only use NFC technology but LoopPay’s innovative MST technology that lets a device emulate a magnetic card swipe, so merchants don’t have to upgrade their equipment to accept Samsung Pay. It’s an innovative way to enable mobile payments on a device without requiring costly upgrades on the merchant’s end – both in terms of POS terminals and software upgrades. It remains to be seen how successful Samsung Pay can be, but the technology behind it is one of the more interesting solutions in mobile payments.
10. Iqram Magdon-Ismail & Andrew Kortina, Venmo Co-founders
Magdon-Ismail and Kortina changed money transfer forever when they made it social. Former college roommates, they wanted an easier way to split costs so they built Venmo, a mobile-based platform that lets friends pay each other back in seconds. You can choose to name or describe each transaction so your friends can see what you’ve been using Venmo for on their feeds, while the transaction amount and all other info remains encrypted.
Both guys are adamant about keeping Venmo free for consumers. They make money by charging merchants and through their API, rather than charging consumers.
Remarkably, Venmo was acquired by Braintree for $26.2 million- just five months after its public launch. The pair made Inc Magazine’s 30under30 in 2010. Before working together, Kortina worked at bit.ly and OMGPop. Magdon-Ismail worked at TicketLeap, Inc. and at iminlikewithyou.com