Andrea Dunlop, CEO Acquiring and Card Solutions at Paysafe Group, shares why she volunteers with Emerging Payments Association (EPA) and her advice for women wanting to launch a career in the payments industry.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with the EPA, what they do and what PayTech is.
The Emerging Payments Association (EPA) has been a thriving community of progressive payments companies, with over 95 members. It helps its members solve industry impacting problems, via various methods from holding events, focused projects and lobbying and promotion of payments aspects. There are a few objectives we aim to deliver for members including:
• How to get access to the right people and insights in a complex, rapidly-changing industry
• How to influence the structure of the payments industry to ensure a favourable operating environment
• How to encourage stakeholders to adopt emerging payments products and services
The EPA aims to be the most influential trade body in payments. The hope is that we advance payment innovation and ensure that the UK is at the heart of innovation.
I became an EPA board advisory member last November. The process to become a member is a selective one whereby the payments industry vote on who they would like to see as an advisory board member. I stepped forward because I was conscious that I was so focused on my own business and day to day challenges, and gave little time to being externally facing. I think the opportunity to raise awareness of issues that impact my business and others in the industry really interested me.
Is the work you do with the EPA a paid role or something you’ve chosen to do outside of your day-today position at Paysafe Group plc?
The work with the EPA is voluntary and is not paid or subsided in anyway. It is something I focus on outside of my day to day role as CEO Card Solutions & Acquiring at Paysafe.
Do you feel it’s important to commit to industry peer groups outside of your immediate workplace and are you unusual in doing this as a woman?
I do think it’s important. Certainly this last year, I actively worked on issues that affected the wider industry, like Bank of England settlement access for non-banks which has been incredibly rewarding. I don’t think I am unusual in this regard, there are a number of women working on and leading a number of initiatives across the industry. What I do think from my own experience and talking to other women is that it seems we are very busy delivering within our businesses, so it is hard to prioritise external industry opportunities. Based on talking to other women I suspect that many just feel they don’t have the bandwidth. Work and family commitments make it hard for women to give it their 100 percent so may not step forward. Work/life balance is something I have struggled with. To be fair, I still struggle with the expectations I put on myself but I recognised last year that there were benefits in contributing at an industry level for both my business and others. I’ve worked towards reaching a much more balanced perspective in my industry work versus within my own business.
What has been the main focus of your work for the EPA recently?
The main focus of my work for the EPA has been Project Rome. The focus has been on gaining options for non-banks to have access to bank of England settlement accounts. We responded to the Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) consultations, highlighting our views on the above and specifically raising the issue of the current need for payments access. Project Rome has helped to ensure that access to payment systems and promotion of competition was a PSR top agenda item. On the 17th June Bank of England announced that it intends to extend direct access to RTGS beyond the current set of banks and that it will allow a range of non-bank PSPs to get access and compete on a level playing field with banks. This is a huge achievement which now means that these services will open up and more competition should now occur for banking payment systems that historically had been limited to only 3 banks in the UK. With additional banks like Raphaels also providing access and electronic money issuers (EMIs) having access we are confident that this will ensure a more competitive market with more participants enabling more competitive pricing, better support, services and innovations for the consumer, and a fairer financial landscape for all.
A new focus is called Project Europe focused on Brexit implications. It is focused on helping EMI, CIs and PIs (E-money issuers, credit institutions and payment institutions) to preserve the status quo of passporting rights and access to the EU market from the UK following Brexit. We will look to engage with regulators in the EU to safeguard rights as well as lobbying the UK government to maintain rights and the importance and impact to the e-money companies that require European passporting.
Another area I’m leading is focused on Women in Paytech and this came about following feedback from a number of women across the industry. It was highlighted by many female members of the EPA that there is a lack of forums in the industry that women can meet, discuss and focus around topics that impact women in the industry. We have found many women in this industry have experienced difficulty or adversity, and everyone recognises the distinct lack of women being given a platform to speak. Our aim was to ensure their voices were heard and to address women specific issues in the industry.
What are the main implications of Brexit for PayTech?
I think the main implications for PayTech are around the loss of passporting rights across the EU. This essentially means companies that use their UK issued FCA licence to operate and provide E-money services across the European Union, may need to hold additional EU E-money, PI and CI licences to continue to operate across Europe. For those that are already regulated, gaining an additional regulatory licences should be a manageable process although the timelines for getting those licenses may differ between territories depending on how many other institutions are seeking licenses there. Ongoing costs and reporting requirements will also vary from country to country. There are also possible data processing impacts, and companies may need to adhere to EU requirements around where data is processed. In addition there could be an administrative impact to UK companies that require bank account services across the EU.
Was the PayTech sector prepared for an out vote or did it come as somewhat of a surprise?
I think most companies had put plans in place based on an out vote including any impacts or changes needed around their strategy to continue to support their businesses across the EU.
Do you think PayTech/FinTech’s light will shine quite so brightly in a post Brexit world?
The UK has without a doubt been a leading light in Paytech/Fintech. This is due to the regulatory regime in the UK. I am confident that this will continue and no matter what changes come in over the next couple of years, opportunities will continue.
Is that likely to have implications for jobs within the city and in particular for women?
In the short term, I don’t think so. It is hard to say in long term. However, even if companies look to EU countries to support additional licence requirements, it’s unlikely that full services would move away from the UK. Most companies that already operate in the EU are already operating global business out of many locations across EU and UK, I am not sure that will change significantly.
Would you advise young women to consider a career in payments right now? What is the outlook?
Absolutely. Payments is a thriving industry with many changes underway and to come. That makes for exciting times. I would welcome more women coming into payments across all areas of the industry.