Thriving starts with education

As the payments profession flourishes, is committed to global payments education.

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Rory O’Neill
June 3, 2024
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Thriving starts with education

As and the Merchant Risk Council proudly announce their educational partnership, unlocking access to MRC’s Payment Essentials course, we reflect on why the time has never been more ripe to invest in universal payments education.

From ‘falling into’ to falling in love: A short history of the payments profession

The payments career path has never looked better. That’s probably why it's becoming increasingly well-trodden. Yet ten years ago, most businesses didn't have designated payments roles. People ‘fell into’ payments before they fell in love with the profession. “It didn't feel exciting or an area where you could forge a career" recalls Alexandru Dorobantu recounting his early encounter with the “accidental” role. But Dorobantu would go on to become Senior Director of Global Payments at Delivery Hero, citing the “complexity, high pace of change, the impact - how payments is the key for ecommerce, globalization, and future business growth” as the reasons he loves his job today. 

This “I didn’t plan or dream it” story is echoed again and again in interviews conducted with payments leaders in the My Path in Payments series. After all, you can’t dream of a role you didn't know existed.

Fast forward to last August and LinkedIn reported over 318,000 open payments positions advertised globally, up 45% from the previous year.1 To dig deeper, partnered with Oxford Economics to survey senior executives at 150 $1bn+ B2C businesses globally. Some 58% said they now employ staff in dedicated payments roles.2 These payment roles can have several foci - such as product, data analytics, fraud, or engineering - but more often than not payments professionals find themselves covering all the bases: constantly working to ensure the money keeps flowing in, the fraudsters are kept out, the regulators are kept satisfied and the customers are kept happy, and keep returning.

Where we invest in our core payments expertise

Payments professionals exhibit a wide and varied skill set that reflects the complexity of the evolving digital and tech space and the fundamental importance of ensuring maximum cash flow into the business at all times. Indeed payments today sits at the heart of the business, as former Airbnb’s Payments and Commerce Product Manager, Colleen Graneto, says: "Working in payments offers a unique intersection of technology, finance, and customer service- you’re at the heart of the business.” 

Sitting at the nerve center of the business, the ‘make-or-break’ power of payments in the digital economy is now well understood beyond silos and above the weeds. So much so that 89% of CFOs, 48% of Chief Product Officers, 47% of Chief Commercial Officers, and 46% of Chief Risk Officers surveyed acknowledge consumer payments as important within their respective functions.

It is perhaps not so surprising in the light of these developments that 67% of CFOs at consumer businesses with revenues of over $1 billion say that payments leader roles such as Head of Payments or even Chief Payment Officer will become increasingly prevalent and important within the coming decade.

Payments are an important part of my function

Incredible talent deserves to be nurtured

HelloFresh’s, Associate Director of Global Payments, Emina Zahirovic, says the payments role is “a perfect fit” for her “love of problem-solving.” That’s true of the talent payments attracts. The complex and ambidextrous demands of the role naturally draw great people: intelligent, curious, and versatile individuals who are able to learn on the job. “It's a dynamic field where innovation is constant - there's always something new to learn,"​​ says Airbnb’s Graneto, and “the ability to adapt quickly and stay ahead of trends is crucial.”

But learning on the job means learning from mistakes. And while that is always a good thing, at we firmly believe the world’s payment talent deserves better than that. We envisage a world where payments brains are empowered through knowledge and expert education to be on the front foot and to maximize their vast potential wherever they are on the career ladder. It is increasingly evident that payments need dedicated experts. Equally, as other functions increasingly touch payments, a wider range of professionals need some payments knowledge too.

Payments leader roles will become increasingly prevalent and important within the coming decade.

But where can this knowledge be accessed? The recent explosion of Fintech industries and roles has made it hard for higher and executive education institutions to keep up and “in the context of rapid technological change corporations are also finding it much more difficult to define their skill requirements” and to implement appropriate in-house training accordingly.3 

But as this once nascent profession quickly becomes established, the benefits of equipping the payments talent pipeline with high-quality payments education will be felt by both individuals and companies. In an empirical academic study conducted in 2023, research was conducted with 50 consumer-facing businesses to understand employee education and skills gaps. Employers “identified ecommerce as an area in which they would like to upskill their staff and graduates” and when probed on the specifics and the desired content of any education program, employers prioritized “payments, security, and data analytics”.4

Unlocking access to payments education

Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. We agree. At our mission is to enable businesses and their communities to thrive in the digital economy. Our vision is to empower people to thrive through access to education. That’s why we are very excited to announce that we are sponsoring the Merchant Risk Council’s Payment Essentials course

Our partnership will unlock and make freely available this high-quality training for all the MRC’s professional membership around the globe. And because payments are so core to the success and smooth running of any modern consumer business, the course also aids business owners, customer service, IT, and marketing professionals in ecommerce. It empowers teams to make informed decisions and stay updated in the fast-paced ecommerce world. Financial analysts gain insights into chargebacks, interchange fees, and regulations, ensuring compliance and efficiency. Compliance officers benefit from understanding payment laws and standards, and mitigating legal risks. And tomorrow’s Chief Payments Officers will need to know it all.

“For more than 24 years the MRC has been ahead of the curve, delivering payments training and qualifications to our global membership,” says the MRC’s CEO Julie Fergerson “and in the past few years we have witnessed the marked rise of payments as a strategic, C-level, matter. Take a look at Sony’s latest Corporate Strategy Meeting and you’ll see how payments are now acknowledged as utterly instrumental to consumer reach and expansion strategies. Recruiting smart and skilled talent to support these important objectives is only going to become more important and we are glad that with partners like the MRC will continue to deliver the payments knowledge that’s in demand.”

“Nobody is born with payments knowledge” points out’s CRO,” Antoine Nougué but all the numbers point to the fact that more and more people globally are going to need it. By supporting access to payments education we strive to democratize access to the world’s most exciting fintech and ecommerce roles and to turbocharge what it means for businesses to thrive in the digital economy. When businesses are armed with payments experts and diverse talent, businesses will maximize revenue collection and ultimately their growth.”

This is just the beginning…

This marks the beginning of an important journey and commitment built on our conviction that thriving starts with education. Tenacious and versatile by nature, payments professionals are always sprinting to support their businesses and ensure the lifeblood of cash keeps flowing. Imagine what all that talent could achieve with ever better training and education. From young students and early-stage professionals to nurturing tomorrow’s Chief Payment Officers, is committed to sharing and building payments expertise throughout people’s career paths. 

Over 99% of employees at are now graduates of our own Payments Academy, an employee training program consisting of over 5 hours of online learning and assessments which cover topics such as payments economics, global regulation and technology. 

We are also expanding our commitment to working with higher education and other institutions to democratize access to payments knowledge and to keep building the best and most diverse talent pool for the world's most exciting career path at the world's most exciting businesses. For example, in July we are excited to be partnering with the Université Paris Dauphine-PSL to bring payment knowledge, skills and career advice to a cohort of ambitious undergraduates. Follow us on Linkedin (Link) for more exciting updates on’s educational initiatives.

About the MRC

The MRC is a global non-profit membership association connecting eCommerce professionals through industry-leading educational programs, online community groups, conferences, and networking events. We're moving payments and fraud prevention forward by advocating for safer and more profitable eCommerce for everyone.

1) Career in Payments Monthly Newsletter, PayEd

2) Research conducted by and Oxford Economics

3) Brown, P., S. Sadik, H. Lauder, S. Freebody, J. Sung, and M. Souto Otero. (2019). Talent Management in an Age of Digital Disruption. Institute for Adult Learning.

4) Doherty, O., & Stephens, S. (2023). Hard and soft skill needs: higher education and the Fintech sector. Journal of Education and Work, 36(3), 186–201., page 192

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June 3, 2024 14:20
June 3, 2024 14:20