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How to build a great payments team

How to build a great payments team

Sep 15, 2022
Anthea Taylor

As a payments professional, you might find yourself in a relatively new internal business function. Payments is a growing profession that is becoming increasingly vital to ecommerce businesses. This is great news for you, but it does mean it’s likely that you’ll have a small but rapidly expanding team—one that’s grown organically and needs to scale—or that you’re building a new team from scratch.

Building out your team shouldn’t happen in an ad-hoc way. Planning it now will future-proof your team and position it—and you—for success. But what are the steps you can take to do this? We speak to payments professionals with impressive experience to find out how you should structure your team now to ensure the best results for the future.

Key roles to hire in your payments team

There are always new payment methods, security measures, and ecommerce trends emerging in the payments landscape. Failure to keep up could put you at a competitive disadvantage and frustrate customers who demand only the latest and most convenient payment options. 

That means making strategic hires that can keep on top of new payment trends, whilst ensuring you have key talent in place to manage the more evergreen, and equally crucial aspects of your payments operation, like risk analysis and compliance. 

Here are the key roles to hire for in your payments team: 

Payments Analytics

Analytics should form the cornerstone of your payments team. Analyzing your payment data is vital to assessing the ongoing performance of your business so that you can spot any limitations and improve your operational efficiency. 

Having a dedicated data team is the best way to make the most of your payments data, as they can be solely responsible for turning the masses of data points your business generates into actionable insights. 

Here are some key analytics roles to hire:

  • Data scientist - data scientists are responsible for analyzing and interpreting data from multiple sources, by using tools like AI, machine learning, and statistical modeling to transform it into a more usable format. For example, data scientists can be the first to spot sudden change in acceptance rates that could damage your revenue, and can draw insights from customer data that you can use to improve user experience  
  • Fraud analyst - fraud is a constant problem for ecommerce businesses, which is why it’s essential to have a dedicated individual or team that’s tasked with spotting and flagging suspicious activity and potential money laundering. Fraud analysts use machine learning and rules-based systems to automate their search for criminality, but it's still vital to have a human agent to interpret information, make decisions about how to route suspicious transactions and to keep an eye on emerging fraud trends
  • Risk analyst - your risk analysts are responsible for monitoring market conditions and payments data to identify and limit the financial risks your business faces. They can then advise on key decisions and ensure you can continue to trade with confidence  

Product management

Product management is the function in your payments operation that’s responsible for delivering great products by ensuring productive collaboration between different roles. 

  • Product manager - the product manager identifies customer needs and oversees the objectives, innovations and strategies that will help deliver better payment experiences that meet those needs by ensuring productive communication between all the relevant stakeholders in your organization.  
  • Product designer - product designers oversee the design or redesign process of payments products from inception to delivery. They work closely with engineers and UX researchers to take products from concept stage to implementation  
  • Engineers - engineers are the individuals responsible for actually implementing ideas by building, coding, and testing product concepts to ensure they meet the needs of customers   
  • UX Researcher - UX researchers are focused solely on user experience. They study customer data and use it to inform the product design process by gaining insights into how users interact with product interfaces to ensure the customer journey is intuitive and optimized

Operations

Operations staff ensure your organization is efficient by overseeing some its most vital day-to-day aspects. 

  • Program Manager - operating in payments requires the collaboration of a multitude of internal and external stakeholders and third-party providers. The program manager is responsible for managing these relationships by acting as a single point of contact, resolving any issues, and ensuring your internal processes are fit for purpose. For example they might set payment team KPIs or communicate with your payment processor if there’s an unexplained drop in your acceptance rate
  • Compliance Specialist - payments businesses have to navigate a host of regulations, which vary from region to region. If you fall foul of legislation, you could put your business at risk of reputational damage or financial loss. Compliance specialists mitigate these risks by ensuring your business meets any necessary requirements, monitoring the changing regulatory landscape, and implementing any changes needed to meet those regulations 
  • Payment reconciliation - payment reconciliation simply compares your company’s internal financial records with external records, such as bank statements, to make sure your bookkeeping is accurate. This is a constant requirement, so it’s good to have a team member in charge of this essential administrative task

8 steps to building a great payments team

Here are seven things you can do to ensure you have the best possible team no matter the nature of your business.

Step 1: Tailor your team for the unique business needs

Look around the world and you’ll find few organizations with a specialist payments team that is more than ten years old. So, when it comes to structures, there’s no clear benchmark. This is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, this gives you the chance to craft something unique. On the other hand, it can be difficult to know which way is the right way forward. This is made even more difficult by the varying degrees of sophistication between one company’s payments function and another’s.

Team formats depend very much on the scale and nature of the business and volume of transactions, as well as other factors including channel mix, type of offering and risk levels. Some very large retailers have evolved multiple sub-teams to accommodate payment complexity: these include payments infrastructure, optimization, experience and analytics teams. Others have much smaller payments teams and must find creative ways to address business needs with limited resources.

Step 2: Encourage innovation with a multidisciplinary team

It takes a wide breadth of capabilities to deliver, optimize and innovate payments: technology, business, CX, security, operations, finance and compliance. The roles involved reflect this. Teams can comprise payments engineers, researchers and digital designers as well as data analysts, compliance and fraud experts.  

Members of the team can also be drafted in from other functions like marketing, digital experience and customer service departments. Involving other stakeholders ensures that the team is focused on the input and output KPIs and makes sure that every decision they make has the right impact on the business.  

In some cases, it may even be worth setting up a separate business unit. Aleksandra Wasielewska, Payments Lead Product Manager at Allegro, tells us, “Shifting the way that the business and technology teams work together has led to the creation of a business unit that handles customer awareness—the transaction, the checkout and the post-purchase experiences.”

Step 3: Optimize the resources you already have

Building your team from the ground up lets you make the most of what you already have by using resources and people to the best advantage. Identify current skills and capabilities and use vendors to plug any gaps or add specific layers of expertise, like risk management.  

Allow for growth within your structure by understanding your team’s ambitions. Find out what roles they’re aiming for and what training and tools they need to get there. Where possible, avoid getting locked into manager-led hierarchies. Instead, ensure your team has multiple career paths that allow individuals to focus on specialist areas, but with plenty of opportunity for advancement.

Carmen Honacker, Head of Customer and Payment Fraud at Booking.com, reinforces this: “The reason people want management roles is because, in a lot of companies, the only way for you to advance is going through the management track. I try to break that barrier and that expectation because I think it does a disservice to the employee.”

Step 4: Treat vendors as team assets

Choosing the right partners can make or break your own team performance, so make sure you do your homework and select wisely. Look beyond feature sets and pricing to culture, fit and flexibility. Have clear SLAs and measurements in place.

Where you inherit legacy vendors, make sure they’re working well. Canvass your team to identify barriers and bottlenecks and spot any collaboration issues that may be limiting their effectiveness.  

New and existing vendors should be recognized as part of the team with clear lines of communication and access to the resources they need to optimize ROI.  

Step 5: Use specialist roles to lift payments to a different level

It goes without saying that roles which keep mission-critical payments live, secure and ready to take a sale are essential. However, some roles, like payments analytics, are strategically important.  

Transactional data offers a huge wealth of information on customer behavior, shopping trends, operational and resource efficiency, and real-time performance. Having teams that can gather, analyze and deliver accurate and useful data across the business can be a key differentiator.

Emina Zahirovic, Associate Director, Global Payments for HelloFresh, backs this up. “We’ve recently hired a payment analytics team that’s focused on managing and modeling our payments data. They’re doing amazing things with data science and machine learning to make the data available to us in a meaningful way that gives us the insights we need to make meaningful business decisions. They’ve had an enormous impact and freed me up to focus my time on developing strategies and working across the business to execute those.”

Step 6: Use your position as a payments leader to help others succeed

Helping teams perform well involves lots of problem-solving and cross-fertilization of ideas. Encouraging a highly collaborative team culture helps people deliver value consistently at the standards needed to operate and improve your payments platform. It also helps overcome team issues caused by the pandemic.

Richard Haywood, Head of eCommerce Customer and Payments at Ocado Technology, emphasizes, “Right now, a big challenge is how to stay close to the teams. Before COVID, this was easy; we would see one another in the office. With the flexible hybrid model, which has many advantages for work-life balance, the challenge is to engage teams beyond the ’transactional’ online meetings, so everyone feels supported and part of the group.”

Step 7: Keep the team’s focus on the end-user

Knowing where and how their role fits into customer engagement, sales and success helps keep your team focused and motivated. It can also help shape your payments strategy.  

According to Aleksandra, “There are a lot of buzzwords in payments: ‘effortless payments,’ ‘seamless payments,’ ‘frictionless payments,’ but ultimately, it’s all about one dedicated internal metric that we call the C-index, or convenience index. We’re measuring convenience throughout the customer journey and how any change impacts customer convenience.”

Step 8. Keep checking in as you grow

Your team will be a big part of your—and your company’s—success. Make sure you keep checking in with how it’s performing, and you can always check back with these steps to measure whether you’re still aligned with your goals.

Now that you’ve planned what it would take to build the perfect payments team, you need to think about who you will get to fill the required roles.

Build your payments team with Checkout.com

Whether you’re a payment facilitator or marketplace, build your payments team with Checkout.com and you can take advantage of advanced tools like fraud detection, 3D Secure, and granular data and reporting. 

Your team will be empowered to create optimized payments strategies and brilliant customer experiences through our single payments API and developer-friendly tools. 

Find out more about how payment processing with Checkout.com can help your payments team.

Unlock your payments potential today

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September 15, 2022 8:25
September 15, 2023 10:05